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Retaining Wall Block Splitter

chiseling and block splitter


Traditional retaining wall blocks were made with a split face. In the manufacturing process this involved placing dry mix concrete into a mold, vibrating and compacting it, and splitting it in the grooves that were in the mold. This split revealed the rough concrete inside of the mix as the face of the retaining wall. Sometimes installers would have to do the splitting themselves on the job site. These splits were only ever done to the front and back of the wall units and not the sides.

Still to this day, whenever installers need to create a corner they need to split or chisel the side of the retaining wall themselves. This range from a laborious process to chisel around the wall block to reveal that split face or a less laborious process of using a retaining wall block splitter or guillotine.



Tools for Splitting Wall Block

Though it may not appeal to everyone, the traditional look of the split face wall blocks allow for some versatility in building a wall that does not have smooth curves or 90 degree corners. For walls that have less than 90 degree corners, the best choice for a wall block is a split face wall. This is because to achieve that corner it would require a cut or a split. With wall block that are not split face you would have to cut that corner which would reveal the concrete aggregate inside rather than a finished edge or your would have a strange overlap at that corner. Sometimes when it comes to designing your project you need to choose the best product for the design and a split face wall provides that for non 90 degree corners.

There are two options for splitting retaining wall block in order to reveal that split face for the retaining wall. You can either use a chisel or you can use a block splitter / guillotine. Whenever you are operating these tools, you will want proper personal protective equipment including safety glasses, gloves, and hearing protection when necessary.

Chisel for Wall Blocks

Chisels are inexpensive in comparison to block splitters, but require more time to produce a split face and some skill in the operator. This means you need to have someone with experience on that project and their time to be able to reveal the perfect split face.

To do this properly, you would use a chisel with a wide blade of at least four inches preferably and at least a three pound hammer to work your way around the wall block with increasing impact using the hammer. First you need to make your mark on the corner block and it should be at least one inch in from the edge to ensure a good single split without having to touch it up. Following our line mark, use your hammer and chisel to follow it making a slight groove. Continue this on the face and back of the wall block and then on the bottom. Now increase the impact on your chisel starting back at the beginning and working your way around the block. We find the best result when we move around the block three to four times.





Manual Retaining Wall and Paver Block Splitter

Block splitters in comparison to chisels are much more expensive, but require much less time to produce a split face and little to no skill in the operator. This means you do not need someone experienced operating this and it will provide the perfect split edge when lined up properly.

To use a block splitter, the handle should be moved upwards to open up the blade. Then the blade needs to be adjusted to the height of the material that you are splitting. This could mean removing and replacing a pin to adjust the blade height or to twist some handles to raise and lower that blade. Then the material that you are splitting is placed under the blade lining up the cut line to the blade. Then you lower the handle which will lower the blade to the split line and with additional downward pressure the block will split. This pressure should start around the 45 degree angle for the handle before you need to add additional downward pressure. If you need more leverage you can use another pipe or handle to place on the handle. Once the height is set for the block that you are splitting you can easily continue through all the blocks that need to split.

These can also be beneficial to have on a paver project as they are a dust-free and gas-free way to cut a paver. Still we prefer to have a smooth cut for our pavers using a dustless saw.



This wall block splitter by Bon Tool has a cutting length of 16 inches and will split materials from one to twelve inches which is very important as a lot of block splitters will not do up to six inches in height for products even though there are some very popular wall blocks that are six inches in height. The splitter weighs 125 pounds and you can (and will eventually need to) buy replacement blades for the splitter.

Hydraulic Block Splitter

Alternatively to a manual block splitter, a hydraulic block splitter can allow you to make this process a little easier by using a foot peddle to raise the platform that the block is sitting on towards the blade which will complete the split. Then it is lowered by a lever. This will no doubt make the process of splitting block easier without needing to add your own muscle or weight to the handle downward in order to lower that blade. It will however cost more money, weigh more, and create another failure point with the hydraulics that will cost money to repair.

The Krack Hog Precision Splitter would be the hydraulic option on the market that will cost about twice the price a manual block splitter, weigh in at 200 pounds, has a similar splitting table, and will split block from 1.5 to 8 inches in thickness.

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