Last edited 26 Feb 2021

Modern Stonemasonry


[edit] CNC engineering and water jet cutting

The craft of stonemasonry has been around for millennia and natural stone is still quarried and fashioned into blocks or slabs in much the same sequence of events as before.

What has changed dramatically is the machinery used to fashion the stone. Hand skills such as polishing and carving are still used to finish the work where appropriate but now the bulk of the process is accomplished by machine.

2 Ludgate Portland Stone Feature Wall.jpg
Machined Portland Stone feature wall at Two New Ludgate

[edit] 3D rendering

Architectural models or scans of existing objects can be used to generate surface files that are then sent to a CNC-equipped cutting machine, such as the 5-axis machine installed by stoneCIRCLE which can be used to rough out and saw blocks, as well as shape, contour, engrave and polish them. This is very useful for the production of large monuments or replicating architectural details for restoration projects. The articles can then be finished by hand if necessary.

A 3D rendering of a column capital used to generate surface files

Machining Fenchurch St swags.jpgFenchurch St in situ.jpg
Machining Portland Stone swags for a restoration project and the finished swags in situ at 159 Fenchurch Street.

SW Sainsbury Laboratory.jpg
Susanna Heron's Jaumont Yellow Limestone frieze, Henslow's Walk

St Michaels.jpg
The limestone arch, altar, lectern, font and tabernacle were all produced using CNC-equipped cutting machines.

[edit] Water-jet cutting

Water-jet cutting allows intricate patterns to be cut into stone to create inlaid work for surfaces such as walls and floors and for pierced lattices and grills. It can also be used more creatively as is shown in artworks by Rhona Smith and Julian Opie where bronze is cut on the waterjet cutting machine before being patinated and then inserted into routed Portland Stone.

Westminster Cathedral.jpg
Tom Phillip's depiction of Tyburn Gallows in Westminster Cathedral is an example of waterjet cutting using several different marbles.

Rhona Smith New Burlington Mews.jpg
An Age, An Instant by Rhona Smith features waterjet cut bronze set in Portland Stone

Opie CitizenM.jpg
Julian Opie's art installations for CitizenM Hotel, Tower of London and the Hamilton Princess Bermuda use the same technique.

Marble inlaid floor.jpg
This intricate floor was produced using marble cut on the waterjet cutter and then inlaid into a Nero Marquina marble base.

[edit] Stone: still relevant

As the case studies above show, natural stone is still a relevant material that can be used to create award-winning new architecture. The use of modern technology renders the process much less expensive and time-consuming than it once was and this is made easier still by the use of a stonemason based in the UK with all the advantages of language and proximity that that conveys.

--Stonecircle 11:36, 11 Sep 2018 (BST)

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again