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History of Stone Carving Tools

The hammer, chisel, mallet and axe are used for hitting stone, and known as percussion tools. They were the earliest stone carving implements used in many countries around the world and they are still used today.

The rasp, scraper and drill, however, are called abrasive tools and were used as an early technique to work the surface of the stone after preparation with the percussion tools.  Stone carving tools vary from countries and regions and it depends on what type of stone is being used, what effect the carver is trying to achieve and his particular training.

In Italy and Greece, the tooth chisel is a popular tool for marble carving but you will not find this in Asia, as countries like India and Parkistan are more likely to use granite, and sandstone. However, the Italian marble carver and the Indian granite carver use the same basic range of tools as their ancestors did which means that toolmarks on a sculpture of any age can be identified.

PERCUSSION TOOLS 

Hammers

Metal hammers are popular in Italy and are made from soft untempered iron. In the USA, however, the hammer is round headed and is made from steel giving a sharper blow whereas in the UK and France, the wooden mallet is used.

Bush hammers are used on stones that do not need polishing and are often used to finish a surface but in general are not used for marble carving.

The axe is used in quarries for cutting out stone blocks but they are also used for carving in Italy.

CHISELS

In Italy and Greece, the tooth or point chisel has always been popular as there is a long history of marble carving. This is the oldest type of chisel which is used to rough out the stone. It has a sharp tip and is used at an angle when working with marble. However, when it is used for granite, the point chisel is blunt and is used vertically. If you are using softer limestones, the point chisel is called a punch.

The flat chisel is used for smoothing the surface of the stone and comes in different widths. It is sharp and squared and is used for shaping, detailed work such as letter carving and smoothing surfaces.

The roundel chisel is similar to the flat chisel but the cutting edge is curved so is known as the round-headed or bullnose chisel. This is often used for marble and softer stones but not granite. It is used for rough and smooth delicate work such as curves or hollows.

The channeling tool or fishtail chisel is used to carve a channel into the stone and was used in the Roman era to carve deep groves.

Simon Burns-Cox is a professional Sculptor and Letter Carved based at The Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in Edinburgh, Scotland. He creates interior and exterior garden sculptures, and also makes Gravestones, Headstones and Memorials and offers all types of stone letter carving for home and business. He also teaches sculpture, stone letter carving and relief carving to groups and individuals throughout the year. He supplies Italian Stone Carving tools at competitive prices and sells stone and marble from the Uk and Italy. For further information, please visit his website at http://simonburnscox.co.uk/