Step-by-Step How to Cut Rocks

By Margaret Mills

Collecting rocks is a satisfying hobby for many people. A rock saw is a favorite piece of equipment for serious collectors, and is used to cut pieces of rock in half or into thin slabs for crafts or jewelry-making. Fitted with a blade edged in bits of diamond, the saw grinds through pieces of rock using friction and gravity. Saws vary, but a typical one consists of an engine and drive belt, a diamond saw blade, a tub for coolant, a vise and a safety lid or shield.

List of Items Needed

  • Safety goggles
  • Safety muffs or earplugs
  • Rubber or canvas apron
  • Rotary tool with abrasive point
  1. Don the safety equipment, including ear muffs, goggles and heavy apron. Check that the coolant tank is full of the prescribed coolant, usually water or oil. Mark the position of the cut on the rock, keeping in mind the saw will remove about 1/8 inch of material.

  2. Mount the rock in the saw vise. Secure it tightly; a rock shifting during cutting can be a safety hazard or can result in a broken saw blade.

  3. Position the saw vise so that the rock is close to the saw blade, within 3 mm, but not touching.

  4. Close the safety shield or lid and turn on the saw. Monitor the process continuously, checking that coolant continues to spray both sides of the blade.

  5. Turn off the saw and lift the shield when the cut is complete, then position the vise away from the blade. If you are cutting a slab and need to make a second cut, leave the rock in the vise. To cut a thin slab, reposition the vise and repeat the steps. When the second cut is finished, move the vise away from the saw blade and remove both rock and slab.

Tips and Warnings

  • Leave the safety shield open when the saw is not in use. This prevents rust.
  • Choose a saw with a blade about three times the diameter of the largest rocks you will be cutting.
  • To remove small imperfections before or after cutting, grind them off with a rotary tool and an abrasive point.
  • Stop the saw immediately if the coolant stops spraying both sides of the blade; then check the pump and the coolant supply lines. Lack of coolant can cause the blade to break or the drive belt to burn out.

© Demand Media 2011