Granite is one of the hardest minerals on the planet, so hard that it takes a diamond to cut it (there are a couple of other extremely hard minerals that will also work). Working with a substance like this to give it form makes for an interesting test of skill for the “artist,” because even a single mistake can have disastrous consequences.
Granite may be an extremely hard substance, but much like glass, it is also quite brittle – meaning that it is prone to fracturing when faced with torque and certain other kinds of stress. One should avoid dropping slabs of granite, not just because they’re extremely heavy pick up, but because they’re liable to break apart when dropped!
Most brittle materials also have an interesting response to certain resonance frequencies. You know how the opera singer sings at a particular pitch with a glass in her hand, and at a certain point the glass will shatter? That’s because of resonance, and each material has a unique resonance point – where it begins to shake in frequency with the sounds or force causing all the little molecular bonds to break apart. Granite is no different, and a saw that isn’t using the right material or is setup incorrectly can cause a fracture in granite.
Most granite is shaped, at least to some degree, when it is quarried. Using diamond tipped machinery, the granite is cut into slabs and shipped to its destination when it is polished and readied for home installing. When it’s finally sized for installation in the home, special tools have to be used and special care has to be taken not to destroy the granite with a single poor cut. This is a huge part of the reason that we recommend that homeowners don’t attempt to install granite themselves.