Splitting Granite for the Retaining Wall

Project: Vermont Farmhouse, Episode 9, Part 4



Exterior work continues with construction of a new stone wall, and Bob speaks with Hector Santos, a local mason, about the techniques involved. Inside the farmhouse, a new staircase is being built. And Bob continues his look at the heritage of Vermont, by exploring some of the covered bridges in the area-- some of the oldest surviving examples of Yankee craftsmanship.
Part 1: Retaining Wall Construction
Part 2: Touring Covered Bridges in New England
Part 3: Building the Foyer Staircase
Part 4: Splitting Granite for the Retaining Wall
The mason on-site installing a retaining wall, Hector, shows Bob how to split a piece of granite that is too large and heavy to use as is. Using a hammer drill, he drills a series of 4 holes about 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep in the stone, all lined up in the direction he wants the split to occur. And he puts small metal rods called "feathers and wedges" into each of the holes. Then, using a striking hammer, Bob delivers a series of blows, hitting each hole an equal number of times until the stones begin to audibly crack and pop. Once it's split Hector can pick it up with his little tractor and set it into place.
The wooded New England setting, with quaint towns and covered bridges, provides the perfect backdrop for building a traditional Vermont-style farmhouse.

Bob works with the Quechee Lakes Development Company to build a residence that hearkens back to the past yet satisfies the needs of a family in the new millennium.

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