Limestone is extremely porous, which makes it easy to cut with hand tools. Limestone's main component is calcium carbonate. It is a mineral made from the sedimentation of organic materials and fossils, mainly the skeletons of marine organisms. In construction, limestone blocks have been favored for centuries by architects because of its beauty and the ease of carving it. It is also used in place of bricks and for stairs, wall-face plates, floor tiles and window sills.
To obtain limestone, huge blocks of it must be cut out of the quarry walls. This is usually done by wire sawing. A wire saw consists of a stationary piece of equipment that feeds a length of thick cable coated with "diamond beads" which saws through the limestone. The large blocks are then cut into smaller blocks or sheets to facilitate transportation.
Diamond Saw Blades
Diamond saw blades can range in size from four inches for a hand saw for cutting tiles to 12 feet on a saw designed to cut slices from the quarried blocks. Limestone is not a very hard stone because of its porosity, but the porosity makes it more able to abrade the metal holding the diamonds in place on the blade, which is why it is very important to choose a blade specifically designed to cut limestone.
Limestone is popular with sculptors. They use mallets and sets of steel cold chisels with different heads which may be straight, toothed or rounded to create different effects. They also use rasps or files to smooth the limestone. For very large pieces, some sculptors use pneumatic machines with chisel attachments. Stone masons building with limestone blocks also use steel chisels and mallets to trim and re-shape the blocks.
Hand saws may be used to cut limestone, but a tile or masonry saw is the most-used piece of equipment for contractors and installers. A diamond saw blade formulated to cut limestone is mounted onto the saw, and limestone blocks or tiles are placed on the movable base. The operator turns on the saw and while it is spinning, the limestone is pushed toward it.