View Full Version : Stone Project Pics

02-15-2006, 08:47 PM
These are some pictures of a stone project we started at the end of November. The project is on an 800 acre century farm that dates back to 1827. Our client is the grandson of the founder of the farm. We started during November collecting the stone for the project on the farm. There are numerous old logging roads and trails all over the farm that we travel searching for talus slopes of stone and large rock out cropping. The wall is a dry laid face but solid with mortar and stone. The top will be capped with stone and have a mortar joint to prevent water from entering the wall. The wall has two breaks one for the main set of steps and another for a small three foot gate entrance. Each end of the wall will be scribed into a large rock out cropping, which we have already started on one side. Our hold up right now is corners, we have not found many. Our ratio of collecting to laying stone is 1:1, which might surprise people. One day of collecting equal a day of good laying, you can try to stretch it out but you start staring at the same stone that did not work before. I will post some more pics

02-15-2006, 08:52 PM
Very nicely done and thanks for the background info too makes it much more interesting.Great looking work you have done there.Thanks for posting the pics!

02-15-2006, 09:03 PM
We will be replacing the timber steps with slabs of west virginia sandstone which are the same size as the existing steps. One of the pics is of my boss bring a tractor bucket loaded with rock we collected off the mountain. There have been some scary situation with the tractor on the old logging trails that are really rough and steep. I stand on the back of the tractor on a woods blade for ballast, which is not that much extra weight.

02-15-2006, 09:24 PM
Nice work! Did you pour a concrete footer? DO you just mortar to the footer? Looks great! I love natural stone work and really respect those that can do it well.........................except for marcus!


02-15-2006, 09:25 PM
Here are two more pictures. The short section of wall that a large slab stone that is bearing on the ground and projecting on a angle through the wall. We had to set that stone with one of the farm tractors because the kubota couldn't handle it. The farm manger used a 70 horse power new holland and he guessed the stone was about 2000 lbs. We chained the stone a third of the way down it this allowed it to dangle. We put a strap on the of end and directed it into position, it worked out pretty well. My boss has been doing stone work for years by himself and he is hardcore oldschool. We mix the mortar by hand in a mixing boat to ensure the mix is perfect. We collect all the stone by hand and we cut everything with handtools. The only power tool we use is a hand held grinder for super fragile stones that need just a little fine tuning. Hope the pictures are enjoyed.

02-15-2006, 09:41 PM
I know some people might not like what they hear about the footer, but here it is. We had a backhoe come in and dig below the frost line and hit pockets of solid rock. We put in about three inches of 57's and compacted it. We then put two lines of draintile one on each side of the wall, releaving at both ends. We then filled with 57's and laid a course of eight inch block and cover with 57's. We mortared all the keys of the block and filled cores with mortar roughly every four feet. We then put a bed of mud on the block and laid our stone. We were never going to pour a footer but when we hit the rock out cropping in the ground it re-enforced our reasoning. There is no way we will see temperatures in the state of virginia that would move that wall. It is a solid mass of stone.

02-15-2006, 10:08 PM
Nice pictures and a good looking project.

02-15-2006, 11:13 PM
Is that in the Shanendoah valley?

02-16-2006, 05:55 AM
That is truely an art. Looks good. Too many people doing the prefab stone work now days, its good to see some old fashioned mason work !

02-16-2006, 06:59 AM
Thanks for the positive feedback. We live in Rappahannock county and this farm is in Sperryville which is right below the Blue Ridge Parkway(Sky Line Drive) We are on the other side of the Shennadoah Valley. If you go over the range of mountains you see in the distances in one of the photos you will be in the valley. It is a beautiful place to work and live.

02-16-2006, 08:14 AM
Thats really nice work.

02-16-2006, 02:06 PM
That is one sweet wall.

02-16-2006, 09:57 PM
Looks awesome Adam!!! Gotta love when you hit rock in your excavation! It's nice to see some new guys posting pics on here...I get tired of seeing guys post pics of those SRW wall systems on here...especially that pr*ck CGLand!!!:laugh: Just kidding...he's really good at legos too

02-17-2006, 07:13 AM
Thanks for the replies and support. We took this week off due to the snow we had this past weekend. It's nice to get a short break from stone work. Not only is it physically tough but it is also mentality exhausting. There have been days that I have just walked around in a daze staring at the stones, not being able to find one to place into the wall. Those are the days we just pack up or go and collect stones, because if you are not feeling it there is no reason to force the issue, because you start to make bad laying decisions.

02-17-2006, 08:46 AM
Hardscaping is an art and a science unto itself. Sometimes you just need to step back from a project, take a deep breath and then everything comes together. :)

02-17-2006, 08:46 PM
To lay rock you definitely have to have the right mind set. Just a few hours ago I was telling someone that when you lay rock you have to show up in the morning and get in your groove and just start working without interuption. Laying rock is not something you do for just a couple hours here or there either because it's just not productive IMO. You've got to get your focus and you're right there are many times that you get stuck in a spot and can't find the right stone. I either move onto a new section of the wall or walk away and take a break from it for 15 or 20 minutes. Like Purp said take a few deep breaths clear your mind and have back at it. You have to admit it's an awful lot of fun though!!!

02-17-2006, 09:17 PM
Marcus I demand that you go read the good parts of that book I sent you!

02-18-2006, 07:47 AM
My boss was a general contrator in the Loudon County, Va during the 80s and he was on a few projects with three masons from that area. They did up believeable primo dry laid stone work and they drank all day long. They would show up at early in the morning and start drinking beer and hard liquour. He said by the end of the day they were fall down drunk, but no one had a problem with it because their work was impectable. I know some masons in our area that us other substances to get into a creative zone. To lay stone creatvitly you have to get into a different mind set, it's tuff. You have to abide by all you principals no vertical lines, no out of level stones, but in the same respect you want it to flow. My boss tells me that good stone work is viewed as a whole, one stone should not jump out at you, because that one stone will detract from the whole. An example is large base stones. When you start your base it is easy to set large stone into the base because it is easy to move those with a machine into the wall. As you move up the wall the easy of setting those large stones gets hard. So some stone work you see is large base migrating to up to small stones and this can be visually jarring, because the large stones catch your eye and your eye remains at the bottom of the work inside of view a whole. Another concept is never lay two similar stones next to each or in the same area, because that will catch the eye of a viewer, they will say "hey look there are two stones that look the same". I know all this sounds pretty ridiculous, but it all make sense when you are work with stone and some of this stuff happens and it is pointed out. Sorry about the rambling just some stone prinicpals I have learned and wanted to share.

02-18-2006, 01:19 PM
Nope, you're not rambling at all Adam. Everything you're saying is the truth. I hate that when people lay all large stones at the base and then change to small rock... it stands out like a sore thumb to me. As far as the substance abuse in masons...you're right alot of masons I know who are very good by the way are either boozers or stoners...it's what they do.

02-18-2006, 02:22 PM
I have to say that is one of the best looking walls I have seen.Would you mind taking some pics of the flag walkway and flag steps that are below that?.I would like to see that work also..even if you did not do it,if you would do that for me I would owe ya one>
Thanks Sheshovel

02-18-2006, 03:40 PM
that is friggin beautiful!! I love that type of wal and its amazing to see it built so well. how do you get the joints so tight? do you cut to get them so perfect?

02-18-2006, 04:00 PM
As far as the substance abuse in masons...you're right alot of masons I know who are very good by the way are either boozers or stoners...it's what they do.

Boulders... boozers?

Stone... stoners?


02-18-2006, 09:08 PM
It is great to hear that there are a few stonemasons out there who truly understand what it takes to do this every day. Sadly, with the ever growing popularity of manufactured stone and concrete retaining wall units, well laid stonework is taking a backseat to high production, low cost alternatives. Great looking work Adam.

02-18-2006, 09:21 PM
Sheshovel I will take some more pictures of the walkway. That project was done by a local mason that did a lot of inside work when the house was built. He will not work with native stone and he consistently prices himself out of projects. The walkway has large slabs of west virginia sandstone for steps. There are a lot of slabs left over from that project so we are going to replace the timber steps with them.

Cedarcroft we shape the stone with carbide chisels, brick hammers, stone mall and stone hammers. The point and the one inch chisel are used the most. The stone we are cutting is very old granite, so it has alot of fissure. This means that the stone will not stand up to major adjustments. This stone is not like a sandstone which you can score a line and continueously wail on it with a two inch chisel until it breaks in a clean line. We are cutting every stone that goes in the wall some more than others. We are cleaning up lines, and removing high point on the beds of the stone which will affect how it bears. To keep tight joints in stone work you just have to establish your joint margin and be consistent.