This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The tools employed by the stonemason are neither numcrous intricate.
The saw employed by the stonemason has the peculiarity of having no teeth, which those used in other trades have. It is made of a long thin plate of steel, having the lower edge slightly jagged, and is fixed in a frame. The saw cuts the stone by its own weight, being moved backwards and forwards horizontally. Some stone is of such a character as not to cleave with sufficient degree of certainty into pieces of the desired size and shape, as to make that process of cutting it advisable. The saw is then utilized. Two men usually sit one on either side of block that is being divided, and work the saw as above mentioned. The operation is facilitated by allowing water to wash the sand in the saw cut. It is done by placing a heap of sharp sand on an inclined plane over the stone, and permitting water to trickle through it. In this age of invention and machinery, for sawing marble, and almost all other materials used by the mason, steam-power is employed, which, of course, is fast superseding manual labour, more especially is this the case in the making of chimney-pieces. There are, however, some stones which can be sawn with facility with a toothed saw worked in a similar manner to the stonemasons' taw.
Gay has invented an endless band saw, which consists of a steel wire rope passing over 2 pulleys. It not only receives a rapid rotary motion, but also one of twisting upon itself in such a way that the strands of steel wire cut their way into the stone, and clear their passage. The work done is said to be 25-30 times that which can be done by hand in the same time.
The mallet is somewhat similar to a dome in contour, excepting the portion at the other extremity to that at which the hand is. This portion is rather cylindrical. (See Fig. 1285.) The handle is of sufficient length to enable the artisan to firmly grasp it, and no more. The mallet is, of course, used for striking the chisels and knocking stones into position. The stonemason uses a wooden mallet, because it delivers just the kind of dull blow that is required. His mallet head is made circular, because his tools are steel, and have no wooden handles, and he is able to use the whole circumference, and thus prevent the tools from wearing holes in the wooden mallet face. The handle of his mallet is short, because it will strike a sufficiently powerful blow without being used at a great leverage.
The chisels used by masons are of various sizes, made to meet the divers requirements. Prof. Rankine states that the principal tools employed in the dressing of atone are the scrabbling hammer, whose head is pointed at one end like a pick and axe-formed at the other, and various chisels, of which one is pointed at the end and the others flat, and of breadths ranging from 1 to 3 in. or thereabouts. The chisel first referred to is the "point"; that instrument need not necessarily be pointed at the end, but may have a breadth of 1/4 in. or thereabouts. This is the smallest description of chisel. Other forms are the " inch tool," the " boaster," and the " broad tool." The first is 1 in. broad, the second, 2 in., and the last, 3 1/2 in. The operation of working with the point is called " pointing," and with the boaster, " boasting." Points are usually employed in taking stones out of winding, and they are followed by the inch tool. The point, when used, leaves the stone in narrow furrows, having rough ridges between them. The inch tool is brought to bear upon the stone, and these ridges are cut away, and by the use of the boaster the whole is brought to a comparatively smooth surface.
In those parts of the country where the stone saved by the operation of sawing is not enough to compensate for the labour, the operation is altogether performed with mallet and chisel.
The other implements incidental to the stonemason's craft are similar to those employed by bricklayers, and will be found described under that section.