I’m always looking for interesting posts and videos about the stoneworking to improve my knowledge and to share them with website visitors and clients.
I’ve found a great video, in my opinion, where the famous stone carver Peter Rockwell explains a lot about the carving tools. To know more about Peter Rockwell visit his portfolio page.
Let’s dive in what Peter explains about tools in this video.

Basically, we have 2 classifications of stone carving tools:

  • Percussions tools with hammer, chisels, and mallets
  • Abrasive tools with rasps, scrapers and abrasive stones

The sequence stone carvers go through is:

  1. Starting out with a point chisel
  2. Then they go to the tooth chisel
  3. After that, they go to a flat chisel and depending on what they’re working on they may need the round-headed chisel
  4. Then the sequence goes to an abrasive tool that is the rasp
  5. At the end abrasives, stone abrasives

Stoneworking is most basically a form of percussion of hammer and chisel.

There are different forms of hammers used in different areas for instance:

  • Metal hammer with untempered iron is a typical Italian stone carving hammer; untempered iron tends to be soft. Then we have the American granite carving hammer that is tempered and gives a sharper blow and the round metal hammers.
  • Different than metal hammers are the Wooden Mallets which are used in England and France
Then we have a certain amount of work made by ax as the quarrying pick used for hammering and cutting out the stone.
We have then Bush-Hammer generally not used on marble but used on stones which you’re not going to polish and it’s often used as a finished surface on it.
Almost any tool cutting edge that you find with the hammer and chisel you will also find with an ax and you can usually tell the difference between them because an ax is always working vertical to the stone, never along the stone.

Now having dealt with the notion of the hammer let’s go to the chisels.

  1. Perhaps the oldest type of chisel is the point chisel that roughly speaking in marble carving it probably takes off the 90% of the stone.
    We have to think of the stone carving as a little bit like peeling an onion. You’re taking off layer after layer after layer and you first go through several layers with the point chisel and the move on to the other chisels.
    There is a marble point chisel, that is really a point, and a granite point chisel that doesn’t come to a point and it’s used vertically to the stone. There is also a chisel for limestone and soft stone, called punch and it’s for carving only on soft stone.
  2. After the point chisel, we have the flat chisel that is an ancient chisel as far as we know. The flat chisel is for working after the point chisel and smoothing off the surface. The flat chisel exists in many different widths and then it also exists the round-headed chisel which may simply be a flat chisel in which they’ve sharpened the corners off.
  3. The tooth chisel essentially it’s a more recent tool than either the point chisel and the flat chisel. The tooth chisel is really a creation of European Mediterranean. The tooth chisel comes in many different widths, from 2 teeth or more.
  4. Then we have something that is called a channeling tool and it’s thinner on the sides and it’s used for carving channels, deep channels into the stone. So it’s just a particular type of flat chisel.

After the percussion carving with hammer and chisel you start working with abrasives:

  1. What we have is the rasp which is in many different shapes and is what we use for smoothing marble. The rasp leaves very slight scratch surface on it.
  2. And then there are also the scrapers in different forms and they are for scraping out a slightly rounded surface.
  3. After that, we move on abrasives, rough abrasive and then a finer abrasive. And at the end, we can use pumice that gives us a matte finish on marble or limestone. With abrasives, the color comes out now. In marble, the color comes out only after abrasives.

Air Hammer
One last percussion tool that is a modern tool invented sometime the early 20th century is the air hammer. The advantage with the air hammer is that it is softer than hitting with a hand hammer but it hits so much more frequently.

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