Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hammer, Chisel, and Small Crevices Equal Good Gold (Part 3)

 (It's all about getting the yellow my friend.)

Life has been carrying me adrift  this past week so I apologize for the lack of new posts. I'm here to rectify the situation by giving you some additional info and tips on getting the gold from those smaller, less-noticed bedrock crevices.

Before I continue let me preface things by stating that everything I'm saying in this series of posts is oriented toward those of you interested in crevicing exposed or shallow water bedrock in both wet or dry placer locales. Although the principles here still apply to deep water conditions, I figure if you're dredging or hitting deep crevices you don't need my advice here because you already know what you're doing. Fair enough?

Stage 2. Breaking it Up: Once you've eyeballed a likely looking small crevice it's time for some force to be applied to that puppy. This where your hammer, chisel, or crack jack comes into play. How much force you should use to open a narrow crevice is a situational matter overall and you'll know what that situation is and just how to approach it once you get started. Every crevice is different.

Me? I like to start easy to get a drift on how hard that crevice is going to be to open up and more importantly how resistant a particular bedrock is. If the "easy does it" approach doesn't work I'll apply a bit more force and escalate beyond that, if necessary. The trick here is NOT to prove what a total macho bad ass you are but to find just the right amount of force and pressure to open up that tiny treasure vault. So go easy at first and then turn up the heat gradually. You'll get a better idea of what's going on in that crevice and won't be knocking any placer gold potentially contained therein all over hell and beyond. I'll tell you right now that some bedrocks are easier to "crack" than others, so play it by ear and try the gentle approach first.

I try to gain access to the top three or four inches of that crevice first and then repeat that process over and over again as I get deeper. Going down in layers like this and removing material a little bit at a time requires a certain amount of discipline and patience, so try to keep these two traits close at heart as you work. One thing I've learned in my three and a half decades of small-scale mining is that patience is indeed a virtue. Running a muck or swinging away with your tools like some crazed Viking beserker may impress the onlookers and release all those deep, pent-up frustrations of yours, but in the long run it's counterproductive in crevicing, especially when you're working those smaller cracks and crevices.

Stage 3. Getting Material Out: There is no single tried and true way of getting the material out of a small crack or crevice as you level your way down. Whatever works, You can use standard home-made or store bought crevicing tools or snifters and "suckers." You'll definitely need some sort of suction tool when working shallow water placer bedrock and I've seen some pretty ingenious devices used by bedrock snipers in my day, most of these do-it-yourself jobs. I like to restrict my sniping and crevicing tools to less than ten total (hammer, chisel, or crack jack not included). If you're wondering why, I like to travel light in this regard and I'm also usually working alone. It's a rare occasion when I have a "pard" standing by to assist me or hand me my surgeon's tools.

 (This gold sniper's tools show they've been around the block a time or two.)

Getting that gold-bearing material out of that small crack or crevice and safely into some sort of container (suction tube, gold pan, 5-gallon bucket, or?) is your ultimate goal. Like the Vietnamese used to say to us when something was good or right, "Thas a big numbah one G.I.!" Over the years I've known some bedrock snipers who liked to sample the goods as they came out of cracks or crevices but I think that's a waste of time and here's why. Even if there is some gold in the top levels of that crack or crevice you're still going to clean that puppy out right to the bottom regardless because the best gold inside it will be down low. If you spot gold as you're crevicing (and sometimes you will) then all's good right? If not, don't waste time by stopping your crevicing to pan every bit of material you take out. It's either in there or not and you'll find that out eventually. I was taught this lesson by one of my old-timer mentors long ago and he wasn't nearly as nice about it with me as I'm being with you. Trust me on that!

There's more to come so keep checking back.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Hey Jim, I hope "life " getting in the way is a good thing! You deserve a little fun, I hope you are getting it!

  2. Not so much fun but the demands of day-to-day life Gary. You know how it goes...J.R.