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Thread: Splitting rocks

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    535

    Splitting rocks

    *****
    Last edited by John Dow; 07-11-2008 at 02:32 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
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    15,807
    Hey John, that is really neat, brings back a ton of memories for me. My Grand Father built his retirement home, all of the family helped out, uncles and cousins etc. We dug a crawlspace for the house, we used a borrowed "Bobcat" and a LOT of spade work. There were a number of large rocks, one was about the size of a pool table. We used the feathers and wedges too, along with a Kango.

    I was about 16 or so, and my older brother, an older cousin and I got the task of doing the grunt work breaking these rocks up into movable sizes, we had a hard time at it, in the middle of summer too. One day, one of my grandad's buddies dropped by, he had spent his youth working in a quarry somewhere, and he could read the rocks, it was really amazing to watch, what took us 8 or 10 drill holes and the same number of feathers and wedges, he could do with 3 or maybe 4. Certainly learned a lot, and swinging that sledge hammer even put some muscles on my back.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    I split a large piece of granite one time myself. I did not use the hole and feather methods but rather just a chisel and a crowbar. First I dug the rock out of an old Cellar hole, the put it so the chunk of granite was on 2x4's, with the rock I wanted lopped off over hanging some. After that I just scored a line with the chisel and hammer, and then started tapping across the top of the rock along the line I made with the chisel.

    It was funny because as I was doing this I heard a tractor coming up over the hill. Not wanting to look stupid, I started really banging away on that rock. Just as soon as he came into sight, the rock sheered off just like it was cut.

    I actually work a lot with rock, just because the material lasts forever and Maine has plenty of them. I will admit I seldom split rocks however, most of my work is in building rockwalls, an old Maine tradition I guess. I am not sure how many linear feet of rock walls I have, but its well over 500 feet. I got a patio to do this year, and that too will all be out of rocks.

    For those that have never got into rock building, be very careful...its very addicting!!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    30,014
    Thanks for the pics of the process, John.

    Taking off on a rock building tangent...

    The town where I live is in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains north of LA (still in the city limits), and it's a rock farmer's paradise. In the early days of the community, a lot of retaining walls and buildings were built with the local granite cobbles and small boulders.

    The house across the street from my previous house house was built around the turn of the century, and it has mortared rock foundation and walls. This house has withstood every earthquake Mother Nature has dished out since the early 1900s. Still, the owner told me he couldn't get homeowner's insurance, due to the fact that it didn't meet earthquake building codes and had not been retrofitted. At the time (this was about five years ago), he apparently couldn't sell it because of this, so he was renting it out instead.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Catalunya
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    4,632
    If you don't mind about the final shape of the rock, it's OK. but rocks have their grain also which is not so easy to read. Moreover the type blows that on can strike give different results. A dead blow, a sharp blow break the stone in a different way.

    My wife is a stone carver/sculptor and specialist stone restorer, and helping her I've learned a lot, not only about the stones but also about their diseases and pathologies (yes they do have them). It is an amazing field.
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  6. #6
    It does sound crazy, but at the same time there is a good reason for it too.

    Around here we have plenty of houses that stood on, and are still standing on rock foundations. That is somewhat of a testament to building with stone. But a lot of the old houses, even though they were timber frames and could shrug off many wind, live and snow loads, a shifting foundation they could not withstand. Many otherwise good homes were ultimately destroyed because of the frost action on rock foundations. It always amazed me that no matter how much weight was on a building, water above the frost-line could freeze, heave 11% and throw whatever it is above it, all out of kilter.

    Every year I go around my rockwalls and redo the sections that frost action has toppled over.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New Springfield OH
    Posts
    806
    you guys are doing it wrong, one word

    DYNAMITE!!!

  8. #8
    That's it Mickey I am mad now!! I thought you were a farmer? There isn't a farm boy in this country that has not been taught by the USDA to blow stumps our of their fields using Ammonium Nitrate and Diesel Fuel.

    I just happen to have a case of dynamite and some blasting caps though.

    I grew up hearing lots of funny stories about dynamite since back then you could buy it at the local hardware store. Some of those stories included my Grandfather getting way too tipsy on Firewater and not calculating his dynamite load to rock ratios just right. Apparently what he thought was a huge rock was just one big flat rock and after sailing through the air, it landed on the powerlines!! (Family tradition I guess)

    Others included using a quarter stick of dynamite to flip a rock over one flip at a time across a field just so he could prove he could do it without having to blast the thing to smithereens.

    My own dynamite story is much more tame I guess. Most of the old barns around here have plenty of dynamite packed up into the beams or flooring and if you know where to look you can find plenty of it. Anyway my Uncle sold his house and the owner was telling me he his boys had ADHD. I said "well on that note you probably don't want this hanging around then," then grabbed a box of dynamite and the blasting caps. I tossed them in my truck and never thought much about it until I went into Walmart one day. Right on my seat with this big wooden box that said "EXPLOSIVES" in big red and white paint. I could just see myself coming out of Walmart with my truck surrounded by the Rockland PD and the Bomb Squad hovering over my pickup. I tossed a sweatshirt over the stuff so no one would see it and then stored the stuff elsewhere after that.

    Maybe that old dynamite and woodworking tools will join up one of these days. I was watching a thing on welding on Modern Marvels and they use explosives now to make "cladding". That is two layers of unlike steel fused together with an explosive blast. I was thinking aluminum, or stainless steel bonded to cast it or would make a great cladding for hand planes. I bet that is something Tom Lie Nielsen would never try.

    Of course with my uncanny skill at getting into trouble...snowmobile and rock, chainsaw and leg, tree and powerline...maybe I should just let the dynamite be?
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New Springfield OH
    Posts
    806
    Ammonium Nitrate and Diesel Fuel?
    Well I ain't never!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New Springfield OH
    Posts
    806
    Quote Originally Posted by John Downey View Post
    Which one of you two am I going to start calling Edgar?
    ("Y'know Red, these new tractors are kinda brittle")

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