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Stone Carvers' Hammers

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  • Stone Carvers' Hammers

    One of the conspicuous landmarks of Edinburgh is the ornate tower in
    Princes Street erected to the memory of Sir Walter Scott , the novelist-
    The 'Scott Monument'.

    It is at present under repair and is swathed with scaffolding.

    Some of its numerous stone carvings have decayed and are being replaced.
    The masons use hammers the head of which are apparently made of stone.
    They are in he form of a truncated cone (i.e. a wide cylinder with
    gently sloping sides).

    The handle is short and the hammer must be so heavy that many untrained
    people would surely have difficulty in using or even of lifting it.

    Why is this the traditional mason's tool ?

    One would suppose that because of such high inertia it would be very
    difficult to control. The hammer is only moved a short distance and only
    low velocities are reached.

    The same impulse could be obtained by the use of a smaller hammer swung
    through a bigger distance. There must be some biomechanical trade off
    between the large mass that has to be controlled and the accuracy of the
    cut of the stone.

    Would the precision of the cut in the stone vary with the speed of the
    initial impact of the chisel which the hammer strikes ? The present
    system has stood the test of time.

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