Brief OverviewTraditional Dry-Stack Stone Walls: Stone Masonry originated with dry-stacked stonework where the walls are carefully laid up without mortar. Gravity serves as the glue that holds everything together. Free-standing dry-stack stone walls are usually made larger at the base and then taper in slowly as the height increases. For absolutely no expense but the labor, farmers built miles upon miles of stone fences this way in Ireland and in the northeastern states.
Veneered Stone Walls: Most stonework today consists of a non-structural veneer of stone against a structural wall of concrete or cinderblock. Concrete consists of Portland cement mixed with sand, gravel and water. The larger particles of gravel interlock like little fingers to make the concrete resistant to cracking. Steel reinforcing bar can be added to serve as much longer "fingers" to make a wall that is very resistant to cracking. Concrete is a fast and relatively inexpensive way to put up a structural wall, so few people take the time for labor intensive traditional mortared stone walls any more.
the structural wall is put up first, and thin, flat stones are
essentially glued onto the face of the wall with cement mortar.
Metal tabs in the structural wall are mortared in between the
stones to tie everything together, otherwise the stonework would
just peel right off the wall. The structural wall serves as a
form on one side of the wall to make it really easy to lay up
the stonework, provided the rocks have good flat edges to work
Slip form Stone Walls: A slip formed wall might be described
as a cross between traditional mortared stone wall and a veneered stone wall. This
is the method of stone Masonry we have used the most. Short forms, up to two feet
tall, are placed on both sides of the wall to serve as a guide for the stone work.
You place stones inside the forms with the good faces against the form work and
pour concrete in behind the rocks. Rebar is added for strength, to make a wall that
is approximately half concrete and rebar and half stonework. The wall can be faced
with stone on one side or both sides. With slip forms it is easy even for the novice
to build free-standing stone walls.