How to cut cement blocks with a chisel

Written by robert sylvus
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How to cut cement blocks with a chisel
Use bolster chisels to score and break cement blocks (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Using a hammer and chisel to cut oversized cement blocks eliminates the need for power saws and the fine dust they make. Many masons find cutting a cement block with a hammer and chisel faster than bringing the oversized block to a power saw's cutting station. Two types of chisels can cut cement blocks: bolster and cold chisels. Bolster chisels have a wide, thin blade and cold chisels have a narrow, straight blade.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Bolster chisel
  • Hammer
  • Cold chisel

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  1. 1

    Measure the length of the opening that the oversized block fits in with a tape measure. Subtract the width of the mortar joint, if used. Transfer this measurement to the cement block and draw a pencil line at this measurement.

  2. 2

    Set the block on a solid surface. Put on safety glasses.

  3. 3

    Hold a bolster chisel's blade on the pencil mark near the corner of the cement block. Align the blade with the pencil mark.

  4. 4

    Tap on the bolster chisel's handle with a hammer. Score a 1/8-inch deep mark along the pencil line with the hammer and chisel on both sides of the cement block. Use multiple light taps to score the line.

  5. 5

    Place the bolster chisel's blade in the centre of a scored line. Hold the chisel at a right angle to the cement block and strike the bolster chisel's handle sharply. Use enough force to crack the block. Flip the block over and repeat this step. The cement block will break in two.

  6. 6

    Trim any uneven areas of the cut with a cold chisel and hammer. Hold the cold chisel's blade at a 45-degree angle to the block's face and strike the chisel's handle with the hammer. This chips away the inside edge of the cut, leaving the block whole along the scored line.

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