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Tool Guide: Which Should I Use and When?

Chisels are one of the most essential tool for any waller. To help understand how to choose and decide which chisels to use, we got the input of Brian PostDry Stone Walling Association (DSWA)- certified Master Craftsman and past Executive Director of The Stone Trust. He shared insights based on his extensive knowledge by putting together a guide in the form of a chart. The chart indicates the various uses and types of stone involved, making it easier to purchase a chisel that’s exactly what you need.

How To Choose A Chisel

The Stone Trust offers a wide variety of different chisels to this end in its online store. You may find the chart helps you understand how to best select a chisel that will work best for the task at hand! Wallers new to dry stone walling may find it especially handy!


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 you strike the chisel etc. Use this table as a general guide and expect many exceptions depending on the specific project you are working on.

General Concepts

  • Points and tools that have a narrower blade work best on hard stone, as the force is concentrated to a smaller area.
  • Tools like tracer chisels that have a finer (sharper) angle work best for splitting with the grain. You can damage them if you use them in other ways, especially on hard stone.
  • Tools with a blunt or square end (Chipper & Pitching) work best for trimming against the grain in level-bedded stone, as well as trimming stone with no
  • Shaping done with chisels gives more precise control than working with just hammers. However, hammers tend to be more powerful and faster.
WORKSHOP OBJECTIVE:  Learn techniques and efficient methods for getting stones to break where you want them to. To provide a basic understanding of how to shape a variety of stone types to produce shapes that will aid in creating a strong wall while “taking off the ugly.”


 Stone Shaping on Sept 9th in Barre, Vermont training site .

 Stone Shaping on Oct 20th in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire training site .