A listing of terms used in the stone trade.
Note: This list has been collected over the years from many, many sources - printed, first person, and now internet. We add to it as we find a new and interesting stone term.
-Melissa Kling Phillips
Abutments - the ends of a bridge, also known as buttress.
Alto-Relievo- high relief, a mode of sculpture representing figures either entirely or nearly detached from the background.
Anaglyphic work - to carve or engrave.
Ancone- an ornament cut on the key-stone of an arch or the side of a door case.
Annulated columns - those clustered together or joined by rings or bands.
Apophyoe - that part of a column between the upper part of the base and the cylindrical shaft.
Aqueduct - the ornaments of friezes, pilasters.
Arch - a curved stone structure resting on supports at both extremities used to sustain weight on bridge or roof on an open space. Or, a curved compression structural member, spanning openings or recesses; also built flat.
Back arch: A concealed arch carrying the backing of a wall where the exterior facing is carried by a lintel.
Jack arch: An arch having horizontal or nearly horizontal upper and lower surfaces. Also called a flat or straight arch.
Minor arch: Arch with maximum span of six feet and a rise to span with a ratio less than or equal to 0.15. Typically forms are jack arch, segmental arch, or multi-centered arch.
Relieving arch: An arch built over a lintel, flat arch, or smaller arch to divert loads, thus relieving the lower member from excessive loading. Also known as a discharging or safety arch.
Trimmer arch: An arch, usually a low rise arch of brick, used for supporting a fireplace hearth.
Archetus- a saw for cutting stone.
Architrave - in columnar architecture, the architrave is the lowest member of the entablature, and rests immediately on the abacus of the capital.
Arris - The edge of an external angle formed by the intersection of two surfaces.
Arris Line- the angle, corner or edge produced by the meeting of two stones.
Ashlar- Stonework that is cut on four sides so that the adjoining sides will be at right angles to each other, no matter whether the face is dressed or not.
Coursed Ashlar:ashlar set to form continuous horizontal joints.
Coursed broken-bond ashlar– ashlar of random shape and size are set in full horizontal courses, but with a variety of sizes of vertical mortar points.
Stacked Ashlar:ashlar set to form continuous vertical joints.
Random Ashlar:ashlar set with stones of varying length and height so that neither vertical or horizontal joints are continuous.
Astragal - the French Talon and the Italian tondino are nearly the same - a small semi-circular moulding encircling a column.
Axed finish - having a rough and rugged surface achieved by using a punch or axe.
Band Course- A continuous horizontal course, all with gauged or reasonably consistent rise, used as a feature on face of building.
Banker - work bench on which stone is dressed.
Base - the bottom course of a stone wall, or the vertical first member above grade of a finished floor.
Batted - surface produced with parallel tool marks.
Bayouette - a small moulding like the astragal. When enriched with foliage it is called a chaplet, when plain, a bead.
Bed - that portion of an outcrop or face of a quarry which occurs between two bedding planes.
Bed Face- Installing a stone in a vertical wall with the natural bed exposed.
Bed Joint- A horizontal joint between stones, usually filled with mortar, leased or caulk sealant.
Belt Course- A continuous horizontal course, making a division in the wall plane.
Bench - steps formed in quarry by removal of stone following bed joints.
Block - a unit of masonry material. A large rock or boulder in a fence face.
Blocking , also Blocking Course - a course of masonry or brick-work laid on the top of a cornice crowning a wall.
Block in Course - the name applied to stone walling, chiefly used by engineers in embankment walls, harbor walls, etc. where strength and durability are required. The stones are all squared and brought to good fair joints, the faces usually being hammer-dressed. Block in course closely resembles coursed rubble, or ashlar, according to the quality of the work put upon it.
Block Quarry- A quarry that contains a sound, natural deposit of natural building stone where nature allows the harvest of stone blocks.
Boasting - the rough cutting of a stone to form the outline of a statue or ornament.
Boasted or Droved work - this consists in making a number of parallel chisel marks across the surface of the stone by means of a chisel termed a boaster, which has an edge about 2 1/2 inches in width. In this labor, the chisel marks are not kept in continuous rows across the whole width of the stone.
Boaster - broad chisel.
Bond Stones - All piers above a certain size require stones the full size of the pier, to prevent them from splitting.
Break joint- the arrangement of stones in the construction of a wall is such a manner as not to allow two joints to occur immediately over each other.
Broach - to drill or cut out material left between closely spaced drill holes; a mason's sharp-pointed chisel for dressing stone; an inclined piece of masonry filling the triangular space between the base of an octagonal spire and the tope of a square tower; a type of chisel used forworking narrow surfaces.
Broached Work - the stone is dressed with a point so as to leave continuous groves over the surface.
Broken coursing – the bottoms of the rocks do not form continuous horizontal lines, so that the courses are “broken”; pattern contrasts with *straight-coursing. Also know as broken ashlars, random coursing, random rubble coursing.
Bull nose - A rounded outside corner or edge.
Bush hammer - hammer for roughing down stone surfaces. Also, the finish applied to cut stone by a bush hammer creating a decorative dimpled surface.
Bush-hammering - a mechanical process that produces textured surfaces. Textures vary from subtle to rough.
Bush-hammered finish - finish obtained by using a bush-hammer.
Butt joint - an external corner formed by two stone panels with one head.
Butter - to lay mortar on a joint surface.
Buttering - in masonry, coating the brick or stone partially with mortar before laying it.
Buttress - short bracing portion of a wall, at right angles to it.
Cabling - when the flutes of columns are partly occupied by solid convex masses, they are said to be cabled.
Centering - temporary support/profile on which an arch is constructed.
Chain – a traditional unit of measurement equaling twenty-two yards.
Chamfer - to bevel the junction of an exterior angle.
Chamfered edge – almost imperceptible beveled edge.
Chat-sawn finish - a rough gang saw finish produced by sawing with coarse chat.
Check - a rebate, normally larger than a fillet.
Chinking - the method of filling large mortar joints in stone veneer with small chips or silvers of stone.
Chisel - a steel tool used to “dress” or “trim” stone, available in steel or carbide tipped.
Chisel drafted margin - to insure good fitting joints in hammer-faced stones; a true surface about an inch wide is cut with a chisel, forming a margin on the face of stone.
Cladding - stone used as the exterior material in non-load bearing wall construction that contains other materials.
Cleft finish – stones such as slates that are cleaved or separated along a natural seam, whose surface is rough; referred to as a natural cleft surface. Stones of this description were formed as a result of metamorphic foliation.
Clevage - a capacity present in some rocks to break in certain directions more easily than in others.
Combed or Dragged work - this is a labor employed to work off all irregularities on the surfaces of soft stones. The drag or comb is the implement used. It is a piece of steel with a number of teeth like those of a saw. This is drawn over the surface of the stone in all directions, making it approximately smooth.
Come along – ratchet cable or chain hoist.
Coping - A cap or covering course on top of a masonry wall. Designed to shed water, protect the top, and provide a finished, closed appearance to the wall.
Cornice - a molded projecting stone at the top of an entablature.
Course - a horizontal range of stone units the length of the wall. Parallel rows of rocks, usually laid horizontally. Also know as a tier.
Coursed rubble - fieldstone and roughly dressed stone assembled to give a sense of courses with or without mortar.
Coursed veneer - this is achieved by using stones of the same or approximately the same heights. Horizontal joints run the entire length of the veneered area. Vertical joints are constantly broken so that no two joints will be over one another.
Crandalled Work - gives the stone a fine, pebbly appearance.
Crenellated – coping pattern having horizontal and vertical stones alternating, forming a short-tall-short pattern; Also called buck-and-doe, castellated, cock-and-hen, one up, one down, and chevaldefrise.
Cut Stone- finished, dimensional stone, ready to set in place.
Dentil - a small square projecting piece of wood, brick or stone forming a component part of an Ionic or Corinthian cornice.
Dabbed - finely dressed using a point.
Depth - measurement of particular piece of stone from front to back.
Diamond sawn - finish produced by sawing with diamond-toothed saws.
Diaper work - is the name given to bands, surfaces and panels in the stone work formed by square stones and similar squares, filled in with brick or flint work, giving a checkered appearance. The term is also applied to any ornament arranged in squares upon the surface of ashlar masonry.
Diatomaceous earth - a powder type used for poulticing stains from stone.
Dimension stone - natural building stone that has been selected, trimmed or cut to a specific size and shape.
Dip - the angle that a bedding plane or fault makes with the horizontal when measured perpendicular to the strike of the bedding plane or fault.
Dolly-pointed finish - semi-rough finish achieved by using a dolly point.
Dowel - a short piece of non-ferrous metal or slate fixed into a mortice or sinking in the joints of adjoining stones to prevent movement.
Downfeed - rate of descent of a sawing device, expressed in cm/h or mm/h.
Draft - a line or border chiseled at the edge of a stone to guide the stonecutter in leveling the surfaces. Also known as a margin.
Drafted margin - a smooth, uniform margin worked around a stone face.
Drag - serrated tool for finishing soft to medium stone surfaces.
Dressed - the cutting and shaping of rough chunks of stone, done by hand chiseling to create a square, rectangular, or finished desired shape. Sometimes called scabbling.
Dries - term used by quarrymen and refers to short, tight seams in the rocks.
Drip - a recess cut under a sill or projecting stone to throw off water, preventing it from running down the face of the wall or other surface, such as a window or door.
Dripstone - a projecting molding over the heads of doorways, windows and archways to throw off the rain.
Drum - individual stone for column shaft.
Drystack- Horizontal pattern of stone installed “tight” to allow a very narrow bed joint. Joints are raked back into stone work as to be undetectable.
Embossed - adorned with bosses or raised figures.
Enchased - ornamented with figures in low relief.
Feathers and plugs – half-circular steel shims and pointed wedges driven into drilled holes to break off blocks of rock. Also feathers and wedges.
Festoon - a sculptured or carved representation of flowers, drapery and foliage, looped or suspended at intervals on walls.
Fieldstone - An uncut, well-rounded stone found on the surface or in the soil of the earth.
Flagstone - thin slabs of stone used for flagging or paving walks, driveways, patios.
Flamed finish - a rough stone finish produced by the application of intense heat. Also called thermal finish.
Fleuri Cut - unique to the marble industry, it is a cut parallel to the natural bedding plane, See Vein Cut.
Foundation - in buildings, that portion of the wall which is below the first floor
Frieze - a belt course, sometimes decorated with sculpture relief, occurring just under a cornice.
Frig bob - large hand saw.
Fullers earth - a clay used for poulticing stains from stone.
Furrowed - surface with small flutes.
Furrowed work - this labor, used to accentuate quoins, consists in sinking flutes about the four sides of the face of a stone, leaving the central portion projecting about 3/8 of an inch.
Gallet - stone chip or spall.
Gang saw - a machine with multiple blades used to saw rough quarry block into slabs. Also known as a frame saw.
Gantry saw - a usually single diamond blade saw with a mobile rail and blade that can be repositioned along its tracks between cuts.
Garreting - the insertion of small splinters of stone in the mortar joints before the mortar has firmly set.
Glass seam - description of a narrow glass-like streak occurring in stone. It is a joint plane that has been recemented by deposition of translucent crystalline calcite in the crack and is usually structurally sound.
Gin poles - pair of beams forming an “A” shape for lifting.
Girt - beam across a structure to brace opposite sides.
Grain - the easiest cleavage direction in a stone.
Hand Tracer - steel chisel tool with tow beveled edges to make a sharp bladed end used for hand dressing.
Hand Chipper - tool with one beveled face and flat back to form a sharp bladed end used to produce a rockface finish.
Hand Ripper - tool with saw toothed end for tooling and dressing stone faces.
Hand Set - tool with tow beveled edges to form a 1/4” flat head bladed end.
Head – the end of a stone, which has been tooled to match the face of the stone. Heads are used at outside corners, windows, doorjambs, or any place where the veneering will be visible from the side.
Header – stone or brick laid with its short end outward.
Hewn stone - stone shaped with hand tools.
Hillside cut – a bank resulting from vertical digging.
Honed finish – a very fine, smooth finish on stone. This is the last step before polishing and has little or no gloss.
Hydrated lime - quicklime to which sufficient water has been added to convert the oxides to hydroxides.
Jack arch - one having horizontal or nearly horizontal upper and lower surfaces. Also called flat or straight arch.
Jamb - the vertical side of a window or door opening, against which the sash or the door abuts.
Joint - the space between dimensional stones and the adjoining material. Usually filled with mortar, sealant or epoxy.
Jumper - in ashlar patterns, a piece of stone of higher rise than adjacent stones which is used to end a horizontal mortar joint at the point where it is set.
King closure - brick cut diagonally to have one two-inch end and one full width end.
Kneeler - gabled cope stone which by its shape is also part of the wall, and may support other cope stones.
Ledger - a slab of stone used horizontally to cover a tomb.
Ledge Bed Quarry -a quarry that by nature allows the harvesting of natural stone by peeling off the natural layers.
Length - measurement of the face of a particular piece of the stone from left end to right end.
Lintel - often called a cap, is a stone that supports the wall over a door or a window opening.
Margins - building stones are often faced an inch or so from their edges. This dressed strip is known as the margin, or draft line, to distinguish it from the rock-faced work
Mash hammer - short-handled heavy hammer with two round or octagonal faces, used to drive hammer-head shaping tools.
Mason - worker or installer of stone.
Natural Bed - the horizontal stratification of stone as it was formed in the natural stone deposit.
Nosing - the projecting edge of a moulding, the same as drip.
Open faced quarry - open, fairly level quarry at or near ground level.
Out-crop - rock protruding above or at ground level.
Overburden - waste stone, earth or other quarry material covering useful stone.
Patent-Hammered Work - generally used on granite and hard limestone. The stone is first dressed to a fairly smooth surface with the point and then finished with the patent hammer. The degree of fineness in the finish is determined by the number of blades in the hammer, the usual number being eight or ten.
Picked - stone dressed using mason’s point.
Pitched - surface resembling rock-faced produced with pitching tool.
Pit quarry - below ground-level quarry.
Plucked finish - obtained by rough planing the surface of stone, braking or plucking out small particles to give rough texture.
Plumb bob - shaped metal weight that is suspended from the lower end of a line to determine the vertical trueness.
Plumb rule - narrow board with parallel edges having a straight line drawn through the middle and a string attached at the upper end of the line for determining a vertical plane.
Point - chisel drawn nearly to a point.
Pointed Work - a pointed chisel is run over the face of a stone to knock off any large projections. This work is called rough- or fine-pointed work, according to the number of times the work is gone over.
Point finish - rough, tooled surface.
Pointing - the final filling and finishing of mortar joints that have been raked out.
Polished - the finest and smoothest finish available in stone, a glossy finish which brings out the full color and character of the stone.
Poulticing - method of drawing soluble salts or stains out of stone by applying an absorbent such as clay or diatomaceous earth, mixed to a paste with water or cleaning solvent.
Quarried stone - stone which has been extracted from the earth by means of man power and machines.
Quarrier - one who extracts natural stone from a quarry.
Quarry - the location of an operation where a natural deposit of stone is removed from the ground.
Quarry block - generally a rectangular piece of rough stone as it comes from the quarry, frequently scabbed (dressed) or wire-sawed for shipment.
QuarryPit-the location of a stone quarrying operation where a natural deposit of stone is removed from the ground, as it lays.
Quarry run - in building stone, unselected materials within the ranges of color and texture available from the quarry that is the source.
Quarry sap - natural moisture in stone deposits and freshly quarried stone.
Quarter round - a molding having a profile of one-quarter of a circle.
Quicklime - calcium oxide which is crushed limestone that has been calcined.
Quoins - the corner stones of a wall.
Rabbet - a groove cut into the surface along an edge so as to receive another piece similarly cut.
Racking - stepping back successive courses of masonry.
Rake - an angular cut on the face of stone.
Raked joint - mortar joint formed by removing the mortar a given depth from the face of the masonry.
Rampant - an arch or vault which springs from one level of support and rests at the other side on a higher level.
Random - stone pattern where joints are web-like.
Reglet - a marrow, flat recess to receive and secure flashing.
Reticulated work - stone surface hand dressed to show a netlike or veinlike raised pattern. Also, a wall built of square pieces set diagonally, with the joints showing a netlike pattern.
Rift - the most pronounced direction of splitting or cleavage of a stone. Rift and grain may be obscure, as in some granites, but are important in both quarrying and processing stone.
Rise - measurement of the face of a particular piece of stone from the top to the bottom.
Rocked finished - an edge that is spalted from both sides, leaving a bubbled appearance.
Rockface - similar to a split face, except the face is “pitched” to a given line.
Rock - Faced Work. The face of the stone is left rough, just as it comes from the quarry, and the joints, or edges, are pitched off to a line.
Rodding - reinforcement of a structurally unsound marble by cementing reinforcing rods into grooves or channels cut into the back of the slab.
Roman arch - semi-circular arch with all stone pieces being wedge shaped.
Rose window - circular stone window fitted with carved tracery.
Rough back - outside cut-slab, having one side sawed and the other rough, from a block that has been gang sawed.
Rough sawn - surface finish accomplished by the gang sawing process.
Roughing out - preliminary stone cutting or carving process, removing the bulk of unwanted material.
Rowlock - a brick laid on its face with the end surface visible in the wall face. Frequently spelled rolock.
Rubbed finish - the surfaces of stones are rubbed with a piece of softer stone, together with sand and water, until perfectly smooth.
Rusticated Work - used to designate sunken or beveled joints.
Saddle - flat strip of stone projecting above the floor between the jambs of a door, such as a threshold.
Sailor - stone laid on end to show its broadest face.
Scabbled- dressed stone, with prominent tool marks.
Scabbling - the process of removing surface irregularities on blocks for storage and shipment.
Scabblings - small chips of stone.
Scotia - a concave moulding.
Seam Face - the natural bed face of a quarried stone.
Sills - the stones that form the bottom of the window and door openings in stone or brick walls.
Six-cut finish - medium bush-hammered finish, similar to but coarser than 8-cut, with markings not more than 1/8" apart.
Soldier Course - a horizontal course of series of vertically laid stone.
Spall - as a verb, it is to flake or split away through action of the elements or pressure. As a noun, it is a chip or flake so formed.
Stereotomy. - the science of making patterns, or templates, to which a stone is to be cut to fill a certain place in an arch or other complicated piece of stonework.
Tapestry Finish - a finish applied to stone by a sandblasting wand at a consistent PSI.
Tooled - dressed stone, having regular tool marks.
Tooled finish - customarily are four, six, or eight parallel concave grooves to the inch.
Tooling - compressing and shaping the face of a mortar joint with a special tool other than a trowel.
Toothing - constructing the temporary end of a wall with the end stretcher of alternate courses projecting. Projecting units are toothers.
Tracery - ornamentation of panels, circular windows, window heads, etc. A curving mullion of a stone window, as in Gothic architecture.
Tumbled Stone- stone that is mechanically tumbled to create a worn and distressed finish.
Vein Cut - unique to the marble industry, it is a cut perpendicular to the natural bedding plane. See Fleuri Cut.
Veneer - a layer natural building stone facing material used to cover a wall.
Vermiculated Work - a stone having a somewhat elaborate finish, which is known as vermiculatedfrom the worm-eaten appearance.
Water Table - a string course, or cornice moulding with an inclined upper surface to carry off water.
Walls - types include:
Bearing: a wall supporting a vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Cavity: a wall in which the inner and outer wythes are separated by an air space but tied together with metal ties.
Composite: wall in which the facing and backing are of different materials and bonded together with bond stones to exert a common reaction tinder load.
Veneer or Faced: a wall in which a thin facing and the backing are of different materials, but not bonded as to exert a common reaction under load.
Fire wall: any wall that subdivides a building so as to prevent the spread of fire and that extends continuously from the foundation through the roof.
Masonry bonded hollow wall: a hollow wall in which the facing and backing are tied together with masonry units.
Non-bearing wall: a wall that supports no vertical load other than its own weight.
Panel wall: an exterior non-load bearing wall in skeleton frame construction, wholly supported at each story.
Parapet wall: that part of any wall entirely above the roof.
Screen wall: a wall in which an ornamental effect is achieved by using masonry units with open spaces or laying units with open spaces between them. Also called a pierced or perforated wall.
Shear wall: a wall that resists horizontal forces applied in the plane of the wall.
Single width wall: a wall of only one masonry unit in wall thickness.
Weatheredge - a stone surface that is naturally created by the combination of natural pressure and mineral staining.
Wedging - splitting of stone by driving wedges into planes of weakness.
Weep holes - an opening for drainage in veneer joints or in the structural components supporting the veneer.
Window Stool - a marrow shelf fitted across the lower part on the inside of a window opening.
Wire saw - a sawing device consisting of one or more wire cables, running over pulleys used to cut natural stone into blocks and slabs by tension and fed slurry of an abrasive and water cuts by abrasion.
Source: Kling Memorials, Butler, MO