How to Use an Air Chisel on Stone

Written by don davis
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How to Use an Air Chisel on Stone
This sculpture might have been accomplished faster with an air chisel. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Sculptors and carvers chisel hard stones, like granite, and soft stones like marble or limestone. Trow & Holden, the Vermont company that invented pneumatic carving tools, recommends heavier chisels for granite and lighter chisels for marble. Trow & Holden also recommends short stroke hammers on soft stones and long stroke hammers on hard stones. The air powered part of power sculpting is not the chisel but a piston inside the pneumatic hammer. The chisel fits into an opening in the hammer and the piston pounds away rapidly. Air hammers and chisels are usually used to remove large amounts of stone from a rough block, but small chisels in small hammers can be used to create details.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 3.5 horsepower air compressor
  • Air hose with integral, inline valve
  • Quick connect air fitting
  • Pneumatic hammer designed for stone sculpting
  • Chisels designed to be used with your pneumatic hammer

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  1. 1

    Bolt one end of an air hose designed for sculpting to the air line outlet of an air compressor rated at 3.5 horsepower or greater using an open end wrench. Air hoses designed for sculpting have an adjustable valve in the hose that allows the sculptor to adjust air pressure as he works by opening or closing that valve.

  2. 2

    Attach a quick connect fitting to the opposite end of the air hose. Turn on the compressor.

  3. 3

    Attach the quick connect fitting to the pneumatic hammer. Select a chisel.

  4. 4

    Hold the pneumatic hammer in your dominant hand and the stone chisel in your non-dominant hand. Point both tools down and away from you as you slide the chisel into the hammer shank. The chisel will not lock or set in the shank, but will remain loose and adjustable.

  5. 5

    Chisel the stone. Adjust the integral, inline valve in the air hose to increase or decrease air flow to, and the power of, the pneumatic hammer.

Tips and warnings

  • A pneumatic chisel retainer will keep the chisel from slipping out of the hammer shank.
  • Always point the chisel away from you.

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