How do you cut the stone?
Q: How do you cut the stone?
A: There are many steps involved in making a memorial.
The process begins at a granite quarry. There are many quarries around the world and each quarry yields its own distinct colors of granite. Some may be similar in appearance but they are never the same. Often granites that look similar initially will perform very differently over time. Granite blocks are removed from the earth and sold to manufacturers to be cut and finished. Large diamond saws cut the blocks into slabs of varying thicknesses. Once the slabs are cut they are polished on bed polishing machines.
Large wheels with embedded diamonds from 46 grit to as fine as 3000 grit can be used in this polishing process. In proper polishing the surface of the stone is closed tighter and tighter in a method similar to sanding wood until the surface of the stone itself shines to a high gloss polish. No reputable manufacturer uses any chemicals, waxes or dyes to achieve the final color and shine in granite as those additives only offer temporary results. After we meet with a family and decide how to tell their “story in stone” we coordinate with our manufacturing partners to create the “blank canvas” that we will carve and letter in our studio. Individual memorials are then cut and finished to specification from these slabs using smaller diamond saws, contour machines etc. as well as various polishing machines designed for these smaller surfaces. Our designers work closely with manufacturers throughout this process to be sure the desired shape of the overall monument is achieved. After the blank canvas is received inspected and approved it is ready for any lettering and design to be added. The designs and lettering are added to the granite either by hand carving or sandblast carving. Unlike many memorial retailers today, not only do we create our unique and personal designs from “scratch” we also do the majority of the carving and lettering in our own studio. Since the sandblast method is the predominant method used it will be explained first. In order to sandblast designs and lettering into a stone a rubber template or “stencil” is created. This template can be made by hand drawing with pencil paper and drafting tools then hand cutting the stencil with an exacto knife and plastic triangle. Today most of our templates are made on a computer, but all the designs and lettering we use were created and inputted into the computer by our own artists. We do not use any off-the-shelf mass distributed designs. Once the stencil is applied to the stone it is sandblasted. The sand bounces off the rubber stencil and the lettering and design are cut in the exposed areas. A lithichrome shadow is applied in the sunken areas of design and lettering to provide contrast until natural weathering occurs. If the design or lettering are to be hand carved, the sandblast process is used to mark the areas to be carved and they are finished by a skilled craftsman using a pneumatic hammer and carbide chisels of varying sizes. This is a painstaking process involving many labor hours. The memorial is then cleaned and inspected before delivery.