Author Topic: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?  (Read 3211 times)

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Offline Mark Katz

  • Posts: 11
Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« on: February 13, 2017, 08:55 AM »
I'm wondering if this is a hair-brained scheme or something worth pursuing?

We live on a narrow street, often made narrower by cars parking on the opposite side. It's even narrower when there has been a snowstorm and the cars are parked a foot or more from the curb due to snow not being completely cleared by the plows.

What this means is that we need a snow cleared over a wide angle at the end of our driveway so that we can turn sharply on entry and exit. However, those same snow plows place huge compacted mounds of snow and ice at the end of the driveway.

When I was younger, I'd just tackle that mess with shovels, spades and a garden edger to break it up and move it out of the way. Now, I can still pick up chunks and heave them away but breaking up the compacted mess is getting beyond me.

So, I'm wondering if it would be practical to use a sawzall/reciprocating saw to slice the compacted snow into more manageable chunks? It would have to be a double-insulated saw or even cordless to eliminate any shock hazard, and would probably need a fairly long blade (12"? maybe a pruning blade?) to make the effort worthwhile.

Has anyone tried this? Is it too dangerous? Will the sawblade get trapped and yank the saw around? Will it be so slow as to be not worth the effort? Anyone know?

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Offline McNally Family

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Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2017, 09:05 AM »
It has been my experience that you can tear a building down with nothing but a SawZall (and the right blades), so I doubt ice and snow will be much of a challange.

Since plumbers are one of the main customers for the tool, I don't think the moisture you encounter with ice will be much of a hazard.

But I could be wrong!
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Offline RustE

  • Posts: 160
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2017, 10:08 AM »
Several companies make scraper blades for reciprocating saws that might work for 2 inches or less of ice.

Anything thicker will probably need a small electric jackhammer or rotary hammer with a longer blade.

Offline miclee15

  • Posts: 16
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2017, 12:24 PM »
Last year, I had the same problem with rock solid ice.  I broke out the chain saw.  Worked great.

Offline RKA

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Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2017, 01:35 PM »
If it's solid, a rotary hammer with a chipping blade or even a drill to break up sections.  Hopefully it hasn't hardened completely through and there are a few soft spots to help you out and it all falls apart as you chip at it.  I'm not sure a recip saw will be all that effective.  The chainsaw is likely to make quick work of it, however, it's a chainsaw and you're likely standing on snow/ice.  Lose your footing, however momentary, and it won't end well.  In my eyes, it's not worth the risk.   
-Raj

Offline bdiemer

  • Posts: 182
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2017, 01:47 PM »
Sounds like a job for a harbor freight cordless. Even harbor freight blades. Sawsalls are great for all seek and destroy missions.

Offline RussellS

  • Posts: 161
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2017, 04:04 PM »
In Minnesota and other far north areas chain saws are used to cut through ice for ice fishing holes.  So a reciprocating saw should work.  But not as fast as a chain saw.  And as mentioned, slick snow and ice might cause concerns.  I think the ice hole cutters have spikes on their boots when standing on the solid clear ice.  They aren't wading around in a foot or two of snow, slush, ice, etc.

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2017, 07:11 PM »
Find a chain saw or even an electric chainsaw and make sure that it is on a GFCI circuit.

Peter
Scraps to Smiles.  To be continued.....  Stay Tuned.

Offline PreferrablyWood

  • Posts: 847
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2017, 03:15 AM »
Hire a  kid from next door. It's not worth taking risks with any of the methods described her. I do a fair bit a tackling ice and snow here in Scandinavia and used well focused handdriven equipment, small blows with a good sharp heavy metal bar, pick axe, the right shovel ergonomically tuned to my body size gets me through the ice mountains pretty quickly. I very cold work though.
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Offline Hneuwirth

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Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2017, 11:43 AM »
Depends if you need to lose weight!

Using a Sawzall or chain saw on slippery angled surface more or less guarantees a visit to the ER every so often. Even if you are careful, you don't know what rocks and branches the snow plow stuffed into the pile.

So, you can eat a pizza, get out the hand tools and go to work.

Or, you can use the pizza eaten by the dinosaurs and plug in one of these  heaters

Offline Pike_101

  • Posts: 6
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2017, 12:58 PM »
I would suggest one of these. Designed and developed to cut through 2'+ of solid lake ice, it makes incredibly short work of compacted snow and frozen banks. Cuts through a 6' bank in about 10 seconds, and the more icy and compacted the better.

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 3468
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2017, 05:55 PM »
Lake @Pike_101 Do they make a rip tooth? Or just that cross cut?

Offline Michael Kellough

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Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2017, 07:20 PM »
...and how do you tell which way the grain runs in ice?

Offline Holmz

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Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2017, 08:35 PM »
The teeth looked closely spaced ;)

Offline McNally Family

  • Posts: 400
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Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2017, 09:26 PM »
I would suggest one of these. Designed and developed to cut through 2'+ of solid lake ice, it makes incredibly short work of compacted snow and frozen banks. Cuts through a 6' bank in about 10 seconds, and the more icy and compacted the better.


This tool gets my vote! 
GREEN: In order of purchase = C18 5.2 Set w/Centrotec Installer's Set | CT26 w/Installer Cleaning Set | RS 2 E | Hose w/ Sleeve 3.5m | 115mm X 226mm Hand Sanding Block | 80mm X 133mm Hand Sanding Block | HSK D21.5 5m hose | CT Boom Arm Bundle Set |  Won the CXS Li 2.6 90 Limited Edition on 06/20/2016 | Metric Parallel Guide Set | 1080 Plate for custom MFT | OF 1400 EQ Router (metric) w/accessories | FS1400/2-LR 32 Guide Rail (x1) | Next  Purchase: Something else Metric |

RED: In order of purchase = Mafell P1cc w/tilting base | Complete range of Mafell blades | Collins Coping Foot |  F 160 (x1)+F 110 (x1)+F 80 (x1) w/Guide pocket, clamps & Connector (x1)  | Angle fence F-WA | Next Purchase :  TBD

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 407
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2017, 09:27 PM »
Give it a try.  Send us pictures from the ER to let us know how it turned out.

Seriously, it sounds like a recipe for trouble to me, but what do I know?  Down on the Colorado plains most of the snow is melted off 2-3 days after the storm moves out.  It's probably been ten years since the last time we had snow on the ground for more than a couple of weeks.  I am constantly amazed by human ingenuity and how well it turns out most of the time.  After all, 100 years ago they sawed up blocks of lake ice, packed it in sawdust and shipped into the cities in large quantities.

If I were to use a sawzall on ice, I think I'd go with the pruning blade.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 2889
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2017, 10:41 PM »
Just take a chain saw to it...we do it all the time, it's part of our winter activities, it's called the Winter Carnival. A sawzall just slows down the process, it's doable but slow. Similar to watching paint dry...

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 3468
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2017, 10:45 PM »
My great uncle used to to do that.
From memory the description of it was more like  a large circular saw and he talked about how to make the cuts straight...
Then they broken them out with a crowbar (I think)

Offline Pike_101

  • Posts: 6
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2017, 10:47 PM »
Lake @Pike_101 Do they make a rip tooth? Or just that cross cut?

Ask and you shall receive.

I just happen to have one with a Rip-tooth grind. Not the clearest picture. One may also note it takes a fair amount of Set to make an ice saw work well.

Offline RussellS

  • Posts: 161
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2017, 01:04 PM »
Designed and developed to cut through 2'+ of solid lake ice, it makes incredibly short work of compacted snow and frozen banks. Cuts through a 6' bank in about 10 seconds, and the more icy and compacted the better.

How do you get it into the snow/ice?  Its very easy to see how it would cut very easily ONCE the blade is through the ice.  But how do you get it through the 2 feet of ice to start with?  I see it has a sharp tip.  Are you supposed to spin it around in your hand like a top and drill your own starting hole?  And for that 6 feet of snow bank, do you shove it REAL hard into the bank and hope it comes out the other side.  Or are you supposed to climb on top of the bank and cut from the edge back?  The picture you showed is nice.  Just like cutting a board laying on the workbench.  But hand saws don't work too well if you are in the middle of the room trying to cut a hole into a solid floor.  Hard to get started.  The tool here seems ideal for perfect conditions.  But not useful in every other situation.

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 3468
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2017, 03:31 PM »
Designed and developed to cut through 2'+ of solid lake ice, it makes incredibly short work of compacted snow and frozen banks. Cuts through a 6' bank in about 10 seconds, and the more icy and compacted the better.

How do you get it into the snow/ice?  Its very easy to see how it would cut very easily ONCE the blade is through the ice.  But how do you get it through the 2 feet of ice to start with?  I see it has a sharp tip.  Are you supposed to spin it around in your hand like a top and drill your own starting hole?  And for that 6 feet of snow bank, do you shove it REAL hard into the bank and hope it comes out the other side.  Or are you supposed to climb on top of the bank and cut from the edge back?  The picture you showed is nice.  Just like cutting a board laying on the workbench.  But hand saws don't work too well if you are in the middle of the room trying to cut a hole into a solid floor.  Hard to get started.  The tool here seems ideal for perfect conditions.  But not useful in every other situation.

Somewhere I have a ˜20" long version I made out of alloy with a rosewood handle back in the 80s.
(I cut igloo blocks with it while camping, and the main issue was the snow sticking to the alloy.)
But I do not recall an issue plunging it in, just like in a vampire movie you shove it in.

Ice could be a challenge, but I think like a jig saw without a drilled hole... One can start out at 0 degrees and pull and lift, and eventually get it to be straight up at 90 degrees.

Another method would be a large auger as the ski race teams use for the gates.
They go in about 18" and a long iron bar can pry out blocks pretty quick with the holes are a foot apart.

Online Tinker

  • Posts: 3445
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2017, 03:32 PM »
It was only a few months ago (like about 910) that I was watching the adult males in my world cutting ice from the farm pond and loading onto a stone boat, being towed by the team of horses down to the ice house.  we packed the ice in saw dust and used it to cool the milk as well as cooling for two ice boxes in the house.  The first step to cuting the ice was to be sure no snow was allowed to remain on the surface.  Along about sometime in January or February, I was not much for keeping records in those days, we dragged the marker t the pond.  The "marker" was a wide beam with five or six blades set about 16" apart that the horse would drag first one direction across the pond and then across the pond in the direction 90º to the first marking trip.  That was the way the squares were established.  Then, the hand saw work began. Conveniently, i was too small to gt in on that part of he work. 

I think the hand saw was just dragged back and forth across one of the marked grooves until it went thru to water.  The sawing seemed to have gone quickly once a cut thru had been established.  A groove was cut all the way across the pond (I think) and then that strip of ice was cut into blocks and with ice tongs, loaded onto the stone boat to be dragged to the ice house.  My job was to help with packing saw dust around eeach layer of ice in preparation for the next layer.  I only got to watch the first cutting and got to ride on top of th load from pond to ice house. It was exciting to me to be able to have a responcability of packing that ice.



Tinker

Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Mark Katz

  • Posts: 11
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2017, 10:33 PM »
Thanks folks for all the useful advice. Here's some responses and an update.

Re using a chainsaw: Not going to happen - too risky for me. Plus I have no other use for it so it would be a single-use tool taking up space.

Re those who thought the sawzall idea would work: still on my list to try.

Re those older hand saws: interesting.

Now for the status update. Mother nature was kind and gave us a couple of days near 40 degrees. So I cleared it the old fashioned way - with a shovel!

Thanks again.

Online Tinker

  • Posts: 3445
Re: Sawzall to clear compacted snow/ice?
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2017, 03:29 AM »
I wonder why we never thought of that.  ???
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker