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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm thinking about building a stone wall this summer. Has anyone here had any experience with a stacked (no+ K0d3) stone wall?
 

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Captain Obvious
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have a good base. the previous owners of my house put in a raised paver brick patio. the walls didn't have a good base and sank down. now i have to tear parts out to fix it. jerks did a half-assed job at anything they did to the house.
 

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Read two good books about that...

...neither of which I can recall offhand.
One is by John Jerome...Got it: "Stone Work: Reflections on Serious Play & Other Aspects of Country Life ." More philosophy and less technical advice than you probably want, but he's a good writer and you'll come away inspired.
The other is a how-to by Eric somebody...thought I had it in my bookcase, but I don't see it. Covers a lot of old-school crafts, rough carpentry, fences, walls etc. Available in reproduction; if I can find it I'll post the title.
And of course Google, where "building stone walls" will get you 7 million hits.
 

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Failboat Captian
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Everyone is all into "dry-stack" stone. Ummmm.... you actually do use mortar. It's just that you only use a little, and it's not visible. You should see all the stupid little stone walls people have put up in taupe-ville (the burbs) that are in a constant state of falling down because they heard the term "dry-stacked stone" and thought that was license to pile up a bunch of rocks around their trees and gardens.
 

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Steaming piles of opinion
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JohnnyTooBad said:
Everyone is all into "dry-stack" stone. Ummmm.... you actually do use mortar. It's just that you only use a little, and it's not visible. You should see all the stupid little stone walls people have put up in taupe-ville (the burbs) that are in a constant state of falling down because they heard the term "dry-stacked stone" and thought that was license to pile up a bunch of rocks around their trees and gardens.
Yep... And unless you are using manufactured or decently gauged stone, it's an incredible hassle. It's one of those deceptive things - looks like the easiest, quickest way to go, in fact is one of the most challenging and time-consuming. Incredibly strong if done right, quickest to crap out if done wrong.

Personally, I'd pass.
 

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"El Bwana"
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What kind of stone are you planning? I've done a couple around the joint. I prefer working with moss rock for low retaining walls. I used cut sandstone (4" wide) for a raised bed and I was less happy with the results. My neighbor used larger, heavier stones and it came out quite nicely.

Edit: I'll post a pic when I get outside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm going to use field stone. I have an old ruin of a foundation on my place (old building) that is dry-laid, so I have enough flat stones. I have found the Dry Stone conservancy. they are doing stuff like this with no mortar at all:
 

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Captain Obvious
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i've seen it done on tv, but it looks like it is A LOT OF WORK. good luck and post pics too.
 

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"El Bwana"
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Here's the pics. Nothing like you have pictured. Mine were for raised beds. I don't think I would have the patience for something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Oh, it's going to be a massive amount of work, that's for certain, but I'm going to get to play with rigging to move some of the big ones. That will be an adventure. One of the first parts of the project is going to be to build a gantry crane in the woods.
 

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My father builds dry-stack walls for a living and has never, ever used any sort of mortar.... We have stone walls at our house that are 25 years old and are still fine... tidbits of info I can pass along... If its a retaining wall, the base should be as wide as the wall is tall, if not it will eventually fall down... Make sure you put hardpack down under where the base so it doesnt settle over time... Cover your seams, meaning build it similar to a brick wall with the stone on top covering the crack in between the two stones below.
I personally absolutely hate building walls, doing it every summer will do that to you.

Here is some of our/his work.
www.chaseandsonslandscaping.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
LostRower said:
My father builds dry-stack walls for a living and has never, ever used any sort of mortar.... We have stone walls at our house that are 25 years old and are still fine... tidbits of info I can pass along... If its a retaining wall, the base should be as wide as the wall is tall, if not it will eventually fall down... Make sure you put hardpack down under where the base so it doesnt settle over time... Cover your seams, meaning build it similar to a brick wall with the stone on top covering the crack in between the two stones below.
I personally absolutely hate building walls, doing it every summer will do that to you.

Here is some of our/his work.
www.chaseandsonslandscaping.com
Great stuff!
A couple of questions, if I may.
1. How much more stone than is actually going to be used for the wall should I have on hand (for fitting)?
2. How much cutting of the stone is typically involved?
Thanks
 

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n00bsauce
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No, but I've been told that Tongans are the best dry stone wall builders there are. If I were you I'd hire some Tongans to build you a wall. I bet those cousins on The Biggest Loser could do a bang up job!
 

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Here is a short run fieldstone dry lay.





I would follow LostRower's advice definitely knows what he is doing.

The old guy in the next photo (my 82 yr old dad) built this mostly.


I excavated down about 16" below the base and replaced with ~12" of crushed stone. Since we are on a hill, I stepped the base so that the base stones were not laying at an angle, but were level, this is important. Also the base is as wide as the wall is tall, and although the front surface is flush, the rear surface (toward the house) slopes outward, subgrade.

Also, since this is a short run, let the wall be level on top (as best you can). However, for long runs, let the wall follow the grade.

While it is not necessary, what little void areas there are in the interior of wall, we filled that area with pea-stone. Not mortar.

Good luck, have fun, watch the back and fingers!
zac

The base, cap and end stones as you can see are huge, as you are picking your piles, keep an eye out for interesting ones. We actually have one of the cap stones that is somewhat shaped like an old tractor seat...it's pretty cool.
 

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GTDave said:
Great stuff!
A couple of questions, if I may.
1. How much more stone than is actually going to be used for the wall should I have on hand (for fitting)?
2. How much cutting of the stone is typically involved?
Thanks
My dad, doesn't do this for a living, but he has built many a wall in his day. At his home in Vermont he had hundreds of feet of walls all pulled from rock on his property. At the home I grew up in, he likewise built all the walls, and they are now approaching 50 years and still standing proud (as they should).

How much stone: I did the estimating of materials for my wall, and must say that I way underestimated the stone I would need, and had to reorder 2 more times. That being said I had very little wastage. Utilized almost all of it. My dad told me so, but I knew better...he was right damn it. ;)

Cutting: None. This is true 3D puzzle. After you get the feel for it a bit. Of course I was lucky in the fact that most of this wall is buried on the back side, so that side is not as perfect as the front side. I suppose if that was not so, some cutting would have had to occur to keep the waste down. But again, LostRower would be the best and have the best tips for cutting too, if that is even what they do. I would imagine that experienced stone men would not need to cut at all but they also have a good eye for selecting stone too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Good job!
I'm looking at doing a free-standing one about 20' long and 4' tall. the foundation i am disassembling is shaped like a capital E and each of the 3 open walls is about 16' long and 5" tall. I should have enough stone. It's just a matter of moving it.
 
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