How-To: Carve a Stone Bowl

Energy & Sustainability
Heirloom Technology Stone Bowl MAKE Volume 24

Heirloom Technology Stone Bowl MAKE Volume 24

Want to make a gift to eternity? Nothing says forever quite like a handmade stone bowl. Maker extraordinaire Tim Anderson writes our Heirloom Technology column each issue of MAKE, and for Volume 24, he shared his technique for carving a stone bowl. Head over to Make: Projects for the full tutorial. As Anderson notes, “Fortunately, tools with diamond-studded cutters have become cheap and abundant. They make stone carving amazingly fast and easy. The same techniques seen here can of course be used to make any sort of stone objects you desire. My bowl is heavy and shallow because I plan to use it for a mortar to make nut butter. And I want it to last forever.” What kind of bowl will you make?

Heirloom Technology Stone Bowl MAKE Volume 24

Heirloom Technology Stone Bowl MAKE Volume 24

24 thoughts on “How-To: Carve a Stone Bowl

  1. Jacob says:

    You should make stone chess pieces! That would be awesome! and a stone chess board to go with it!

  2. asciimation says:

    Nice project but be careful with the angle grinder! It should really have the guard fitted (in case the disc shatters or the tool kicks back) and you should wear gloves too. Also I’d be wary about putting too much sideways pressure on the disc when smoothing the bowl. If one of those discs shatters when spinning you do not want to be in the way of the shrapnel!

    Angle grinder accidents can be really nasty. I still have a scar on the back of my wrist from years ago when I slipped with one and almost put a grinding disc through my hand!

  3. Paul Bruno says:

    One item of note should be included with this piece. A claw hammer should never, ever be used to strike a chisel. A ball peen hammer is softer steel and it is made to strike against metal. A claw hammer is much harder to give durability but it also makes it brittle and pieces are likely to break off when struck against hard metal. While on the topic, chisels need to have the mushroomed bits ground off the top or they might become projectiles too.

      1. Paul Bruno says:

        Twenty years of metal working experience my self plus the fifty years experience of my teacher says otherwise. Nobody should trust their health and safety to “facts” on Mythbusters.

      2. Tom says:

        The wiki says pieces came off, but they didn’t shatter as claimed in the myth. A high speed steel splinter to the eye isn’t fun as my dad could tell you from the 3 times I remember him heading to the ER. He may have finally learned his lesson…or got side shields for his glasses too.

        Things don’t always behave. And eyes are expensive to replace. Safety third.

  4. Dave Bell says:

    Excellent article! I love old tech, and this is about as ancient as it gets…

    A couple of questions:
    Could you add a little more detail about “ringing” the rock?
    And perhaps a dumb one: Where do you find a nice stone like that?
    I suppose a local rockery, but “au naturel” would be nicer!


  5. jamesbx says:

    Nice. Wash it, buff it, seal it, put it in a diy lightbox, and sell it on etsy. Flat rate shipping might be something to consider :-) I could see the same technique working for making a trough shaped piece.

    Between the blacksmithing, metal working, and wood working, I have about twenty hammers. I’ll hit a steel chisel with whatever is around. Every couple of years, I will take any bulges off the top of my chisels and punches with belt sander.

    And I would be more concerned with breathing the dust than with a solid steel disk shattering from a side load. I don’t know the mineral content, but Silicosis is a risk.

    1. Paul Bruno says:

      It’s nice to hear someone has the same passion for hammers as I do.

      The project is very cool and that means that many people are likely to give it a try, it’s on my weekend list. Even with best practices I have so many ferrous metal fragments in my body I can’t have an MRI. Your point about silicosis is good too, and that includes projects where you might be drilling or grinding glass or stone.

      Make is really good about safety warnings and this isn’t anywhere near as dangerous as using a plasma cutter in shorts like you see in many You Tube videos.

      To answer the question about where to find an suitable rock for this project, try landscaping suppliers or brickyards, some big box home improvement stores also have appropriate field stones for this project. Please don’t remove stones from public or private land without permission.

      1. jamesbx says:

        On the topic of removing stones from public land: I sent an email to the regional BLM office, and they said it is OK to remove stones from their part of BLM land for landscaping use, as long as you don’t use heavy equipment. I loaded the trailer with couple yards of nice stone, and built a wall for a raised bed garden.

  6. tim boehm says:

    I have been making stone bowls for 15 years, i use 16 14 12 10 7 and 4 inch blades. there is more that what is shown to make them here, for one thing use a turbo cup wheel. always where body as well as eye and hearing protection. Had a cup wheel come apart and at 10k it will tear right through clothing. Don’t buy cheap blades, that two for a nickle stuff aint worth the time it takes to mount it. I will answer questions about suppliers there are good blades and polishing equipment out there at reasonable prices. Ask the gallery wild rain in tillamook or. for my number. I spent a lot of time and money doing it wrong, ruined several thousand dollars worth of equipment, bought lots of crappy stuff that didn’t do the job.

  7. MAKE | Your Comments says:

    […] the piece on How to Carve a Stone Bowl, asciimation gives a gentle warning: Nice project but be careful with the angle grinder! It should […]

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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