Household Uses of a Wedge

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Wedges were some of the earliest tools used by humans, and they're still used today in a different form.
Wedges were some of the earliest tools used by humans, and they're still used today in a different form. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

A wedge is a solid triangular shape of any size, usually used to cut or split objects. The history of wedges goes back before human time. Some of the earliest man-made tools were wedges. Even teeth are wedges, splitting food with their points as you exert force from behind. Some household tools take the form of wedges, from kitchen utensils to personal grooming items.

Driving Wedges

Forks are made up of four small wedges on the end of each tine. When used to poke through food, the slim end of the wedge splits the food apart around the tines due to the force being applied on the handle. Similarly, a nail is a wedge, the slim edge splitting material around it as you apply force to its head with a hammer.

Forks are made up of rudimentary wedges.
Forks are made up of rudimentary wedges. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Slicing Wedges

Slicing razors are wedges conventionally used to split hair from skin, with the point of the two incline planes resting where the follicle meets the pore. As you apply force, the two split from each other. Box cutters are razors, and therefore wedges, with an entirely different purpose, as stated in the name. Scissors are another example of slicing wedges. The sharp edge of the wedge splits paper or other substances due to force.

The sharp edge of scissors is actually the point where two incline planes meet to form a wedge.
The sharp edge of scissors is actually the point where two incline planes meet to form a wedge. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Pushing Wedges

A plow is a pushing wedge. When driven against the snow, it will push snow to one side or the other and out of the way. The wedge's force exerted will always be perpendicular to the direction that the wedge is moving. Shovels work in the same way, the difference being that someone applies the force manually.

A shovel exerts a perpendicular force on the snow from the direction it is moving.
A shovel exerts a perpendicular force on the snow from the direction it is moving. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Stopping Wedges

A door stop is a commonly used wedge. When placed under a door, the triangular item applies an upward force on the door so that it can no longer move forward to close. No matter what you use the wedge for, the driving principle behind the tool is the same. All types of wedges apply force to a set of incline planes connected on one end. This means there is truly little distinction between the wedges listed here.

A door stop is one of the most familiar wedge tools used in the household.
A door stop is one of the most familiar wedge tools used in the household. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

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