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Direct Shear Test

Asti Diar Syafitri 1206292414
Christopher Kevinly 1206223846
Wednesson Lawijaya 1206230593

Date of Practicum : 4
of May 2014
Laboratory Assistant : Sandhamurti P.
Date Approved :
Grade :
Assistants Signature :

Laboratory of Soil Mechanics
Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
University of Indonesia
11.1. Introduction:
11.1.1. Objective of the Field Test:
To determine the value of the cohesion (c) and the angle of shear
(), and the water content of a soil sample.

11.1.2. Apparatus:
Direct shear test apparatus and shear box
Weight (5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg, 25kg)
2 dial gauges for vertical and horizontal displacement
Specimen cutter for cutting cohesive soil
Tamper to compact cohesionless soil
Scale with an accuracy of 0.01 gr
Calipers with an accuracy of 0.01mm

11.1.3. Brief Theorem:
The shear strength of the soil sample can be measured directly by a
constant vertical (normal) loading on the sample and an addition of a
certain amount of shear force with a constant, slow rate to keep the pore
water pressure at zero, so the ultimate shear strength can be determined.
The normal stress can be determined by a division of the amount of
normal force and the shear-plane area or mathematically:

The shear stress can be determined by calculating the shear force (G)
which is gained from the maximum reading of the load ring dial after
being multiplied by the value of prooving ring calibration (LRC)

In some reference books, it is stated that the cohesion of sand is (c)
= 0, and the shear angle () of sands ranging from 28
to 48

Table 11.1. The value of shear angle for some types of sands
(Source: Das M. Braja, Advanced Soil Mechanics)

11.2. Procedure:
11.2.1. Preparations
a. Measure the inner diameter of the cylinder in the shear box.
b. Balance the counterweight system so it is able to provide normal force
on the shear box.
c. Weight of the shear boxs cap, the shear box ball and the can.
d. Prepare the sands. Clean the sand from any kinds of impurities or
gravels by using sieve no. 18 ASTM.
e. Take a small portion of the sand, weight it and oven-dry it in order to
seek for the water content.

11.2.2. Practical Activity:
a. Insert the sand into the shear box. Fill part of the shear box with
sands, compact it with 15 tamper blows for each part is fulfilled. Do
not forget to put a lock on the shear box to prevent any translation.
b. The surface of the sand should be flattened by using spatula or tamper.
The surface is then covered by the shear boxs cover and its ball.
c. Put the shear box in the apparatus, apply 5kg of loading, then release
the shear boxs key.
d. Set both of the horizontal and loading ring dials into 0
e. The shear box is given a shear force by applying the force in 1
f. The horizontal dial readings should be read every 15 seconds until the
loading dial stop turning.
g. Repeat step a-f for the loading of 10, 15, 20, and 25 kg.

11.3. Experimental Data
Diameter of the shear box = 6.315 cm (averaged from 3 measurements)
Sample Area = 31.321 cm
Loading rate = 1mm/min
LRC = 0.15 kg/div
Weight of cap and ball = 0.84215 kg
Water Content = 16.492%
Table 11.2. Experimental Result
Time (s) Vertical Load (Kg)
5 10 15 20 25 30
15 26 45 48 68
30 29 63 62 82
45 31 70 72 94
60 33 75 80 101
75 34 77 87 110
90 34 77 91 112
105 34 78 93 114
120 78 99.5 118
135 78 110 120
150 110 124
165 110 126
180 126
195 126


11.4. Data Processing
The calculation itself involves the calculation of both normal force
and shear stress. All the calculation is done through computation by Ms.
Excel, but an example is provided explaining how to do the calculation.

To determine Normal Stress:
At vertical load = 5kg
Total load = 5.84215 kg
Sample Area = 31.321 cm

To determine Shear Stress:
Max Horizontal Dial Reading = 34

Table 11.3. Calculation Result
Vertical Load 5 10 15 20 25 30
Cap & Ball Load (Kg) 0.84215 0.84215 0.84215 0.84215 0.84215 0.84215
Total Load (Kg) 5.84215 10.84215 15.84215 20.84215 25.84215 30.84215
Sample Area (cm2) 31.321 31.321 31.321 31.321 31.321 31.321
Normal Stress (Kg/cm2) 0.186525 0.346162 0.5058 0.665437 0.825074 0.984712
Max Horizontal Dial
34 78 110 126 158 180
Horizontal Shear Force
5.1 11.7 16.5 18.9 23.7 27
Horizontal Shear Stress
0.16283 0.373551 0.526803 0.603429 0.756681 0.862041

Graph 11.1. Stress graph

In order to find the cohesion (c) and shear angle (), linear
regression needed to be done:

Table 11.4. Table of Linear Regression
X Y X2 Y2 XY
0.186525 0.16283 0.034792 0.026514 0.030372
0.346162 0.373551 0.119828 0.139541 0.129309
0.5058 0.526803 0.255833 0.277522 0.266457
0.665437 0.603429 0.442806 0.364127 0.401544
0.825074 0.756681 0.680747 0.572566 0.624318
0.984712 0.862041 0.969657 0.743115 0.711248
2.528998 3.285336 2.503664 2.123384 2.163248


y = 0.8451x + 0.0526
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2





Normal Stress (Kg/cm
) ()
vs Graph
To find :
= tan
= 40.201

11.5. Analysis
11.5.1. Experimental Analysis
This experiment is aimed to determine the value of cohesion (c)
and shear angle () of the soil sample. Cohesion and shear angle are two
important factors which influences the shear strength of the soil (). This
correlation is expressed as below:

This equation shows that the larger the value of c and , the more
occur on the soil.
This experiment is prepared by measuring the internal diameter of
the shear box; this is done so the surface area of the sand can be
determined. After that, the cap and the ball should also be weighted since
both of them also contribute to the total load which acts on the soil sample.
The weight of can should be measured in order to accurately measure the
water content of the sand sample.
The sand also should be prepared. The sand should pass sieve no.
18 ASTM in order to be tested, since larger grains of sand will not provide
accurate result because of its less homogenous property, which will leads
to an inaccuracy in its stress distribution. The sand is hydrated so it can be
moulded easier.
In order to keep the soil sample stable during the filling phase, key
should be fastened well on the shear box. This is done in order to prevent
translation which may alter the structure of the soil. During the filling
process, the sample should be compacted often (once every part of the
shear box). This is done to make sure that the soil sample is packed and
the structure is good. It is not full so the cap can be installed. Since the cap
should be installed, the surface should be flat. It explains why the soil
surface should be flattened before putting the cap and ball on it.
The shear box is then moved into the apparatus for testing. No
translation should occur during this moving process in order to keep the
structure of the compacted soil stabile. After installing the shear box into
the testing apparatus, the lock can be cleared and the horizontal dial can be
set so that the dial can accurately represent the translation of the sample.
Before starting the testing, note that the force dial should shows 0 on its
The loading process itself also needed to be done carefully. To
ensure uniform stress distribution, the ball of the cap should perfectly hit
the curvature at the loading beam of the apparatus. The translation rate of
1mm/min should be properly maintained, because any change of speed of
translation will potentially disturb the soil sample, initiating an early

11.5.2. Result Analysis
After testing the water content of the sand, the water content was
16.492%. Unfortunately, this value may not represent the real water
content, since the water content of the sand was measured after the sand
was exposed to open air for about 90 minutes, which makes a decrease of
water content possible. The complete detail of the error will be assessed in
the error analysis.
During the experiment, it can be observed that the shear strength
gauge that in the early loading, the increase of the shear strength increases
highly. As the translation continues the increase of the shear strength
decreases until the shear strength is in a terminal value. The terminal value
itself is the maximum shear strength; if the soil sample was translated
more, the soil cannot provide more support to hold the shear stress, so it is
said to be its maximum soil strength.
After doing the practical activity, data is gained from the six
attempts. Note that in the least loading, the dial reading shows smaller
value compared to more loaded cases. This shows that there is a positive
correlation between normal force and shear force. This fulfils the equation
given in the early part of the analysis.
From the calculation, it is can be determined that the cohesion of
the soil is c = 0.0526 Kg/cm
. This value is very small, which is provided
by the water content. The sand itself should not possess any cohesion, so
this value is dependable. The value of = 40.201
is also very reasonable,
since the value of for sand varies from 28
to 48
. This value of shear
angle indicates that the sample is categorized as dense angular-grained
sand. In general, this field test is a success despites of the errors occurred.

11.5.3. Error Analysis
When doing this experiment, there are some minor problems faced.
One of them is when separating the sands from impurities by using a no.18
sieve. The sand was very wet at that time, so extra effort should be done in
order to separate the sand. Because the sieve was shaken too much, a little
amount of sand jumps into the container. This may influence the result,
even the influence may be very small.
The next mistake is when pouring the sand into the shear box.
During the compaction of the soil, the compaction may not be well-
distributed, which may result in stress distribution issues. One of quite
major problem in this experiment was the gap between the third and the
fourth test was too large; nearly 1 hour. This may cause a considerable
decrease of water content of the sand. This error is expressed in the graph,
since the line formed by the first three samples seems to be a parallel line
to the line formed by the last three samples. This shows a decrease of
cohesion. The decrease itself may be caused by a decrease of water
The shear effect is created manually, which enables more errors to
happen. In this experiment, it is nearly impossible to create a perfectly
constant rate of translation (1mm/minute). This alteration may cause some
uncertainty on the result. Note that the gauge reading may not be accurate
too, since the limitation of the one who read the dials, or that the scale of
the dial is too large and the gauge is still moving during the reading.

11.6. Implementation
As stated before, direct shear test is done to find the value of
cohesion and the shear angle, which are very important in nearly every
geotechnical design. The advantage of using this method is that this test is
easy to be carried on, fast, and widely available. In the field, this type of
test is suitable to investigate fast and the structure which is going to be
constructed is not very heavy. This test is also done when more advanced
test is not available (in a small town, for example, where triaxial apparatus
is not available).

11.7. Conclusion
This soil investigation is carried out in order to find the value of cohesion
(c) and the shear angle () of the soil.
The soil being tested possesses a value of c of 0.0526kg/m2 and of

The advantage of this testing is its simplicity, speed and availability.

11.8. References
Budhu, Muni. Soil Mechanics. John Willey and Sons. New York. 2011
Craig, R.F. Craigs Soil Mechanics. Spon Press. New York. 2004
Das, Braja. Principles of Foundation Engineering. Thomson. Toronto.
Lambe T.W. Soil Testing for Engineers. John Willey and Sons. New
York. 1951.

11.9. Attachment

Shear box, Cap and Ball

Direct Shear Apparatus