Featured The LordM "No Tools" Slab-Cracking Technique (Quick. Primitive. Effective. Safe.)

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by lordmarcovan, Apr 29, 2018.

  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Since this came up in another discusson, I thought I'd repost it here. Maybe put it on the FAQ board, if it meets approval.

    OK, here you go- several paragraphs and some extra commentary about a simple technique that can be performed in far less time than it will take you to read this post:

    The LordM "No Tools" Slab-Cracking Technique

    Essentially my technique consists of inserting the top portion of the slab (the part where the label is) between two fixed, immovable, and sturdy surfaces like a gap between the boards on a porch or deck, and then pushing the slab with one's foot to "bend" it, exerting pressure in one direction. The placement of the slab between the boards means that while you're exerting pressure on it, you're "bending" it until it snaps in two, breaking off that top portion where the label is. The gap between the boards becomes your fulcrum.

    Once you've done that, and the top portion (label part) of the slab is snapped off, the remaining plastic can usually be pried apart without too much difficulty, though one does need to be wary of jagged plastic shards if you didn't get a clean break. This is why I recommend pushing on it with a shoed foot. That keeps your eyes and other body parts well above the breaking plastic. A flathead screwdriver and/or some pliers can be helpful for the final plastic separation and removal, and I do recommend gloves for that, but this is mostly a "no tools" method.

    Obviously if you have a workbench and a vise and tools and all that, it is better, but this method occurred to me while I was at a show and needed to do a quick crackout with no tools on hand. It is crude and looks brutally primitive, but it is quick, easy, and effective, and actually less risky for the coin than if the slab were subjected to hammering (and hammering can create flying shrapnel, which is never good). Since the coin remains sandwiched between the two halves of the lower part of the slab, it stays protected.

    It takes only a second or two. *snap!* I've even done it between a door and the door frame before, though that only works with a reasonably heavy metal door. Anywhere there is a gap between two solid, immovable surfaces that is wide enough and deep enough to insert the slab, but narrow enough to create a fulcrum (a half-inch gap between the boards in a deck is ideal), you can snap a slab in seconds, pry apart the remnants, carefully extract the coin, pick up the plastic pieces, and be on your way.

    My World Coin buddies from the 2006 FUN show cracked many jokes about my method (get it? cracked? haha), but it works, and I've used it ever since. @Aethelred witnessed the first time I did it.

    It is so simple, you might find yourself saying, "Aw, man, I was overthinking this all along."

    Oh- and the slabbed coin I pioneered this technique on? A 1904 USA $20 Liberty, PCI MS62. Cracked it, submitted it to PCGS raw at the show, and it came back MS64, bringing me nearly a $1,000 profit when I later resold it. That remains my best cherrypick thus far.

    Disclaimer: this method has always proven safe for me, but exercise common sense and caution. I did once puncture my finger when hastily prying apart two broken slab halves with my bare hands, after the cracking. A flathead screwdriver or even a butter knife can come in handy for that step.

    Update, April 2019: I finally had a slab I was ready to crack, so here are some animated GIFs.

    The first attempt was only semi-successful. The fulcrum was too high on the slab. Ideally, you should crack right between the label portion and coin portion of the slab. Snap the label part off, in other words.

    I did not have the slab far enough down in the slot between the boards. It cracked it, and this would have been sufficient, but I would have then had to get a screwdriver out to pry the plastic shell off and finish the job.


    (It's been a few years, and I was rusty.)

    Ideally, you want a better break than that.

    So I reinserted the coin and tried again.

    *snap!* Got a good break on the second try.


    (Enjoy the sight of me in housecoat and no socks, and the photobomb cameo by Teddy the Dog.)

    Then all that's left to do is pick up the pieces and slide the interior part of the slab right out of the broken outer shell. Easy-peasy.


    Wear shoes, obviously. This protects your foot from jagged plastic. Since you're in a standing position with your eyes well above the shrapnel zone, this is safer than conventional methods where goggles are recommended.

    PS- By pure, random chance, the animated GIF update was posted exactly a year to the day after this message originally was. Trippy!
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  3. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    You need a short name for this. Foot Crack Technique might work. FCT for short.:D
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    You're right. I should get crackin' on a more snappy name.

    Perhaps I'll do a short video or some GIF animations next time I crack one.

    In the meantime, "Foot Crack Technique" (FCT) ain't bad. :)
  5. tommyc03

    tommyc03 Senior Member

    If you do a video please use this thread to post on. I do not normally see all of the posts every day. Thanks.
    Seattlite86 likes this.
  6. TheFinn

    TheFinn Well-Known Member

    Thank you. I would just call it, "Oh, Snap!", exclaiming that phrase in situ. I would think you could put it between a metal door and the from at that location and just close the door.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  7. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    You can always go really old school and throw the slab against a brick wall :p
    Kirkuleez, lordmarcovan and spenser like this.
  8. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Sheer and utter genius...........!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  9. CoinBlazer

    CoinBlazer Numismatic Enthusiast

    I do that when I get my coins back and I don't like the grade it got.
    baseball21, longshot and lordmarcovan like this.
  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    I like that, and might use it. Thanks. :)

    (Might've even come up with that one myself eventually, after some brainstorming.)
  11. Seattlite86

    Seattlite86 Outspoken Member

    Pictures or it didn't happen!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  12. asheland

    asheland The Silver Lion

    Cool technique!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  13. dpoole

    dpoole Junior Member

    Very colorful, Lord M! I get more emotional satisfaction by whacking it on the edge with a hammer, though, I gotta admit. :)
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  14. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Interesting technique that I suppose in a pinch would suffice. I have visions of the slab or coin falling between the boards in the deck. Also, depending on the slab, plastic facing the coin could break, or even shatter, and then you may end up standing on the coin through broken slab bits.
    Paul M. and lordmarcovan like this.
  15. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Please don't come up with a technique involving sitting on the slab.
    ldhair, *coins, Stork and 1 other person like this.
  16. TheFinn

    TheFinn Well-Known Member

    I remember being in Long Beach during the late 1980's and hearing dealers trying to crack the slaps against the cement floor. Every once in a while you would hear a coin go, "ZING" as it bounced out and hit table legs. Putzes! Always brought a smile to the faces of those that heard it.
    Paul M. and lordmarcovan like this.
  17. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Valid points, though you're not stomping or even putting your full weight on it. Just pushing until the crack. Coin or slab remnants falling through the gap? Depends on the gap and location you choose. Yes, certainly something to watch out for, but this is where the "common sense" clause kicks in.

    I use my (wooden) front steps. Each step is made of two boards with a slight gap in between, so even if the coin did hypothetically slip through (doubtful, with such a narrow gap), then I could retrieve it by simply reaching under the steps.

    Dunno 'bout you, but I for one am not a fan of having my buttocks pierced with sharp or jagged pieces of broken plastic.

    Or sharp or jagged anything, really.

    Or anything at all, really, sharp or otherwise.

    No buttock piercing regardless, thankyouverymuch.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  18. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    In sharp contrast to the "hold my beer" clause.
    Paul M. and lordmarcovan like this.
  19. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Yeah, I'll hafta work on that. But it will require photographic assistance, since it's difficult to shoot the action when that's taking place underfoot (literally).
    Seattlite86 likes this.
  20. Santinidollar

    Santinidollar Supporter! Supporter

    I’m not a slab cracker. But your method does make sense. Thanks for sharing!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  21. This thread needs pics or a video. I like the name crackalackin’ for the technique. TC
    spirityoda and lordmarcovan like this.
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