Was the Steel Border Wall Prototype actually "Sawed Through?"

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Metabunk 2019-01-11 09-59-24.jpg

NBC News say these steel bollards were "sawed through", but there appears to be oxy-cutting slag on the cuts, especially on the far left (above)

Metabunk 2019-01-11 10-01-08.jpg

The cuts appear too ragged in many parts to be from any type of saw - although the bottom section on the right does appear fairly clean - it still has some slag on it.

NBC News says:
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/im...-border-wall-showed-it-could-be-sawed-n956856
A photo shows that the steel columns were breached with a common industrial tool.
...
A photo exclusively obtained by NBC News shows the results of the test after military and Border Patrol personnel were instructed to attempt to destroy the barriers with common tools.
...
"While the design currently being constructed was informed by what we learned in the prototypes, it does not replicate those designs," said Waldman. "The steel bollard design is internally reinforced with materials that require time and multiple industrial tools to breach"
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The photo above seems to just be a concrete filled bollard, with maybe 3/8" steel, and it has been cut. But it seems misleading to say it was simply sawed through. It seems more likely it was done with a combination of tools. Perhaps oxy cutting was used to create the initial hole, allowing the concrete to be chipped away, and a saw inserted.

Oxy cutting sounds like it would need heavy equipment, but you can actually make a fairly cheap and light DIY version of a thermic lance, like this one by @NightHawkInLight

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA-VCaBUsCA


My own experience of cutting steel with "industrial tools" is from using an angle grinder with a cutting disk, and from using a reciprocating saw with a tungsten carbide blade. Both of these were on cheap battery-powered mobile tools.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I did some speed tests, and you can cut through 1/4" A36 steel at a rate of about 1" per minute with a hacksaw and 4" per minute (15 seconds per inch) with a tungsten carbide reciprocating saw.

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Metabunk 2019-01-11 10-56-54.jpg

Sadly I could not find my cutting disk, but I suspect it would be similar to the reciprocating saw, and it has the advantage of being able to make cuts in any position.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The retracted Gov report lists eight techniques BT-1 to BT-8, mostly with names retracted. Generally they used a single primary tool and a secondary tool. The two techniques that were listed unredacted were:

BT-6 - Plasma Cutter
BT-8 - "Quick Saw"

A portable plasma cutter would make short work of the exterior steel, although it's not really backpack-portable in the way some other techniques are.
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
I don't know what tools were actually used, and as Mick says the cuts look rather ragged, but for what it's worth I don't see any problem in cutting through the 'bollards' quickly using cheap and easily available tools. I can't find any statement of the thickness of the bollards, but from the video it seems to be inches rather than feet. A few years ago I had some fence posts in my garden removed, the posts being about 5 inches across, and made of concrete with some kind of rebar core. I was expecting the workmen (from an ordinary local garden services business) to find it a tough job, so I was mildly surprised to see them bring out a small angle grinder, plug it into my domestic power supply, and cut through each post in a minute or two. (I was also expecting them to dig out the 'roots', but that is another story.) I mentioned how surprised I was at the speed, and the guy just said 'oh, these diamond blades will go through anything'. On further research (i.e. looking up 'diamond blades' on the internet) I realised that they are cheap and commonplace tools. Even in Mexico, I would guess.
 
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