This is a place for the amateur woodworker. No snobbery about fancy tools, complicated joints, or exotic finishes, just good honest woodworking for the pure enjoyment of it. My shop has a brand new home in 2003/2004 and we feel blessed to have such a great place to spend time in the hobby of woodworking
This is our woodworking shop page, and dedicated to our projects in the shop, so this is a bit of a stretch to call it a shop project as the only thing the shop had to do with it is to pick up my tools and drive a 100 miles south of here.
IN the spring of 2005 when we decorated the graves of Sandy’s extended family we noticed that the headstone for Larry Dale Paris was in dire need of repair. Larry Dale, if he had lived, would have been one of Sandy’s uncles, but this infant died in 1939, just months after birth. The headstone is made of marble and like most marble stones of this sort it is badly weathered. The stone is actually two separate pieces, a base and a top with the engraving. We looked over other stones near this and his sister, also passed away as an infant, is similar in construction but her stone remains intact.
The top portion of this stone was loose, just setting on top of the base stone. Another family member had worked on this stone many years ago and had installed two wood dowel pins and what appears to have latex caulking. The caulk had dried out and even though there was some rot on the dowel pins, there were enough of the pins left to hold the stone from sliding off the base. My plan was to remove both stones, dig out what I thought would be a dab of concrete footing, and pour an entirely new footing. When I dug around the stone I discovered that the original footing was well over a 18” deep and the exact size of the base stone.
Contrary to current technique, the base stone had been set in the wet concrete and I feared breaking the stone if I worked too hard to remove it from the concrete. So I wedged and pried the footing enough to get it level again, then tamped the earth to secure the new position. Comfortable that it would not settle again I dug a trench all the way around to pour concrete around it to help hold it in place against further settling. My final step before mixing the concrete was to use a cold chisel to knock off the rolls of concrete that protruded from the stone being set in the wet concrete.
When I knocked the final piece off I discovered that the base stone was now loose so I removed it and poured the new concrete around it. This was a free form pour that would be covered with soil so I wasn’t overly concerned about making it perfect. Then it was time to watch concrete dry, which I can now tell you is as boring as watching paint dry or watching corn grow. I was not concerned about the new concrete as much as the old concrete that had gotten wet in the pouring process. Since I planned to use silicone rubber sealant to hold the stone in place I needed a clean dry surface.
Once the surface was dry I applied a very liberal amount of sealant to the concrete making sure that I applied a thick even bead around the perimeter to prevent moisture from migrating between the stone and the concrete. Then I carefully replaced the stone and used a gentle but firm twisting and pressing motion to make sure the sealant was spread around the two mating surfaces.
The next step was to reinstall the top stone to the base. Like the base stone, I had cleaned the mating surfaces with a putty knife and wiped them with a damp cloth to remove the dust. I also wiped the surfaces with a little mineral spirits to make sure that any oil that may have been on the surfaces was removed. I measured and cut 3/8” re-bar to fit into the holes without holding the stones apart. I pumped the base stone holes full of sealant and then inserted the rods, centering them in the hole and straightening them. Then I applied another glob of sealant on the top of each rod and around the mating surfaces of the stones. Again I was careful to provide a full bead around the perimeter, but held it back enough to prevent it from oozing out on the face of the stones.
It was a bit of a trick to lower the stone in place and stay out of the sealant, but once in place I made sure the two stones were seated snugly in place and lined up to fit as it did before. The final step was to fill in around the stone with the topsoil I had removed. The before and after pictures don’t show a lot of difference, and that was my goal. I did not want the stone to set higher or in a different position since this restoration was to keep the stone from being damaged and not to make it new.
I will conclude this project with a little bit of a disclaimer. I am by no means an expert on headstone setting and restoration, in fact this is the one and only stone I have worked on. I tried researching this on the Internet and only found a couple pages that dealt with the subject, none of which were written and published by those involved in this as a business. I did learn that any glue, sealant, or grout used should be softer than the stone itself so that in the event that the stone is bumped the stone itself is not damaged. These sites also warned against using any harsh cleaning products or methods. If there is anyone reading this page that has more knowledge about this topic and wishes to correct any step I took please feel free to send e-mail.
This web site, like the rest of www.breyfogle.com, is self-supported, but occasionally we find a commercial site that we really enjoy working with and will direct you there for further information. We have found Hartville Tools to be a great source of tools at a reasonable price and their website is very easy to navigate. Give them a try.
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