• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook helps to make long-lasting steps from giant stone slabs.

    1. Stretch a mason's line to establish the position and angle of the stone steps.
    2. Mark a cut line onto the stone using a tracer chisel and 3-pound sledgehammer.
    3. Bore several holes into the stone along the cut line using a pneumatic drill.
    4. Place feathers and wedges into the holes, then pound in the wedges to split the stone.
    5. Using long steel bars, rotate stone slab up onto its edge.
    6. Texture the front edge of the stone using a pneumatic hammer fitted with a four-point carbide-tipped chisel.
    7. To cut the step thinner, snap the cut line with a chalk reel, then use a pneumatic diamond cut-off saw to slice down into the stone.
    8. Break off the stone from the waste side of the saw kerf using a hammer and chisel.
    9. Set stone step into position, allowing a 14-inch-deep tread on the step below.
    10. To ensure rain and snow drains from the step, pry up the rear of the slab, then pack stone chips underneath so the step pitches forward slightly.
    • Difficulty: Hard
      Transporting, cutting, and setting large stones is a job best left to an experienced mason
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • mason line and level
        Mason's line, used to layout stone steps
      • sledge hammer
        3-pound sledgehammer
      • mason's chisel and maul
        Tracer chisel, used to mark cut line on stone
      • feathers and wedges for stonework
        Feathers and wedges, used to split stone
      • Wrecking bar
        Long wrecking bars, for prying up stone slabs
      • pneumatic hammer
        Pneumatic hammer fitted with four-point carbide-tipped chisel
      • pneumatic cut-off saw
        Pneumatic cut-off saw
      • chalk line
        Chalk reel, used to snap cut line on face of stone step

      Shopping List

      Stone slabs, for building steps