Construction, Mechanical & Electrical Trades
Stonemasonry involves the cutting and shaping of stone. The stonemason may be based in a workshop, on a construction site working on stone cladding for new buildings or working on historic buildings. It is a traditional craft and some stonemasons specialise in stone carving.
Stonemasons cut and shape stone and fix it to new and old buildings. They can use both hand and power tools.
There are two kinds of stonemason:
Banker masons are based in a workshop. They are skilled in making stonework using traditional tools. They cut and shape sawn blocks of stone. They use templates and drawings as a guide and then carefully cut and smooth the stone into shape. This may be cladding for a new office block or repairing stone on old buildings. Some stonemasons work on the preservation of historic buildings, repairing stonework. Any damaged stone can be cut out and an identical replacement can be made and fixed in place.
Some stonemasons specialise in carving intricate stonework.
A fixer mason works on site putting the prepared stone into position according to the architect's plans. Heavy stones are lifted using ropes and pulleys. Lime mortars are used to keep the stone in place.
The fixer mason needs to know about structural issues and load-bearing features such as arches and lintels.
The fixer mason may have to work up ladders, on scaffolding or at great height on historic buildings such as a cathedral.
Monumental masonry is a specialism which involves working with marble or granite, as well as letter carving, particularly for the funeral industry.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for stonemasons
- Be skilled at working with your hands. Artistic or drawing abilities are also important.
- Be able to understand technical drawings and solve problems
- Good physically fitness and strength as heavy lifting is often required
- Basic maths skills for measuring areas accurately
- Fixer masons need a head for heights and enjoy working outdoors
- Banker masons work in a workshop which could be dusty and noisy
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of stonemasons
- Specialist stonemason and monumental mason companies
- Building contractors
- Heritage organisations such as the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Scotland
England and Wales
Qualifications and training required
Many people enter this career with an apprenticeship or City & Guilds qualification. Apprenticeships are available in, for example, banker mason and stone fixer.Apprenticeships and Level 3 NVQ Diplomas are also available in heritage stone masonry.
In Scotland entry would normally be through a Modern Apprenticeship registered with the Scottish Building Apprenticeship Training Council.(SBATC). Entry would not always require any formal qualifications although National 4s and 5s in subjects such as English, Maths and Technology could be useful.