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What's the best way to split this shale without damaging the fossils on the surface?


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Sorry if this isn't the right subforum, I'm a newbie to this forum and fossil hunting.

 

I picked up a couple pieces of shale in the Mount Carmel, PA coal mine dump (would recommend; there's a thread with a picture of the location here and any given rock you pick up off the ground will likely contain fossils) a little while back and am finally getting around to splitting them. What's the best way to do so without damaging/splitting the surface? The one in the linked pic has distinct layers but is still quite cohesive(?), and the other doesn't have nearly as distinguished layers, but I'm not as concerned about ruining the surface. Both seem like they will be far more difficult to split than typical flaky shale. Sorry if a similar question has been asked before!

image.jpg

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If you like what's on the surface, don't split it. There is no way to guarantee the surface layer won't shatter in the process.

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1 hour ago, connorp said:

If you like what's on the surface, don't split it. There is no way to guarantee the surface layer won't shatter in the process.

Thanks for the advice!! Do you think it's worth the gamble given what you see in the image? I'm not particularly attached to the fossil, it was just the best thing I could pick up given the limited time I had there.

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If you're not overly worried about the surface, you can split this shale where you see the layers using a small cold chisel and a hammer. Gentle taps along the layer are preferable than swinging the hammer down hard. That might cause a crack that can be exploited patiently with a few more taps.

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Fossildude19

Also, depending on the fragility of the shale, the tools you use can make a difference. 

I use an old butter or cake knife, for thinner shales. Also, an exacto knife for some really thin paper shales. 

Metal bladed putty knives also work well. 

 

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Yes, a sturdy knife with a thin and wide blade accompanied by gentle taps with a rubber hammer is good for this kind of work.

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fossilcrazee

Welcome to the Forum - beautiful fossils!  Thanks for sharing.

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