Tips for How to Cut Sandstone

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Tips for How to Cut Sandstone
Mined sandstone is available in slabs and bricks. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock made of sand, minerals and rock grains that have been fused together over time. You can find it in an array of organic colours, including tan, orange, brown and pink. A common material for building, sandstone is desirable because it's easy to cut and many of the stones are weather resistant. Like granite, sandstone is mined in a quarry and can be bought in slabs or bricks.

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Rock Preparation

Score or mark the piece of sandstone by drawing the cutting line with a pencil. If it's a sandstone brick, draw the line on all four sides. Afterward, inspect the stone slab, looking for any crack that might be running through stone. These small fissures in the stone's grain can create an uneven break line or cause the rock to shatter in an undesirable area.

Cutting Surface

Lay the stone on a soft surface, such as soil or a bag of cement, to help absorb the shock of the hammering. Cutting sandstone on a flexible surface can result in a better break and reduce the risk of shattering any material below the stone. Cutting the sandstone on another brick or cement can result in the bottom surface breaking or becoming damaged.

Hammer and Chisel Technique

Lightly tap the chisel along the cutting line with a stone hammer, instead of forceful blows. Hit the chisel once or twice before moving on down the pencil markings. These first chiselling marks will scratch the surface, not really cut into the rock, but they create the foundation for the final break. Continue to tap around the brick on all four sides to weaken the breaking point. Once the chiselling is complete, use the hammer only and exert a bit more force, hitting the rock on the break line. Hold one side down firmly, without flipping it over, until the sandstone breaks into two. It should break with two or three solid taps

Slab Saw Techniques

Use a slab saw instead of a hammer and chisel to cut the sandstone to produce a finer line. Slab saws are available in 10- to 14-inch models, and their blades are embedded with diamonds that do the cutting. Like most chain saws, the rotary blade is applied directly to the cutting line, and it cuts an accurate line. Slab saws are often used for stone work that has to be refined and exact; it's easy to create perfectly lined bricks from a slab of sandstone.

Safety Precautions

Always wear protective goggles to protect the eyes when cutting stone. Small fragments and projectiles can splinter from the impact of a hammer and chisel or saw. Furthermore, when using a slab saw, also protect the throat and ears with the use of a dust mask and protective headphones.

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