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Dictionary of Masonry Terms

stone, stones, wall, structure, usually and natural

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DICTIONARY OF MASONRY TERMS The following definitions are in common use in the mason's and stonecutter's trade: Abutment—A supporting wall carrying the end of a bridge or span and sustaining the pres sure of the abutting earth.

Dictionary of Masonry Terms

Arris—The external edge formed by two sur faces of stone, whether plane or curved. Ashlar—A squared or cut block of stone, usually with rectangular dimension.


The portion of a masonry wall or structure built in the rear of the face. It must be attached to the face by proper bonds, and is usually of a cheaper grade of work than the face.


The slope or inclination of the face or back of the wall to the vertical.


The top and bottom of a stone (see also Course-Bed; Natural Bed; Foundation-Bed).

upper curve of a right section of an arch, perpendicular to the axis.

Face—The exposed surface of a stone, in eleva tion.

Footing—A projecting bottom course.

Foundation—That portion of a structure, usually below the surface of the ground, which dis tributes the pressure upon its support. Also applied to the natural support itself.

Foundation-Bed—The surface upon which a structure rests.

Grout—A thin mortar either poured or applied with a brush.

Header—A stone which has its greatest length at right angles to the face of the wall, and which bonds the face stones to the backing.

Intrados—The lower curve of a right section of an arch, perpendicular to the axis.

Joint—The narrow space between adjacent stones, bricks, or other building blocks usually filled with mortar.

used to carry and distribute the weight of an arch to ribs or centering during construction. Also used to designate the strips temporarily supporting soft material, as outside the timbering of a tunnel.

four-piece steel instrument used in lifting stone. The lewis, when in use, is keyed into a triangular hole cut in the stone.

Lock—Any special device or method of con struction used to secure the bonding.

mixture of lime or cement with s

and and water. It is used to cement the various stones in a structure together or to cover the surface of the same.

Natural Be.

The surface of a stone parallel to the stratification.


A wall on the edge of an elevated structure, for protection or ornament.

Paving—Regularly placed stones or bricks forming a floor.


An intermediate support for arches or other spans.


To square a stone.

Pitch Ston.

Stone having the arris clearly de fined by a line beyond which the rock is cut away by the pitching chisel, so as to make ap proximately true edges.


Filling the joints or defects in the face of a masonry structure.

Retaining Wal.

A wall for sustaining the pres sure of earth or filling deposited behind it. Ring Stones—The end voussoirs of an arch. Riprap—Rough stones of various sizes placed ir regularly and compactly to prevent scour by water.


Field stone or rough stone as it comes from the quarry.


A fine finish made by rubbing with grit or sandstone.


A change from a plastic to a hard state. Skewbacks—The top course of stones on an abutment. Their upper surfaces are cut at such an angle that the surfaces are approxi wind. A corner of a stone is strong according as its angle is obtuse; in a wall, this occasions an acute angle adjacent to it, and so it is better that all stones be square.

(2) All stones shall be dressed for laying on natural beds. For granite and marble, this pre caution is usually unimportant. With sandstone it must always be observed.

(3) The sand and cement should preferably be mixed dry (in no case should the cement be wet before the sand) ; then water added, and the whole remixed until the entire mass of mor tar is thoroughly homogeneous and leaves the hoe or shovel clean when the latter is drawn from it.

(4) All stones shall be laid on natural beds. Each stone shall be settled into place in a full bed of mortar. That is to say, no stone shall be allowed to touch another stone, but must have a complete coating of mortar around it. If this precaution be not observed, the imposed weight will cause unequal pressure on the stones touch ing each other; and rupture may occur from this cause.

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