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Stone Carving Tools

Stone carving Tools and techniques

Stone tarving tools are made of a piece of Carbon Temper  Steel created in a special way so it can brake through a smooth or rough Stone surfaces.  
Marble, Limestone, Sandstone, Alabaster, Granite or Soapstone, are some of the stones that can be shaped  by striking them with different sizes of tools; such as a hammer. Depending on how much force you want to transfer  through the head of the hammer, will determine how much stone you can remove. The bigger the hammer used, the bigger the impact;  and the bigger the piece of stone that can be removed...

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This group of Modern Stone Carving Chisels  are called: Claw Chisels; and are used for carving  any type of Stone...

In Prehistoric  time, humanity created an image that reflected an  event or something that interested them... The prehistoric Artist tried different  objects as tools to carve in the stone surface; such as a Rock rubbing against another Rock, creating the carvings we  see today in the prehistoric caves or archaeological pieces in museums. In prehistoric time, man discovered different  metals, like Copper, Bronze, Gold and Iron. Artist's used these types of metals  to create stone Sculpturing tools, although the results improved with time these metals weren't hard enough and when used; they crumbled. Even though these tools weren't ideal,  they still created art pieces we find today in prehistoric caves or in museums around the world...Humanity  never gave up searching for new metals to use as tools, and with new discoveries of different types of Steel; the game chage...


Around 1700 BC,  Hittites civilization discovered  Iron and used it to create Stone Sculpturing  Tools...

How the Stone Carving Chisels  were Developed, True History? Less See...

The history of the Hittites is quite mysterious, we know that their empire was one of the most important in Mesopotamia. The Hittites were very skillful in the construction of chariots,  spears and tools. They become the leaders of the Iron Age.

Hittites  used a simple melting furnace to melt the iron.  With this, they were able to forge spears blades and tools like Stone Carving tools.  This knowledge comes from findings reflected in archaeological discoveries, like stone sculptures that were created by the Artist of this civilization. With the new discovery of forged tools and spears made of Iron, and being  harder than bronze, copper or gold, the Hittites established their military superpower of the Near East and were able to  compete with the Roman Empire; as well as the Vikings and Celtic civilizations...

Hittites became a great empire with the creation of tools made out of Iron and trading these creations with other  people throughout the Mediterranean and Egypt.

This information is just for us to get a better  understanding how stone Carving Tools and techniques were developed through the periods  of time and through all civilization.  Maybe this will change how we see our tools today and have a better understanding  about the tools available to us in the market. So, In order to create well malleable and in particular hardenable steel, the amount of carbon content is crucial.  A good tool has to contain between 0.2 to 2 % of carbon steel. With this quality of carbon, the tool will have a good edge when it is sharpened.

So, In order to create well malleable and in particular hardenable steel, the amount of carbon content is crucial.  A good tool has to contain between 0.2 to 2 % of carbon steel. With this quality of carbon, the tool will have a good edge when it is sharpened.


What is the best steel  to created stone carving tools?

To create this particular  quality of Steel, we have to have  good control in the furnace of the Iron Ore. The amount of fuel and how much air is getting  into the ore also plays a part in the process of melting the steel, or it being refined. Sometimes,   if the results are very porous or contaminated with slag, the steel needs to be cleaned by doing the forging  process again.
Carbon steel is the best Steel to create carving tools, such as a wood carving chisel. This tool needs the razor  edge to cut wood and easy and nicely. In order to have this type of quality, the steel needs to contain 0.2 to 1.7 %  carbon and none or only small amounts of alloying elements. This means it's not stainless but during the hardening process, it forms a very fine structure  of grained martensite needed to give the property what it needs to become great steel and it also helps it obtain a good sharpening edge...
With that said,  let's go over the modern stone carving chisels available  around the world.

What tools are used to carve in stone?

  • Hand  Set Stone Carving Tools
  • Hand Chopper Stone Carving Tools
  • Hand Tracer stone Carving Tools
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     Point Chisel or punch Chisel Stone Carving Tools
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    Claw stone Carving tools
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    Flat stone Carving tools 
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    Gauges stone Carving tools
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    Brushing stone Carving tools
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    mallet stone Carving tools
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    Files
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    Pneumatic  stone Carving tools
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    Pneumatic Air hammer 
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    air compressor 
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    Work bench  
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    Saw with carbide blades
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    Grinder 
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    Polisher
Stone carving Pitti tondo

Imitation of The hands of Michael Angelo creating the pitti Tondo in Carara Marble in Florence between 1501- 1504

When you have in front a great piece of marble waiting to be transformed into amazing Sculpture; just grab your hammer and Chisel and bring the Stone into LIFE...

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What kind of chisel do you use for stone carving?

Whach this video to know all about Stone Carving Tools...

These are the best stone Carving Tools to create  amazing  sculptures...

We use the art of sculpture  to tell others what is happening  or the artist's opinion about an event.  And by using different mediums like Stone Carving, Bronze Casting, Wood Carving, Metal Casting, Clay Modeling or Oil Paints, the artist is able to create  his own history, his own perspective of what he wants you to see or feel...The two most important elements of any sculpture are space and mass, they  are essential to create a traditional sculpture three Dimensional space. 
The mass of a sculpture is the solid material that is contained by its surfaces...
The material forms the sculpture and  moves through space in a solid  form or an empty space to create the appearance of the sculpture...
To create a beautiful  Stone Sculpture you are going to need some particular  tools that will cut or break through the hard surface of a  stone such as Carrara Marble, Alabama Marble, Limestone, sandstone, Travertine, Granite and many more...

To begin  Stone Sculpturing you don't need too many tools.

 Italian stone carvingTools available  here Tabvlarasa

You could start with just a hammer and a hand point tool, with  those two carving tools you could rough the entire stone carving, but you are going to need different tools to clean the rough surface.
After you rough  out the sculpture  with a Point chisel, you move to next chisels,  the best one to use next will be the Claw chisel and when your done  with that one, you will use the flat chisels to finished...

lets go over all the stone carving tools available  to you.

Watch this video and see how the Stone Caring Tool was developed...


What are the secrets  of the ​Hand Set stone carving tools?

Hand Set tools were created to break pieces of stone by striking  them with a hammer.

Hand set stone carving Chisels

They are the great stone carving chisels that will remove a lot of material  fast by using a hammer of three to four pounds. You will apply this tool to a flat surface  of the stone, and with the entire flat surface at the end of the chisel against the stone surface.
You can also cut the stone first with the circular saw to help the stone break better...

Hand chopper stone carving tools

Hand Chopper is a great tool to create a straight edge  in any type of stone when struck with the proper  size hammer, this type of tool is preferred by most stone Masons when they need that nice and clean edge on any job like creating the rock face effects...

This stone tool could be used for regular flat stone surfaces or polished surfaces.


Hand Tracer stone carving tools

Hand Tracer:  the main function of this tool is to create a straight  line across the surface of any type of stone or with the strike of a hammer  break the desire piece of stone off. This tool is also used to mark a line across  the large stone block, then using the line as a guide to drill holes. The purpose of the holes is to ease the split  of the stone, then using feathers and plugs the stone should split along the line formed using the hand traced stone mason tool.

With this type of handset stone carving tool you are able to rough out big amounts of stone that you don't need in your project faster, and after  you remove most of the stone by using these type of carving chisels you proceed to the next type of stone carving tool to work the sculpture surface to the next stage.

The secrets of the Hand Point stone carving tools

Hand Point tools are the hard working tools used to rough out the entire sculpture.


Point Chisels:   After taking most of the stone off by using the stone mason tools, the next type of stone carving tools used are  the most traditional ones; like the point chisel. These tools are known through the ages of Sculpting techniques and used by.  Great artist like Antonio Canova, Bernini, Michelangelo. These artists cleaned the entire sculpture with the point chisel. In that era there wasn't any electric power  tools, or fancy grinders or saws to get the job done, so those great artist used the Point Tool to do the work.

The point chisels or punch is the tool the has the hardest job in the sculpture, you could remove  a lot of material fast with the right size point chisels. They come in different sizes from 3/8" to 1".  The 1" is a great size because it fits great in your hand and will resist the impact of the four pound stone carving hammer. The manufacturer such as Trow  and Holden can; by request, make an extra long point chisel that will work fantastic on Marble or Limestone. So, by using the four  pound hammer against your point chose,  this will mushroom the head toward the point.  If you are going to use the tool day after day, it is recommended  to get the extra long tool and purchase more than one because the tip could  break with the hard work and you don't want to wait 4 to 10 days to get another  one like it happened to me...

The point stone carving  tools are manufactured in carbon  steel as well as carbide steel. The carbide is recommended  best for granite but could be used in any type of stone.

The point chisels will give you the chance  to sketch the entire sculpture, remember that if is to close to the finish surface; especially  in white marble, it will leave a white mark called bruising of the stone. So you will need to dress it up in the finishing  steps of your stone sculpture.
You could purchase a pneumatic point chisel for your pneumatic hammer as well.

Through  my experiences,  I used a pneumatic 1/4" hand chisels  that I filled with extra bracing to create the shape of a bullet.  This means change the straight edge for a really curved bull nose, this will break  through the stone surface very well; stones such as Limestone or Marble.

Claw stone carving tools

The claw stone tool is created to break through the stone surface due o to its many points on the cutting  edge...

Claw Stone Tools are the cleaning machine; you could imagine that they are a multiple point chisels put together so they can break through the stone, they are used most after the rough surface is created by the point chisels or the hand sets...

​They come in different  sizes and styles, they come with a small claw or a large  claw. The larger claw has a fine point that will break through the stone  fantastically because of the many points in the edge that will come in contact  with the stone. Usually the carbide will resist more and used for harder work than the carbon steel,  so the larger and the more pointed the claws are, the faster it will take off large scale pieces of stone.  But in doing so, will create a rough surface, that is why the next type of tool with a less pointed tip or flat edge will help get real close to the final surface of your Sculpture.

These tools are made for pneumatic  hammers, steel hammers, as well as Nylon  mallets or wood mallets.

Wood mallets or nylon chisels  have a particular head that is rounded, this is to prevent the chisels from damaging the nylon or wood mallet.  Because they have bigger round surfaces in the head to prevent any damage, you will have normal minimal damage  when used for long periods of time.This tool comes in different  sizes from real small 1/4" to 3 1/2" you can  purchase these tools in carbon tempered steel or carbide steel.

Carbide steel usually  holds the cutting edge longer and will have a longer life if it is used properly.Even though carbide is a hard steel, it could break as well, but some manufacturers  will guarantee their tools for life...

Flat stone carving tools

Flat Chisels  will create  a smooth surface in the stone sculpture  at the final stage of your project.

Flat Stone Tools are the surface creators,  it will bring the sculpture to life...This tool will clean  the marks of the claw s chisels or point chisels and will give that final look to  your sculpture. You could revive and finish your sculpture with the flat chisels;  depending on what type of stone you're working with.
If its marble or granite, you could give it a real polish surface using a water grinder with the polished pads that they come  with. They also have different grids starting from 40 grid up to 4000 and even up to 6000 grid.

These  types of chisels are manufactured in different  sizes and they are available in carbon temper steel or carbide.

Some manufacturers  will make this tool extra long; in particular the Italian makes.
The flat chisels are made to use with the pneumatic hammer, and for nylon or wood mallets as well.

Bull Nose stone carving tools

Bull nose chisel are design to create any type of curve  in the stone surface like a gauge.

Bull Nose stone tools will replace;  in wood carvings, the job of a gauge  chisel but you could also buy gauges for stone carving.  
For some reason its easier to use the bull nose in stone and its more traditional than the gauge.  
The name was given to this tool, I think, because its resembles es to a bulls nose. 
These chisels are designed to create  any type of curves on the stone surface, but you can  also use gauges as well. Most of the time the bull nose is used instead of the gauges.
They also come in different sizes and different  curves as well.
If you need to create a bull nose you could use a flat chisel and create the arc with the grinder.

They are manufactured  in carbon steel or carbide as well.

Gauge stone carving tools

Stone Carving gauge  used to create any type of arc or curve on the stone surface

Stone Carving gauges are created for the same type of  job as the bull nose; to create any type of arc or curve on the stone surface. There  are not too many in the market because they are difficult y to produce, it's especially hard to give the carbide the shape of the curve of the gauge This makes it difficult  to find in different sizes. ​​​​But if you need some, there are sculptors  that use a wood carving gauge for stone carving.  
You will lose the sharp cutting edge created for wood carving, but they work very well for stone, especially for soft stones like Limestone, Alabaster, Soapstone...

Fist Tale stone carving tools

Fish Tale Chisels  main purpose  is to reach difficult  areas were the straight chisels can't.

 Fish Tale stone tools 

Fish Tale stone tools are created with a 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, for example; claw chisel or flat chisels...

Bend stone carving tools

Bend Stone Carving Chisel main purpose  is to reach  difficult  area were the straight  chisels can't.

Bend Stone Tools  are created especially to carve an area that is not possible to reach with a regular flat or a claw chisels.
 There 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 bend .  
You need to consider that the temper of your tool is going to be loose its strength, so you need to re-temper it again, make sure you choose a long  chisel to start with.

If you are using carbide, be aware they could resist the heat.  Don't cool off the chisels after bending, don't dip in any cool liquid  or the carbide will break or crack. Sometimes you will not notice it until you are using it, and a piece comes of.  This goes as well for sharpening, don't cool the chisels in any liquid if the tip of the chisels is Carbide.
If it's carbon steel you need to dip it in a cool liquid, if not,  you will burn or lose your temper edge…

Power chisels,  like the pneumatic  air chisels are available in many different sizes and styles.  This type needs an entire block, so get the best information on it. This   blog is dedicated to these types of tools.
click in this link to learn more about  Pneumatic Stone tools.

 Pneumatic Stone Tools video: where you will find what kind and what types of  chisels are available and how to use them ….

pneumatic stone carving tools watch  this YouTube Video

Pointing Machine 



Pointing Machine  is the best tool to transfer  your clay or plaster model into your stone block without problems.  Watch this video to learn all about how this device works and how you can  make your own.



So what is the pointing machine ?

The Pointing Machine is a great tool for stone carving or wood carving.  Its function is to take point measurements from a clay or plaster model to copy into a block of stone like Marble, Limestone, Sandstone or any type of Woodblock.

The best pointing machine will help the artist to create an easy and faster Sculpture s by using a model that you could make by using Styrofoam with clay or plaster...

There are not many pointing  machines to choose from. Since the old ones are not available, they look like this one I created maybe you could find one in an antique shop or auction.

That is why you would love   to learn how to make a pointing machine, you could also purchase an Italian make and add a pipe support or body; like this one, then   adapt the arm into it. I think it would work better without the wood body though..

what is the best stone for carving?

Sandstone  Natural Stone  


sandstone is a good stone to carve is soft and is available  in different colors from red tones to gray, this natural stone is very abrasive and is often  used for sharpening stones, when you carve it you need to maintain your stone carving chisels well sharp all times to work best.

The Sandstone has silica, in  other words, the main ingredient is silica.  When you are exposed for a long period of time 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 it's a good idea to wear a mask at all times...

Limestone

one of the best and easiest stone to carve is  Limestone because  is soft  and have a greater resistance  to the severe weathe, is a great stone to use the ingredients are 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...

​marble


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...

​Stone Sculpture created by Bernini.

What kind of protection to use with the pneumatic hammers?

Anti vibration  gloves 

You will need Anti Vibration Gloves.
They are gloves that have been created specially to absorbed the shock or vibration of your pneumatic hammer, usually, are made of two layers of leather and in between, they have a thick layer of silicone rubber that will absorb the vibration of your tools and will protect your hands from harm.

 This equipment will prevent you front having a white finger syndrome that consists in bad circulation in your finger after using your pneumatic hammer for long periods of time without any vibration gloves, this equipment is impresindible you should not work without them! I did for almost two years I was not having the knowledge of how necessary they were I used all the times and my hands are great...
 
You are going to need ear protection because the pneumatic hammer produces a lot of high pitch noise that could injure you hiring. Used a good equipment.

The Pneumatic Air Hammer is going to break stone pieces very fast and those pieces of stone will fly in the air in all different directions so your eyes are the window of your souls and they are very important.  Get some eye protection they will prevent any injury to your eyes...
Just be safe and Created Amazing Sculptures or Architecture Carvings or Mason Work...

Ruben
 

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

  • meister_lu@hotmail.com says:

    I personally thank you sooooo much about the video where you explaining what is pointing machine and how to use it,i was looking for information about this device and i never find good one as yours,there is one in you tube and it’s not very good as you are doing,you have helped me so much with this video i will start to build my owen pointing machine soon because i understand the mechanism of it’s work just now,thank you again

    • admin says:

      That is great that I could help. I would love to make a video of how to create one, may be what I will do is take mine apart and maybe help others to see how to create one, my copy machine look like the old tradition ones that are not available any more, a friend has a old one so there is where I copy the idea, I could make the video in 2 to 3 weeks. But if you have any questions about it or wood carving or stone carving let me know I will be glad to help.

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