Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 36, September 1992

First the miners would decide where and to what depth to drill the holes to get the best results. The natural seams or faults had to be avoided, otherwise the shot was a dud. When a spot was carefully chosen a few blows with the sharp end of a pick would usually leave a small indentation in which to start the drill. Drilling required two men, one who would handle the steel with the other being the striker. It required skill and concentration. The drills varied in length from eighteen inches to nine feet. As the hole deepened, a longer one was selected. The striking hammer weighed eight pounds and was fitted with a straight hammer two feet six inches long. The driller's job was to hold the drill steady in a direct line with the hole being bored. After each blow the drill was withdrawn slightly, given a quarter turn and replaced in the bottom of the hole ready for the next blow from the striker. Similar to using an axe, the strikers swung the hammer over his shoulders and struck with all his might. If the timing was not perfect by both men the results were disastrous with both men getting jarred and blistered hands. Woe to the driller who misjudged the next blow and never had his drill steady and true; woe to the striker who altered his timing or delivered an inaccurate blow.

When drilling downwards it was necessary to use water in the hole to collect the finely powdered rock that that formed by the constant hammering of the drill. This dust would eventually mix with the water and form a substance like porridge which would then have to be scraped out by a specially made scraper. After each scraping more water could then be added to the hole and drilling would again commence. A sack placed around the neck of the hole was supposed to stop the splash each time the drill was struck. It was only partially successful as the unfortunate driller always got "plastered". When the holes were at the required depth, a charge of gelignite would be prepared. The strength of the charge was very important . . too strong and most of the shattered rock would be hurled away from the quarry and wasted ... too light and it would only crack the rock without dislodging any "goolies". Once the rock had been blasted out of the face the larger boulders would be broken down by a large 18-pound spoiling hammer. These in turn would be broken down by a lighter spoiling hammer until they became small enough to be handled. They were finally broken into metal by a four pound napping hammer.