Rock & Stone Engraving Tools

Written by will gish
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Rock & Stone Engraving Tools
Sculpting sandstone (Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

People have used rock and stone engraving tools throughout history for countless purposes. Stones in Africa nearly 80,000 years old show signs of hammer and chisel work. Modern artisans create functional pieces like gravestones with engraving tools. From the first hammer and chisel combination to the patenting of the sandblaster in 1870, stone and rock engraving tools have undergone many transformations.

Hammer and Chisel

The hammer and chisel method of rock and stone engraving is an ancient technique. The basic principal is that of using a thin, pointed instrument to carve lines and forms in rock by hitting it with a heavy, blunt instrument. The force of the blunt instrument--the hammer--drives the tip of the thin instrument--the chisel--into the stone, creating lines and patterns. Permutations of this method are tens of thousands of years old, and while modern power tools are useful for a number of operations, hammers and chisels are still important tools for creating exacting details in rock and stone.

Rock & Stone Engraving Tools
Hammer and chisel (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Power Tools

A number of power tools can be used for rock and stone engraving. Air hammers are power tools that can take the place of a hammer and chisel for both hacking away large chunks of rock or stone to create general shapes and outlines and for working on finer details. The chisel of an air hammer is built into the device. Stone and rock engravers use power saws to create notches for cutting away large chunks of material or for creating an opening for a chisel tip. Drills are used most obviously to bore holes, though can also serve to weaken areas of stone for easier removal.

Rock & Stone Engraving Tools
Sculptors often use power tools. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images)


A sandblaster is an important tool for rock and stone engravings, and performs much the same function as sandpaper on wood. Using compressed air, a sandblaster shoots sand particles at high speeds. This tool has a number of functions for the stone and rock engraver. A sandblaster can weaken harder surfaces engravers plan on creating detailed carvings in, and is also an important tool for polishing rougher parts of rock surfaces. A sandblaster also serves as a finishing tool to smooth a sculpted surface and round rough edges.

Rock & Stone Engraving Tools
Headstones are sandblasted. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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