Step 4: Mark The Stones to Cut

marking stones to cut for building a fieldstone wall
Photo: Russell Kaye
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Eventually, you'll have to cut a stone to make it fit. Use a wax pencil to mark the sections of the stone you want to remove. (For this wall, the goal is to keep the joints tight, less than 1 ½ inches wide.) To make cuts, you'll need a 3-inch carbide chisel, a 3-pound hand sledge, and safety glasses.
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      Q: "I'd like to build a fieldstone wall. What's the best way to do it?"
      —Norma Laren, Blackstone, Mass.

      Roger Cook replies: Stone walls are a handsome way to define and improve your property. Building them is backbreaking work, but if done correctly, the wall will last a lifetime, if not a lot longer.

      I like to set stones in mortar because you can't beat a mortared wall for strength, which is important if a wall serves as seating or holds back earth. To preserve a dry-laid look, I set the stones in a mortar that's pigmented a dark gray and then rake the joints clean.

      Freestanding mortared walls, like the fieldstone one I'm building here, need a stable, frost-proof footing to prevent shifting, and that requires a lot of digging in cold climates.

      Ask a stone yard to help determine how much material you'll need, and have it delivered as close to the site as possible. Once built, you'll have a rock-solid wall without all the heavy mortar lines.

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    SHOPPING LIST: Wall stone
    ¾-inch crushed stone
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    Mortar mix
    Black mortar pigment
    Concrete mix