The Sculpture Channel

How to Carve Stone with Hand Tools
The Round Chisel

How to carve stone with hand tools
The Round Chisel

In this video, Athar is going to talk about the round chisel or roundel.

The round chisel, or roundel, is a very helpful and versatile tool, it does not have a specific place in the process of carving a sculpture, it can be used either as an intermediary tool as well as a finishing tool, it really comes down to the preferences of the sculptor.

It can be used both for rough or smooth work and the rounded shape of its cutting edge can be seen as an efficient compromise between the shape of the pointed chisel and of the flat chisel. So, if used aggressively, it will remove quantities of stone larger than those removed with a flat chisel, because the round shape would allow you to enter deeper into the stone, but not as deep as with the point chisel. But when used carefully, it is also very well suited for delicate areas since it has no sharp edges that might catch on anything or leave scratches on the sides, and it is especially well-suited for carving hollow forms because its shape perfectly fits the curves.

Occasionally, it is also used for putting texture on the stone surface.

The basic shape of the roundel is similar to that of the flat chisel except that its cutting edge is curved rather than flat. The Italian name of the chisel is ‘Unghietto’, which means small nail and when well sharpened, the cutting edge of the chisel does resemble a fingernail.

Like most chisels it’s a metal handheld tool of 20 to 25 centimetres in length and its diameters varies between 1 and 2 and like any other chisels, it comes both in hardened steel and carbide. Roundels come in various sizes and the curve of the cutting edge can vary considerably in shape from a semicircle to a barely noticeable curve.

Roundels are not always available on the market. You can overcome this problem by buying a few flat chisels, and then reshape them to roundels on the bench grinder.

As with any other chisel, depending on their size and their type, whether they are in carbide or metal, you would use them in combination with a specific kind of hammer. Both synthetic or metal hammers are suitable.


Depending on the type of work that you want to do, you will adjust the angle with which you use the chisel. For example, for the raw work, you would hold the chisel at an angle of about sixty degrees because the steep angle will allow the chisel to enter deeper into the stone and you will be able to remove more material. If you lower the angle of the chisel and tap it gently, you will be able to clean the surface of the stone in a much more delicate way.

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