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ST. MARYS - "Necessity is the mother of invention," said Dennis Rogers of St. Marys who built a firewood processor designed to lessen the physical toll of log splitting after suffering a back injury. His invention has since been patented and sold to a Canadian outdoor power products company which currently manufactures and sells the product.
One could say it was a serendipitous chain of events that led Rogers to build the prototype for what would eventually become the WP Wood Processor.
Rogers said that following a chimney fire at his home, he decided in favor of an outdoor boiler. It was also about that time that Rogers suffered a back injury while on the job as a lineman for a telecommunications company. With an outdoor boiler consuming a considerable amount of wood and requiring regular stoking, Rogers decided to borrow a log splitter to help him process the wood needed to fuel the furnace.
In using the splitter, Rogers said he was immediately struck by what he thought was a fundamental deficiency with the machine and one upon which he could improve.
"I split the first piece and realized you cut the wood and it falls to the ground and you have to pick it up to stack it. I thought, 'There must be a better way,'" Rogers said.
In building the prototype of his own firewood processor, Rogers set about modifying an old log splitter using odds and ends, everything from a boat wench and shaft to steel discarded by local factories and applying what to him were commonsense principles of engineering.
Rogers explained that the "log retention device" component of the device, which prevents the log from rolling while cutting, was inspired by the motions of the human wrist. In addition, the inclined plane which raises the cuts so they can be easily piled into a trailer and keeps the wood at waist level for easier stacking was inspired by the Egyptians' use of inclined planes in building the pyramids, he said.
"I could see it in my head. Then I got to make it happen," Rogers said.