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core cutter

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The determination of dry density by the core cutter method generally involves the hammering or jacking of a steel cylinder ( with known mass and volume)  into the soil thereby and determining the mass of the soil.

The core cutter method for dry density determination is commonly used for the control of earthworks as well as subgrade materials.

This soil core cutter equipment method is not desirable for coarse-grained soil or coarse-grained pavement materials.

Uses of Core Cutter

Core Cutter is used for the determination of in situ dry density of natural or compacted fine-grained soil, free from aggregates. A cylindrical cutter is used to extract a sample of the soil with the help of a dolly and rammer. The weight, density and moisture, and dry density of the soil are readily calculated.

It consists one each of :

  • Cylindrical core cutter made of steel, 127.3 mm long and 100mm internal diameter.
  • Dolly, 25mm high
  • Test form pad of 50

Standards: IS 2720 (PART XXIX) 1966 & BS 1377-9

Suitability of Core Cutter Method

This method of dry density determination is most desirable for the cohesive soil. It is only used on fine-grained cohesive soils that do not contain stones.

Objectives of Core Cutter Method

The primary objective of the core cutter for the soil method is to determine the dry density of soil. It is used as a control test to check if the soil has acquired the designated dry density or not. The determined in situ dry density is necessary for the design of pavement and highways.

Apparatus Required

  1. A steel rammer of mass 9kg and the overall length including the foot and staff of about 900mm.
  2. A cylindrical core cutter with 100mm  internal diameter and 130mm long.
  3. Weighing balance with an accuracy of 1 gram.
  4. Steel dolly with 100mm internal diameter and 25mm high.
  5. Palette knife.
  6. Straight edge, ruler of steel, etc.


  • The procedure for the dry density determination by the core cutter method involves the following series of steps:
  • The experimental setup of the cylindrical core cutter along with the dolly is first made.
  • The steel dolly is then placed over the cutter to prevent damage to the edges of the core cutter.
  • The cylinder is then embedded into the ground up to its full height with the help of a rammer and is taken out by excavating its sides without disturbing the sample.
  • The surplus soil at both the ends is trimmed and the weight of the cylinder with soil is determined.
  • Then, from the known dimension of the cutter, the volume and the moisture content of the soil are determined.
  • The dry density of the soil is then computed using the following formula:
  • Bulk Density (γ t ) = (W 2 – W 1 ) / V , Dry Density (γ d ) = γ t / ( 1 + W)
  • Where, W 1 = Weight of cutter, W 2 = Weight of the soil + cutter, W 2 – W 1 = Weight of soil and V = Volume of the cutter

Results of Core Cutter Method

Dry density of the soil= ________g/ml.

Advantages of Core Cutter Method

  • This method is relatively fast and simple.
  • Core cutter test can be carried out in the natural environment without sampling disturbance.
  • It is highly suitable for the dry density determination of cohesive soil as well as soft, fine-grained soils.

Disadvantages of Core Cutter Method

  • This method is only practicable at places where the surface of the soil is exposed and the cutter can be easily driven.
  • It is not suitable for cohesion less soil.

Precautions Taken While Performing Core Cutter Method

  • Soil around the core cutter should be removed before lifting the core cutter.  This is done to minimize the disturbances.
  • This test should be performed only on fine-grained cohesive soils.
  • Core cutter should be driven into the ground till the steel dolly penetrates the ground halfway only so as to avoid compaction of the soil in the core.

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