Walling tips

Walling equipment

Les Maxwell

Good quality pennine walling hammers are available at £17 from Sam Turners farm suppliers, Northallerton.

More specialized stone mason tools hammers/chisels etc are available from G.Gibson & Co, Garforth

The Leedale wire taming device

Brian Wood

Guild professional and instructor Dave Leedale has produced a simple and ingenious solution to the ever present problem of attack by barbed wire to wallers working close to this unpleasant hazard. It consists of nothing more than a notched plank of wood into which the wire can be inserted to both tension and elevate it above your head. The pictures show how it works in practice. An added refinement might be to fit a length of pipe lagging over the section for further protection. 

Using line bars

Les Maxwell

Line bars can be a bit fiddly to set up but adding an additional winged nut (coach bolts are best) in the centre of the clamp makes life a bit easier.

  1. Firstly set bars in the ground as normal for the base width, allowing for a bit of flexibility in movement
  2. Then attach the clamp to the bars and set the correct height of the clamp (wall height below copes) making sure its level
  3. Tighten the middle nut and also one of the end nuts but leave a bit of give on the remaining nut so you can move the bar along the clamp. It is a good idea to mark the centre of the clamp
  4. Set bar to the correct distance from the middle mark (half the width of the wall below copes) then hammer the rod home and tighten the nut
  5. Loosen the nut on the opposite side and repeat the process

A valuable piece of kit is a Stanley line spirit level that attaches to string lines and is useful when setting your lines level. At about £3, no waller shouldn't be without one

Technique for building a curved wall

The BTCV Dry Stone Walling book states that a curved wall is possibly the hardest standard feature to build. 
Having given a great deal of thought on to how to overcome the problem of building a curved wall with the same batter angle on both the inside and outside I think I have come up with a solution which overcomes this problem.

Firstly, follow the guidelines from the BTCV book on how to set out the foundations. It is also useful to have a wooden batten with the width of the footings marked on. Use this to make sure the foundations are parallel. I used this batten on each course and then cut this to size when starting another course.

I put a lot of effort into making sure the foundations were level and had a smooth curve on both sides. The reasons for this will become apparent. I then set up a walling frame about ½ a metre from the end of the wall. This was used as a visual guide but most importantly it was used to measure the batter angle.

To set up my walling bars I bought a Stanley spirit level with an adjustable circular vial. This spirit level, which is widely used by metal workers, also has a wide groove on the base with built in magnets. I then attached this spirit level to the frame and set the circular vial so that the bubble on the spirit was in the centre I also checked the opposite bar to make sure that both were set are the same angle.

I was now ready to start building the wall. Place the level to a separate bar that can be used to set the inside angle and by turning the bar 180° for the outside measurements. Start by setting two end stones one on the inside and one on the outside of the wall at the end nearest the walling frame and use the rod with the spirit level attached to set the correct batter angle. I then set 4/5 pieces of stone on the inside wall along with a few well-placed fillers. Then set the rod against the second walling stone and tight to the foundation stone. Adjust this stone to get the right angle with the bubble level. Pack with fillers and repeat with another 4/5 stones. Then work along the rest of the first course on the inside wall. Repeat on the outside wall checking the wall is parallel with the baton, then finally pack tightly with fillers.

Repeat on the next course not forgetting to trim your baton at each new course. This gives a double check that your wall is parallel and makes sure that you do not run off line. Continue on with the courses until your wall is finished hopefully with perfect matching batter angles.

When I finished building the wall, and before setting the cope stones there is a final way to check the angles are correct. i.e. Set the rod tight to the base of the outside wall but this time the rod is set vertically (checking with the attached spirit level). I measured this distance between the outside edge of the top course and the rod.( I measured this in several places). Then set the rod on the inside repeating the measurements from the inside of edge of the curve to the rod. If the wall is built correctly then these measurements should all be equal.

By using the walling rod it also ensures that you have no bumps and dips in the wall. This method can also be used on straight walls and other features.