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Building with Stone Book
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Building with Stone Book

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The time and effort it takes to build with stone is paid back to you in beauty and durability. Step-by-step instructions on how to build walls, buttresses, stone fireplaces, arches, bridges, and even houses and barns.
  • Diagrams and photos
  • By Charles McRaven
  • 8-1/2 x 11, 192 pp.
Table of Contents

Introduction - The Stone Remain

  1. Stone as a Building Material
  2. Acquiring Stone
  3. Tools For Stonework
  4. Drystone Work
  5. Mortared Stone
  6. Building a Stone Wall
  7. "Corners" Buttresses Intersecting Walls
  8. The Arch Lintel Keystone Span
  9. Gates Windows Doors
  10. Building a Barbecue Pit
  11. Stone Fireplace
  12. Laying Flagstone
  13. Root Cellar
  14. Stone Bridge
  15. Stone Dam
  16. Springhouse Well House
  17. Stone House
  18. Stone Barn
  19. Restoration

Excerpt from Chapter 10

Building a Barbecue Pit
Here is a stone structure that can become the center of backyard gatherings and socializing with much more style than those tin washbasins on legs that smell of burned paint or even those cast metal orbs that look like stray spacemen or rigid jack-o'-lanterns. A well-designed and carefully built stone barbecue pit will be the focal point of you patio yard or any natural setting you may have.

I'm sure the term pit comes from the historic practice of building the roasting fire in a hole in the ground to spit the ox pig or game over or of burying the meat in a hole lined with hot coals or rocks. We've refined this approach to burned meat so that the modern pit is actually a fireplace with the fire out on the hearth. There are usually raised sides to the fire area to help contain it and the fire itself extends back under the chimney to help draw the smoke away and up out of your eyes.

The idea of chimneys in the dwelling houses of common folks goes back at least to the fifteenth century when they finally had enough of smoke-filled rooms where holes in the roof gave the only ventilation. A chimney and an enclosed fireplace were the answer and these were located in different parts of the house. In Germany the fireplace usually went in the center of the room; in Britain at the gable end. In Scandinavian countries it was put in the corner.

Things were roasted in the fireplace until well into the nineteenth century when the cast-iron cookstove became common. I am always taken aback by the primitive cooking arrangements in even the most elegant mansions of only 150 years ago. Food was usually cooked away from the main house to cut down the chances of fire and to keep grease smoke and heat from the finer appointments. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia comes to mind that architectural masterpiece with its multiple innovations for comfort and its primitive half-underground kitchen. Food no doubt retained its heat on the way to the distant dining table only in proportion to the swiftness of the servant bearing it.

In New England at least the kitchen fireplace was right in the middle of things which helped combat winter's bite. But except for the swinging cranes and spits little relief came the cook's way for centuries. Even a raised hearth would have helped.

Copyright permission by Storey Communications

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