Sculpting is an art form that has been around for centuries; however, today there are more tools available than the ones used by ancient sculptors such as Pablo Picasso and Michelangelo. Many people may imagine that sculptors just use a hammer and chisel to create their work, but there are actually several types of tools used in sculpture. A wide variety of sculpting tools and proper use of them can make a sculptor's job more pleasurable and his work more effective.
According to thesculpturestudio.com, respirators are advised since sculptors are exposed to stone dust in the course of their work. They are essential when working with granite, which contains the toxic compound silica. Safety glasses are used to protect the eyes from stone dust, and ear protection is used when working with power tools.
The point chisel is the most commonly used tool during sculpting, because it is used to rapidly remove material and for roughing out a basic shape, according to thesculpturestudio.com. For soft stones, a steel chisel is ideal; for harder stones such as granite, carbide tipped chisels are best.
The tooth chisel is used after the point chisel to refine the shape of your sculpture, and to remove valleys and peaks.
Flat and Rondel Chisel
After the tooth chisel, the flat and rondel chisels are used to smooth out the texture of the sculpture in preparation for finishing.
Hammers of various weights are used for different jobs when sculpting. Thesculpturestudio.com notes that the 1-lb. hammer is generally used for carving the smallest details; the 1 1/2-lb. hammer for carving in general; and the 3-lb. hammer is used to drive the point chisel when removing large sections of stone.
A rasp is a piece of metal that resembles a file, with small teeth all over the surface. Since power tools used for finishing are sometimes hard to control, the rasp is used as an alternative. Rasps can leave scratch marks on the stone, which can be left for textual purposes or can be removed with sanding, says toolsforworkingwood.com.
Artblah.com describes a banker as "a very sturdy work bench" used mostly by sculptors. A banker should be strong and sturdy enough to hold large pieces of stone and handle hammering. The legs of a banker are usually made from iron or wood posts, and the surface from wood. Sandbags are also sometimes used for additional support to prevent movement.
A grinder is a power tool used in stone carving. For softer stones, carbide grinding discs can be used; however, for harder stones such as granite, diamond blades must be used. Thesculpturestudio.com advises making parallel cuts with a grinder, then using a chisel and hammer to break them off in order to remove pieces of stone quickly.