One of the worldbuilding questions was asking about the efficiency of a possible siege and I wondered if there was something like a scale in former times (when they did not have machines) how difficult a ground is for using a pickaxe (Something like 1 = compacted earth and 6 = granite).

So the question is:

  • Does one/several qualitative scale(s) exist (comparable like the Mohs scale for hardness) which judges the difficulty of the ground for a pickaxe?

  • If not, are there some qualitative tables how difficult a specific ground is for using a pickaxe?

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    $\begingroup$ And a category for the skill of the operator? Based on the amount of time spent on the blister-end of shovels, picks axes etc... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ I have seen tables related to excavation for relative density of granular material. Something like (Loose- easily penetrated by 1/2in rebar pushed by hand) up to (Very Dense- 1/2in rebar penetrating only a few inches when driven by 5lb hammer) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


The best metric for this would be a volume or mass flowrate: m^3/hr, ft^3/day, kg/hr, lbm/day, etc.

Any of these metrics would be easily measurable, and smooth out the variables of localized rock conditions and noise from distractions, weather, etc. You make a rough quantification of this when you are digging a hole for example to determine if you should switch to a different tool, change conditions, or give up. Mining has certainly used these metrics for as long as measurement has been available.


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