Rock hammers come in two basic types: the pointed tip and chisel edged. Each serves a unique purpose.
Pointed-tip rock hammers, officially called rock picks, are used by geologist and rockhounds when working with "hard rock." Hard rock is, well, hard. Granitic, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks are all part of the hard rock family. Here the crystalline structure is tightly bound and cracking the rock open breaks apart the crystals. Hard rock mining is when the prospector went after the gold in seams in this hard rock.
Geologists and rockhounds use the square head of a rock hammer, or rock pick, to crack open a rock to see what the rock looks inside rather than the weathered outer surface of the rock, which often appears totally different than the real rock type. The square head is also used to drive chisels, but it isn't as effective as is a crack hammer (sledge hammer).
The pointed-tip rock pick is also the rock hammer to use when digging mineral samples out of hard rock.This is where the pointed tip pick comes in. The rock pick looks much like a miniature pick and the pick end is used in exactly the same way as a large pick, only it can't transfer nearly as much energy. You also use pointed-tip rock picks to dig out fossils from sandstone.
A chisel-edge rock hammer is often called a paleontologist hammer or a fossil hammer. The chisel-edge rock hammer also has a square head on one end which is used for breaking rock apart or for driving chisels. On the other end of the head is a chisel edge.
The chisel edge is used to split apart layers in "soft rock." Soft rock is usually sedimentary rock that has been laid down in distinct layers, usually on a river, lake, or ocean floor. Sometimes it has undergone some metamorphism to become shale or slate. These layers often contain fossils, such as trilobites, dinosaur bones, leaves, fish bones and many other features of the past.
Both pointed-tip and chisel-edge hammers can be used to break up hard soils to access what the soil contains.
Estwing Manufacturing Company does not allow US and Canadian distributors and retailers to ship Estwing geological tools to the following areas: United Kingdom, Europe, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore or Hong Kong. We're sorry but if you live in one of these areas then you must purchase through your regional distributor.