Stone Carving

Stone Carving orStone Sculpture tecniques

all what you need to know About stone carving!

Stone carving is the Art of telling a Story in a Block of Natural Stone. The artist discovers  the image that has been cover for ages in the natural elements  of the stone. With the help of many small carving tools the artist starts his journey in this  hard  complicate aventure that could take days of months of hard work with a hammer  and chisels to uncover  the mysterious  images that was compressed by time in the middle of the calcium  or sand that give the form  of  the natural rock...

Carved In Stone using Indiana Limestone for the Carnegie  Mellon in Pittsburg Fine Art project. 


The prehistoric  artist has a very difficult time figuring  out  how to  carved in stone  The artist probably throw one rock  again  on another rock and one broke in a fine shape,  giving him the idea of a Mammoth that is whathe was thinking and he probably continue strike  with a small rock to perfection his piece. His family probably was thinking that he  was loosing his brain of he probably was very hungry...

In the beginnings of humanity, most people were illiterate, therefore, Sculpture was used as an element to spread knowledge to strictlyiy in the pedagogical areas on how  to explain to others the concepts or events or stories on the icy, straight and attractive way possible. 

sculpture will stand for ever

How the Stone Carving Chisels Was Developed True History? 

True history the natural stone has been one of the mediums for sculpture, the artist has learned what type of stone is better than others, what will polished  better or what colors probably will go well with another and what type of stones will be best for outdoor  or indoor projects...

The Art of stone sculpture  has declined in the last 80 or 100 years  with the new technology probably will continue and is replaced by  different  materials  like epoxy and metals.  
Stone Sculpture never could be replaced  because  the action of creating an image out of simple stone is magical, history has proved since the cave man and today we still attract to this amazing  medium  the Stone Carving.

Art Will Stan True Time 

The art of stone carving has game the nickname  of the Lost Art because they are  not to many Stone Sculptors in the world the main problem  is time and money.  Time because everything is moving at a real fast pace and to create a hand carved sculpture it will take weeks or months, so for the customer will not interested  in spending  that high  price for a product  that could be replaced by casting or with a simple one that will be more economical...
Also the industry  is developing  new technologies and learned new ways  to create amazing sculptures  by CNC, so the need of stone carving has declined and with that the desire of becoming  one as well.  The stone carving are against  the myths  of the Lost Art...

But let me tell you how great is to be part of a great status society of stone sculptures.  You will have the feeling  of the great  stone sculptures like the classical, the Renaissance and Baroque artist. They created this amazing  amount of work that is standing today in most of the museums in the world. Let's think about the action  of transforming  a solid cool rock into a beautiful three dimensional image that will fulfill your life and your dreams.

​how the great artis of the pass created stone sculpture

The great artist of the past created sculptures in a beautiful  white  marble they took the time and give all the patience necessary to tell the story in that solid piece of stone, they create this beautiful artwork that will give you  the desire to touch to see if someone has petrificate in that stone like in the movies for example  Narnia the wicked queen  transform  her enemies that  don't  follow  her wishes into amazing stone sculptures. 
 The movie director  has the same vision as you when you are standing  in front of that beautiful  sculpture  out marble, Or any type of stone.

For example a sculpture create  by the great sculptor  Antonio Canova "Ugolino and his Sons" you see the drama of this great piece.  The father  is in the center and he is surrounding  by his son in the midst  of waiting for the painful dead. This is a very dramatic sculpture that in a glance will give you all that emotions expressed by Canova with his hammer and chisel. This piece could help us to imagine how this great stone sculpture or composition  was petrificated along time ago and Antonio Canova with a hammer and chisels and the art of been a fantastic  sculptor descubre the completed scene that is standing  right  in from of you in the New Your Museum. 
 Canova transform one simple block of white marble that was cut off of the solid mountain  into a jewel to your eyes that will  given to you all this emotions and tell you the dramatic story of Ugolino.

 That is what and stone sculpture is. Is the imaginative and skillful interpretation of experience in a esthetic object, has played through out history important roles in humanity attempting to master and enjoy  they evironments and to liberty  themselves.

With this said to be a Stone Sculptor is a privilege  that not many people  are able to handle...

Ugulino and His Sons

The Best Types Of Stone For Stone Carving

  • Alabaster
  • Limestone
  • Marble
  • Sandstone
  • Granite
  • Soapstone
  • Travertine

Saint John the Baptist  ​ Indiana Limestone Two River Wisconsin ​​​

Stone carving is the art of telling a story  in a block of natural stone, the artist discovers  the image that has been cover for ages in the natural elements  of the stone.

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How Difficult  Is To Carve In Stone

How much hard work it takes to created a stone sculpture? 

The new artist want something  that could be done in a few days or hours, we are losing the Art of Patience  and  also to give the best of are self to created something  that will stand  for ever like the art pieces create  by the great sculptor of the pass...

The new artists  are not much interesting  in a hard work in spending  hour with a hammer and a chisel creating a Art piece that could express  they selfs  to tell to world they story, they don't want to take the time to discovering  the images hiding  in this rough  block of stone.

But better  off we could said that new artists don't have the opportunity  to learn the art of stone carving.  They are not many stone classes available,  some are in a private  shops and  they could be cain of expensive also the artist need to travel or spend money in hotels...

 Now true the internet  the game has changed  and new door are open to learn the lost art of Stone Carving...

How  you could learn stone carving?

Now you could  learn all about carve  in Stone for free and in the comfort of your home and  of your time and space.
You want to know all the secrets  of the gran masters  of how they create amazing  stone sculpture that you see in special collectios.
 Join  me in this Free Video Course of how to stone carving and you will have the knowledge about the materials, tools, and most important how to start  carvingin stone...

Stone carving has been part of are culture  since the beginning  of time is something  that we could not avoid.
And the art of stone carving could re-born but we need a few Michael Angelos of Bernini that will take  the challenge  of go into a bottle  with in one hand a hammer and in another  a chisel to  dominate  the  heavy  and cool stone and bring into a new life that will stand for ever in the mist of the world.

If you don't have the desire  or availability  to become  an sculpture  you are one because  you are reading  this  blog  about stone carving you have the hart for it, and all the stone sculptor  need  a person like  you to support  us and help us in this battle of creating beauty  Art out of stone.   

​carving a Fish in stone

How to carve in stone

Is not that complicated  like everyone  think  is a hard work like I said before  but if you study and practice  you will able to understand  the process.
 To carving in stone you are going to need some material  of what will be the best  for the type  of sculpture  you going to created. 
You are going to need some toos I dedicated  a separate  blog  Pneumatic Stone Tools to give you all what you need to know about this subject and also all in general about Stone Carving Tools special hand tools this second blog will help you have the complete knowledge  of all the tools avalible and that best for Stone Sculpture. 
This videos below is about all the tools necessary to start carving in stone.

Whach this video and see how the Stone Caring Tools was developed...

Hand Stone Carving Tools

I could  be specific how to carve in stone .
Well you need to select the block of stone, some artist they select the block of stone on the stone company, but that is a kind  of difficult  if you  stone suppliers could be miles away,  but most of the stone companies  they check all the stone before  they sale to you, I said this because  in past I worked  in a few stone companies  in Alabama  and that was one of the practice  to inspect  the block or slabs  of stone for cracksbefore they are sale.
Things  to consider remember  that one of the obstacles  of stone carving is the weight of the stone for example  Limestone  could way about 120 lbs per cubic  foot, marble around 150 lbs per foot, so you are going  to need a fork lift, a craine  or like in Michael Angelo time a lot of friends and workers and many horses to pull the stone in place to start carving.

I could mention  my fever Sculptos that I study day after day, Michael Angelo, Birnini,  Canova. The stand in front  of  a beautiful  block  of marble to develop  the history to share with  humanity  true time they believe  the moments of  expression  was the  magical way to tell the story of humanity...


As well you need to remember  that even  this material they are hard like people said is hard  like a rock it could  breaks very icy  I saw in the past a slabs of stone breaking  in pieces most of the time is by miss handle so you  could  injury you self so be careful when is time to move any stone this is very serios business...

Now when we take care of that step  less go to the carving process 
You  going  to  need some stone carving toolsStone carving tools and techniques   you could find out in this bolg.

So you are going to need the design remember  that prior  you purchase  of you stone you have a design or idea so you will know the dimensions  of you stone.
Is best to have a clear idea of what you creating you could  make a few drawing  or even make a clay model when you created a clay model you will resolve  all the problems  before  you start carving of purchase you stone  that is why you should  make a clay model first even you are studying  the pass great sculptor  like Antonio  Canova he  was able to created the amazing  hyper realistic stone sculptures out marble by creating a plaster models and copy them into a block of stone using a Point  Machine
You could watch this video of what and how to used a Ponit Machine  

Pointing Machine  

Pointing Machine  is the best tools to transfer  your clay or plaster model into your stone block without problems wach  this video to learn  all about how this device  work and how you could  make your on.

Now after you wach this  video you know what is a pointing machine 
A pointing machine  is a great tool created to take mesuments out of you clay model  into you stone carving, this is play safe when you having a large block of natural stone to create amazing stone sculpture.  With the clay model you resolve  all the problems  like proportion, composition,  action and how the sculpture will read to the public, so with this great  pointing  machine  you will able to transfer  you model into your stone with out problems but some artist think this is cain of chatting  but is not, is you own creation the clay or plaster model are a study to created you master piece is the same when an oil painter created an study of the piece he is going to make.

You could see in the original  models of Canova  is that the final sculpture  will change  and become  10 time better so is not chatting  is using your resources  available  to you to created a better Art for generations to come.

canova pointing  study

how to transfer your design into the stone

Well now you know all about creating  models and pointing  machines lest go over how to start carving.
You transfer you design using a pencil or permanent  marker, something  you could use acrylic  paint .To start the best is using a permanent  marker  don't  worry  about the surface the marker only penetrate  almost nothing  and you are going  to carve the surface any way..
I used a plastic  to make my drawing because  they will not destroy  be moisture  or will not tear apart  like paper also you could used the permanent  marker  to draw you design that is a good  practice. 
You going to used a saw to cut large section  that are going to be removed  by your hand set tools.

What cain of saw you need?

Makita 16 Inch Circular  Beam Swas.  for your Carvings in a Stone or Wood Carvings  watch this Video to find  out how great it works. 

 If you have a simple 7 inch  cicular saw it will do the job you will need a diamond  blade of a mason cutting  blade. Remember  that the sides of blade will determine  how much deep you could cut into your stone, they are many type of hand saw in the market from gasoline  power engine  to a chainsaw for stone. 
You need to ask you self for what task I need this saw for example if you have a large slab and want to cutting  straight edge the free hand saw it will be a challenge  because you will not able to cut a straight  and with 90 degree  angle, so the best choice is the circulation  saw or other  call skill saw is one available  that can cut 6 inch  in depth  and you only need a straight  the simple way  to created the straight  edge is using a 2x4 lumber  clampled to the stone in the ends. This circular saw is great for straight  edge or free hand cuts.

After  you do all you cut of the materials that you are going  to  remove the excess of stone that you don't need. For this job  you need a hand set stone tool  this tool will break large chunk  out the stone block or slab by striking  with a four pouds hammer .
Now you could rough  out  faster  you sculpture  by using a point chisel they are great tools they are consider the hard workers because  they take care of the big stuff  and fast that is the main tool to use for Stone Sculpture.

Hand chopper stone carving tools

Hand Chopper  to created straight  edges in your stone. 

Hand Chopper 

Hand Chooper is a great tool to created strait edge  in any type of stone when is strike  with the proper  size hammer, this type of tool is preferred by most of the  stone Mason when they need that nice and clean edge on any job, this stone  tools could be used for regular flat stone surface or polished  surface.

How to used you applied  the   stone  carving chisels in the smooth, flat surface only so the blade is placed aslighth in angle and then struck with the desire size of the hammer if prefer  three  to four pounds remember  the bigger  the hammer is going to transfer  more power true the head of your hand chopper and with them you could break  bigger  pieces or a long straight  edge.

Hand Tracer stone carving tools

Hand Traced  you will created straight  lines in your Stone

Hand Traced  Stone carving chisel

Hand Tracer  the main function of this tool is to create a straight  line  across  the surface of any type of stone and with the help of the strike of a hammer you will  break the desire piece off.  Also is used to mark a line across  the large stone block  to use as a guide to drill the holes for the purposes  of split  the stone with the used of feathers  and  plugs,  the stone should  split following the line from the  hand traced  stone mason tools.

With this types of hand sets  stone carving tools you are able to roughing out faster the big amounts of stone that you don't need in your project, after  you remove the most of stone using this type  of carving chisels you go to the next type of stone carving tools to work the sculpture surface to the next stage.

Hand Point stone carving tools

Hand Point are the hard working tools you could rough out the entire  sculpture

Point Chisels. After  you take the most of stone using the stone mason tools now you need to move to the next type of stone carving tools that are  the most traditional  tools know  true the ages of the sculpture  techniques.  Great artist like Antonio Canova, Bernini, Michaelangelo, they clean the entire  sculpture with this type  of  stone carving tool, by them  was not an electric power  tools, or fancy grinder or saws to get the job done so this great artists used the Point Tool do the work.

The hand point chisels are the master of the stone 

The point chisels or punch is the tool the has the hardest work in the sculpture
, you could remove  a lot of material  fast with the right  size point chisels, this mean they come in different  sizes from 3/8" to 1".  The 1" is a great size because  its fist great in your hand and will resist the impact  of the four pound stone carving hammer. The best as well is to get as long the manufacture could make it like Trow  and Holden  by request the make an extra long that work fantastic for Marble or Limestone. 
So with the used of the four  pound hammer against your point chisels is going to mushrooms the head  toward the point, if you are going to use  day after day is recommended  to get the extra long and purchase more than  one because  it could  break the tip with the hard work and you don't  want to way 4 to 10 days to get another  one it happens  to me...

The point stone carving  tools in manufacturer in carbon  steel as well in carbide steel the carbide is recommended  best for granite but you could used in any type of stone.

The point chisels will give you the chance  to  sketch  the entire  sculpture, remember  that if is to closed to the finish surface special  in white marble  will live a white  mark  called  bruising of the stone so you need to dress up in the finish  steps of your stone sculpture...
As well you could purchase  a pneumatic  point chisel for your pneumatic  hammer.
True my experiences  I used  a pneumatic 1/4" hand chisels  that I filled with  extra braicing  to created the shape of a bullet this means changed the straight edge for a real curve bull nose and will break  true the stone surface like Limestone or Marble very well.

Claw stone carving tools

The Claw Sone Tool is created to break true the stone surface very well do to many points on the cutting  edge

Claw Stone Tools are the cleaning machine you could imagine that they are a mulptiple point chisels together so they break true the stone very good, they are used most after the roug surface created by the point chisels or the had sets...

The Claw Sone Tool 

They come in different  sizes and styles  you could find  with a small claw or with a large  claw.  The larger claw  shape they are a fine point that will break true the stone  fantastic because due to many points in the edge that will get in contact  with te stone.  Usually the carbide will resist more hard work than the carbon steel,  so the largest  and pointed the claws are they will take faster and in large scale pieces of stone, but they will created a rough  surface, that is  why  the next type with less pointed or flat edge will help you to get real close the final surface of your Sculpture. 

They are  a available for pneumatic  hammer, for a steel hammer  and as well for a Nylon  mallets or wood mallets.
The wood mallets or nylon chisels  have a particular  head that is round to prevent the chisels from damage the nylon or wood mallet because they have  bigger round surface in the head to prevent  the damage, you will have some minimum damage  with the long period of use that is normal.

This tool comes in different  sizes front real small like 1/4" to 31/2" as well, you could purchase these tools in carbon tempered  steel or carbide steel usually  hold the cutting  edge  longer and will have a longer life if is used properly  because is the carbide is a hard steel but it could break as well, but some manufacturer  will guarantee  the tools for life.

Flat stone carving tools

Flat Chisels they will created a smooth  surface in the stone sculpture that could be the final stage of your project.

Flat Stone Tool are the surface creator it will bring  the sculpture  to life...
This tool will clean  the marks of the claws chisels or point chisels and will give that final lookof your sculpture, You could live your sculpture  with the finished of the flat chisels is dependent  of what type of stone you working with if is marble or granite  you could give a real polish surface using water grinder with the polished pads that they come  in different  grid  from 40 grid up to 4000 or 6000 grid.

This type of chisels are manufacturer  in different  sizes and they  are available in carbon temper steel or carbide.
Some manufacturers  will make this tool extra long most in particular the Italians.  The flat chisels are made as well to  use with the  pneumatic  hammer, and for nylon or wood mallets.

Bull Nose stone carving tools

Bull nose are design for created any type of curves in the stone surface like a gauge.

Bull Nose stone tools this type of chisels that will replace in wood carving the job of a gauge chisel,  but also you could buy gauges for stone carving.  For some reason  is easy to use the bull nose in stone and is more traditional than the gouge. And the name was given  I think because it resembles the look of the bull nose that is flat and round to the side. 

These chisels are designed for creating any type of curves on the stone surface, you could use as well gauges, but most of the time is  used the bull nose instead of the gauges. They come in different sizes and different  curves as well. If you need to create a bull nose you could use a flat chisel and created the arc with the grinder.
They are manufactured  in carbon steel or carbide as well.

Gauge stone carving tools

Stone Carving Gouges to create any type of arc or curve on the stone surface.

Stone Carving Gouges  they are created for the same type of  job as the bull nose to create any type of arc or curves on the stone surface. They are not to many in the market most due to difficulty  to produce  special to give the carbide the shape of the curve of the gouge so is difficult  to find  different  sizes. 
But if you need some the are sculptor  that they used a wood carving gouges for stone carving you will lose the sharp cutting  edge created from wood carving, but they work very well for stone special soft stones like Limestone...

Fist Tale stone carving tools

 Fish Tale stone tools are created with the special cutting edge  in the shape  of  a fish tale, the main purpose is to help clean or work in areas that you need using the corner of your chisels.  They are manufactured in different  types and styles in claw chisel and flat chisels as well.
They are made of carbon steel and in carbide steel...

Bend stone carving tools

Bend Tools the main purpose  is to reach to difficult  area were the straight  chisels

Bend Stone Tools they are created  specially to carve area that needs special reach that is not possible  with regular flat or claw chisels, they are not many in the market, but you could make your own by using your torch and heat the body of your tool in the desired spot to be Ben. You need to consider that the temper of your tool is going to be loose so you need to re-temper again, make sure you choose a long  chisel to start with.

If you are using carbide they could resist the heat, but don't cool off the chisels after are bending, don't dip  in any cool liquid  the carbide will break or crack sometimes you will not notice but when you are using it, a piece will come off.  This is going as well for sharpening  don't cool the chisels in any liquid  if the tip of the chisels is Carbide.  If is carbon steel you need to dip in a cool liquid if not you will burn or lose your temper edge...

The power chisels like pneumatic  air chisels are available in many different sizes and styles, and this type needs an entire  block so you get  the best information  about it. This   blog is  dedicated  to this type of tools click in this  link to learn more about  Pneumatic Stone Tools where you will find what  cain are available  and how to use them in this video below.

Pneumatic  Stone
Carving Tools

Pneumatic Stone Carving Chisels are essential for  Stone Carving they will make the procces more enjoyable

Types of stone for stone carving


 Limestone is a great stone to use. The main ingredient is Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the mineral Calcite and it does not affect you too badly but if you are producing a lot of dust all ways wear a mask as well...

This Natural stone is a fantastic  stone to create  any type of stone sculpture. Is the most icy to work with, and they are fantastic  for construction like in  building  churches  or any type of Architecture  application also is recommended  for any interior design applications  like fireplace,  counter tops, any ornament  carvings and floors.
They are many types  available  in the market  some are  softer  than others. Also, they are a great  variety  of  colors.
In the USA you will be found

Indiana Limestone

 Kansas Limestone

Minnesota Limestone

Texas Limestone

 Alabama Limestone

The Indiana  Limestone  is quarried  in three  different  colors  you could purchase Gray  this type of natural stone like the name said is a cool gray color is one of the most  popular for any Architecture  application  do with the economic  cost.
The Variety Gray is a combination  of gray and buff colors so you will find a mix of this type of colors so is not that popular  for this characteristic. But is very economical as well.
The Select Buff this is great limestone is more dense  and light  in color is the best for stone sculpture,  you could obtain  a smooth  surface, but you can't polish it all the surface  most all limestone  they will not polish. This type is less popular  because  the price is higher, but for carving is worthy  you have to consider  the colors  if you project is all with Gray you have to see if the color change don't affect  the design  of the final product...

Kansas Limestone  

The most attractive  of this type of Limestone  is the warm color of a yellow Ocre with  a gray mix.

To created a stone sculpture  is fantastic do to the soft surface . Some time you have to be aware  of cluster or hole, something to keep  in mind... 


Marble is great to work as well it has almost the same properties of limestone. So is best to take care of yourself just used common sense, especially when you are cutting the stone with a dry saw without water or using this type of tool are the ones that produce the most dust. Air hammers will not produce in that quantity...


The Sandstone has silica in another word the main ingredient is silica,  when you are exposed for a long period to a lot of dust it could affect your lungs with a disease call Silicosis,  the Lungs are not able to break the dust particles and will affect your respiratory system. So if you are working with Sandstone is a good idea to wear a mask at all times...


Colombian Artist I am a working artist since 1987 in the mediums of Stone Sculpture, Wood Sculptures and Oils painting...