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Novelist Seeking Advice

Sean Currie

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Thank you for allowing me to intrude, everyone.

I'm beginning my fourth book (a novel), set in London 1968.

For a bank heist, I need to cut through the foundation of a building (concrete slab?) and then through the wall of the vault. I've been looking at cutting tools (maybe a Skil Heavy Duty Roto-hammer or a Bosch Brute Breaker hammer), then a thermal lance to cut through the strengthened wall of the vault. 

Does this sound reasonable, or can you suggest a more obvious choice?

Regards and much appreciation of any wise suggestions.


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Welcome to the forum.


Pardon whilst I finish reporting this to the FBI...


Clearly the contemporary tools are different than those from 1968. 


An impact hammer is god awful loud when used in the open, much more so when in a confined space. I always use eye and ear protection. An impact hammer, like my rotary hammer will get through concrete. The issue that arises is when the concrete has embedded rebar. 


When examining planned destruction, such as collapsing a building in place, the engineering is to use the existing mass and potential energy (elevated heavy mass) as the significant factory for the planned demise. A series of planned advance cuts to the structure, followed by timed charges cause the whole thing to destroy itself.


For the subterranean destruction, advance removal of the Earth on the opposite side will aid in poking through the concrete.


For steel cutting an oxy acetylene torch has existed for many decades and permits "easy" cutting, also w/ noise and smell.


Plan ahead to have a cake w/ a file delivered to you behind bars.

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Well, thank you both. I recognize this is not an easy subject and I also saw the problem with noise. Won't the thermal lance take care of the concrete with embedded rebar? They're not in a hurry, so time is not a problem. Noise will be the problem. "Inside Man" was an enjoyable movie, but not my story. 😀

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A thermal lance is an oxy acetylene torch on steroids. It cuts steel, not concrete.


My guess is it has a distinct noise, from the rushing pressurized stream of Oxygen. I'm also guessing there will be a smell from burning steel.


Intentionally increasing the ambient noise could be part of the solution. You don't need to whisper next to a waterfall.

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Mmmm, appreciate it Tortuga, but I'll decline. I don't think a thermal lance is an oxy acetylene torch. It might be lit by one. And I think it can cut steel and concrete, from what I glean from my initial research. Yes, noise will be a problem, but now I'm considering a diamond core driller for the building's footings, then continue with the diamond drill until it can't handle the vault walls. Then, I'll use the thermal lance to complete entry to the vault. Explosives, ChrisK? Maybe, but probably not. I have an actual bank in London and the building next to it. The file gives you some idea of the logistics

The Vault.pdf The Vault.pdf

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