Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

It’s Go Devil Time

Go Devil

go devil noun A heavy maul for splitting or chopping logs, usu having a hammer on one side of the head and a dull wedge on the other. See 1939, 1974-75 citations. For figurative use, see 1944 citation.
1939 Hall Coll. Proctor NC = a hammer on one end and a kind of wedge on the other— to split logs with, a little sharper than a wedge, used like a wedge, only you strike with it (Lawerence Jones) 1944 Wilson Word-list 43 = a heavy ax used to split logs. “You won’t [stay at home], less’n it’s raining go-devils.” 1967 Parris Mt Bred 134 “Right there,” the woodhick pointed, “right there on the wall next to that go-devil or pointed hammer is a J-hook.” 1973 Brower Split-Rail Fence Webb examines the end of a log to be split to determine where to place his wedges. Then he drives the wedges into the log with a tool he said the old-timers called a “go-devil.” Chestnut logs split cleanly. Locust logs splinter and must be coaxed with an ax. 1974-75 McCracken Logging 24:21 = a form of ax and hammer together.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


It’s go-devil time around the Blind Pig house. The Deer Hunter has been splitting wood for the winter. Funny he has a wood-splitter but he says putting the logs on to split hurts his joints worse then using an ax and go-devil to split the wood the old time way.


Ken’s dog situation has been resolved!

Tipper

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 21, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    It seems to me I have heard this used in another way. It’s just teasing at the edge of memory.

    My husband came by when I was watching your corn bread video and he sure did enjoy it.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    October 21, 2020 at 11:56 am

    When I was younger and had a fireplace, and later a steel fireplace insert, I enjoyed going to the woods and bringing home a pickup load of wood to be split. I cut it into suitable lengths–some call that “blocking”–with a chainsaw, then split them with a go devil and a steel wedge. It was healthy, pleasant labor when done by the half-day, and did wonders for my appetite. Green wood was stacked under the shed and allowed to cure. Only in a weather emergency did we try to burn green fuel wood. Today, we still build a couple of fires in our fireplace in Florida, but we buy the wood by the bag.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 21, 2020 at 10:39 am

    If I say go devil too many times in my head I’ll remember something that I really don’t remember. I believe that I seen go devil on here before.
    I had a splitter just like the one in the picture that came from Lowes. I used it so much driving wedges that the head cracked.
    I’ve never had an American chestnut to split and my favorite woods to split were chestnut oak and locust. I cut a sourwood tree one time (one time) and beat and beat on it to no avail. Never cut another one and their blooms do make good honey.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      October 21, 2020 at 11:55 am

      Try splitting a blackgum sometime!
      Sourwood makes good sled runners. If you cut one down and it sprouts back lots of times the sprout will grow at an angle for a foot or so then turn straight up. They grow really fast. You have to wait a few years for one to get big enough to make a big sled but it is worth the wait. The grain follows the curve which makes for a much stronger runner. It will wear out before it will break. Of course nobody uses sleds any more so sled making is a dying art if it’s not dead already.

      • Reply
        aw griff
        October 21, 2020 at 5:12 pm

        I never tried to split a blackgum. I think I have only killed squirrels out of them. I didn’t know that about sourwood. The runners I remember were made from hickory saplings.

  • Reply
    Melinda
    October 21, 2020 at 10:38 am

    Never recall hearing the term, ‘go devil’ tho both my dad & husband were avid woodcutters. Dad split wood up until the year of his death at 84. He had Rheumatoid Arthritis – his Dr. was amazed that he could still do it but with my husband’s help he kept the home fires burning!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 21, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Do you know what a wooden wedge, preferably made of dogwood, used to split logs is called? Do you know what the wooden hammer used to drive the wooden wedge into the wood is called?

    • Reply
      Tipper
      October 21, 2020 at 10:59 am

      Ed-No but please tell us!

      • Reply
        Ed Ammons
        October 21, 2020 at 11:43 am

        The wooden wedge is called a glut. The wooden hammer is called a maul.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 21, 2020 at 9:16 am

    I may be strange but I like to split wood. Partly that is because of having to ‘read the block’ to know where to hit. And partly it is the skill to hit that place, especially if it then splits as you thought. It is good exercise and just like a shelf full of canning jars, it is satisfying to be preparing for winter. You know that when the snow flies and the cold wind blows you and your family will be snug and warm. If the power goes out you have done your due diligence and are ready.

    Back in the Blizzard of 93 we were without electricity for 10 days as best I recall. We were new to this place and I was not as prepared as I ought to have been. We had a wood stove then and I was out in the snow cutting down an oak snag in the yard and cutting it up with an axe. We had to cook on the wood stove to. Our daughter and son still talk about that “adventure” from time to time. There is a lot to be said for being able to meet the needs that arise.

  • Reply
    Randy
    October 21, 2020 at 8:23 am

    I have used a go-devil many times to split wood. My family made their own wood splitter but I could split easy splitting wood quicker with go-devil and didn’t have to pick wood up. I know what the Deer Hunter means when he says aching joints, I have bad arthritis and some bad disc. I tell people one difference between being old and young is when waking up young and something hurts you go to doctor, when old if something don’t hurt you go to doctor. Everyone have a good day. I love this time of year.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 21, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Tipper–Get Matt to try some Two Old Goats liniment (yes, that’s the real name) for his aches. I think it is helpful.

    Good news about Ken’s dog. He thinks the world of his little canine companion and will, I suspect, need its friendship when he’s back home.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 21, 2020 at 7:42 am

    The Deer Hunter likes the old time ways, they are closer to the earth. He was born on May 1st, that’s an earth sign! He can also smell when snow is coming!
    I’m so glad someone is taking care of Ken’s dog!

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    October 21, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Thank heaven I never had to chop wood but I carried lots of it over the years. Loading and unloading and stacking. I now enjoy my gas log and do not miss the cleanup and taking the ashes out. I do miss the smell but great for me the neighbors all have wood stoves and the smell comes right into my house. At 80 I bless the man who invented the gas log.

    • Reply
      Margie Goldstein
      October 21, 2020 at 8:32 am

      I too send blessings to the gas logs inventor! Keep warm, dear lady!

      • Reply
        Margie Goldstein
        October 21, 2020 at 8:38 am

        Go devil is what I shout daily but to know it’s a wedge and axe tool is fantastic! Chopping wood is something I’d love to see a man doing! Once at Patch Adam’s camp, I met the wood choppingEST nurse woman you ever saw! She was from out west and was a burly gal! She chopped and I was impressed (as any good man would be!) What a gal- I’ll never forget her. She ate pine nuts from a pine tree—- too much for me to take it all in… lol get to chopping fellers! I’m headed for my gas logs in my gas fireplace. Stay toasty and strong!!! GO VOTE EARLY TOO!!! The republic needs you!

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