The term ‘stonemason’ has been around for centuries and centuries, with the craft of stonemasonry being something that has a special yet distinctive place in the industry world. For hundreds of years, the skills of stonemasons were admired for their incredible ability to turn a piece of stone into a piece of art, and this still continues now. Whether it be a stone benchtop, a stone statue or a memorial to a loved one, stonemasons are still very much in demand for their awesome skills. But, did you know there is more than one type of stonemason?
A stonemason, by definition, is a person who works with stone in many ways, including cutting, preparing and building.
There are three major types of stonemason - banker mason, fixer mason and memorial mason - that work in the craft of stonemasonry. Each has its own specific set of skills and expertise that they bring to the industry, and each one is required for differing roles.
A bank mason is usually located in a workshop and uses a variety of hand and power tools to cut, carve and shape stone. The stone's size and shape are determined by builders or other parties beforehand, so a bank mason will generally work from a brief or a set of designs provided for a particular project. The stone, once created to the specifications needed, will be transferred somewhere else for use in a building or other arrangement.
In contrast to a banker mason, a fixer mason will actually travel to a job to both fit and lay already-prepared stone or cladding for buildings. They will follow blueprints to complete this, as well as replace, repair and restore stonework that already exists. Being a fixer mason is actually highly skilled and dangerous work, as they need to be experts in fixing heavy stone with mortar onto a building permanently or creating specialist fitting that can be large and/or weighty, making it tricky work.
Lastly (but certainly not least), there are memorial masons. Memorial masons carve into stone - you may know their work in the form of headstones, plaques, gravestones, statues or memorials. They are used quite extensively by different industries, including funeral parlours, councils, crematoriums and local governments, to carve words or messages into stone for varying purposes.
Although a banker mason, fixer mason, and memorial mason are the three main types of stonemason there are other forms of masonry that someone can enter into. A lot of the time, there is an overlapping between types and forms across many areas.
In its most basic form, a quarryman is a stonemason that works in a quarry to extract chunks of stone. These rough pieces then get collected and taken to another place to get refined and can be a range of materials such as marble, flint, granite or limestone (but can also be even more basic, such as sand or gravel, depending on the quarry).
A sawyer mason is like a banker mason - they get the rough pieces of stone and work them to a series of standards (depending on a range of considerations). The difference between a sawyer mason and a banker mason is the size of the stone that they work with - a sawyer mason usually works with pieces much larger than what a banker mason works with, and they use diamond-tipped tools.
A sawyer mason can work in a quarry, or they may be found in tile or flooring stores. They have quite a range of specific skills, as they know which stones will cleave by examining grain patterns, know how to get smaller stones from larger pieces and carve out very precise outlines, drill holes in them and use various tools (usually a chisel) to make specific items (such as benchtops or floors).
Finally, carver masons are the artists of the industry - they are the people who create designs and/or patterns from stone, as well as on stones. This could be something like a stone sculpture of a particular figure or animal, or other projects of a similar nature. Throughout time, carver masons have been known for their exceptional skills in creating beautiful pieces.
Not everyone can be a stonemason. In order to become a stonemason in Australia, you must either complete an apprenticeship in stonemasonry or complete a Certificate III in Stonemasonry (Monument/Installation). Go to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission website if you would like to know more, or want to ensure your stonemason is adequately licensed.
If you are wanting to know more about stonemasonry and the types of services that a stonemason can provide, give MMS Memorials a call at 07 3265 5433 or complete an online contact form today. You will be surprised at all the wonderful options that are available.
Memorials of Distinction: https://www.memorialsofdistinction.co.uk/a-stonemason-career-guide
Queensland Building and Construction Commission: https://www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/stonemasonry
Queensland Building and Construction Commission Regulation 2018 (Qld): https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/inforce/current/sl-2018-0138
Department of Housing and Public Works - Technical qualifications for licensing: http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/TechnicalQualificationsForLicensing.pdf