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Cutting Techniques for Stone Quarries

Updated:2013-07-31 15:59:08

Quarries yield large quantities of uncut, unpolished and unrefined stone used for building and sculpting purposes. Quarries have existed and benefited humanity since the beginning of civilization and many of the cutting and shaping techniques used thousands of years ago are still employed today. Depending upon the intended purpose of the extracted stone, cutting techniques for stone quarries vary depending upon the stage of the refining process.


Extraction Cutting
Extraction cutting allows quarry miners to gain access to large granite block of unshaped stone. Typically miners use large saws, often called gang saws, to cut into a deposit of earthbound stone. When it is in its natural, uncut, unextracted state, quarry stone is far softer and easier to cut through than finished chiseled and polished stone. Consequently, though extraction cutting comes first in the process and often yields the largest blocks or chunks of stone, it usually presents the easiest step in the cutting and refining process.
Once the large block or chunk of stone is extracted but still in the damp air of the quarry, masons or miners shape the chunk into manageable and equally sized blocks that are easier to ship and handle. As with extraction cutting, these workers use gang saws for some cuts. They also use mechanical saws with rapidly spinning blades, similar to circular saws. Workers must evaluate the chunk prior to cutting so their cuts can produce the largest number of equally sized blocks. Machines typically grind smaller, excess garden stone fragments to dust to be redistributed on the quarry floor.
Once extracted and shaped, stone blocks typically travel to their final destination. When removed from the conditions of the quarry, most stone blocks quickly harden, making traditional cutting extremely difficult. Occasionally, quarry workers will further break the granite tile block down to fit within a certain parameter, so as to fulfill the purchaser's desire. Other times, the purchaser must break the block down himself. This cutting and shaping process, called chiseling, requires specialized hand tools that more accurately chip away at pieces of the rock on the outside, due to its excessive hardness.
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