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rock splitters

Posted by Paul Hewitt  
Paul Hewitt October 24, 2006 06:02PM
I am looking for a source to purchase a hydraulic rock splitter. All I can find online so far is mining equipment. I just want a small one to break rocks no larger than 18-24 inches. Does anyone know where I can buy one or am I going to have to have one made?
Barry Flannery October 24, 2006 06:25PM
Before you even start you will need a lot of cash. There are ridiculously expensive.

David Von Bargen October 24, 2006 06:59PM
Try doing a search for hydraulic rock trimmers. They do tend to be a bit on the pricey side, but they do have to be built pretty sturdily since they are under a great deal of stress (and you don't want to be around if they fail catastrophically). 18-24" rocks are pretty big to break.
Douglas Merson October 24, 2006 07:31PM
I tried a Chinese hydraulic trimmer several years ago and was not happy with it. The price was right as the dealer did not want to cart it home from the show.

The splitter could be screwed down against the piece prior to applying the hydraulic pressure. This was nice as it was faster than pumping it down. There was not enough spport to keep the extended screw / piston assembly rigid. The cutters would break off because of the lateral movement when pressure was applied. The cutters were also hardened completely instead of just the cutting edge. This made the portion retained in the piston assembly too brittle to take much lateral force.

I would not consider getting one of these again. There are a few dealers on the web that offer them.

When stationed in Hawaii, the club there built one using railroad track for the up rights and cross members. It had a 50 ton jack and a 1/2 " plate shield around it. It would handle rocks up to 15". You mihgt find somebody in your area that could fabricate one for you.

Ray Hill October 24, 2006 07:45PM
If you have any welding shops nearby, consider visiting one and discussing a simple design with them. I have one at home that was made at such a shop and it involves a tempered bit coming off of a solid I-Beam and is sticking down from the top part of a large rectangle of I beams that are thoroughly welded together. The tube with set screws allows that tempered bit to be changed from a chisel shaped one to a pointed one, or a broader chisel shaped one. In this way you have the ability to focus pressure across different size areas of the surface, and in addition gives you the ability to remove it for re sharpening and/or retempering. A 2 ton jack was welded onto the base and has a steel platform that sits on top of it/ This platform has holes on either side through which pass two round steel bars that run from the top of the IBeam rectangle to the bottom, on each side, and they have heavy duty springs underneath,to keep platform from jamming as it is jacked upwards. The maker made a number of different height pieces of smaller i-beam steel that could be put on the platform to put pressure at specific points from beneath the specimen,if you want to exert it in a more concentrated fashion . I arranged a swap of services with the welder for his time and paid for all materials. He got quite excited about the project and being a craftsman, he made sure all welds and materials not only met, but exceeded specs. There are a lot of different splitters out there and it helps to discuss what are the pros and cons of different ones before venturing out to design and make one yourself. I tried to incorporate in mine , various ideas that avoided some of the problems I had heard about from other collectors. I love my heavy duty splitter, and it has its place for occasional large, and/or very hard matrix pieces, but I find that most of my trimming and splitting is still done by my much smaller unit.
Chris Tucker October 25, 2006 07:37AM
Hi Paul,

Of all the trimmers that I have used, the Zuber MP5 is by far the best. They can be obtained from several dealers and directly from Zuber. Parts and accessories are readily available as well. I have used five different Zubers over the years and only ever "broke" one; it was in the shop for a few hours to get new seals and is now back in use. The one that I have here at the house is used/abused nearly everyday and it still works fine even though it is now ten years old.

Stay away from the Chinese junk (Wydar and the Zuber clone sold by well known dealer based in Colorado). They may be a bit cheaper but China is a long way to go for parts. I am not personally aware of anyone with a Chinese made trimmer that has not broken, leaked, bent, etc...

You can of course build a trimmer. If you want one that is the same size as a Zuber, expect to pay as much for the materials as the trimmer. As several of the other responders to your question noted, trimmers can be built using a bottle jack. Trimmers made with bottle jack will be significantly higher to account for the jack height.


craig pearson October 25, 2006 09:18PM

Chris, would you have the contact information for the Zuber rock splitter. E-mail phone number address ect any and all dealers you know of...

Thanks, Craig
Don Saathoff October 26, 2006 05:38AM
Paul...I bought a shop bearing press (with a 12 ton hydroulic jack) at a discount automotive shop tool supplier...had the business end of the press shaft drilled and chamfered to fit standard hammer-drill bits, and have been happily splitting large specimens for ~ 10 years....I even ground a file to a sharp edge to fit into the supplied working vise to provide a lower pin-point pressure great and cost less than $100.00....TOTAL!!!.
Chris Tucker October 26, 2006 06:46AM

You can go directly to Zuber at

David Shannon Minerals was the main dealer here in the US. Since Dave passed away I believe that the trimmers are handled by Michael. You can reach him through their site, Dave's wife, Colleen, was still running the business and she can probably help you with trimmers as well.

In Europe, Zubers are carried by Mikon.


Chris Tucker
Rock Currier June 17, 2007 07:17PM
We have used commercial brick splitters to trim specimens in our business for years. I think the last one we bought was about ten years ago. They are used for commercially breaking bricks and concrete blocks. They come with little flat tables on both sides of the blades that you will need to remove. They cost three or four hundred dollars but we feel are well worth the price because they have a little cogged hand crank device that allows you to quickly adjust the cutting blades up and or down to quickly snug them against the rock in the position where you want to break it. Then it is usually just a few strokes of the hydraulic jack handle to finish the break. If you have a lot of specimens to trim, this feature is very important. Most of the trimming time on rock trimmers is moving the cutter up and down to get it snug against the specimen. If you really need to trim or break specimens that are 18 to 24 inches you are going to need a really large trimmer and you may wish to consider having one constructed that is powered up and down by an electrically driven hydraulic pump. Some rocks break easily, but others like the crossite that is the typical matrix of the benitoite and neptunite from San Benito Co. California can be so tough that even trying to break a 10 inch specimens strains my brick trimmer to the limit. In such cases I sometimes wrap a towel around the specimen before I really pile on the pressure. These specimens often just explode and can throw rocks across the room and bounce them off the wall. I would be afraid to be around a trimmer powerful enough to break a 20 inch piece of crossite when the rock broke. If the trimmer were massively built out of big I beams so there was not much give to the thing, these ‘explosions’ could be reduced a lot I think.
Grace Lim June 21, 2008 03:11AM
I have several manual rock trimmers and hydraulic trimmers original by Wydar. Contact me via email if interested.


P. Bigos December 23, 2015 12:15AM
I am looking into hydraulic specimen trimmers too. Anybody have any clue what the going price on a used Wydar trimer labelled US PATENT 5638805 all painted yellow with a "4x5" should be? Does anybody know much about the trimmer I have pictured here? Is this an old model? Was this made in USA? I keep hearing people saying Wydar was made in China. Anybody know what these went for 15-20 years ago? I'm assuming this may be when this was originally purchased.

Steve Hardinger December 23, 2015 12:24AM
The Wydar trimmer isn't very powerful. It's useful to crush an occasional crumb, but if you need to trim tough stuff and/or trim frequently -- both of which I do -- then invest in the Zuber recommended previously in this thread. I've had my original Zuber for 15 years now, and other than replacing the chisels once or twice, have never had an issue with it. And I am very hard on machinery (just ask my overworked car).
P. Bigos December 23, 2015 12:30AM
I see Shannon & Son's has Zuber MP5 for $665 brand new. Given that, any clue what an appropriate used value would be for the Wydar I pictured? A person I know is selling one like this with extra chisels that he never needed to change to.
Tom Mortimer December 23, 2015 02:17AM
I have owned and used a Wyder trimmer for over 10 years. I do not abuse it. The largest size I trim is small cabinet. I mostly use it for miniatures to micros. I have never had a problem with mine. The open "C" frame design is convenient to use.
Tom Mortimer
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