Finding the stone is probably one of the hardest parts of our job, but digging it out can be just as difficult.
The stone is laying in the ground like a layered cake, except the layers are all different. Some of the layers are thicker than other and composed of different things, like what we call shell. Shell breaks apart super easily. It’s almost like perfectly flaky baklava, you can’t take a bite without it crumbling everywhere.
Sometimes the good stone is much closer to the surface than we expected, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the stone is as far down as one hundred feet deep, or a football field.
The other thing to note is that not all the stone is consistently the same size. The different sized layers are each used for different products. The thin layers we will use for products like patio or slabs. The thicker material is what gets chopped by our Chris Cutter and turned into either chopped stone or Squares and Rectangles.
Sorting through the material is the easy part, but accessing it can be quite difficult. Sometimes we can just dig with a tractor without any conflict, but other times we have to use our hammer.
The hammer is one of the coolest machines that we have out at the quarry, and for good reason. The hammer is basically a oversized jackhammer that pounds into the ground and breaks up the layers of rock, so we can go in with a skid steer and scoop it up.
Our stone breaks apart much more easily than other kinds of stone, like Austin Stone or Leuders, which is one reason that masons love to use it. The vibrations from the hammer will easily break apart the thick layers of bedrock and even the thicker layers of natural stone for us, so we can either quarry that stone or continue digging until we find the good stuff.
Our hammer is a huge advantage for us as the piece of equipment is not cheap to run or maintain. But it’s not only necessary, but key to our businesses success. It allows us to access stone that most quarries are not able to, because they don’t have the equipment, like a hammer, to go as deep as we do. It’s almost our ‘baby’ of the quarry. Our ringer. The golden child that we drop pretty much anything for if it needs help.
It’s because of our hammer that we’ve been able to, so far, dig up to 30 feet (and counting.) After that depth, like mentioned before, we find that the stone turns into shell; breaking apart easily like a crumbly coffee cake.
Right now we are digging in some new areas that are turning up good stone, but we know that once we go deeper, we may need to pound through. For a lot of quarries this is the end of the rope, but for us it’s hammer time.