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How to Created Better and Fast Carvings in Stone or Wood  

In all the activities we carry out, connection with the other (understood as a person, an animal, an object or a material) is of utmost importance.  Our first approach is mediated by empathy.  That is why we resonate more with someone, some circumstance or somewhere.  And it is just through that empathy that we manage to open our senses and our ability to appreciate the object or subject that we contemplate.  This situation is applied in the same way with materials and tools, and may be mediated by our personality, by our own challenges, by the environment in which we move or, simply, by curiosity.  According to our tastes and knowledge or concerns, after having chosen the path of learning some technique or artistic expression, and having oriented ourselves along the path of encountering the material in its natural state, as happens with stone or wood, we should enter  communication with its essence.  We must be very attentive to its characteristics (texture, color, smell, direction of the grain, shape).  This intimate and respectful connection has been one of the constants in sculptural art throughout the history of Fine Arts.  From the earliest times when caveman chose one or another rocky surface for its depressions or reliefs, or when the inhabitants of pre-Colombian cultures chose a certain stone for its shape and location for its sacramental and funerary sculptures because it contained the essence of  the shape of a reptile or any of its sacred animals, passing by the great sculptural artists such as Michelangelo for whom it was very clear that it was the stone that had the figure to carve inside, or as contemporary sculptors who return to the origin  essential of these organic materials in direct connection with the earth and its mysteries, through the encounter with the depth and loquacity of marble, stone or wood are charged with emotion and wonder.

 There are mainly two ways of interacting with these materials.  One of them is through the direct subtraction of the material through the tool indicated for it, and the other is through a previous modeling in clay or a figure made in plaster that allows to ‘accommodate’ the figure to the shape of the initial stone block or wood block.  In both cases it is more than recommended to use a good tool that has all the specifications and particularities not only for the chosen material but also for the type of artistic work that is estimated and for the skill and experience of the sculptor;  adding to these elements the importance of choosing tools with high qualifications in terms of safety and manufacturing that have international recognition and validity.

The encounter with the material: the first moment of this story

 After having made the decision to undertake the fascinating world of carving, the first thing we must do is select the material with which we want to venture.  At this point we can list the following as the most common stones for sculpture:

 Limestone: to locate ourselves in the properties of this rock we can easily go to Egypt and its monumental sculptures such as the Great Sphinx.  This stone is of a soft nature and easy to work with, and it responds very well to requirements of high detail and thoroughness in work carvings. This is one of the best stones to start learning how to carve in stone. Is an easy  material to model and extract with any type of hand chisel or power chisel. The characteristic  physicality  of the limestone will work very well for outdoors  architecture  carvings, sculptures, or any other custom  stone carving his properties  to resist the harsh weather  is one of the number  one stones for the stone industry.

 Marble: the queen par excellence of stones.  Desired by the artists of antiquity and renaissance, it allows a variety of finishes in terms of texture, smoothness, roughness, gloss or opacity.  According to the fineness of the finishes, it can give translucent and highly delicate effects and a sensation of liveliness close to those produced by skin, fabrics, hair, among others.  One of the best known varieties is Carrara marble, one of the most desired for its color, its veins and the quality of its grain. With marble you can obtain the perfection in stone carving the greatness and beauty  special the white color that has become the number one stone for a museum type sculpture.

 Sandstone: This sedimentary rock has the property of hardening over time.  Due to its porous nature, it has been used more in the elaboration of architectural pieces such as capitals, columns, freezes, gurgles.

This same porosity makes it not very prone to polishing and its presence has been weakening, the main chemical  ingredient  is silica, the surface of this stone is very aggressive special to all hand chisel , to really obtain the best results you need to maintain  your carbide  Chisels very sharp that has to be do over and over, also I can tell you that regular carbon steel has less change to do better job is preferable  the use of Carbide chisel only. This stone has to disadvantage  

Contain Silica that when you are exposed  for a long period  could develop  a disease  called Silicosis  that is fatal if it is not treated medically.  The second to my observation  in restorations  jobs that I participated in the sandstone with time tend to disintegrate  in liar with the harsh  weather  of the north states. But is a great stone to create amazing sculptures for example  the stone from Bogota Colombia la Muneca is a beautiful  soft stone to work and has a real tight  grain that makes a good candidate to give a luster to your sculpture. 

 Alabaster: This is a gypsum mineral, with a finish that looks like marble to the naked eye.  Is one of the easiest  stones to do carvings you can carve with any tool very much from a pocket knife to a carbide chisel, is not recommended for putting doors in cold freezing  weather will disintegrate with time. You can find different colors from brown to pure  white. The close pores and particles  will give you the ability  to really create the most little  detail with a great accuracy. Also is used in the industry for many purposes but in particular for lamps  when you bring the surface to a minimum  thickness  the light will go through. This stone was used in periods of the past to create  elegant carving for interiors designs with great results, and is one of the stones that has lost the importance in the carving industry.

 Granite and diorite: rocks of igneous origin and, therefore, much harder than marble.  They respond very well to polishing and come in a wide range of colors.

Granite is the strongest of the stones used for carving; his geological formation will make this stone stand the weather  very well. Is a hard stone to work. You need carbide tools that will stand the harness of the natural  material, you can use the same process of marble to carve . Also you can use fire torches that will break the surface fast. If you take a look a big monumental carving has been made using the torch approche.

Grane stone comes in different  colors from light grey to a beautiful  red, in the last decades  it became very popular for home records  like Kitchens countertops  and bathrooms  for the durability  and the elegance of the final products, with a high polished  surface that can obtain with the proper equipment. Is one of the best and hard stones for sculptures.

 After this brief illustrative list of the types of stone that can be a good option when deciding on carving, some types of wood are now listed.  In this case, the hardness criterion should not only be used;  It is also important to consider particularities such as texture or behavior during the carving process.  Here are some options:

American linden: Its main advantages are the price and availability in the United States and Europe, in addition to its light color, its straight fiber and its fine grain.  One of the best options to start.

 Poplar or poplar: A little harder than that of basswood, it is still a good option as a material to choose.

 American White Walnut: Another excellent option for beginners.  It has a very good response to carving and polishing.

 Walnut: With a greater hardness than the previously mentioned types, walnut is a wood with a fine and elegant finish.  The tool must have an optimal edge.  It is more expensive than the previous ones.  It demands more skill and experience from whoever carves it.

 Cherry: Its reddish color makes it very precious, although its level of complexity for carving is high.  It must be worked with great care since power tools usually burn it easily.  It should be allowed to dry very well before working with it.

 Oak: Complex, strong and robust wood.  Highly appreciated by experienced carvers for their goodness and optimal response to detail work.

 The Transcendental Step: Understanding the Volume

 One of the biggest challenges in carving is to ‘translate’ a two-dimensional model and transfer it to three-dimensional.  Although our sensory experience is richer in all three dimensions, another is the challenge that arises when we have to start breaking down a totality from its constituent parts.  Here our observation capacity plays a very important role, and the development of specific competences such as the projection of forms, the clarity between form and figure, the management of positive and negative space, notions of emptiness and totality, among others  .  Even when what is worked is the bas-relief or the high-relief you must have the ability to project what is preserved and what must be removed from the material with which you work.  It is worthwhile at this moment to make a parenthesis to illustrate the types of sculpture that exist, and they are listed by the author María Jesús Acosta López in the article entitled “Sculpture in stone”:

(…) Free-standing sculpture, which corresponds to the full meaning of sculpture, that is, to the translation of space into three dimensions.  It can be turned around but this does not mean that it has been designed to be seen from all angles.  The artist can create a main point of view and secondary points of view.  Above all, it will be seen in the sculptures intended to be placed in a niche or in front of a wall.  They are distinguished in the free sculpture, the statue, conceived as a unit, and the group, which comprises two or more figures with a common base and a coherence in its composition.  Another type is the round bulge sculpture, which is characterized by its isolated composition and by being visible all around it.  Finally, when a sculpture depends on a background on which a certain number of projections stand out, it is a relief.  The importance of the overhang in relation to the background allows us to distinguish four kinds of reliefs: parallel, low relief, medium relief and high relief.  (The underlines are ours)

 For this process, sketches, drawings and models are very important in order to enter the logic of thought and action that the sculptural work demands.  Also highly recommended are the guidance and support of an instructor with extensive experience in the field.  Currently, there are many facilities for accessing online courses and workshops that, by registering the entire milling process, contribute to the correct teaching of techniques and tool handling.  It is of utmost importance that the material with which you are going to work is analyzed, that you enter into a direct connection with its particularities: its dimensions, its grain, its texture, its smell, its color, its irregularities, and everything that  it constitutes.  This will allow us to work organically, without violating stone or wood, and making the most of what they have to offer us as carvers and sculptural artists.

A good tool: perfect ally of art and artist

 We come to a decisive point for every carving artist: the answer to the question about the type of tool to be used for carving stone and wood.  The saying that “experience makes the master” is well known and this statement applies not only to the skill acquired through work but also to the way in which access and use of different and varied tools makes the artist choose  by one or the other brand, by one or the other reference, according to the needs and the phase of the carving process in which it is located.

 This article seeks to serve as a testimony of an excellent brand of tools appropriate for sculptural stone work (later we will extend our recommendations to the indicated tools for wood carving): Cuturi Gino, created in 1870 in the cradle of sculptural art, Italy  , and that throughout its history it has been the reason that many other brands try to imitate its excellent pneumatic hammers and others of the references it offers.  Cuturi’s headquarters is located in a city in the Calabria region of southern Italy called Mazza.  This region of Calabria is particularly recognized for its exquisite mix of sea and mountains.  Bathed by the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, and neighboring Sicily, it was the cradle of great Greece and ancient settlements.  Proof of this is found in its extensive set of archaeological pieces preserved in its museums along with the priceless pieces of art that account for its extensive culture and knowledge.  As well as in its extensive architectural tradition, which accounts for its many medieval castles, abbeys, monasteries, churches and traces of buildings from ancient Greece.  A testimony of art from the earliest times to our contemporary times, preserved in its land, its buildings and its museums.  And it is just from this magnificent part of Italy where this recognized and reliable brand of stone carving tools comes from.

A tool for every part of the stone carving process

 As well as we have taken up to this moment some steps to follow that fit within the logic of evolution and progress, from the careful selection and observation of the material, and the choice of the best tool for our work, pneumatic hammers and  Cuturi chisels, we are now approaching the work of roughing and chiselling to achieve our purpose: the elaboration of a sculptural piece either in stone or wood.

 The first job to be done is the one that has to do with transferring our sketch or model to the stone with the due change of scales (dimensions).  For this, there is nothing better than a point or point meter machine, a measurement tool used by sculptors to accurately copy models made of plaster or clay.  This tool invented in the 18th century by a French sculptor and medalist, Nicolas-Marie Gatteaux, and an English sculptor, John Bacon,

 and then perfected by the Italian neoclassicist painter and sculptor Antonio Canova, he transfers the key points of reference (height, width and depth) in order to faithfully pass the model to the material on which the 1: 1 scale will go;  that is, the piece in its dimensions originally conceived by the artist.  After this, the excess material must be thickly removed.  To do this we will use saws making large cuts that allow areas of unnecessary material to be removed with chisel blows.  In another article we will talk about this exciting topic that the mountains promise to be.  Another way to carry out this first roughing is from the classic method used by the great artists of past times: from the hammer and the chisel.  Although this procedure is much slower and more expensive, it also allows greater control over the material that is being removed and the revelation of the desired figure is done in a more organic way and in line with the grain and composition of the chosen material.  At this time it is important to make a clarification of a technical nature and that has to do with a differentiation between the tools used to work the stone and those used for wood carving.  The former need not be as sharp as those used for wood, which should practically have an ideal scalpel edge.

 Returning to that work carried out by sculptor artists from the earliest times of art history in which mallets, hammers and chisels, essential tools for carving work, were perfected, we have the origins of the tool that occupies our greatest interest in  the advances and advantages that pneumatic hammers and chisels represent for all sculptors, both amateur and senior, and, in general, all Cuturi brand tools, which have CE conformity, an important quality and safety certificate from  machines and tools manufactured within the European Union.

 Pneumatic hammers are extremely helpful tools and become excellent allies in the balanced combination of quality, speed, finesse and performance in stone carving work.

An introduction to jackhammers

 As the name implies, the jackhammer is a small and powerful tool that works by the air pressure produced by an air compressor.

 The air entering the chamber is generally ¾ “or 1” on larger models and requires an air pressure of 70 to 90 psi (i.e. pounds of force per square inch).  This pressure will cause that small piston to move up and down in certain amounts per minute according to your performance requirements;  for example, the large cut hammer moves 4,000 times per minute;  while the smallest moves 8,500 times per minute.

 This up and down movement creates a vibration inside the pneumatic hammer that is then transmitted to the manual chisel, which is the tool that comes into direct contact with the stone, and that cuts through the surface, roughing the desired material.  These tools provide the opportunity to remove more material in less time than using a mallet and chisel.

 These amazing Cuturi Air Hammers are created for jobs that require heavy-duty tools for continuous, non-stop use.  They can be used over 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and they will do a great job with no problem of tool wear.

 A little more technical information …

 A jackhammer uses compressed air to carve or chip stones, metals, and other materials.  It is a tool generally used to shape or smooth a surface area, to dig holes or cut through a surface.  A pneumatic hammer, which is a replacement for the traditional hammer and chisel, is a very valuable practical tool for its speed, and which may sometimes lack a bit of precision in the end result.  Jackhammers are generally attached by a tube or hose to a large tank that pumps air and therefore causes the pistons to move.

 What is the piston?

 The piston, which is inside a cylinder, is the only part of the jackhammer that moves.  Compressed air is pumped into the cylinder so that the metal piston moves up and down, imitating the movement of a hammer.  As it moves up and down, the piston opens a valve that allows compressed air to enter the cylinder and push it in.  Therefore, when the piston reaches the top of the piston, air flows from above and pushes it down, while when the piston reaches the bottom, air flows from below pushing it up.  It is then, thanks to compressed air, that the piston moves up and down at the desired speed.

 Small jackhammers can have a 5/16 “or 1⁄2” diameter piston, while larger jackhammers can have a ¾ “or 1” diameter piston.  This has no connection to the size of the chisel, as these almost always have ¼ “or ½” shanks to fit on jackhammers.

About the air compressor

 Pneumatic hammers use compressed air to work.  Air compressors are large air tanks with connected motors.  Portable pneumatic hammer models use tubes connected to an air tank.  The engine fills the tank with pressurized air.  This pressurized air travels through the tube to the jackhammer, making the jackhammer work.  Each jackhammer affects the size of the compressor it needs to function.  This is why smaller jackhammers need smaller compressors, while larger models need larger compressors.  The difference in size from jackhammers to air compressors varies according to the cubic feet per minute, or CFM, and the pounds per square inch, or PSI, required for the specific jackhammer model being used.

 Importance of safety and prevention

 On this aspect, the main recommendation is the acquisition of a tool certified by the highest quality and safety standards, not only in terms of its manufacture but also of the observance of all protocols in everything related to the protection of its users.  .  Another very important factor when working stone and wood carving is the use of safety and protection elements for the artist such as goggles against chips and debris that can jump to the face and affect the cornea of ​​the person carving.  There are also suits, shoes and special clothing for body care and another, of utmost importance, which is recommended are anti-vibration gloves, since omitting their use can generate the discomfort that has been called the “white fingers syndrome  ”, Which is associated with circulatory problems associated with high and constant exposures to vibrations in the upper and lower extremities, and which is eliminated when the hands are protected with them.

 Why choose Cuturi brand pneumatic hammers?

 In addition to the benefits already expressed, the Cuturi hammers are created with a classic and elegant design that will adapt very well to the hands of the carving artist, since they come with a grip pattern so that the hands have a solid place to use them comfortably  and securely.  Let’s not forget that all Cuturi tools have the CE certificate of conformity.

 Another of their points in favor when choosing the best in tools and, especially, in pneumatic hammers, is that they come in 10 different sizes and that each model has been developed for a specific purpose.  For example, if a large amount of stone needs to be removed, especially at the beginning of a sculpture in white Hermes marble, the Cuturi “R” will remove that excess material quickly and efficiently.  This statement is made as a guarantee more than 28 years that I, Rubén Llano, have experience in stone carving, and I can assure, without fear, that this jackhammer has been my greatest ally in creating a good number  of artistic and architectural works.

 Apart from this, the Cuturi “R” model is not as big as the “Z” model, it adjusts correctly to the anatomy of the hands and does a fantastic job on any type of stone;  for example, this “R” reference removes pieces of limestone as if nothing (to illustrate this statement you can refer to my video).  In the case of marble, it works equally well, it also responds very well with harder and more solid materials such as granite.

 For all this, if any artist, stone carver, were planning to buy a new pneumatic air hammer without fear, I would recommend the Cuturi brand, with CE certification, and backed by more than 150 years of experience and the whole Italian tradition.  of classical and Renaissance sculpture.

Advantages of the Cuturi “R”

 Now we list some of the advantages of the Cuturi “R” jackhammer:

 It is big but not as big as the Cuturi “Z”

 Has a lot of power

 You can demolish many materials quickly with the proper air chisels.

 It works at 90 psi.

 If the air pressure is lowered, you can work with small areas or details;  Although it is important to recommend that in order to achieve this you must be careful and have a lot of practice.

 It is a great tool that resists oxidation.  To maintain this great advantage, it needs to be cleaned and lubricated with the appropriate Cuturi oil in order to retain its excellent performance.

 It will support long periods of work without problems (from 8 to 12 hours per day).

 Disadvantages of the Cuturi “R”

 Although there are not many, it is worth mentioning these:

 If you work for long periods, as is hardly logical, you will tire your hands, arms and shoulders.

 You need anti-vibration gloves for finger protection as they turn white due to poor circulation caused by the vibration of the jackhammer.  If you use the appropriate gloves, your hands will have no problems.

 Requires compressor air of around 90 psi.

 Chisel Recommendations

 You can use any type of air chisel, but the best are carbide tipped chisels because they are stronger than steel or normal carbon.

 Aspects to consider of the Cuturi “Z”

 Due to its larger size than the Cuturi “R”, and it’s great power, it is necessary to ensure it very well.

 You need anti-vibration gloves.

 It will not be suitable for small details.

 As already mentioned, it is the largest and is slightly heavier than the Cuturi “R” model, so it can tire your hands, arms and shoulders quickly.

 This model requires ¾ “size chisels.

Great adaptation and variety of Cuturi pneumatic hammers

 Cuturi jackhammers will work for any job, so if you are working on the surface of the sculpture, you may well invest in a small size such as the future “T”.

 The Cuturi “T” is neither big nor small, it is even good for roughing small stone sculptures, if you want to create details with low air pressure, this reference will help you control the cutting force.

 You can also invest in a pneumatic hammer for detail.  My preference would be the Cuturi “V”, which is not too small, but still has power and fits comfortably in my hand.  For me one of the most important parts is how the tools rest in the hands since the sculptor artist will use them for many hours a day.

 There are 10 models, each one has been developed for a specific purpose;  as is logical, the cost of the 10, in total will be high;  but they can be acquired little and little from the most common needs in terms of the tool to use.

 For really small details, the Cuturi “D” model is amazing for creating special little details if you are working in marble.  With it you will have an easy and smooth control of the material that is being removed.  At the same time, if what matters here is the classic taste for normal hammers and chisels, this model will do the same when it comes to details.

 Although my preference is the hammer and chisel to work the small details, since for me it is more poetic and I have more freedom to work around the sculpture, there is no doubt that the Cuturi pneumatic hammers have been a perfect balance between my practical needs  and techniques and my artistic sensitivity.  Let us remember that, although it is not the tools that create great works but it is the artists and their hands, we should not skimp on good tools since they facilitate the work and enrich the talent of those who use them.

 Artistic sensitivity and good tools – perfect duo of sculptural and architectural carver

 After doing this varied tour of the wonderful world of carving, its characteristics, materials, procedures and tools, we can only confirm that, like any work that wishes to be carried out successfully, we must have the perfect mix of sensitivity, work,  guidance and good tools.  The first two are the part that every apprentice of an art or trade must contribute;  the guidance of an expert in the field and a catalog of good and recognized tools are the part that this page offers for those who are interested in venturing into or perfecting the exciting world of stone and wood carving.

 Catalog of pneumatic hammers and their technical specifications

 To conclude this article, the technical specifications of the Cuturi pneumatic hammers are taken, taken directly from their official website:

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble

 Hammer type “Z”

 Cuturi “Z” Type Hammer Patented “Z” Type Heavy Duty Hammer

 Weight: 2,600 Kg

 Hits per 1 ‘: 4,100

 Piston diameter: 1 ″ – 1/4 ″

 Tool input: 16mm

 The tool must be kept freehand.

 Can be used with machinery.

HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble

 Hammer type “R”

 Cuturi hammer type Rough hammer and patented hammering, type “R”

 Weight: 2,000 Kg

 Hits for 1 minute ‘: 5,000

 Piston Diameter: 1 “- 1/8”

 Tool entry: 12.5 mm.

 The tool must be kept freehand.

 Can be used with machinery.

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble

 Hammer Type “S”

 Patented roughing hammer, type “S”

 Weight: 1,700 Kg.

 Hits for 1 ‘: 5,500

 Piston diameter: 1 ″

 Tool entry: 12.5 mm.

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble

 Hammer Type “T”

 Cuturi Hammer Type “T” Multipurpose hammer and hammer type “T”

 Weight: 1,500 Kg.

 Hits per 1 ‘: 6,000

 Piston diameter: 1 ″

 Tool entry: 12.5 mm.

 The tool must be kept freehand.

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble

 Hammer Hammer type “U”

 Patented “U” type multi-purpose hammer

 Weight: 1,100 Kg

 Hits for 1 ‘: 6,500

 Piston diameter: 3/4 ″

 Tool entry: 12.5 mm.

 The tool must be kept freehand.

 I mean that the chisels are not fixed they must be grasped with the other hand

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble • wood

 Hammer Type “V”

 Cuturi hammer type “V” Patented hammer for sculpture and ornament type “V”

 Weight: 700g

 Hits per 1 ‘: 6,500

 Piston Diameter: 5/8 ″

 Tool entry: 12.5 mm.

 The tool must be kept freehand.

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble • wood

 Type “A” hammer

 Cuturi Hammer Type “A” Patented hammer for sculptures and engravings type “A”

 Weight: 430 g.

 Hits per 1 ‘: 7,000

 Piston Diameter: 9/16 ″

 Tool entry: 12.5 mm.

 The tool must be kept freehand.

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble • wood

 Type “E” Hammer

 Cuturi Hammer Type “E” Patented hammer for engravings and finishes type “E”

 Weight: 240g

 Hits per 1 ‘: 7,200

 Piston Diameter: 7/16 ″

 Tool entry: 7.5 mm

 The tool must be kept freehand.

 HAMMERS

 Valid for: stone • granite • marble • wood

 Hammer Type “P”

 Patented “P” type pneumatic boom.  The pneumatic boom is supplied complete with three tools: a chisel, a step, and a tip.  In addition to this, it includes rubber and fixings.

 Weight: 90g

 Hits per 1 ‘: 8,500

 Piston Diameter: 1/4 ″

 Tool entry: 5 mm

 The pneumatic boom is patented.

Keywords: artistic carving, stone carving, wood carving, quality certifications, Cuturi, Cuturi in USA, jackhammers, white finger syndrome, carving safety and prevention, art sculpture, stone sculpture, chisels, pistons, compressor  air.

 Reference material

 Acosta López, M. J. (February 27, 2010).  “The sculpture in stone”.  Claseshistoria magazine.  Digital publication of History and Social Sciences.  No. 78. Taken from http://www.claseshistoria.com/ (05/23/20)

 Encyclopedia of wood.  Wood me. ”  https://maderame.com/maderas-para-tallar/ 

 “All artistic”.  Art blog.  http://todoartistica.blogspot.com/2014/11/materiales-para-esculpir.html  

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