Dry stone wall

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  • I didn’t know this forum existed.

    It’s a good place to bore some more people about my dry stone wall.

    Armed with some basic knowledge of the principles gained on a weekend course and a complete lack of comprehension for the amount of work and patience required, I started last October on a 40m stretch that was partly falling down and too low to contain the dogs. It’s something I’ve picked up on and off time and weather permitting.

    I’ve reused the existing stone and so far about 25 tons of reclaimed, plus some stone from part of the house that has been demolished. There’s four or five different types of stone in it. This is a terrible idea because there’s very little stone of a uniform thickness and that makes it hard to build in logical, even courses. It’s retaining 12-18 inches of earth on the garden side and about 6ft in total.

    I’ve got about 8-10 metres left. When it’s done, I’ll have a break then start at the front of the house. Nowhere near as much to do there and I’ve got a much better idea of what stone to get and how long it will take.

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  • Awesome. Please educate me on the whys and hows of this.

  • I regularly question the whys when I’m standing out there scratching my head.

    The hows are straightforward. The wall is tied together by gravity effectively. Each stone should span two beneath it. Every so often you have a stone which goes through the wall (a ‘through’ or a ‘through-er’) to give it strength. Hence the rhyme ‘one over two, every yard through’.

  • Holy fuck. This is fantastic. I need these threads to reboot my frame of reference, to remind me I'm not crazy for thinking I might pull infinitely smaller DIY projects off.

  • Do I read your posts correctly? Have you demolished a part of your house so you can use the stones to build a wall?

  • We’re having some building work done and I’ve used some of the stone from a single storey portion that has been knocked down to make way for a two storey extension.

    I’ve got builders in to do that work but I’m taking it over from first fix stage. I’ll have tradesmen in to do jobs like plastering and electrics but I’m planning to do the joinery on doors, skirtings, architraves, fit bathrooms etc.

    I’m hoping to do most of the hard landscaping too. This is something I’m really keen to learn for a potential career change.

    There might be another project thread to come in future.

  • The wall is tied together by gravity effectively. Each stone should span two beneath it. Every so often you have a stone which goes through the wall (a ‘through’ or a ‘through-er’) to give it strength. Hence the rhyme ‘one over two, every yard through’.

    Amazing. Done well, how does this compare to a brick wall in terms of strength and longevity?

  • I’m going to refuse to tempt fate as far as my wall goes. Some of what I did at the start of the wall wasn’t strictly in accordance with best practice. It seems solid but there’s more I could have done to get more strength into it. As long as it outlasts our time in the house, I’ll be happy.

    A well built wall shouldn’t go anywhere within 100 years unless animals, traffic, subsidence or the weather get to it.

    I’ve heard of guys who have rebuilt walls at places like Chatsworth House and Lyme Park who have found tiny tobacco clay pipes inside which probably dates them to the 1700s.

    Mortar will get pushed out over time. Stone shouldn’t go anywhere.

  • Career change to joiner or landscaper?

  • Landscaper/dry stone waller. I accept that I’ll be labouring for a pittance for a few years while I learn but I like being outside and seeing things grow before me.

    I’ve got some freelance work that is running in the background while I do work on the house so there’s no mad rush for me to make it work overnight.

    I’m planning to start a bricklaying course next month and Stockport college. The difficulty is that they’re mostly focused at school leavers. There’s an evening class for adults but it only covers 30 hours of tuition.

    I strongly suspect I’ve learned more from our builders in the last three months than the course will cover.

    I was booked on a week-long dry stone walling course in June but it’s starting to look like it’ll be 2021 before they restart.

  • i was in the lakes last weekend and kept looking for throughers in the walls i passed. is it a long stone that spans front to back, while the regular stones are narrower and you might get two across a wall's width?

    also, it looked like they get their rigidity from the fact they're much wider at the base. is that right?

  • Correct - this probably explains it best. It’s a pic I took at the course I did last year.

    I’ll take some better pics of the internals as I go.

    Not sure what walls are made from in the lakes but limestone walls don’t have throughs.

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  • ah right I think around Ambleside at least it's all slate - or what looks to me like slate. on all the building fronts too

  • That’s some damn nice looking stone. Ours are more like this.

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  • Dry stone walls and through-ers. I learn more on here than I did at school.

    Bravo, looks great

  • Can’t believe I missed this thread. Many years ago I wanted to train as a dry stone waller(amongst all the other country trades I was studying at the time), did a 6 week course somewhere fucking bleak in Derbyshire in January on a hillside miles from anywhere.

    It’s lovely work but I never perused it any further. Top work, I admire your dedication, looks fantastic.

  • Those stones look like they’re doing their job pretty well to me. The steps look grand.

    Where is that?

  • I’ve got massive respect for the guys who do it through the winter.

    The leaves are my enemy currently. Waiting for my leaf blower to be serviced so I can blast them off the pile of stone and crack on.

  • They do their job, I’m just a big fan of flat rocks. Everything here is glacier tumbled to a nice roundness. Here being Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

  • I’m back on the wall after a long break to do our underfloor heating.

    This week was an enforced start on some repair work that was necessary after a driver clipped the top of the stone work when he was delivering some block to our builder.

    He will be getting an invoice from me next week.

    So far so good. It always takes a while for me to get my eye in after a break.

    The best news is that the builders keep find me more big bits of squarish stone when they’re knocking the house about.

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  • amongst all the other country trades I was studying at the time

    What were your favourites?

  • Before the repair...

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  • After...

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  • Now a few weeks to get it finished before we go on holiday.

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Dry stone wall

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