In "The Shawshank Redemption", Andy is shown hiding the rock hammer in a bible whose pages have been carved out in the shape of the hammer. The question is: how could he have managed to do it? It would have taken him a very long time to do that, perhaps several months. Where would he hide the hammer until then? How could he get rid of the parts of the pages that he had carved out of the book?

Also, would it not have been better to hide the hammer in the tunnel itself, once the tunnel was longer/wider than the hammer? To find the hammer then, they would have to find the tunnel first. But if he hid the hammer in the bible, all the warden needed to do was to open the bible, which he didn't (thankfully!).

  • 4
    Well paper is easy to flush..or even eat for that matter.
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 30, 2016 at 12:17

4 Answers 4


He has a rock hammer, which is a device with an end hard and sharp enough to carve out fine details on small rocks, or to excavate a tunnel through a prison wall.

Paper is not as hard as rock, so the rock hammer would be an obvious choice for cutting out a shape in paper.

He could trace the outline of the hammer on a page of the bible, since he had plenty of access to writing implements. First carve out a single page, which would serve as the template, and then repeatedly carve out pages below using the first cut-out as his ongoing guide. This would take a matter of hours to cut through hundreds of pages needed, not months.

If he was working on his chess pieces, and got caught, then he has doesn't have to try and expose his tunnel to hide it. Instead of scrambling to put furniture, a poster, mattress, sheets or a pillow back into place, which triggers suspicion, he has his Bible in hand, which is encouraged by the Warden. If he gets caught with the hammer, he has his tiny carvings as the reason, takes a hit and spends time in the Hole. As Redd stated, no one would look at that and think it's an instrument for escape. Getting caught with that would not trigger a search for a tunnel in his cell.

Scraps of paper could be flushed or just thrown in the trash can, that's not going to raise suspicion.

Rock Hammer

  • I see your point that getting caught with the hammer might not automatically result in the tunnel being discovered. But I would say that it is a lot more difficult to cut paper with a hammer than with scissors (I am not sure if the rock hammer is all that different from a regular hammer, other than that it is small). That is why we go for scissors when he have to cut paper, even if there is a hammer nearby!
    – whirlaway
    Aug 30, 2016 at 16:24
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    However, a shaving blade would be perfect. Perhaps the convicts had some access to things like razor blades as can be seen from this conversation: HEYWOOD Him? What about me? Crazy old fool! Goddamn near slit my throat! RED You've had worse from shaving.
    – whirlaway
    Aug 30, 2016 at 16:26
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    @whirlaway - Yeah, we use scissors when cutting from an edge of the paper, but we really don't when cutting something out of the middle of a page or pages. A cutting knife of some sort is used. Yes, definitely a razor blade would be much better, but I don't think they generally allowed use of free blades in a high-security facility (where murderers would go). If they shave, I'd bet it's some kind of a safety razor setup, and that they have to account for all blades. Depends if they allow them to keep that in the cells. "How do they shave in max security prison" is a whole other question. Aug 30, 2016 at 18:00
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    He dug a freakin tunnel during 19 years with that thing - I wouldn't really care about a couple of hours cutting paper with not-the-ideal tool. Feb 6, 2017 at 5:40
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    I'm relieved that no one has thrown "rock is harder than paper, but paper beats rock in rocks-paper-scissors" in my face. Sep 7, 2018 at 17:33

Andy had the hammer almost as soon as he got to prison. it was one of the very first things he asked Red for. If you recall, it was while he was scratching something into the wall in his cell (I can't remember if it was his name or checking off days or whatever) that a large chunk of the wall fell out, which gave Andy the idea to dig through the wall.

As for where he hid it before he had the outline cut out in the book, well... Use your imagination. ;o)

  • He was carving his name, after seeing the other convicts' names on the cement wall. He got the 'A' done and then when he was carving the first vertical stroke of the 'N', a large chunk of the concrete comes off and falls to the floor.
    – whirlaway
    Aug 30, 2016 at 16:28

No one has stated the obvious... rocks. Flint is easily used as arrows, why not as a cutting utensil? Like, a shard of flint could have been a very adept tool at cutting the pages of the Bible, which... I've noticed it was a King James Version. It's generally printed on onion paper (very thin).


He couldn't have done it, as others have said, he would have needed a very precise sharp blade to carve so perfectly into the pages of the book. He also wouldn't have been able to put the poster back on the wall (fixed at each corner as not to move when the gaurd throws something through it to discover the tunnel) after he crawled into the tunnel. But in the film, he just did :)

  • the poster could have been done with tape and a bent piece of metal. as for the page cutting as neat as done by a machine stamp - no way. they should have made it a bit more realistically roughed. but really, who cares anyway?
    – theRiley
    Sep 23, 2018 at 19:46
  • That still would have been very very tough to get it so taught and time consuming when he should just be using it to escape. But yeah, who cares.
    – Stu Nova
    Sep 24, 2018 at 17:54

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