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How to Choose the Best Chisel for the Job

(Above, l to r): HM25, PKM22, PKM25, SM40-R,, RIM38-R, CHP1BP, CHT1112, CHOM1112

Chisels are a must-have tool for any waller’s toolbox. That’s why The Stone Trust offers 8 different chisels in its online Store. And, for many wallers, especially those new to dry stone walling, it can be a daunting task to select a chisel that will work best for the task at hand.

So, to help with that decision, we asked Brian Post, DSWA certified. Master Craftsman and Instructor and our Director of Education and Training, to share his extensive knowledge by putting together a guide in the form of a chart. The chart is based on the various uses and types of stone involved, making it easier to purchase a chisel that’s exactly what you need. See the chart below. Happy chiseling!

How To Choose A Chisel
The specifics of how well a chisel performs in a given instance depends on a multitude of factors including the type of stone, the angle the chisel is being held, how hard the chisel is struck etc. This table should be used as general guide, but there will be many exceptions depending on the specific factors in any given case.
General Concepts
  • Points and tools that have a narrower blade will be best on hard stone as the force is concentrated to a smaller area.
  • Tools like tracer chisels that have a finer (sharper) angle are best for splitting with the grain. They can more easily be damaged when used in other ways especially on hard stone.
  • Tools with a blunt or square end (Chipper & Pitching) are best for trimming against the grain in level bedded stone as well as trimming stone with no
  • Shaping done with chisels will give more precise control than working with just hammers. However, hammers tend to be more powerful and faster.