How to Carve Stone Letters


Traditionally, carving stone letters is done by hand, using a chisel and mallet. Usually these letters are v-sunk letters, or letters that are shallow at the edges and deepen towards the center of each stroke. Today, many letters are carved by sandblasters or lasers, but some carvers still use the traditional chisel. Soft stones like soapstone or alabaster are the best choice for novice carvers; these are easier to carve than hard stones like marble and granite.

Step 1

Put the stone slab upright on the sandbags and lean it at a slight angle against a sturdy wall. The sand absorbs the shock from the chisel and mallet and prevents cracking.

Step 2

Draw three straight, horizontal lines about three inches apart across the stone. These will be guidelines for your letters. Sketch thick letters within the lines, using the full space between the top and bottom lines for capital letters and half the space for lowercase letters.

Step 3

Put on the goggles and face mask. Rest the corner of the chisel in the outside bottom corner of the first letter. Angle your wrist downward so the chisel is at a 45 degree angle.

Step 4

Tap the end of the chisel firmly to move it along. Keep the chisel at a 45 degree angle to the stone surface. Turn your wrist to follow the lines of the first letter. For example, when carving the lower part of a capital B, turn your wrist to the left as you chisel around the curve. Use the corner of the chisel to carve narrow parts of a letter. Use the flat end to carve out wider parts.

Step 5

When you have reached the end of your drawn line, move the chisel back to the bottom, right next to the first groove.

Step 6

Make a second groove, right on the edge of the first, so that the two grooves meld into each other without a seam. You will simply be widending the first groove. Repeat until the outside arm of the first letter is completely carved.

Step 7

Continue making grooves within your drawn lines until the whole message is carved into the stone.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always point the chisel away from you to avoid slippage and injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Stone slab
  • Measuring square
  • Charcoal pencil
  • Straight chisel
  • Mallet
  • Sandbags
  • Goggles and face mask


  • Kent Stone Mason
Keywords: carving, carving stone letters, carving in stone

About this Author

Megan Shoop has Bachelor of Arts in English literature and is proficient in both AP and MLA styles. As an editor of her college newspaper for one year, she assisted with copy editing, proofreading and layout design. She also wrote art and movie reviews and articles about campus events.

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