How To Cut A Concrete Block Without A Saw

A circular saw is the best tool for cutting a concrete block. However, if you don’t have one and you need to cut a concrete block, you can use other tools. If you are looking for alternatives to a circular saw, you are on the right page. We have done the research to provide you with options.

There are several other ways to cut a concrete block with the use of other tools:

  • Use a hammer and chisel.
  • Use a scoring knife.
  • Use an angle grinder.

To help you with your DIY project, we will detail each one of these methods in this post. As we go along, we will also discuss the safety precautions you should observe while finishing the job. Keep reading to find out more.

Safety First

If this is your first time cutting concrete, you may not be aware that it contains crystalline silica. In fact, all construction materials commonly contain this substance. Cutting a concrete block produces dust with silica that should not be inhaled, so apart from looking out for sharp tools, you should also be careful about breathing in the dust. 

Silica can be dangerous when inhaled because it cannot be broken down and stays in the lungs. It can cause swelling and lead to hardened, scarred lung tissue. Over time, a person exposed to too much silica can develop a lung illness called silicosis

Having said that, you should wear a mask while working. A simple face mask will not be able to block small particles, so an N95 mask is necessary. If you have respiratory problems, you may not be able to breathe properly through this type of mask, so it may be wise to have someone else do the job. 

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Click here to see this N95 mask on Amazon. 

Aside from wearing a face mask, it is also imperative that you protect your eyes. Dust particles and other debris may cause eye irritation, so you should wear goggles to keep your eyes safe.

Click here to see these safety goggles on Amazon.

When cutting concrete, you should also protect your hands. In this case, a multi-purpose pair of gloves is helpful. 

Click here to see these gloves on Amazon.

Cutting Concrete Blocks Without A Saw

Concrete is not an easy material to split. This is why a circular or masonry saw is often used to make the job easy, accurate, and efficient. However, these saws are expensive, so it really isn’t worth it to rent or buy one just to split a block of concrete.

For small projects, you can use different tools to accomplish the task. However, you should be aware that these methods will not guarantee a smooth finish as you would get from a saw. Nevertheless, you can still rely on these tools to get the job done.

alternative ways to cut a concrete block. How To Cut A Concrete Block Without A Saw

Use A Hammer And Chisel

This is the most conventional manual way of cutting concrete and cinder blocks. You only need a hammer and a chisel to do this. Keep in mind that cutting a concrete block in this way requires patience and precision. 

Get The Chisel In Position

First off, mark the concrete where you want to cut it. Then place the masonry chisel on the marked area. Your non-dominant hand should hold the chisel.

The block will be easier to cut if you start in the middle. You should note that, unlike cinder blocks, concrete blocks don’t have hollow spaces, so cutting them will require several passes. You cannot split each block in one go unless you want an uneven cut.

Click here to see this masonry chisel on Amazon. 

Score The Block 

You will need to score the block. Once the chisel is in place, pound the head of it with a hammer to create marks on the concrete. Be careful not to hammer your hands during the process. 

Rotate The Block

As we mentioned, a concrete block is solid, and cutting it with a chisel and hammer will require several passes. Rotate the block as many times as possible. Hit the head of the chisel in the same spots as you go along until you break it. 

Use A Scoring Knife

A scoring knife can cut through concrete. However, this tool can only be used on thin blocks or cement backer boards. 

Click here to see this scoring knife on Amazon.

Measure

Measure and mark the area to be cut before actually doing it.  You can use chalk in marking so you can easily see the lines.

Use A Straight Edge

Although there are marks and lines on the block, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to make a straight cut. Having said that, you should try using a straight edge for guidance. 

Go For The Cut

Using the guide, run the scoring knife along the lines. You will need to repeat this process several times until you see the cement board or block split.  You can then apply pressure to the other half to cut the material. 

For large slabs of concrete, a scoring knife should only be used for scoring. It won’t cut completely cut through a large piece of concrete. 

Use An Angle Grinder 

An angle grinder is typically used for polishing, but it can be used to cut concrete as well.  You can use this tool to cut through masonry the same way you use a circular saw, but with restrictions.  You need to use a different blade, preferably a diamond blade

As we mentioned earlier, be sure that you are wearing your protective gear before cutting the concrete. Also, make sure that you have marked the block to be cut. 

You should wet the concrete block before cutting to prevent dust from flying. Run the angle grinder along the lines that you have marked. If the concrete block is thicker than your blade, you will need to make several passes before you actually see the block split.

This method is easier compared to the manual chisel and hammer method and more efficient than using a scoring knife.

tips on cutting a concrete block without a saw

Can You Cut Through A Concrete Block With A Drill?

A drill is effective in boring holes into any surface. If you are going to cut a small or thin concrete block, you can use this too. However, as with the chisel and hammer method, you should be patient when using this technique. 

Choose A Drill Bit

You can’t use an ordinary drill bit when boring holes through concrete. A masonry bit is the best type of drill bit for concrete. This bit is sturdy and thick. When paired with a hammer drill, it will easily penetrate the concrete. 

Slow Drilling

After marking the concrete, drill into it slowly so the bit won’t overheat. You will need to punch through the block several times before you see it split or cut. This is a tedious process and may not be the best option if you are in a hurry. 

Keep in mind that this method is not applicable for thick concrete blocks because the bit may not be long enough to penetrate. In that case, you should drill the concrete to score it and then use the chisel and hammer method. 

Can You Cut A Concrete Block With A Block Splitter?

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This tool is a staple for paving contractors as it cuts blocks quickly and efficiently and doesn’t generate as much dust as a saw or a grinder. 

To cut a concrete block with a block splitter, place it between the jaws of the tool and pull the lever down. The block should be cut in an instant.  

Although a block splitter is easy to use, buying one for a one-time job is not wise, as it costs hundreds of dollars. If you can borrow one from a contractor, you will save money and time. 

Construction workers use jackhammer for fixing footpath.

Can You Cut A Concrete Block With A Jackhammer?

You often see jackhammers being used in demolition jobs. That is because they are ideal for breaking cement or concrete pieces that are thicker than three inches

You should note that these are usually used only in big projects. If you intend to cut a small concrete block, using a jackhammer will probably break it.  So, sticking to the methods mentioned above is best.

Industrial construction worker using a professional angle grinder cutting the concrete Block. How To Cut A Concrete Block Without A Saw

Final Thoughts

Although cutting concrete is a tough job, you can do it yourself with the right tools. If you don’t have a saw to cut the concrete, you can use different tools, including a hammer and chisel, a scoring knife, and an angle grinder.

Just remember that the other tools may not be as efficient as a saw, but they are still effective for small projects.

If you find this post helpful, check out these other related articles:

How To Fix Hairline Cracks In A Concrete Driveway

What Kind Of Flooring Can You Put Over Concrete?

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