Each of the four standard types of chisels (point, claw, flat, and roundel) has a distinctive shape that results in unique marks left on the stone. Each tool has its own purpose and is used for different stages of sculpting.

Many tools found from certain periods in archaeological excavations worldwide are similar to those from other eras. The Nasher Museum of Art has in its collection an ancient Greek bronze chisel dating to the early Bronze Age (c. 3200-2000 BCE), which appears to have a flat or roundel edge and is comparable to those of medieval masons, and even similar to the tools modern sculptors use.

Working with these tools for many years, master stone carvers know how to manipulate the chisels precisely. A master stone carver understands the exact angle, amount of applied pressure, and the sound of the perfect pitch from the hammer’s blow. These chisels and other tools become a physical extension of the artist’s translation of two-dimensional shapes into three-dimensional forms.