Stone Work: How to Split Rocks

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Rocks and stones have been a reliable palette for sculptors, crafters and artisans for thousands of years. Splitting your rocks by hand using a hammer and steel wedges is an effective and time-honored method for getting the precise split you desire. This is critical for those who rely on stones of a specific size and shape for their work.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Electric drill with masonry bit
  • Steel stone-splitting wedges
  • Hammer
  • Mark a cutline across the body of the rock where you wish to make the split using a piece of chalk.

  • Put on a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying stone bits and work gloves to protect your hands.

  • Drill a series of holes in the rock using a masonry drill bit that is the same size as the point of your stone-splitting wedges. Make the holes about two inches apart and about two inches in depth.

  • Place the point of the steel stone-splitting wedge into the drilled hole. Position the wedge so that the flat sides of the wedge that widen with each strike on the wedge head are facing the side of the rock that you wish to split into two pieces.

  • Strike the head of the wedge sharply to drive it into the stone. Continue striking until you have driven it about an inch deep.

  • Place another wedge into the hole adjacent to the first, and then drive that wedge until it is an inch deep as well. Continue with each drilled hole until they have all been filled with wedges an inch deep.

  • Return to the first wedge and strike the head of the wedge once. Repeat the process along the line of wedges, and then return to the first and hit it again, repeating the process up the line. Continue a single strike at a time to keep the split in the stone even across the stone's length.

  • Keep striking at the wedges until the stone separates into two halves.

Tips & Warnings

  • The splitting process could create a lot of dust and sediments depending on the type of rock you're working with; so try to work over a tarp or sheet that you can easily use to haul the debris away.
  • Use a buffing compound along with a tool like sandpaper, polishing stones or a buffing wheel to get a smooth finish where the rock was split.
  • Always wear proper hand and face protection when rock-splitting, even if you feel you've mastered the technique.

References

  • Photo Credit dayice/iStock/Getty Images
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