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How to Remove a Boulder

This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shares his secrets for busting up big boulders

1 Use a pointed shovel to dig around the rock to expose its size and shape.
2 Drill a series of ½-inch-diameter holes into the rock with an electric rotary hammer.
3 Blow dust from the holes with a bulb-type syringe.
4 Into each hole, drop two feathers and one wedge; be sure the wedges are inserted between the feathers, and that the feathers face out toward the edge of the rock.
5 Lightly tap each wedge with a hammer to tighten it into the hole.
6 Next, use a 3-pound sledgehammer to alternately pound the wedges into the holes; keep hitting the wedges a little at a time until the rock cracks.
7 Pry apart the split rock with a long-handled pry bar.
8 For very large boulders, rent a diesel-powered air compressor and rotary rock hammer.
9 Drill a series of large holes into the rock, then insert the extra-large feathers and wedges.
10 Tap the wedges with a hammer to set them into the holes.
11 Use the pneumatic jackhammer to drive in the wedges and split the rock.
12 Pry off the broken rock pieces with a pry bar.
13 Continue drilling holes and spitting off pieces until the rock is gone.


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