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Backhoe attachments allow an operator on a single backhoe to accomplish many different tasks. From the common bucket used to dig deep holes and trenches, backhoe attachments can also include large hydraulically-operated jack hammers, buckets of different sizes and shapes and V-ditch cutters. Some other lesser-known backhoe attachments include asphalt cutters, concrete and pavement-removal tools, and rock- and frost-ripping tools. Specialty buckets known for cutting 90-degree corners are used in digging cemetery plots, while other attachments are used in the removal of rocks, stacking of materials and scrap, and handling poles and barrels on a job site.
The most common image many people have of backhoe attachments are digging shovels or buckets. In reality, there are several types of buckets, each intended for a specific use and condition. Small trenching buckets allow an operator to dig through frozen or rocky ground to create a narrow ditch or trench when burying cable and the like. Other styles and sizes of backhoe attachments are used for digging sand, back-blading fill and even removing concrete from work sites. Special buckets equipped with very sharp spikes are used to dig into frozen ground and break up rocky ground when a general-purpose bucket simply will not work.
Several backhoe attachments are used in the road-building trade and are used to both dig and load large areas of paved road into dump trucks in preparation for a new paved roadway. Asphalt cutters resembling large pizza-cutting wheels are used to cut straight edges in the roadway to mark the end of the old road and the beginning of the new roadway. Once the backhoe attachments have cut the paving, the cutter is removed and exchanged for a bucket to load the materials into waiting trucks. For larger chunks of concrete, a mechanical thumb is an attachment that helps the bucket to grip the materials as they are lifted into the truck.
Stubborn areas of concrete are broken up by using the hammer-type backhoe attachments to break the material into small pieces. When used in demolition, some backhoe attachments are used to allow an operator of a backhoe to load and pile scraps into a large pile to be loaded onto trucks or to be disposed of in other manners. Large, clamp-like attachments make it possible to grab and move barrels and drums of materials with ease. Tighter-gripping claws are used to hold and position poles into pre-dug holes.