Gardens

Tips for Cutting Landscape Blocks

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Installing landscape blocks sometimes requires that you cut the blocks to fit. This need not be a challenge, but can be done safely and quickly with the proper tools. Here are some tips to help you make clean, smooth cuts in any landscape border material.

Measure Carefully and Establish the Cut Line

Sometimes even ready-made half-blocks will not fit the arrangement. You may need a quarter-block or other unusual size. Measure carefully with a tape measure to determine exactly where you want to cut the block. Use a 3.5-inch wide brick chisel and a 3-lb. small sledgehammer to tap a cut line around the whole block: top, bottom and ends. Wear heavy work gloves and safety glasses while establishing the cut line to protect yourself from concrete or stone chips and dust. Tap all the way through the block with the chisel if it is more than 2 inches thick. When you reach the point where it will break, the impact sound of the chisel hitting it will rise in pitch. If the retaining wall blocks or pavers are less than 2 inches thick, set the cut line, and then saw to finish the cut cleanly.

Types of Saw to Use to Cut Landscape Blocks

A standard 10-inch circular saw blade is strong enough to cut through most types of landscape blocks, including retaining wall blocks. If you are cutting several blocks, change the standard blade for a masonry blade with a diamond or carbide edge, and dampen it with water to reduce friction. For small landscape edging blocks, use a 7.5-inch blade. For shallow blocks, use a band saw, and make long, smooth strokes to avoid shredding the concrete or composite material.

To make clean splits in brick and concrete pavers, you can also use a slab splitter. These are available for rental from companies specializing in construction tools. Place the block in the slot between the top and bottom blades of the splitter, and press down firmly on the lever handle. Get a manual splitter with smooth blades for clay brick, or one with notched blades to cut rough materials like stone, concrete and composites. If you are cutting very thick landscape blocks, rent a hydraulic-powered splitter.

How to Cut Landscape Blocks With a Saw

Mark the cut line once on the block with the sledgehammer and chisel, and draw it in with a permanent marker. Line up the notch of the cut line with the circular saw blade and slide the block slowly forward. Work slowly and smoothly to keep the block from splitting unevenly or flying away from your hands. Wear gloves and safety glasses to prevent chips and dust from getting into your eyes or abrading your hands. Wear steel-toed boots to protect your feet while you work with heavy concrete or brick landscaping blocks.

When you approach the task of cutting landscape blocks with attention to precision and safety, your result will be smooth block segments that will fit exactly where you want them.

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