The ability to break rock is an important function of modern society. Every day, miners and workers in quarries are demolishing rock with machines and hand tools in order to provide the world with important minerals, including gold, silver and copper.
The rock pick is one of the most iconic rock breaking tools around. The rock pick has a long handle and a dual-sided pick end. One side has a sharp picklike point that is used for creating cracks in the rock. The other side has a flat, chisel end used for chiseling away rock. The rock pick is completely manually operated and is used for soft to medium rocks (shist, shale, limestone, marble and sandstone). These soft and medium rocks can be completely broken with the rock pick without any assistance from a mechanical device if the rock is small enough. This tool is especially effective when used on weak points on the rock like cracks and fissures.
Wedge and Feathers
The wedge and feathers are tools used with a hammer that exploit cracks and holes in a rock. The wedge is placed inside the feathers, which act like a guiding device to help prevent the wedge from getting stuck inside the rock. The feathers are then placed over the crack of the rock so the wedge can fall into the crack. The hammer is then used to open the crack in the rock. Once the wedge needs to be removed, the feathers are moved back and forth to help shimmy the wedge free. The size of the wedge must be in the correct proportion for the size of the crack to prevent the wedge from becoming stuck. This tool is also best used with softer rocks.
The jackhammer is a powerful mechanical device that can be used on any rock. The jackhammer is a hydraulic drill that uses fast and powerful thrusting motions to break through any rock. Unlike manually operated hand tools, the jackhammer does not need to be applied to cracks, holes or fissures in a rock to maximize effectiveness. This device can be applied anywhere on the rock and still have the same rock-breaking effects. The jackhammer is positioned so it stands erect and is held by both handles that protrude from the sides. This gives the operator maximum control, since the movement of the jackhammer is violent, and it can veer in any direction if not properly handled.
- Photo Credit rocks image by Richard Hodgkins from Fotolia.com
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