Tools of the Trade

For the first thirty years of my professional life as a dry stone waller I worked primarily alone. Stone work lends itself to solitary employment because it’s a hand craft, and because the act of getting each uniquely shaped stone onto the wall requires a degree of creative expression. I’ve enjoyed working on my own, and still do, but for the past five years I’ve done more projects working alongside other wallers. You’d think there would be nothing new under the sun about an occupation that’s as old as the hills but I’ve recently discovered some tools and techniques that are new to me. They’ve all come my way through associations with younger co-workers. 


Drilling, and the use of “feathers and wedges” to split granite is familiar territory. But with a recent project that Jared helped me on, I tried out his carbide tipped Hammer Point. It’s a good tool for pocking the rough granite surface. The depression made with it helps seat the drill bit as it begins to turn.

A simple device for lifting and setting patio stone was designed by Jared and fabricated by Dunklee Machine Shop in Brattleboro, VT. Forked tongs grab the edges of the stone. They are tensioned by a chain that’s attached to lifting equipment (in this case, the hoe of an excavator). The distance between the tongs can be adjusted to fit any sized stone by sliding the chain through the central steel ring. One chain, one ring, one clevis, and two tongs are the five moving parts of this very cool tool.

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4 Responses to Tools of the Trade

  1. In the Company of Stone November 20, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    But he doesn’t chase sticks.
    Chuck, you’re lucky one to have an “Oliver” around!

  2. In the Company of Stone November 20, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Dean,
    The weight of the stone puts the pinch on the tongs. 99% of the time they grip on the first try, and remain secure while traveling. A third tong would make more of a tangle with the chain. As it is, with just two tongs it can be a bit of a twist-up. Still, a major improvement over every other method I’ve used.
    Dan

  3. Chuck Eblacker November 18, 2010 at 2:14 am #

    All wallers should have a” Jared” around, priceless!

  4. Dean McLellan November 16, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Tell Jared to get a little muscle and a dolly for that flag! Just kidding, interesting tongs there for flag. I wish I had those this summer! Is there a problem with stability while in flight, would a third tong help much? Thanks Dean.

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