Friday, April 6, 2012

How To - Plugs and Feathers shaping workshop 2012

Shaping Workshop 4/2012. Held in the south. 
This is a lovely bucket of plugs/wedges and feathers/shims. 

We started out by using this pre drilled metal plate with holes drilled on 6" center. We set the plate down on the stone, used a hammer drill with a drill bit to match the wedge and feathers we placed in the holes. Then we kept a few feet on the metal plate as we dry drilled holes 1" on this 7" stone. Note for production purposes it was advised that tracing the stone with a chisel was not needed before drilling. (to each his own)

This is what the stone after we drilled our 1" holes . Next we turned on the hose at a low trickle to keep the drill bit from wearing out as fast, keeping the dust down, and clearing out the hole. (if you don't have water to work with - thats ok!) 

We pre marked the drill bit with yellow tape to match the length of the wedges we are using 4". Then of course drilling down 4" to the tape mark. My drill has a stopping rod which makes it much easer to adjust and no need for tape.


Wedge and feathers then placed in the hole in the direction we wanted the stone to break. Slowly we taped one at a time then to the next giving the stone some time to realize what just hit it... (sorry couldn't help myself)

Before you know it the stone was in two pieces. The stone we used was a limestone from the Kentucky area. 

Wala a nice stone face - now on to the next side to make a nice square block. 

This was just one of the great things learned at a stone shaping workshop. 

Side Note: I had brought down my Cheap $80 1" Harbor Freight Hammer Drill. This was a hug hit. Every one loved it much better then the Bosch. My point? if you want to give this type of work a try you don't need to spend alot of money to get the job done. Read more with my Tool - Drill, Wedge & Shims to understand all the little stuff that makes no sense. Like what size wedge and feather should I buy, or what is SDS..... Shaping stone can be a joy when you take the time to understand the stone.

Other helpful/related links on this topic.

How To - Wedge and Feathers Voodoo Magic

RockinWalls - Mark Jurus Copyright 2012


  1. Mark, Thanks for another great post. I've been doing quite a bit of wedge and feather work lately. I picked up a drill and wedge set last season. I went to Granite City Tool in Barre Vt. They advised not to use water with carbide tip drill bits. Something about the carbide not lasting. I have six bits I rotate. Drill a hole, change the bit. That way each bit has time to cool. They seem to be lasting quite well. T.J.

    1. Hi TJ,
      What kind of drill are you using? I had not heard that before about the water. I haven't used any water in the past. I'll have to do a little more homework on that. I can understand the value of using water to keep the dust down along with keeping the drill bits cool.

      I just worked 3 granite stones today to make 10 edges for a dry laid brick walk. I love how Granite breaks just where you want it too. Your so luck to live in VT.

    2. You can use water when drilling with carbide bits. The only situation you shouldn't introduce water is after you have started drilling dry. This is because the bit is heated and you would be quenching the carbide when adding water. Just like with carbide chisels, never ever quench them with water after being heated...this makes carbide brittle from rapid cooling and susceptible to breakage.
      As long as you start drilling with water, then you can wet-drill. Unless your drill is underpowered or the bit is very dull, drilling 3"-6" holes won't ruin the carbide on a bit...they are made to withstand high temperatures.

      I personally don't use water because it makes a mess out of the work area.