How to carve letters in stone

Updated February 21, 2017

Carving letters into stone is fun and might produce a beautiful product, but it requires an investment of time. Stones with names or addresses carefully chiselled into them make welcome gifts. While challenging, carving letters in stone has the potential for reward and appreciation.

Decide on a type of stone to carve. Some stones commonly used for carving are granite, marble, sandstone and limestone. One type may be easier to find depending on your geographic area. Carving stone may be found at home improvement stores and rock suppliers.

Use sandbags or a vice to hold the stone in place before carving. For smaller, flat stones, a vice may grip the stone just below the carving area. Stones that are too thick to place in a vice should be supported with sandbags. The stone must be secured to prevent movement during carving.

Pick a style of lettering such as block or cursive text. Draw on the stone with a wax crayon each letter to be carved. Using stencils as a guide for the letters increases the accuracy of the carving. Put on safety glasses and gloves to prepare for chiselling.

Use a claw chisel and mallet to carve out the letters made with the wax crayon. Gently outline the letters with the chisel. Carve the stone at a 45-degree angle for best results. A small-point chisel is easier to use and decreases the chance of large parts of the stone breaking off during carving.

Use a stone file to touch up the finished product. The time it takes to file down the edges of the cuts depends on the type of stone used. The process takes longer with granite, for example, which is one of the hardest stones into which letters are carved.

Polish the stone using a small piece of sandpaper or emery cloth. Polish inside the lettering and along the edges until the desired effect is achieved.


Always wear the proper safety equipment when chiselling stone.

Things You'll Need

  • Stone
  • Claw chisel
  • Mallet
  • Sandbags or vice grip
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Wax crayon
  • Lettering stencils
  • Sand paper
  • Emery cloth
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About the Author

Corey Morris has been writing since 2009. He has been a reporter for his campus newspaper, "The Rotunda" and is the publication's news editor. His work focuses on topics in news, politics and community events. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in political science and mass media from Longwood University in Farmville, Va.