7 useful tools when building MTB jumps and berms

Building  jumps, and berms on an open hill seems pretty straightforward, but when the dirt you’re working is saturated with rocks, that’s when things start to get tricky. Even with the use of an excavator to move the majority of the dirt, there’s still the monotonous task of sanitizing the dirt to get it into a workable state.

These are the 7 tools that made this build much easier.

1. A bow rake and/or landscapers rake, is by my side almost every build. During this project it served to level out the surface of unpacked dirt, while also picking out medium size rocks.

2. A 10 tine pitchfork is not a tool I used much before. I often found that I had been raking all the rocks down to the bottom of the berms, which were 4 feet deep, and needed a way to throw large amounts of small rocks. The pitchfork was better suited for this than a shovel since the dirt would fall through the gaps, but rocks would stay.

3. A heavy duty 4 tine pitchfork served to help to loosen up the packed. Also, due to how easily it penetrates the dirt, was a valuable tool for finding and removing fist size rocks that were hidden beneath the surface.

4. Pickaxe, came in useful for when the dirt was very dense. It’s second purpose was prying out stubborn rocks, and loosening up rock clusters.

5. I used a Spade [shovel] when I had to move dirt that was still somewhat saturated with rocks. The pointy tip deflected off rocks rather than getting caught when jabbed into the ground.

6. Transfer shovels (preferable ones that are shallow, and lacking a “butt”) were used to do the fine tuning. The flat tip made precise cuts through the dirt while the flat back left a flat surface behind. These were also used to smooth pack when I had the desired shape.

7. A concrete spreader was another tool that I seldom used, but during this build I found that it came in handy when I needed to smooth the dirt and also to scoop out rocks on a hard surface.

I can’t stress how important it is to remove rocks from the soil if your goal is to sculpt the perfect jump or berm. I hoped this helped spark some ideas for future projects.

Those are mine, so what are your favorite tools when out building?

About Author