How to Chisel Concrete

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Things You'll Need

  • Cold chisel

  • Small sledge hammer

  • Concrete

  • Rotary tool with stone grinding tip

  • Work gloves

  • Safety glasses

A cold chisel is the right hand tool for breaking up small areas of concrete.

Demolishing concrete is a heavy-duty task that calls for heavy-duty tools. Most concrete demolition projects call for the use of a jack hammer or hammer drill. Occasionally, very small areas of concrete must be removed from a larger project, or you may simply need to clean up the ragged edges left by a larger tool. These situations call for the use of a cold chisel. This small, pointed piece of metal can make precision cuts in concrete when used properly.

Step 1

Grasp the cold chisel loosely in your fist placing the tip of the chisel against the concrete you intend to break. Lean the chisel so that only one point of the tip is resting on the concrete.

Step 2

Grasp the bottom end of the handle of a small sledge hammer tightly. Tap the head of the chisel with a half-swing and immediately strike it again with a full swing. Continue digging a hole in the concrete with only one point of the cold chisel using a half-strike/full-strike double tap of your sledge.

Step 3

Lean the chisel perpendicular to the angle of the first angle so that the full width of the blade rests against the concrete and the bevel is parallel to the surface of the concrete.

Step 4

Strike the head of the chisel with your hammer with the same half strike/full strike maneuver to remove larger chunks of concrete.

Step 5

Reposition the chisel with the width of the tip resting flat and the bevel parallel to the surface of the concrete and remove another small chunk with the double tap maneuver. Continue moving the cold chisel and removing small chunks until the job is complete.


The grinding stone on your rotary tool should be used to remove burrs on the head of the chisel and for removing nicks, burrs and irregularities in the tip of the cold chisel. The head must be kept smooth and flat so that pieces of the chisel do not fly off and cause injury. The tip must be kept smooth and retain its original bevel to prevent injury and ensure a clean break in the concrete.

A sledge hammer is made from softer metal than a framing hammer, and using one creates less likelihood of dangerous flying shards.


Use gloves and safety glasses when working with a cold chisel. It routinely produces small projectiles that can injure your eyes.


Danny Donahue

After learning electronics in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s, Danny Donahue spent a lifetime in the construction industry. He has worked with some of the finest construction talent in the Southeastern United States. Donahue has been a freelance writer since 2008, focusing his efforts on his beloved construction projects.