The above pictures are a before and after shot of a large block of hard, French stone being turned into two, and one of the finished finials that they were turned into.
Many years ago, I spent a couple of hundred pounds on a set of iron implements known as plug and feathers. I probably only use them about once every few years, but when I do, it is one of the most satisfying processes I ever go through - and it takes a lot to satisfy me these days.
If you have a huge block like the above which is too hard to saw through (or you just cannot be bothered), you simply mark out the size of the block you want to detach, drill a series of holes in the appropriate places, insert the 3 part sets of plug and feathers, then go round whacking them with a hammer. After a few whacks, the noise of the ring changes slightly, and you know that you have to get your legs and feet out of the way sharpish, because the combined pressure of the plugs becomes so great (tons per square inch) that - instantly - there is a sort of explosion and the marked piece falls to the ground with a thump, ready for use. I never fail to be absolutely entranced by the simplicity and efficacy of plugs and feathers, and I commend their use to anyone who is foolhardy enough to embark on a career that involves bloody great lumps of stone.
The picture of Venus Williams was to add a bit of spice and interest to what would have otherwise been a dry and dull post.