How to Cut and Shape Stones



people look at a wall like this they think this is just individual stones that will well fit it in but a lot of these have been cut and shaped yes they have they've been they've been hand trimmed so that they'll fit in there but give you that nice natural look no in a wall like this every stone every edge has been shaped in order to get that real tight joint and in most cases it's been split from a lot larger stone right when I cut stone I use this 14 inch diamond blade on my cut-off saw or I use my grinder with a 4 inch diamond blade on it and that's good for reducing the stone size but you're going to get a sawn face so if you're not looking for that stone face again your hand tools come into play at that point all right well how do we get started with hand tools well quite often the homeowner is going to have rocks available that he wants to utilize you might have something like this which does not have a usable face as it is it also is too large too heavy for him to comfortably use so at that point we would attempt to make this into two pieces we would use this machine right here which is a rotary hammer drill with a carbide tip drill bit and this is a gauge that we use to preset the depth of the hole that we're going to drill for stone this size I'm going to drill my holes about every 4 inches apart anytime that you're cutting they're drilling stone it's imperative it to wear your safety glasses use the tools that we're going to use to actually break the rock now they're called wedges and shims and this is of course the wedge these are your shims when you place them in the hole like this you'll always make sure that your ears of your shims are pointed in the direction that you want the break to happen so you put them in snuggly now you're gonna use this little hammer to break that rock I am Roger and the reason why is because with most stone working its it's a question of patience and if you if you use too heavy of a hammer you put so much pressure on an individual hole that it will actually blow the top surface of the hole right out and you lose your push all right how do we get started so you start with the number one it's just a light tap so you'll just take any time and driving those slowly there I am and what you're trying to do is you're trying to keep the same tension on every set so that the push is equal on all of them and you can feel if one's tighter than another right and you can hear it too now you listen to these oh that one's definitely different it's tightening up a lot more it's a lot the harder the stone there and it's just not it's not crushing so much so this one we won't be hitting nearly as hard as we will these stand here a different ring to them mmm like that one you got that little vibration here it that one's got it now stones not liking this huh no he's talking back you're gonna crack then there it goes I see it nice yeah yep and it's going this way it's following some natural flaws in that stone you're still sneaking on its own that's in there Oh Randy this little piece flaked off but we didn't really get a good split on that huh no we've got to we can still make this usable Rock but it's going to be a more drilling it's going to be a lot more handwork at this point I would probably cut my losses on this one and go to a different stone let's try another one now we're getting a good crack line all the way across almost bottom note this ah there we go that's exactly the way wedges and shims are supposed to work say you had a smallest stone like this that you needed to cut off just a little bit to would fit right into a wall how would you cut that well for this I'd use a tool called a hand tracer as you can see it's beveled it comes to a somewhat sharp edge and after I establish where I want to make my cut I take my tracer hold it straight up and down and start pitching a line across it and that does two things that it starts weakening the stone so it's going to break on the plane that you want it to break and it's also going to start making a nice flat place for your carbide to set so that you don't risk you're not at risk of cracking your carbide then by having too much pressure on just one spot on the carbide patients always patience I noticed you're not trying to hit all over hit it either nope you don't want to blow it out and make it crack somewhere where there might be a weak spot in the stone you're always making that softer spray you go look at that perfect that'll fit in my wall just the way I want and your wall now for this stone I'm going to use a slightly bigger tool it's called a stone buster as you can see it has the same same edge that the tracer did but it's much heavier duty tool you can break bigger stones with it it's still a one-person operation and you treat it the same way you pick your line and then you start hitting it when you get real good you'll just swing it I'm not that good yet yet it allows you to really hammer on that well it does but but they're against you don't want to lose track of the fact that you don't want to overwork your tool or your stone nice look at that no I can use that on my wall for sure and with a little trimming you can get you can square it up you got two good faces out of one stone all right I got another stone for you this one I don't need split I need it trimmed you look at the angle here I need that taken off so it'll fit nice and flat in my wall how would you do that well for that I would use this tool right here it's called a handset you can see that it's flat it's carbide like the others but you place it on the stone hold on a little bit of an angle and you again pitch your line right across so you're not trying to take the holeshot walk it off all at once because you get more risk of doing more damage to the stone than you want so you just kind of work it back a little bit to a time kind of check it every while see where you're coming when you get to the end sometimes it's good to tip your stone up and you don't really need to get to break it but you get a line in there so to break more to that line beautiful now that's perfect because I can just set it into the wall just like that and I got the face I wanted right there right now sometimes we get a stone like this it has a great face on it but it's not sitting well on the stone underneath it because of that protrusion right here that needs to come off in that case we would use this tool which is called a hand point again it's carbide tipped it's the strongest tool made you place it and just start working those high spots right out of there so again you chip in a little at a time little of time see how you're taking up pieces now sometimes you hit it straight up and down even once you started getting it down too close to where you want to be and you're worried about blowing out another big chunk that's when you go to this bushing hammer which is a hand point but as you can see it's got a coarse side and it's got a fine side so depending on the finish you want in this case you're not leaving an exposed look because it's going to be the bottom so you just take this and you just keep bringing it right down and blend it right in I think we're about down the level you want to be so let's try it and see let me take a look you know that's it's pretty good now thank you so much Randy you've taught me that with a few simple hand tools you can cut and shape almost any stone

40 thoughts on “How to Cut and Shape Stones

  1. I stumbled onto this video- and this is the most interesting video! How fascinating this is! I had no idea it took so much skill- so much talent. I will now APPRECIATE this hard work whenever I see it. Thank you so much for sharing! ?

  2. These dudes bragging about how tight those stones are when the pyramids are the best fitting stones in the world pffft

  3. "Simple hand tools" Ha. That was about $800 of chisels and hammers he displayed there. Is this a Trow and Holden infomercial? I bought a tracer, pitching tool, point and hammer and they bent me over for $350. Good tools though; the carbide tips are nice.

  4. Great video for cutting/trimming large stones, but how would a "Homeowner" Carve a stone for decorative purposes?

    I LOVE my "This old House" & "Ask This Old House" shows!

    Thanks y'all,
    -Thomas Skagen
    Port Orchard, Washington

  5. Stupid AF, use the partner saw and a chisel, 14' diamond blade you can cut a little more than 4.5' before arbor hits. Then a chisel. Waste of time to hammer drill a thin stone like that.

  6. take it from the best stonemason that ever lived in ireland (ya me) this is the all wrong I could have cracked in half and dressed the faces of 20 rocks in the same time these guys took to plug in there electric drill. The man is mightier than the machine. let the sweat roll off and let the money roll in… whoooo rawwwww ! I thought these Boston guys would Know better ?????

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