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How to break or cut stone correctly

How to break or cut stone correctly

Learning to cut stone correctly to produce the size you want and form your pieces is an essential skill for any sculptor, whether they’re an amateur of a professional. Cutting stone can be a slow process but, although it requires a lot of work, doing it correctly ensures that the piece will last a lot longer. We’ll tell you all you need to know to cut stone properly, and the different methods you can use.

Cutting stone with wedges and shims

Cutting stone with wedges and shims (also know as V cutting) is the traditional method for splitting blocks of stone in a simple way. The objective is to obtain different volumes with the flattest sides possible.

The most important thing when using this method is to follow the grain of the stone that you’re cutting. If you do this, you won’t need to use as many wedges and shims, as the whole operation will be more simple. However, if you decide to cut perpendicular to the grain, the process will become more complicated and you’ll need to more wedges and shims.

To do this, first you’ll need to make holes in the stone, then use the wedges in combination with two steel shims with sharp edges, which will help the wedge to split the stone apart. The size of the wedges and shims you use will depend on the size of the stone that you’re splitting. For example, to split a piece of stone of 24-36 cm in size, wedges and shims of 13x70 mm in size may be sufficient.

The holes should be made in a straight line, with a space of around 10 cm between each one, and they should be in a V shape, with the widest part of the hole towards the outside of the stone, becoming more narrow inside the stone. Once you’ve made the holes, place the wedges and shims inside with the ears pointing in the direction of the fracture line, and then strike each one successively (strike the first one, then the second, and continue like this until you’ve hit them all, then start over). Keep doing this until the stone eventually opens up down the middle. Bear in mind that the hole you make should be deeper than the height of the wedge, to prevent it from hitting the bottom and breaking or deforming the stone. This video will give you a simple explanation of the entire process.

Cutting stone with machinery

For this technique you will need a grinder or a circular saw, and you should ideally use a diamond disc. The most important thing is that you accurately measure the area you want to cut and mark where you’re going to make the cuts. Put on protective equipment before you start, such as a mask and hearing protection.

Once you’re all ready, trace a straight line across the stone with the grinder, going over it several times, then do exactly the same on the other side of the stone. Once you’ve done this on both sides, finish cutting the stone with a chisel, as this is the only way to achieve a completely straight cut. This final step is only necessary if the stone is very wide, as with smaller pieces of stone an electrical tool may be sufficient.

If you want to produce less dust when cutting the stone, you can slightly moisten the outside of the disc (do this carefully though, as remember that it’s an electric tool), and you’ll see how this helps to cut easier and also produce less residue.

Cutting stone with a splitting hammer or a Stone Buster

One final option is to use a splitting hammer to complete this task. This hammer has various different uses, but it is most commonly used for splitting stone. The simplest way to use it is to just strike the stone with the hammer until it splits. But if you’re looking to achieve a more precise cut, you should place it on the point where you’d like to split the stone, then use a second hammer to strike it until you obtain the desired result. This video will give you a visual explanation to help you understand the process better.

Tools for cutting stone

If you’re interested in learning more about the exciting world of sculpture, each week we will be releasing a new post to help you discover more about this art.

If you’re looking for tools to start sculpting and designing your own pieces, we have everything you could need! And if you have any queries, we would be delighted to help you with whatever you need.

Last modified on: January 26, 2021

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