How to use a box blade: The basics.
Along with a loader bucket and rear blade, a box blade (US CA) with scarifiers is one of the most versatile and fundamental implements to have in your machine shed. Fundamental, because of its very simple, straightforward design. Versatile, because you’ll find so many applications for it once you get the hang of using it.
A box blade with scarifiers is basically a 3-sided metal box, with front and rear scraping blades that sit across the bottom of the rear panel. It’s used primarily for spreading material like soil or gravel, and for grading, leveling, or backfilling an expansive area of land for a driveway, lawn, garden, building site, etc. Scarifiers are angled metal teeth, mounted in a row on a crossbeam across the upper width of the box blade. They’re often available with replaceable steel tips. When locked down in operating position, they dig into and break up hard ground so it can be shaped to your need.
The key to becoming skilled at using your box blade is practice, practice, practice. You’ll probably start out being a bit awkward, but after a few projects, you’ll soon gain skill and confidence. So start with something simple that doesn’t require the use of the scarifiers, spreading out a pile of dirt or gravel. Then you’ll be ready to break up some uneven ground with the scarifiers, scraping and moving the soil around, spreading it out, until the area is level or sloped for drainage, depending on your needs.
Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind:
- Always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.
- For scraping, adjust your top link so the front and rear cutting blades are just touching the ground. That will provide a basic scraping and smoothing action. For a more aggressive scrape, shorten the top link so the box blade is angled forward a bit.
- Use the scarifiers to break up any ground you want to flatten. It could be a bump in your long driveway, a larger hump in an area you want flattened, or perhaps a hardpan area that isn’t draining properly. Go over it with the scarifiers in the down and locked position and your box blade angled forward slightly by shortening the top link. Work over the area well, thoroughly breaking up the soil. Then move the scarifiers into their up position, level the box blade, and work over the loose soil to level or shape as necessary.
- For smoothing an area you’ve worked, make sure your box blade is on the ground and level from side to side, then extend the top link so the box blade is angled slightly up. Then set your 3-point in “float” position. Since the 3-point doesn’t exert any down pressure, your box blade will now float along the surface of the ground. With it angled slightly upward, the inside blade will not engage the ground, and the rear blade will smooth the soil as you run over it.
- Anytime you’ve filled in low spots or holes with loose soil, you’ll need to compact it. Running your rear tractor wheels over the area a few times should do the trick. Then add and compress more soil as necessary.
- Your Operator’s Manual is a great reference tool for how to do these basic box blade jobs.
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