Busting a big rock

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Old 05-04-20, 02:01 PM
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Busting a big rock

This single giant rock in my backyard goes down into the ground another 6-8 inches. I'd like to be able to bust it up somehow into carry-able sized chunks and get rid of it. I have a regular long handle sledgehammer I've tried in the past to see if it might start to crack if I whacked on it but it doesn't. I suppose if I rented a jackhammer that might do it but before I go that route and spend the money just asking here for any other feasible suggestions but not crazy ones like blasting it or whatever.

 
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Old 05-04-20, 02:06 PM
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You'd need a big (aka heavy) sledge hammer to break up a rock of that size,.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 02:11 PM
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Only chance you have to break it into 4 pieces with a sledgehammer is to rent a diamond saw and cut across it twice (+) as deep as you can to weaken it. And its possible that hitting it while its on the ground will do nothing except wear you out. The ground will absorb part of the shock of the sledgehammer. If you could somehow flip it up or drag it onto the driveway in order to smack it, you might have better results.

I guarantee that if you could drag it out by the street with a sign that says free that someone would get their husband to take it.

On second thought... maybe that wouldn't work in Alaska.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 02:15 PM
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Ok I'll see if I can pry it up outta the ground there at least. and smack it there with my sledgehammer that looks like this. I don't know how heavy of a hammer it is, or whether anybody would have a bigger one I could borrow. Doubt it.

 
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Old 05-04-20, 02:20 PM
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None of your buddies own a skid loader?
 
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Old 05-04-20, 02:31 PM
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No skid loader buddies. Some freeloader buddies but that's about it.
Need some hulk buddies maybe.
Will keep in mind renting a diamond saw I suppose. I do know they rent electric powered jackhammers too. How about that, no?
 
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Old 05-04-20, 03:06 PM
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I own a Makita corded rotary impact hammer and have had pretty good luck drilling 1/2" holes in
concrete to weaken it. Maybe someone in your circle has one. Don't know how much harder your
rock is than concrete.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 03:15 PM
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I'll keep that in mind too Handyman 663. Thanks...
 
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Old 05-04-20, 03:20 PM
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Most rock (like granite) is so much harder than concrete, its quite difficult to drill into. There are a few soft stones, but that doesn't look like one of them to me.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 03:23 PM
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Your going to kill yourself, people pay money for rocks to decorate, find a spot and use it!

If you really want to get rid of it put a free ad in Craigslist, somebody will come get it!
 
  #11  
Old 05-04-20, 03:29 PM
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You can drill stone. Use a rotary hammer drill and diamond tipped bits. Drill a few holes in a row and use stone feathers (plugs and wedges). Whack them with a sledge and the stone will split like magic.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 03:50 PM
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yeah I'm trying to decide between renting the electric powered jackhammer, or the diamond saw suggestion. Plus I do have a buddy in the construction business who has just about everything. Maybe I'll work up a way to ask him if he can help me out. I don't have any rotary hammer or such. Just that big-asss sledge but that ain't enough.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 04:42 PM
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Must the rock be broken? Can you relocate it somewhere out of the way? Working like an Egyptian you can use a lever and fulcrum to lift the rock. Then a hand truck, wagon, scrap of plywood or plastic snow sled can be used to help move it.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 05:04 PM
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I think it'll need to be broken at the very least in half or thirds, in order to put into a wagon or handtruck or whatever. Even I could lever/fulcrum it up fully intact and manage to roll it or manuever it further away, it'll be still in the way and too big and heavy to lift to put and put anywhere.

Maybe if the ground is diggable in the very immediate vicinity, I could dig a hole big/deep enough to roll/drop it down into.

If I had a catapult maybe I could manage to dig it up and roll it into the sling and catapult it over the fence into the neighbor's yard.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 05:09 PM
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A rock that size I would think you could roll it onto a two-wheeler or in a wheelbarrow and move it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qePd11tRBQM
 
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Old 05-04-20, 06:06 PM
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Yes I think if I'm careful I might be able to manage that way. Will have to decide where to wheelbarrow it off to though. Maybe to the neighbors yard, at night.
 
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Old 05-04-20, 07:17 PM
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I remember seeing this video a while ago of an old dude breaking a big rock in half by using a hammer, chisel, and I guess those are wedges (or perhaps railroad ties?). Might be worth a shot. Or maybe you can hire him ;-)

Link: Old Man Breaking the Big Rocks By Hand Chisel
 
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Old 05-04-20, 07:30 PM
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Yeah if I can get my hands on some railroad spikes I'll have it, just like that, on my smaller rock and smaller sledgehammer. thanks!
 
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Old 05-04-20, 08:06 PM
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I'd go with lift and relocate, and only break up if necessary.
1) Looks to be around 200-250 lbs. (average 150 lbs per cubit foot of stone) so moving is still workable.
All you really need to lift is a standard steel pry bar, a pivot, and some scrap 2x4 as cribbing to support the stone as you excavate it. Once the stone is lifted, slide an appliance dolly into the hole, snug up some tow chains or cargo straps to hold the stone to the dolly, then leverage the stone up and onto some 4x8 plywood. You can then use the prybar to "creep" the dolly fully onto the 4x8 sheet. Lift and roll, using a second sheet of plywood to roll to the next location, repeat as necessary.

2) On the other hand, once the stone is out of the ground, you can try laying it across the pry bar and then try to split it- stone in compression is hard to split, out of the ground where it experiences tension, it is much easier to split up.

3) There's IS a much more civilized method though. Dig out the soil around the rock and mound up a trench around the rock, so there's a moat around the rock. Collect several nice logs and/or split firewood. Light a nice campfire on top of the rock. In the meantime, fill several coolers with water and ice. Invite friends, fill coolers with beer, add a campfire grill and enjoy burgers, steaks, and smores; all while keeping the fire going as a good bed of coals. Might take several hours.
After you're done with the "social distanced picnic" let the fire burn down to a bed of ash, pour the coolers of ice-water onto the hot rock, and it SHOULD shatter into workable pieces thanks to heat shock.
Repeat the next day if necessary.
There will be lots of steam, so wear long sleeves, work gloves and eye protection. Just before you pour on the water, you might want to toss on some wet burlap bags to catch any spalling rock fragments.
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 05-04-20 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 05-04-20, 11:07 PM
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Thanks for all the helpful comments/suggestions. I'll post back per any significant progress or success. You all "rock."
 
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Old 05-05-20, 04:06 AM
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Before you use the sledge hammer. Dig around the rock as deep as you can. Try to get at least a 2" space between rock and ground. As one of the posters mentioned, the ground is absorbing a lot of the hammer shock. Use a chisel to cut a groove. Then bang away. The best suggestion was diamond saw. But if you don't have or want to spend the $ then use the sweat of your brow.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 05:38 AM
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Restating my #3 above
1) Make a campfire on top of the rock.
2) Keep a cooler filled with ice water & beer nearby.
3) Let the fire burn down to coals, setup a grill/grate and enjoy hamburgers/hot dogs/steak.
4) When you're done, douse the searing hot rock with the ice water.

This SHOULD both split the rock AND make the remaining rock more brittle.
Repeat as necessary, depending on the availability of beef, beer and firewood.
- You CAN keep the same coals and heat/cool the rock several times by shoveling the hot coals into a charcoal grill before dousing the rock with water. Just wait a few minutes while the rock splits and pops, and then add another layer of firewood onto of the rock and dump the hot coals on to restart the fire.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 05:50 AM
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Hal I like this one. I didn't read your first post.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 06:07 AM
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Fire may not be an option for you.
Depending on the soil type you will also burn up some of it.

I did probably tons of rock at the lake using fire.
Never had much luck with the cold water but once the rock was good and hot hitting it with a sledge usually cracked it apart.
So if you do try a fire then hit it with a sledge a couple times before trying the water.

Everything depends on what type of a rock it is.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 06:08 AM
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rock

CWBUFF in post #11 has the answer. Done it many times myself. You may have to improvise the "plug and feathers". I would try a combination of chisels and scrap metal pieces. It really does work! Steve
 
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Old 05-05-20, 06:12 AM
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You da man, Hal! Someone did suggest posting on Craigslist. I had
forgotten that a dozen years ago I posted "free rocks on Craigslist"
not really expecting any bites. They were all gone within 3 hours of posting.
However, none of mine probably exceeded 40 lbs.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 08:50 AM
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If it's free someone will pick it up.

Every project I have stuff to dispose, drywall scraps, cement board, old bricks/block, wood scraps, old toilets!

I always post and so far everything has been picked up, a better solution than filling up the landfills!
 
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Old 05-05-20, 09:30 AM
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You can still buy feathers and wedges on line. If you are ambitious and patient you can even drill without a power tool. The feathers are a tried and true method for splitting stone since antiquity. As a kid I "helped" my father and grandfather split granite steps for the spring house using "stone feathers" You can find videos of the technique on you tube.

Rail spikes are too soft.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 10:05 AM
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I could try using a rotary hammer drill with diamond tipped bits to drill some holes, if I could acquire them without any or much expense, like borrowing possibly. Hopefully the granite rock wouldn't be so hard that i couldn't drill through it. I would anticipate it would not be easy drilling. It is not a soft rock.

Then if had any luck drilling enough, I could perhaps improvise some stone feathers and plugs with scrap metal pieces and a pretty good sized brick chisel I happen to have. Those spikes or chisels that old man was using in the video in post #17 look fairly ideal, as does his big hammer. I won't bother trying railroad spikes I suppose as it was mentioned they'd be too soft.

Also I'm fairly certain that because the big rock is settled down into the dirt a good ways that I'd have to dig around it in advance of trying to bust it with stone feather or such technique, as several here have already mentioned that ground will absorb the shock and prevent it from breaking/cracking. The photo I posted of the rock actually isn't much of an accurate portrayal of the actual size/girth of this thing; I'd say it's down in the ground almost as much as what is showing there above ground. If I could come up with a rotary hammer drill, the bits, and the feathers n plugs I wonder if there's any chance (probably not) I could split the rock without needing to dig around it much or lift it.

I'll go out there and dig around it a while, to see if can get a long steel pipe underneath it and with a block see if I can at least lever/budge it up/out to any extent.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 10:24 AM
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Heat the rock with charcoal briquets and turn it into lime.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Wirepuller38
Heat the rock with charcoal briquets and turn it into lime.
Good point there -
What KIND of rock is it? Looks bluish, quick googling of AK geology shows mostly sedimentary.
I've seen that bluish color in 3 sorts of rocks
1) blue shales - tough to split, easy to fracture with heat.
2) baked 'metamorphosed' shale tough to split or fracture.
3) limestone. tough to split, very easy to fracture with heat (e.g. just makes lime)

Take a look at your local county geology maps, that should guide you in what approach to use.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 11:26 AM
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Wrap a chain around it, hook it to your truck and go... somewhere.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Baldwin
Wrap a chain around it, hook it to your truck and go... somewhere.
Funny, that's what I initially thought of- Tangent (but a good story).

My dad and uncle (math degree and engineer) were burying a cable for a a pool motor BUT they hit a big rock, roughly 1 foot x 3 foot x 5 foot, weighed ~one-ton. (rock average @ 150 lbs per cubic foot). They tried every combination of levers and bumper jacks and cribbing and hydraulic jacks, but couldn't get the rock to budge.
So, they asked their uncle to come over with his full sized John Deere tractor to pull it out. The old farmer looked at the rock, went over and wiped off the the top of the rock, tapped it with the steel prybar and listened to the ring. He asked "why the heck do you want it in one piece?" They answered "we don't."

The old farmer walked over to our barn, rummaged around for a big sledge, and quickly broke the huge piece of weak red shale into 8 manageable pieces, hopped back on the tractor, and put-putted back home.
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 05-05-20 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 05-05-20, 01:49 PM
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When the item being pulled is immovable, that's a great way to snap a rope or chain and bust a rear windshield... or worse.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 03:47 PM
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Worse is that you rip off an axel or part of the truck. You've all seen those video where thr red neck tries to yank out a tree stump with the car and the transmission falls out.
 
  #36  
Old 05-05-20, 04:21 PM
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It's just a stone. Triangular, but looks to be around 2.25 cubic feet so around ~300 lbs.
You just need a prybar, and a sled/sledge

Or, dig out around it and post an "Atlas Stone" challenge at your local gym
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9DWM8i0sXA
 
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Old 05-05-20, 05:50 PM
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Progress report: Managed to pry it up and out of it's hole to this position using a long pipe and some blocks. Seemed to be too heavy/bulky to budge out any further by myself. I think with more weight (another person) helping to push down on the pipe/lever, it might come all the way out and at least be out of the hole. I saw these same kind of rocks, but much smaller in size, I suppose they might look a little blu-ish in the photos but they're actually just gray, along a river bank not far away, they were probably left from some dredge work in the past. I remember wanting to clear a better walking path toward the river from the trail and decided to take my sledgehammer down there and see if I could bust up some of the bigger boulders. I was surprised that most of them did actually did usually crack/split with several good blows with the sledge. But those weren't huge like this one.


 
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Old 05-05-20, 07:42 PM
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Excellent work.
Bottom photo- seems like you have a promising joint in the rock, running from the steel pole up towards 1-o-clock. With the stone suspended as it is, might be worth a few good whacks moving along that joint.
 
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Old 05-05-20, 08:13 PM
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Well that's encouraging...
I've got nothing to lose. I'll go ahead and give it a whack.
Actually a few good whacks.
Tomorrow!
 
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Old 05-06-20, 12:37 PM
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It's happening...

 
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