Splitting Stone: The Feather and Wedge Process

Here at Connecticut Stone, we love a new challenge whenever an interesting project comes around. Creating a large piece for a very unique space, manipulating a difficult stone medium to do what you need it to – the adventures in stone can be truly endless.

Splitting stone is a labor of love itself. Sometimes there’s more stone than any power tool can work through. When this happens, we turn back to our descendants to a technique they used that’s still in existence today and that makes splitting a very large stone a manageable task. That process is known most commonly as, “Feather and Wedging.”

In this post, we’ll dive into the feather and wedge process, what it is, and how the idea behind this ancient practice is still being used today to create some exquisite work for architectural design projects.

When to Use Feather and Wedge

The most popular use of the feather and wedge method is to split a very large stone to a more manageable size, so either equipment or human hands can handle it. This process takes the very durable medium and breaks it down into pieces that are more workable.

Once we have the right size piece we can then move forward with additional processes to shape, carve, or finish the stone using a guillotine or other equipment to produce the smaller pieces needed to complete the project.

This is the best option when dealing with a stone that has seams because it works along the natural grain of the stone. However, when we split against the grain of the stone, it becomes more difficult because pressure is being applied at a different point.

Procedure Explained

To start, we drill holes into the stone using electric drills. We choose the location of these holes by studying the grain of the stone. Striped pieces, for example, have seams that run the length of the stone and drilling holes on this area will allow the stone to split like butter once the process is complete. Splitting with the grain of the stone also allows us to have more control because of the natural seam. If we choose to go against the grain, veining, or the natural seam, more power and strength will be needed, there is less control, and it becomes more difficult to get the split we are trying to achieve.

Once we drill our holes, we use a “feather” (two l shaped metal pieces) and insert them into the holes along with the long parts of the “L” shaped pieces. Once inserted together upside down and back to back, you should have something shaped like a “T”. We are now ready to start hammering in the wedge that will eventually separate the stone. Once inserted, we begin hammering a little at a time to increase pressure inside each hole. As the wedge drops into the stone, a fault line will develop and eventually crack the stone along its seam.

At Connecticut Stone we’re proud of the craftsmanship that goes into every project we work on – the feather and wedge process is just one of them. Stay tuned for more information on other stone processes we use at to make these amazing and unique architectural pieces.

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