Testing Carving Tools
Lesson plan based on Hadrian
Construct an ancient bow drill and compare its effectiveness at carving stone to marks made by other tools.
Skills and Focus: Scientific Inquiry
Subject Area: Science
Thematic Connection: Connecting Past and Present
Grade Level: Secondary School
Time Needed: 100 minutes
Replicate an ancient bow drill.
Instructional Materials Needed
Story: How Was This Made?
Dowels, 8" in length
Handles (a wooden doorknob-like handle will suffice)
Bow-like curved piece of wood
Emery powder or other abrasive (e.g., fine sand)
Bow drills, sculpting chisels and rasps of different types
Scale to weigh debris
Notebooks and pens
Step 1: Lead the class in making a bow drill according to the diagram. The drill consists of a slender dowel that is smoothed at one end to fit into a socketlike handle. The handle can be fashioned from the wooden doorknob handles by hollowing out a smooth socket in the center of the underside bottom of the handle. The socket needs to be loose and its interior smooth to allow the drill to rotate.
Step 2: The bow can be made from a curved piece of wood with a slightly loose string which can be wound around the drill shaft to make it rotate. Powdered emery or fine sand provides an abrasive.
Step 3: Have students use the drill to cut into stones of varying hardness (e.g., slate, marble). Tell students to record in their notebooks about how many strokes it takes to drill standard depths (1/2 cm).
Step 4: Compare the marks made by the drill to marks made by other tools (e.g., rasp, flat chisel, claw chisel, punch). Ask students to answer the following questions:
How much material does each of these tools remove at a time? (Weigh the flakes chipped away by each stroke).
Assuming that an artisan would prefer to proceed from largerto finerscale cutting, what would be a likely sequence of working with these tools?
How would it be possible to distinguish these different marks in order to reconstruct the carving process?
This activity meets Illinois State Goal 11: Have a working knowledge of the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments, and solve problems.
© 2000, by The Art Institute of Chicago. All rights reserved. Use of this program is subject to the terms below. No part of this program may be reproduced, transmitted or distributed in any form or by any means, except for personal or classroom use. All Copyright in and to the program, in whole or in part, belongs to the publisher and its licensors and is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office