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Brett cuts off a hold + Carlo trip update


Brett Merlin, Membership Coordinator and Climbing School Director, finds out what it's like to cut a hold off the wall with a sawzall.

When we were getting ready for the comp there was one hold that didn’t get cut off the wall.  Because Psychedelia is dark, and there were no problems around it, we just taped it off for the comp and decided to deal with it after.  After was Thursday, when Brett was sitting at the desk and told us to cut the hold off the wall.  We decided to be generous and offered him the opportunity to cut the hold off himself, since he’d never cut one before.  He was game.  The above picture is him, all suited up, before he tried cutting hold.


Brett, several hours later, with a new blade.

The hold was a Voo-Doo, which means it had a special rubberized backing that they use to keep holds from spinning.  He began sawing, and as the saw heated up the rubber stuff liquified and made this goo that gummed up the blade and made it hard to see what he was doing.  The original blade he was using had been used before, and despite being labeled “Fire and Rescue blades”, they’re good for about 1 bolt cut a piece.  Anyways, Brett sawed away with that first blade for a while, but made not great progress, and after a while we let him off the hook ’til we could go to Fastenal and get him some new blades and some safety goggles (you’ll notice that he started out with his Native sunglasses).

After lunch we came back and got Brett re-set up on the ladder with the sawzall.  He made good progress at first, sawing 1/2 way through the bolt quickly.  Then things started to go downhill.  He sawed and sawed, and made a little progress, but he just couldn’t get through that last 1/3 of the bolt.  Finally I thanked him for his help and let him off the hook, then took a different old blade (the new one he was using was pretty trashed) and went at it.  After a few minutes of eyeball vibration, I replaced the blade with a 2nd new one (I hate using more than 1 new blade/bolt if possible) and quickly finished cutting the bolt.  The new blade isn’t even wrecked, which is great, so we can hopefully get another cut out of it. I think the reasons this particular bolt was so epic were 1) the rubberized backing on the hold, and 2) we were sawing solid bolt (not the threaded part).

Anyways, it sucked, and there’s a lot more to say about cutting bolts, so I think I’ll write an article about it in the not-too-distant future.  Stay tuned for that.  Til then, here’s more from Carlo:

And finally, Carlo's trip is still going well. This week, Jon will be flying to Switzerland to join him. We're all very jealous boys. For more, click the pic to check Carlo's blog.

  1. November 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

    The reason the bolt was so hard to cut could very well be that he was sawing too fast, which causes the blade and the bolt to get too hot, which tempers the bolt(and melts rubber). Making cutting it a pain in the a**.

  2. Nathan
    November 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Also if you can access the back of the wall it is almost always easier to cut the tnut (softer metal) off of the bolt, than it is to cut the bolt itself. You can normal cut the tnut off with just a big pair of bolt cutters and forgo the saws all altogether.

  3. Jackie
    November 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Morgan – You are definitely right, cause all that stuff happened. How do you adjust the speed of a recip saw short of just light-fingering the trigger? Ours doesn’t have an obvious speed adjustment option.

    Nathan – Thanks, and we know, but the Spot is built a little differently than most gyms, and you can only access the back of the wall in a couple of places. The rest of the t-nuts have to be accessed from the front only. I’ll write about it in the bolts or stuck holds articles I’m working on.

  4. Jackie
    November 1, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    The bolt cutters do sound nice though. We usually use a grinder if we have to cut from the back. Or we just clamp the t-nut and breaker bar the bolt out from the front. That usually works, but it kinda sucks to do…

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