Stonewalling – the art of stacking stones

The start of the art

These are the embarrassing first efforts at balancing stones on each other – there it is; its out in the open.  You can laugh – I certainly did but inside I was crying.

I had decided a long time ago something drastic needed to be done about my already woeful attempts at building with stone –  if this was the evidence of my level of skill – I had a long way to go.

Dont get me wrong, I have built stuff that is solid but I always intended to cover up with plaster ; so really no one would see the underlying incompetence or aesthetic lack thereof.  So no single weekend course could rectify this; it needed to be a regular chipping at the old block as they say for me to grasp what I was clearly missing.

So in April 2018 I was kindly allowed to practice along with others how to handle stone; I could only manage a couple of days a week and always looked forward to the opportunity afforded to me in those days.

There wasn’t any rush once given a piece to work on, be it pillar or wall – ‘just take it down if your not happy with it’ – was the advice.  This is something I really had to overcome as I would stubbornly keep at it knowing it wasn’t right – but that’s me – learn the hard way.


So the above picture is probably 5th generation reconstructed from easier more square stones – I was getting closer to understanding the layers of stability needed for the above layer – every stone is a foundation for the stone above and so I learnt to use a lump hammer and chisel to help me get there.

As said before I am a slow learner but I knew I could get there – but its like anything to do with spacial fitting of objects, it takes having an eye. Practice needs to be regular and I found the more I thought about what stone fitted best the quicker I became and so had less restarting from scratch.

Then we went to wall construction – again repeating mistakes could be spotted quicker and the tutor helpfully pointing out where I was going wrong.



I look at all my mistakes in the pic above and tut. But at least its some progress. That stone had been well dressed by the time it got to us so I was not severely challenged in shaping the stone.



The above effort was a taste of doing a round pillar – every stone practically had to be shaped – it is a real skill – one day I intend to do one but it may take some time to get there.

So briefly I had to take a break from building on my skills in this workshop and it was a number of months before I could restart with another tutor but in that time I had really gotten a taste for it and was determined to improve on what I could do.



So this is one of my first efforts so as to demonstrate to the tutor what I could do – have to say I even surprised myself –  but I still see the mistakes


So lime is mixed with sand as mortar, no cement  – as everything as to be easily demolished once finished. I hadn’t built that high with stone before but it is supported by the wall behind.

I never had built an arch before and it was going to sit on my wall – no pressure like – it took a good while to make and no one was killed in taking out the woodforming – I wasn’t there for that thankfully – I would have been spared the embarrassment if it had collapsed – it was great to see though when I came in the following day.

I tried a bit of pointing with quick lime mix and experimenting with strap pointing – it is very fiddly.  Finally the ‘flowerbed’ in front was my first attempt with bricks.


And now for something totally different – bricks really were a challenge – I am more freestyle with stone so it was great to force myself to be mindful of gaps,mortar and levels etc.

Here I started off with dry stone – there was a wood frame that I used as stoneface so I could just see from above and so the gaps. then again on top of the drywall I built up with mortar.