Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boulder Splitting is Easy!

Note: the Hazy town in the distance is Peekskill~ I'll be getting some close ups of the town next week.

First you need a masonry drill and a generator if your extension cord is not long enough. You can also drill holes by hand with a star drill, but doing it without electricity means you'll be working for at least 45 minutes drilling one hole. These electric drills are large but it's all about holding them steady--no real exertion from you, just steady & let the drill do all the work. You don't need to push or move it around, simply hold it in place.

You mark your boulder with a crayon or chalk along a natural line in the boulder if possible. Take a rifting hammer, hammer a thin trench or rift line across your boulder, following your marked line. Drill holes carefully, into the rift, (equally spaced.) Place feathers and wedges in the holes and start to tap with your sledge hammer. For each of these steps you have to stop and try to be the best "Boulder Whisperer" you can be. This will help you mark the rock, and split it easily and cleanly. Patience is necessary.

Tapping the wedges into the rock will sound like music, all different tones. But when a deadened sound comes, you know the boulder is about to crack. Leave it alone for 30 minutes to an hour and let it do its own thing. The boulder will experience some internal action which you won't see, but will help a hairline crack form. Once you see a hairline crack, work carefully, tapping with a small sledgehammer to open the crack wider-- and get a long pry bar into that crack as soon as you can (boulders have been known the slam shut trapping your feathers and wedges forever, so now you need patience and to get the pry bar into the crack to separate the pieces of boulder.) If your boulder does not crack on its own, very gently tap the wedges with your smallest rock hammer until a crack appears. It's all very easy but requires a lot of patience.

Using tools like pry bars, rock wraps and winches, you can move an entire boulder without exerting yourself, and with some minor shaping with simple tools, a section of split boulder can become a stone step.

TOOLS you will need to split a boulder:

Drill (electric, or use a Star drill )
Rifting Hammer
2 Sledge hammers (different weights)
Rock Hammer
Pry Bar
Set of feathers and wedges
work gloves
2 types of safety masks
safety glasses
good footwear (steel toe work boots)

You can easily make 4 stone steps from one large boulder in one day if you're patient and take frequent short breaks from your work. Shaping and placing the steps can be done another day. (To properly set your stone steps, you'll need a pick-mattock tool, a shovel and small rocks to form a crib wall to stabilize your steps.)