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7 Stone carving tools - introduction

Stone carving tools can be divided into three main groups: two of these groups are involved in shaping the stone and employ the principles of impact and erosion. The third group is concerned with measuring.



The impact tools include hammers alone or in combination with chisels.  Stone axes combines the functions of hammer and chisel into a single tool. Any of the shaped cutting edges common to chisels — the point, claw or tooth, buchard, etc — can all be incorporated into a single axe head.

Carving with a hammer and chisel is a classic division of labour. One hand weilds the hammer that drives energy through the chisel into the stone, the force gently adjusted to the needs of the moment.  The other hand guides the chisel, directing its angle and adjusting its position on the stone. The guiding hand repeatedly releases and restores contact between the chisel and the stone, allowing for multiple tiny adjustments.

The essence of the impact tools in stone carving is controlled breakage. For abrasive tools it is erosion.  It is possible to shape a stone with abrasion alone, but today abrasion is most likely found being used in the finishing phases, just before the work on a stone is completed.



Measuring tools are used at some point in every stage of the working process. In the quarry measuring determines the likely dimensions of the stone and matches that to the needs of the client.  Measuring also allows the quarryman to calculate the weight of the stone.  The square, compass, spirit level, straight edge and template find their use during the shaping of the stone. Measurement is important during work on the internal proportions and intervals in the carving.  It is also needed while positioning the sculpture on the land.

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