The type of tools and machinery used to cut stone depend upon the size, location and reason for cutting the stone. The friction caused when sawing or drilling such hard material with an even harder material generates a lot of heat and cooling during the cutting process is essential. Granite, marble, onyx, soapstone, sandstone, slate, travertine and other stone types are all cut with diamonds.
Electric Saws and Drills
A tile saw has a blade attachment with a pipe hooked up to a water supply. The stone is fed through the saw on a moving platform and the diamond blade slices through it while water is run over the blade to cool it. A handsaw can be used to cut stone slabs that are too big to fit into a tile saw. An angle-grinder can be used for small cuts with small blades. Hollowed-out diamond-core bits are used with diamond-core drilling machines or small hand drills to make round holes in stone.
Diamond Blades and Bits
Diamond blades have a solid steel core or centre and are tipped with metal embedded with industrial diamonds. Different stone types differ in hardness and texture; this is why it is important to use the correct blade for each application. Diamond easily cuts through any stone, but the metal matrix holding the diamonds together must not be too hard or too soft. The same rules apply to core drilling stone with diamond core bits. If the diamond blade or bit is allowed to overheat it could result in loss of diamonds or warping of the blade.
Massive blocks of stone are cut on site in quarries using wire saws. These pull cable, mounted with industrial diamond "beads," through the stone to separate it from the quarry wall. The stone blocks are then moved to the location of a very large diamond blade --- up to 14 feet in diameter --- where the blocks are sliced into movable slabs.
Hand Stone Cutting Tools
Hand tools are used by craftsmen and sculptors. These are mainly carbide-tipped cold chisels with varying shaped heads; they are used with a sledgehammer. Bushing tools or chisels are used to create texture while toothed chisels make it easier to rough cut through the stone. Pneumatic hand-held equipment is designed to take chisel attachments and makes the job easier. Diamond pads may be used for sanding, smoothing and polishing stone.