The co-operation of a whole host of natural stone specialists is involved in transforming huge unquarried stone blocks into a beautifully crafted fire surround or elegant paved outdoor space.
In this article, we look at the key roles needed to locate and extract the stone in the first place. We then go on to examine the skills required by natural stone specialists to create their stunning, timeless products. These can then be used in an infinite variety of construction, renovation, restoration and landscaping projects.
Natural Stone Specialists No. 1: The Geologist
Firstly, there’s the crucial job of identifying where the best natural stone reserves are to be found. This obviously calls for a thorough understanding of geology in order to actually locate the stone resources.
However, geologists also need more general scientific and mathematical skills. These are used to assess, test and analyse the raw stone to determine which end uses it is best suited for.
Natural Stone Specialists No. 2: Quarrying
Once a seam of natural stone has been located and tested, it’s time to get it out of the ground. In previous generations, this was an extremely laborious task. Most of the work had to be done by hand, without mechanical assistance. And it was dangerous too, because there was very little in the way of protective equipment. What’s more, loose dynamite was freely used to blast the rock apart!
Nowadays, quarrying is still a very hands-on job. Natural stone specialists in quarries work outside and brave all weathers in a tough environment. But thankfully today’s quarry operatives have a wealth of cutting-edge machinery and tools at their disposal. Also, with health and safety considerations now being paramount, the protective gear available is state-of-the-art too.
Natural Stone Specialists No. 3: The Designer
These days, in common with their fellow designers in all other industries, stonework designers mainly use Computer Aided Design (CAD) to create the designs and specs for stone elements to be used in construction, refurbishment and landscaping projects.
Often, the designer will be working hand-in-hand with the project architect. This helps ensure that the initial overall vision is translated into the reality of each individual stone piece.
Natural Stone Specialists No. 4: The Stonemason
Using skills developed by master craftsmen working with stone over centuries, the stone- mason is probably the best known of all natural stone specialists. They expertly cut and craft the raw materials into finished natural stone products.
In days gone by, the stonemason had to ply his trade with a limited number of basic manual tools. But recent technological advances have resulted in a wealth of new kit. This enables the stonemason to work the raw stone much more accurately. This could be, for, example cutting consistent, thinner depths for natural stone floor tiles or creating regularly sized stone blocks for use in construction.
Despite these developments and enhancements to the tools available, the stonemason’s craft is still a highly skilled one, requiring many years of training and practice to perfect.
Natural Stone Specialists No. 5: The Stone Carver
As with stonemasonry, stone carving is an artistic skill which has developed over many centuries. Perhaps unlike stonemasonry, the production of detailed stone carving remains very much a manual one to this day. The stone carver can call on some mechanical tools, but the bulk of their job is largely still done by hand with a hammer and chisel.
Stone carving covers everything from engraving letters on stone monuments to applying intricate patterns to a stone fire surround. In new designs, the stone carver often has quite a free rein, with a chance to use their own artistic interpretation. However, in restoration work, the skill is in being able to produce an exact facsimile of stone carving which was perhaps first conceived many centuries ago.
At Stamford Stone, we take great pride in the skills and dedication of our team of natural stone specialists. Check out this gallery of our team’s previous work, and read our latest case studies here. And if you’re considering using natural stone in your next construction or renovation project, please get in touch – or visit our showroom to discuss your requirements.