Studiostone - Stone Carving Resources

Safety for the Stone Carver
Important guidelines, tips and advice regarding your personal safety
when stone carving.

(This article was excerpted from a Montoya Sculpture Safety Bulletin. See for more information and on-line stone carving & safety supply purchases.)


Your eyes are very important in everyday activities and deserve special
care during stone carving. Fortunately our eyes are very easy to protect with
glasses, goggles or a face shield. Glasses and goggles are easily carried and worn.
It's important to have a pair that will fit well with your dust mask. Many goggles
offer side protection as well. A face shield may accommodate a dust mask more
easily but the shield can be cumbersome to some. It's important to clean selected
eye protection to insure clear vision. At times stone dust can build up fast. When
you clean the dust off of your protection first run it under water to get the dust off
or when you rub it the dust may scratch the glass/ plastic of the eye protection.
The scratches will interfere with clear vision. It makes sense to protect your eyes while
stone chips are flying around. Tool and stone positioning will affect the amount and force of chips flying around. A hat with a rim or bill will help protect from stone chips from above.


Most of us enjoy the sound of stone carving. Indeed the sound can tell us of weak places in the stone and help
guide our work. It's important to protect our hearing during power tool operation. Air hammers and angle
grinders produce high-pitched noise that is often being produced for long periods. This is damaging to the
eardrum. Hearing protection reduces the noise that reaches the eardrum. Protection is available in two simple
and comfortable forms: earplugs and earmuffs. Properly fitted, these devices reduce noise by 15 to 30 dB. Interestingly simultaneous use of earplugs and muffs usually adds 10 to 15dB more protection than either used alone. Combined use should be considered when noise exceeds 105 dB.
Sound intensity is measured in decibels (dB). The scale runs from the faintest sound the human ear can detect,
which is labeled 0 dB, to over 180 dB, the noise at a rocket pad during launch. Experts from the American
Academy of Otolaryngology agree that noise in excess of 85 db can be damaging to the human ear. As you
can see from the table below, shop tools and pneumatic drills fall in the above 90 dB category.
Decibels are measured logarithmically. This means that as decibel intensity increases by units of 10, each
increase is 10 times the lower figure. Thus, 20 decibels is 10 times the intensity of 10 decibels, and 30 decibels
is 100 times as intense as 10 decibels
Approx. Decibel Level:

0 Faintest sound heard by human ear.
30 Whisper, quiet library.
60 Normal conversation sewing machine, typewriter.
90 Lawnmower. Shop tools, truck traffic; 8 hours per day is the maximum exposure to protect 90% of people.
100 Chainsaw. Pneumatic drill, snowmobile; 2 hours per day is the maximum exposure without protection.
115 Sandblasting, loud rock concert, auto horn; 15 minutes per day is the maximum exposure without protection.
140 Gun muzzle blast, jet engine; noise causes pain and even brief exposure injures unprotected ears. Maximum
allowed noise ra*/« hearing protectors.

So properly fit earplugs or earmuffs can reduce noise by 30-40% and provide the required noise reduction to
fall into the safe range. Earplugs are easy to carry and easy to put in. Earmuffs are more effective, and can be
very comfortable. Most have a soft rubber cushion that fits around/over the ear and the band that arches over
the head is easily adjusted for comfort and fit. Earmuffs do not properly seat over eyeglasses or long hair.
When using hearing protectors properly, you will hear your own voice as louder and deeper. This is a useful
sign that the hearing protectors are properly fit. If you think you can toughen up your hearing- YOU CAN'T. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology " If you think you have grown used to a loud noise, it probably has damaged your ears, and there is no treatment-no medicine, no surgery, not even a hearing aid-that completely restores your hearing once it is damaged by noise."


During the use of stone carving tools your hands and wrists are subject to stresses and repetitive motion. Most of
the time this is not a great concern. Once you are exposing yourself to power tools for 3- 4 hours it starts to
become critical that you provide yourself with hand and wrist protection. Protection is available in the form of
simple gloves to fingerless leather gloves, anti-vibration gloves and gloves with wrist protection. Basic gloves help
protect your skin from sharp edges and missed hammer blows. Fingerless gloves offer protection but leave the
fingers exposed to manipulate tools and feel the stone. Some gloves are heavily padded in certain areas and offer
special protection from vibration such as that produced by pneumatic hammers. This is important because after 3 -
4 hours your hands can start tingling and become fatigued. Of course this varies based on user age and tool
performance. Gloves with wrist restraint offer some protection against carpal tunnels syndrome during long periods of repeated actions. Proper sizing is important to provide proper long-term protection.
Apparently 80% of those affected by carpal tunnels syndrome are over 40 years old and the condition can be
greatly reduced or avoided by wrist stretching exercises. One of the causes of carpal tunnels syndrome is the use
of tools that produce vibrations in the hand, such as: hammers, saws, drills, and jackhammers.


Your Lungs are critical to your long-term health. Protect them as best you can.
Lungs should be protected against any concentrations of fumes, pesticides, chemicals, wood dust and stone dust.
Different stones produce different dust and dust of different weight. Heavy dust falls to the floor and lighter dust
can remain suspended. Inhalation of stone dust is dangerous to your health. Your investment in dust protection is a
personal choice based on anticipated exposure. All protection should be properly fit for full protection. When making a small amount of dust a disposable dust mask is suitable, but when making a lot of dust, a respirator with filters is recommended. Store your protection safely when not in use. It's also a good idea to work with a smock, overalls or an apron so that you can remove it for a break or at the end of the day so that you reduce the dust concentrations you take with you.


Like driving a car, working with sculpture stones and tools can be dangerous to your health if precautions are not taken. Take all the required steps to reduce your exposure and protect your health. Protect your eyes, ears, hands and lungs.