What Does a Stone Mason Do?

Stone Mason Charleston SC can work with a variety of materials. They may specialize in cutting, shaping, and binding stones for use as a finished surface or to build structures like kitchen benchtops and commercial projects.Stone Mason

Most stone masons obtain their skills through an apprenticeship that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Those who wish to become masons should have at least a high school diploma.

Apprentices in the stone mason trade spend three years learning by doing and attending classes. They are paid on a sliding scale during their apprenticeship, earning more as they progress. The apprenticeship program also includes 144 hours of classroom instruction in subjects like blueprint reading, mathematics, and layout work.

Many technical schools offer masonry programs, and most of these lead to apprenticeships. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent and be 18 years old. They must also pass background checks, drug screenings, and physical examinations. In addition to basic skills, apprentices are taught how to read blueprints, measure accurately, and use hand and power tools.

Masonry requires a high level of physical stamina. Masons must be able to lift heavy materials and stand for long periods of time while working. They also need good eyesight to see small details in their work. Good hand-eye coordination helps them apply mortar and set bricks quickly and effectively.

Some apprentices are sponsored by contractors or unions, which means they may receive a higher salary during their training. This can make it easier for them to afford tuition at a community college or vocational school and get the experience needed for their job.

After completing an apprenticeship, a stone mason can take certification tests and become a journeyman worker. They must also obtain a license to practice their trade. Once they do, their name is added to the list of professional dry stone masons that is provided to government agencies and others. They can also attend introductory workshops and work on advanced restoration projects that are managed by the Conservancy. This helps them build their resume and gain experience before going out on their own.


The right tools are important for stone masons. Without them, they cannot accomplish their tasks. They also need to be efficient in their work so that they can finish their projects on time and meet the needs of their clients. This means using the best tools for their job, rather than cheap or mediocre ones.

A stone mason’s tools are varied, ranging from simple hand tools to more complex machinery. A key tool is the chisel, which comes in many different shapes and sizes depending on its use. These tools can be used to cut and shape stones, remove large amounts of material, or put a fine finish on the rough edges of stones.

Other tools include a Lewis (catchy hammer), a brick jointer, a pointing trowel, and a margin trowel. A Lewis is used to produce rubble for a wall and can be combined with a crane or block and tackle to hoist building stones into place. The pointing trowels, tuck pointers, and margin trowels are used to fill in smaller joints between bricks.

Moreover, the masons may also use a stone saw for cutting and shaping larger pieces of stone. This saw is usually cordless and features a high-quality lithium-ion battery. It is lightweight and has an ergonomic handle that helps them grip the tool firmly and comfortably. This is an ideal tool for masons to use, as it can cut through a range of materials easily and quickly.


Masonry is equal parts hard work and artistry, as you craft granite, marble, limestone, slate, and sandstone into unique designs. However, this profession comes with some risks that can lead to serious injuries or even death on the jobsite. Luckily, you can reduce the chances of such an outcome by following the recommended safety precautions.

For starters, you should always wear a hard hat or helmet. This PPE item can protect you from falling debris, electrical shocks, and contact with stationary objects on the jobsite. Be sure to routinely inspect the hat and replace it when dents or cracks are discovered.

Another essential piece of PPE for masons is a pair of gloves. These should be made of thick material to ensure that you are not prone to cuts or abrasions. Additionally, you should wear a dust mask to prevent the inhalation of stone dust into your lungs. Lastly, you should also use eye protection to prevent any stone dust from entering your eyes.

Slips, trips, and falls are common workplace accidents for mason contractors. These can lead to major injuries, including head trauma and spinal cord damage. You should try to minimize the risk of these hazards by keeping your working area clean, checking all passageways and floors for any loose wires or protruding nails, and wearing appropriate footwear.

Masons can develop upper-limb disorders from using vibrating hand tools. This can include numbness, loss of grip strength, tingling in the arms and hands, and pain. It is important to take breaks when using these tools and to be mindful of the vibrations. Also, you should use earplugs or earmuffs around excessive noise and be sure that they are set to the recommended level of noise reduction.

Working Conditions

Masonry work is strenuous, with a lot of heavy lifting and long periods of standing, stooping, or kneeling. It can also be very hot or cold. Masons often work outdoors, where they are exposed to inclement weather, and may spend a large part of their time climbing ladders or scaffolding. Masons typically work full-time and may belong to a labor union.

Masons may begin their careers with a high school diploma and learn the trade through on-the-job training or a registered apprenticeship program. Apprentices are helpers who assist experienced craft workers, learning to mix mortar, carry materials, and erect or disassemble scaffolding. Some apprenticeship programs last up to three years.

After becoming a fully qualified mason, stonemasons can specialize in a particular type of building or structure. Brick masons build structures with bricks, while concrete masons construct buildings with concrete blocks and natural or manmade stones. Masons who focus on fire-resistant materials are called refractory masons, while cement masons and concrete finishers pour, level, and finish concrete for floors or walkways. Stone masons can also sculpt decorative stones to create unique architectural features for buildings and structures.

Other masonry specialists include pointers, cleaners, and caulkers, who perform maintenance tasks to keep structures in good condition. These individuals remove loose or damaged bricks, clean and repair existing mortar, and add new mortar to older structures to replace lost material. They may also repair lintels, the steel supports that hold brick arches over door and window openings, or install terrazzo floors to provide an attractive and durable surface. Some brick, block, and stone masons eventually move into supervisory roles for masonry contractors or enter closely related fields like construction management or building inspection.


A licensed stone mason can provide property owners with a warranty for their work, demonstrating that they follow state construction standards. In order to qualify for a license, masons must complete several years of apprenticeship and classroom training, followed by on-the-job experience. They must also pass a background check and obtain workers’ compensation and liability insurance in many states.

Most new masons receive their major training through an apprenticeship program that usually lasts three to four years. These programs are offered by vocational schools, professional masons’ and builders’ associations, and masonry unions. Masons typically earn a salary during their apprenticeship and attend classes at night to learn more about their trade.

Other stonemasons learn their skills on the job informally by watching and assisting experienced masons. This type of informal training may take longer to master the full range of skills required for this trade.

Some stonemasons choose to specialize in a particular aspect of the trade, such as working with certain materials or building only residential structures. This allows them to become highly skilled in their specialty and gain a competitive advantage over other masons. Some masons also pursue certification from their trade association to further enhance their career opportunities.

In some states, a mason must have a contractor’s license to perform work on commercial or residential projects. A mason must also have insurance to protect themselves and clients from liability claims resulting from accidents or injuries on the job site. Depending on the state, this could include worker’s compensation insurance for employees and general liability insurance for the company. Some masons may also need to secure a permit for the job.