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9 Abrasive tools

In the beginning one stone was used to shape another - a form of carving where each stone wears the other away. Reciprocal erosion is not unusual with abrasion: abrasive tools are expected to wear out.  Today it is rare that abrasion actually shapes the stone.  Instead it is called into action to finish stones after they have been worked with other tools.  Never-the-less abrasion is a form of carving but to see this clearly the vatly different scale has to be overlooked: ‘hammers’ in most abrasions are tiny, sometimes mere grains of sand.




Sawing stone is also a form of abrasion.  Sometimes it is the hardened teeth of the saw itself that wears a channel, other times the teeth push sand back and forth and the sand does the work.  A twisted wire or string embedded with grit or diamond dust is essentially the same principle.  A drill is a saw that stays in the same place.  The cutting force is rotational rather than linear.  Early carving used loose sand and spinning hollow reeds.  Later drills used embedded abrasives, sometimes combined with impact sandblasting, a kind of exuberant impact abrasion, can be used to make lettering of shallow stencil based carving.  Sand is relatively common and since ancient times different deposits of sand were found to have differences that could be chosen for their cutting potential. Natural deposits of emory, pumice or carborundum were valuable to early stone work.  Commercially available abrasive sands have been traditionally sorted by color: Black sand is corundum or emery; Yellow sand is quartz and Red sand is garnet. 

Files, rasps or rifflers are all used to adjust the stone. Metal tools have become popular for abrasion especially since they can be embedded with nuggets of still harder material. Scrapers, like the others are pieces of metal cut with edges that grate the stone.

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