How to Build a Manual Tamp

Ryan Hotchkiss

Tamping can be a method of compacting back-fill material after an excavation project is completed. A tamp, or tamper, is a simple tool. It is composed of a handle and a steel plate. The plate is lifted by the handle and pounded onto the ground. Repeatedly pounding the ground compacts the soil. The simplicity of the tool translates into a simple do-it-yourself project. Building a manual tamp doesn't take much time.

Hand excavation loosens and aerates soil and a manual tamp re-compacts it.

Step 1

Cut the 1/4-inch steel rod into four 3-inch lengths with a grinder. Make the cuts at 45-degree angles in relation to the rod, rather than perpendicular across the circumference. To do so, mark the rod with a piece of chalk every 3 inches and place the carpenter square on the rod. Adjust the square until the 45-degree mark crosses the first chalk line, the first being one of the two closest to an end.

Step 2

Hold the square in place with one hand and place the wheel of the grinder on top of the rod against the edge of the square. Grind through the rod. Flip the square over, move to the next chalk mark and repeat. Flip the square over after each cut to make alternating 45-degree cuts on the rod. Grind 45-degree angles onto the end of the two end pieces.

Step 3

Mark the center of the steel plate with an X. To find the center, measure 6 inches from one edge toward the center of the plate and make a mark. Toward the center of the plate, measure 6 inches from an edge that is perpendicular to the first and make a mark. Adjust the tape measure until the marks are in the same location. Make an X at that location.

Step 4

Clamp the plate in a vice. Confirm the X is exposed. Place the pipe on a block. Position the pipe perpendicular to the plate, butting the end of the pipe against the face of the plate. Place a level on the pipe and check the level. Place the level on the face of the plate and check for level. Weld the pipe to the plate.

Step 5

Weld the 3-inch rods to the tamper. Place one 45-degree angle against the plate and the other against the pipe. Evenly distribute the rods around the base plate and pipe handle.