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How to Carve Sandstone

Updated February 21, 2017

There are many examples of intricate artwork from ancient cultures, particularly in the Indian peninsula, that were carved from sandstone. Because other materials such as granite and marble are not as brittle as sandstone, it has lost some popularity as a carving medium. However, it is still possible to render beautiful works using this sedimentary rock.

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  1. Cover your work area with a large tarpaulin or sheet and put on a face mask. When you apply the sandpaper to the stone or start to pick at the stone, you will get a lot of flaking. In addition, sandstone contains silica, which can cause respiratory problems.

  2. Draw a sketch of your sculpture idea on a piece of paper, preferably from at least two different views. Having a visual idea of what you want to make will help when it comes to shaping and refining the sandstone piece.

  3. Use sandpaper to change the shape of the piece of sandstone before starting refining touches. Any cutting that you do with a carving tool suited for a harder rock will take away too much in flaking for you to retain a fine shape, so if you have a specific shape in mind, use sandpaper to wear away edges and corners interfering with that shape.

  4. Mark specific spots for cuts with a pencil right on the sandstone. If you have certain lines you want to follow, go ahead and draw those on the surface.

  5. Follow the lines you made with your leatherworking picks. Work at a slow but steady pace to reduce the chance of knocking off larger chunks with speed while also reducing the chance of losing your line by going too slowly.

  6. Warning

    Remember to wear protection over your mouth and nose so that you do not inhale the silica from sandstone.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Leatherworking picks
  • Sandstone
  • Face mask for allergens
  • Sheet or tarpaulin
  • Drawing paper
  • Pens or pencils

About the Author

Leslie Renico's grant-writing career began in 2006 and her grants have brought in millions of dollars for nonprofits serving the poor and providing medical care for the needy. Renico has appeared on television and her articles have appeared in various online publications. She graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice in 1997.

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