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How to cut stone

Introduction: How to Cut and Engrave a Stone Cheese Platter

The perfect gift for a geologist who is moving away is a customized stone cheese plate! . as long as they have some room in their bags for a few more rocks!

The basic process is as follows:

  1. Source the stone
  2. Cut the stone into thin slabs
  3. Grind and polish the stone
  4. Engrave the stone using a laser cutter

I would highly recommend cutting some small samples of rock and testing them for how well they engrave with the laser cutter. Different types of stone have different hardness’, and will impact how well the stone engraves.

Step 1: Source the Stone

There are many places you can get high quality stone. You can use an old piece of counter top or get one custom cut by a granite/marble counter top provider.

For our project, we decided to collect the rock ourselves.

  1. Ask your neighborhood geologist where you can find a quarry with marble or quartz.
  2. Check if the quarry is on an active mineral claim! If it is, you will need to get permission from the claim holder. In the Yukon, you can use a web application called Geoyukon to see land tenure.
  3. Look for a sizable stone with no major cracks or fractures in it.
  4. Collect a few samples, as it will take a few iterations to iron out mistakes.

Step 2: Cut the Stone Using a Rock Saw

The Yukon Geological Survey provides public access to their various rock saws. They require you to take a short training course, and they also provide the proper safety equipment. You can check with your local geological survey or rock cutter to see if they can provide this service for you.

To cut the samples, we used both the 14″ blade water-cooled lapidary saw, as well as the 36″ oil-cooled lapidary saw. These saws make a lot of noise and create a lot of dust, so make sure to wear the proper safety equipment!

To make the cheese plate, we tried to cut the stone as thin as possible while maintaining strength in order to keep the weight down. However, the thinner you make the cut, the more fragile the stone will be, especially if there are cracks or fractures in the stone. We ended up cutting ours about 1″ thick.

Keep in mind the size of the laser cutter if you are planning on engraving the stone! The laser cutters at our local makerspace (Yukonstruct) are 32″x24″ and 24″x12″.

Step 3: Polish the Stone

Polishing the stone will give it a permanent wet look. Do not use spray on varnish if you are planning on using it for culinary purposes!

First, remove any jagged edges and bumps using an angle grinder.

You can then finish the surface using an industrial rock polisher (provided by the geological survey) or an orbital palm sander. Polishing stone is similar to sanding wood, however you will need to use sandpaper / grit that is appropriate for stone.

Step 4: Engrave the Polished Stone Using a Laser Cutter.

Visit your local makerspace for access to a laser cutter.

  1. Create the design that you would like to engrave in vector design software (CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, Inkskape, etc).
  2. Place the stone inside the laser cutter and adjust the focus.
  3. Make sure the surface of the polished stone is as level as possible.
  4. Using the rulers on the vector grid of the laser cutter, measure the location of where you would like the stone engraved – and then double check!
  5. Check the manual for the laser cutter for the appropriate engraving settings for stone – we used a 40 watt laser with 30% speed and 100% power.
  6. Run the job, and cross your fingers! You are almost done!

Step 5: Put It on Display!

If you are planning on using the stone as a cheese plate or cutting board, you can put on sticky rubber pads to prevent it from slipping or scratching any surface it is put on.

How to cut stone

How to cut stone

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4 Comments

How to cut stone

Awesome project!!
You have no idea how excited I am to learn that the YGS lets people use their rock saws and polishers! YGS + YuKonstruct =

How to cut stone

I wish I had the tools to make something like this! My father-in-law is a geologist and he would love this 🙂

How to cut stone

Reply 4 years ago

Contact your local geological survey! they might have some rock saws that you could use.

How to cut stoneCutting rough stones is a fundamental skill for a gemstone cutter. As a lapidary, you’ll face a myriad of assorted stones: small, large, round, oval, misshapen, raw, and everything in between. As you carve, cut, shape and polish, you’ll want to take care to preserve as much of the natural specimen as you can. In other words, cutting gemstones can be very wasteful, but we’re going to help you avoid unnecessary waste.

Rough stones are large pieces of natural, uncut materials that lapidary’s break and cut into smaller pieces. There are two primary methods for cutting rough stones and a breadth of information involved with each.

Continuing with our Lapidary Fundamentals series, read on as we carve out the fine details of cutting rough stones.

Methods for Cutting Rough Stones

As mentioned, there are two options for how to approach cutting rough stones. The ultimate goal of cutting is to make smaller pieces from large, uncut specimens. In doing so, you can accrue a lot of wasted materials. Here’s how you can get the most out of uncut materials.

The Rock Hammer Method

The most effective method for cutting rough stones is to break the rock with a rock hammer. As you might suspect from the name, the process is quite simple: you take a large, uncut stone, and hit it hard with a rock hammer. We should mention that this method doesn’t emphasize precision. Instead, the goal is to make large breaks in rough stones. From there, you can use other tools to shape the smaller pieces.
How to cut stone

Cutting Kerfs into Rough Stones

A kerf enables the lapidary to exercise greater precision and control over the process. Lapidaries cut small, shallow incisions, called kerfs, about an inch deep into a rough stone as a starting point. Then, a chisel or cutting tool stabilizes into the kerf, enabling the lapidary to slam the tool with the rock hammer. After the force of this strategic blow, the rock splits into two separate pieces. Cutting a kerf into a rough stone may result in a clean cut, but that isn’t always the case. Furthermore, if you are handling precious materials, you might feel reticent to slam a hammer down into something so valuable. Are there other methods for cutting rough, valuable stones?

Tools Needed for Cutting Rough Stones

Some gemstones are softer and more fragile and require more finesse during the cutting process. Instead of compromising a precious stone like an opal, you can cut delicate gems more gently with saws and nippers.

Tile Nippers

Once you crack open a rough stone, you’ll need tile nippers to remove small bits of material from the edges and crevices of the stone. Fasten the nippers around the area you’d like to remove and squeeze the tool. The pieces will fall from the stone effortlessly and with minimal effort. Nippers are vital aids when cutting fractured gemstones as you can finely cut curved lines along small gems.
How to cut stone

Grinders

A grinding wheel is a tool used for cutting curves into rough stones. However, the utmost care should be placed into grinding fragile stones, which can crumble from the fractures within. Grinders are optimal for durable, resistant gemstones.

Saws

One of the essential tools in your studio for cutting rough stones is a saw. There are a variety of different saws you can use to cut rough stones, each designed for specific jobs. Regardless of which saw you use on a given day, one thing is sure: you’ll be spending a lot of time sawing gemstones. Time to get familiar with the different types of saws:

Mud saws are a traditional tool used for running blades through a silicon carbide mud trough. They are inexpensive but require hefty upkeep and can break down over time.

Slab Saws have thicker blades that cut away bulky chunks of material

Trim Saws have thin blades optimal for finely cutting away small amounts of materials

  • Diamond Blades are rotating blades affixed with diamond abrasives

How to cut stone

We’ve covered all the tools you’ll need and the various types of cutting saws. Now, how to go about using them?

How To Use a Saw to Cut Rough Stones

There are three critical steps to cutting rough stones with saws, and we’ll walk you through each step below.

Feeding the Saw

Before you get to work cutting stones with a saw, ensure the feeding component runs parallel to the machine’s blade. To feed a saw, you’ll place your stones right in front of the blade. Take care not to place uncut stones at an angle in front of the blade as it can bend and damage it.

The type of saw you are working with will determine how you feed the stones to the blade. For example, with a trim saw, you’ll feed the saw with your hand. However, the material you are working with will also determine how you feed the stones to the saw. That’s why it’s vital to read the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure you cut the stones safely and efficiently.

Lubricating the Saw

Most saws require a lubricating oil to prevent the blades from rusting. Lapidary saw oils are typically water-soluble and should be applied outdoors to eliminate the chance of ingesting any toxins in the solution.

Cleaning the Saw

After you finish cutting, you’ll need to clean your saw to keep it in prime condition. With frequent use, it’s normal for the blades to become dull. A simple solution is to use the blades to saw into a brick, which will remove grit and grime that accumulates over time.

One of the less glamorous tasks involved is cleaning the sump. Grab a large bucket, rubber gloves, and scrapers, open the valve and empty the lubricant. Then, take the scrapers to the sump and scrape away the accumulated sludge. While this job is anything but enjoyable, it’s critical maintenance to keep your saw functioning long-term.

That wraps up all the details on cutting rough stones! As with many techniques of gemstone cutting, the materials you’ll need depend on the stones you’re cutting. With some uncut specimens, you can use brute force, while others require precision and fine detailing. In any case, the more you cut, the deeper your understanding becomes of the exciting process of cutting rough stones.

CAESARSTONE CUTTING SERVICE

Need to replace the cooktop in caesarstone or any other stone benchtop? We offer a fast, no fuss, no mess caesarstone cutting service or any stone. Including granite, marble and engineered stone. Average cost for a caesarstone cutting service for a new cooktop, hotplate or sink is $500.00.

Expert Caesarstone Cutting Service.

Stone Guys experienced Master Stonemasons know stone and whilst they make the process look easy. In fact there a lot is going on than simply just making a cooktop hole bigger. Accessing the stone, determined the blade needed to be used. Checked the new hotplate cutout size, over all dimensions, the clearance of the new cooktop to the cabinets, splashbacks, and front stone benchtop rail. Checking the new cooktop is centred to the range or canopy and this is before they have marked anything out to start the caesarstone cutting service process.

Before any cutting can be started any close proximity draw runners are check as all soft close runners will stop working if stone dust remotely enters the mechanisms. Assessing the best option for a self contained masked area so no dust is spread throughout the home or general area. Constructing a tented, self contained area so cutting can be done. Now marking of the new cooktop cutout can now start with the centres and clearances rechecked. Once our master stonemasons are happy they adorn the PPE including a special asperator mask and dust extraction system. The caesarstone cutting service can now begin and it is not as simple as just cut.

Cutting a stone benchtop needs to be completed in a correct order, pressure, speed or with the correct blade the stone benchtop around the cooktop or sink cutout will simply crack and break. See the below photo of a builder attempting to cut their own cooktop cutout in stone with a blade from Bunnings. Caesarstone cutting service is generally a two (2) hour process for a highly trained professional.

One Diamond Blade is NOT All Purpose

All stone is different and why if you ever venture to Bunnings. Finding a myriad of different types and construction of Diamond Blades. NOTE: Stonemasons DO NOT PURCHASE diamond blades for cutting any stone from Bunnings or any trade tool suppliers. Diamond blades are specially designed for cutting particular stones. Granite for Granite, Marble for Marble, Engineered stone for caesarstone cutting service use. There is NO MULTI-PURPOSE diamond stone cutting blade. Stonemasonry factories use four different blades to cut the slabs of various stone types. Consequently if a multi-purpose blade worked, all stonemasons would have one.

Dangers associated with DIY

Consequently there is a clear difference between someone cutting a stone benchtop. Cutting a new cooktop for $200.00 and what the average charge of $500.00. Our caesarstone cutting service, we take the time to make the area a self contained area. Hence airborne silica dust spreads throughout the house for months. Subsequently cutting any stone it is a super fine dust, just like talc powder and will float and spread easily. Or if you chose to DIY you not only expose yourself to the dust produced but also to breaking your stone benchtop.