How to Cut Rocks Without a Saw

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Back when I couldn’t access a fancy lapidary, one of my biggest frustrations was ending up with chipped, unevenly cut rocks. However, that didn’t stop me from finding alternative methods to get the job done.

Over the years of providing expert guidance on home improvement, I continue to look for ways to work on projects without spending a fortune on specialized equipment. I’ll share a couple of techniques I’ve used how to cut rocks without a saw, perfect for fellow DIY enthusiasts like me.

How to Cut Rocks Without a Saw

When you need to cut rocks without using saws, you can use a chisel, hammer, mason chipper, feather and wedge system, angle grinder, or a Dremel. Simply mark the desired cutting line on the rock and your preferred tool to cut along the line. 

A green angle grinder slowly cutting a rock in a field.

These methods allow you to cut a few stones without using complex machinery or tools. With practice and patience, you can achieve accuracy in cutting rocks using affordable and accessible DIY cutting tools.

Tools and Techniques for Cutting Rocks Without a Saw

I’ve learned to appreciate the many ways in which we can shape our world with a bit of ingenuity and elbow grease. These are the different tools to help you cut stones and rocks even without using saws.

ToolBest For
ChiselStraightforward cuts
HammerSplitting rocks into uneven sizes
Mason chipper or hand tracerTrimming and squaring rocks
Feather and wedge systemPrecise cuts
Angle grinderQuick cuts
DremelIntricate cuts

Methods of Cutting Rocks Using Various Tools

When I didn’t have a saw handy, I discovered other ways of cutting and breaking rocks. With a bit of practice, these breaking techniques can be effective for most DIY projects and home improvement tasks. For every method, make sure to take safety measures first.

  • Check if your preferred tool is sharp and in good condition.
  • Wear safety goggles to protect my eyes from debris.
  • Use a sturdy workbench to hold the rock in place while cutting.

Using a Chisel

Like when cutting fire bricks without a saw, a chisel is one of my favorite tools for breaking rocks because the process is straightforward and requires a few steps. Let me walk you through it:

  1. First, I mark the exact spot on the stone where I want to make the cut.
  2. Next, I use the chisel to score a groove along the marking.
  3. After that, I place the chisel on the score and swing my hammer.
  4. Finally, the rock should split after a few strong hits.

You can also use a chisel to cut wooden dowel. But remember, chisel has different types for different uses. To cut a wooden dowel, a wood chisel must be used to assure smooth cutting.

Using a Hammer

When I need to cut rocks without a saw, another one of my go-to methods is using a hammer and chisel. This simple technique can be done with a few basic tools and some practice. 

  1. First, I gather the necessary tools, including a hammer and a chisel. I prefer a masonry chisel or a rock hammer to ensure that it’s sturdy enough for the job.
  2. Identify the area on the rock where I want to make the cut.
  3. Place the chisel’s tip in the desired location.
  4. Tap the chisel gently with the hammer to create an initial groove.
  5. Continue tapping the chisel along the desired line, gradually deepening the groove.
  6. Once the groove is deep enough, use firm strikes to split the rock.

Using a Mason Chipper or Hand Tracer

Mason chipper is a beveled tool for trimming and squaring stone, so it’s easily one of my preferred tools for cutting rocks. If you value the size and shape of stone masonry, here’s a simple process to follow when using a mason chipper or hand tracer:

  1. Place the rock securely on a stable surface or workbench. It’s essential to avoid any movement during the cutting process.
  2. Use a pencil or marker to draw a straight cutting line on the rock, which guides where I want to split the rock. This helps in achieving a cleaner cut.
  3. After marking the rock, position the edge of the hand tracer or mason chipper along the cutting line. Holding the tool at a slight angle can form a wedge between the parts of the stone that need to separate.
  4. With the tool edge aligned on the cutting line, strike the back of the mason chipper or hand tracer with a hammer, applying steady and controlled force. 
  5. Repeat this process along the line, gradually creating a deeper cut within the rock, making it easier for the rock to split.
A blue handled mason chipper and stones lying in the floor

Using a Feather and Wedge System

A feather and wedge system isn’t readily available in most households. However, I find that it’s an excellent alternative to saws because it can split most types of rocks more precisely than a saw. Here’s a quick breakdown of the process:

  1. Drill holes along the line where you want to cut the rock. The drilled holes should be spaced evenly across the rock.
  2. Insert feathers into the drilled holes.
  3. Gently tap wedges between the feathers. Work from one end of the rock to the other, tapping each wedge in sequence to ensure even pressure.
  4. Gradually drive the wedges further in, applying even pressure to split the rock.

Using an Angle Grinder

When I had to cut a hockey stick without a saw, I discovered that the power of an angle grinder could also deal with rocks and stones. I can create smooth cuts and shapes without hassle in simple steps. Here’s how I do it:

  1. I clamp the rock I want to cut in a vise or onto a worktable.
  2. Use an angle grinder fitted with a diamond blade to start cutting through the rock.
  3. Apply light pressure and make slow, steady strokes for the best results. 
  4. As I continue, I try to maintain a consistent depth, ensuring that the cut remains even across the rock. Remember, this process generates dust, so it’s essential to wear a dust mask and keep the work area well-ventilated.

Using a Dremel

A Dremel is another household favorite of mine because it is versatile and user-friendly for most DIY enthusiasts like me. This is why a Dremel is also my preference for cutting pegboards without a saw. In this section, I’ll walk you through the steps of using a Dremel to cut rocks.

  1. The first step in cutting rocks with a Dremel is to attach the diamond bit to the tool. This bit is designed to handle the hardness of stones and give you a clean cut. 
  2. Use a marker pen to mark the spot where you want to make the cut on your rock.
  3. Secure the rock before cutting. I like to use a clamp or a set of vices for this task. 
  4. Gently apply pressure on the marked spot and slowly move the tool along the line to prevent damage and achieve a smooth cut. 

Related Questions

How Do You Cut Stone by Hand?

When I need to cut stones by hand, I usually use a hammer and chisel. This method is perfect for small projects that don’t require clean cuts. With a bit of practice and patience, it’s quite effective for shaping stones without needing any electrical cables or gasoline.

What Can You Cut Rocks With?

Some of the best tools for cutting rocks are hammers and chisels.

A chisel-edge rock hammer is great for splitting apart layers of softer rocks, while a square-head hammer can be used for cracking open rocks. These tools are relatively inexpensive and readily available, making them my go-to choice for most rock-cutting tasks.

What Is the Best Thing to Cut Stone

When it comes to choosing the best tool to cut stone, I often opt for a diamond blade. This is because diamond blades are specifically designed for cutting through hard materials like rocks and stones


Even without a saw, you can use a chisel, hammer, mason chipper, feather and wedge system, angle grinder, and a Dremel to cut rocks. It’s amazing how precise you can be as you chip away at the rock, and there’s something satisfying about using simple hand tools to get the job done.

Categories DIY