Hand Carving a House Number in Stone

Hand Carving a House Number in Stone

This is a way for anyone to have a go at hand carving lettering. All you need is a single tungsten chisel though if you use a softer type of stone you can easily get away with an old sharp wood chisel made from steel.

I picked a random piece of York stone paving. It is full of character with an interesting shape and textured riven surface. The only downside to carving numbers or letters on a riven face is that the edge of the carved number lacks the sharp smooth edge that you would get if the same number was carved from a smooth faced stone.

But that is exactly the look I was wanting, I wanted this to look hand made. I have spent my career trying to make near perfect products and now is the time to do something different!

This type of random stone can be found in most landscape/stone suppliers. If you are lucky enough to source a soft stone such as Bath-stone try first with a steel wood chisel. An old one re-sharpened will almost certainly do the job.

If you do have or want to buy a tungsten chisel I suggest you choose a 20mm letter cutting chisel. This is a good all round chisel for both letter cutting and stone carving.

Marking out the number on the face of the stone is probably the most tricky part of letter cutting so I tried to devise a simple method using a printed number and tape. For the house number choose a font that you like, you can print out a real size version on any word document to use as a guide.

Concentrate first on removing the waste material from the middle of the letter then shave your way to the edge of the number. Take your time, there is no rush in stonework, enjoy the process, it is a truly calming and relaxing thing, almost like meditation!

If you do have a go please let me know how you get on below!


I apprenticed at the age of 15 as an ecclesiastical marble mason and have worked in the stone trade for 52 years. I have Made headstones in marble, worked on ancient monuments as a restoration stonemason, made marble and stone fireplaces and specialised for twenty years as a stone engraver. I am now retired but am active in making videos and advice articles about natural stone and engraving.
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