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Stone Quarrying Tools



This webpage focuses on the tools used for the two most common historical hand splitting methods: (1) plug & feather method, and (2) flat wedge method. these two methods account for over 95% of tool marks found on quarried stone. The tools shown on this page are from the authors’ collection.


Plug & Feather Tools

Flat Wedge Tools

TOOL SAFETY: Many of this old tools are easily found in antique shops and flea markets. It is tempting to use these old tools for modern stone masonry projects. However, it is important to remember that these old tools can suffer from metal fatigue, cracks, and other defects. For safety reasons, please purchase modern tools and keep your antique tools for display purposes.


Types of Stone Quarries

Stone Quarry Tools

Quarry Tool Gallery

Stone Splitting Methods

Hoisting Stone

Transporting Stone

Sawing Stone

Osgood Graphite Mine

Historic Articles on Quarrying

Plug & Feather Method Tools

The plug & feather method of stone splitting involves drilling a series of round holes in the rock spaced every six inches or so apart. The typical round hole ranges for 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter and 3 to 4 inches deep. These holes are drilled using either a single bladed plug drill or a “+” shaped star drill. The drill is struck by a hammer. The stone dust which accumulates in the holes is removed using a simple tool called a spoon. Once the holes are drilled, two shims called feathers or half-rounds are placed in the hole and a wedge called a plug is placed between the two feathers.

Plug & Feather Tool Set (Quarrying)

Typical Plug & Feather Hand Splitting Tool Set


4 3/4 lb Mason’s Hammer

Quarry Tools Plug Drills

Typical Plug Drills - (Top) drill with a round blade (bottom) drill with pointed blade

Quarry Tools Star Drills

Typical Star Drills

quarry Tools Spoon

A spoon made from a nail

Quarry Tools plug & Feathers

Two feathers (shims) with a plug (wedge) between them

Flat Wedge Method Tools

The flat wedge method is easily identified by the narrow trapezoid quarry holes it creates. These quarry holes are cut by a tool called a cape chisel. Into these holes a flat thin wedge is placed between two flat shims.

Quarry Tools Cape Chisel

A typical hand forged cape chisel


Three examples of the thin flat wedges used with the flat wedge method. No examples of shims have been located except for a pair found stuck fast in a boulder that refused to split (below).

Flat Wedge Splitting Method - Wedge & Shim in Rock



Copyright (c) 2005-2008, James E. Gage & Mary E. Gage. All Rights Reserved.