Monday, March 4, 2019

2019 Mailchimp Newsletter Workshops

Spring / April 2019 Workshops 

In 2017 Neil was our first visiting instructor to the training center. We offered two workshops -  Contractor workshop and a freestanding wall workshop. WE SOLD OUT. Neil has worked extensively here in the US working with the Dry Stone Conservancy for over 15 years. During this time both past and present he continues to offer his expertise in directing and supervising larger projects many of which are with the National Park Service. You don't want to miss this rare opportunity to learn and ask key questions from a master of stone. DON'T MISS OUT! 
(read more about Neil on Preservation Trades Network)

April 6th 2019 1 Day Fundamental Building Skills workshop (Saturday) $300 All Levels, Homeowner - Contractor, 1-Day  8:30 am - 4:30 pm  
Mark Jurus (Maryland) Advanced (Level 3) DSWA-GB - Journeyman (Level 2) DSC-US/ Instructor DSWA-GB.

This is our most in demand workshop every year. We highly recommend this workshop to everyone even if you're a contractor. Learn all about different wall frames, how to use them, build them and why you need them. What is a batter and why. This workshop will be hands on how to build 2 styles of foundations with the best tools for the job. Basic overview of tools of the trade. How and when to best use them and with what types of stone. Last but not  least how to read stone and how to put it to the best use. Hands on sorting and palletizing material.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE!!!.... Assessing Space, Planning, and Wall terminology. Learning the Fundamentals are the starting point for any waller. A skill set which will be needed for any project regardless of size.


April 26th 2019 - 1 Day Shaping Workshop (Friday) $375 All Levels, Homeowner - Contractor, 1-Day  8:30 am - 4:30 pm  
Neil Rippingale (Scotland) Master Craftsman ~ DSWA-UK, DSC-USA Examiner.
Mark Jurus (Maryland) Advanced (Level 3) DSWA-GB - Journeyman (Level 2) DSC-US/ Instructor DSWA-GB.

This Workshop will help the participant look carefully at the stone before choosing it for a specific use. This helps increase productivity and the economy of effort.

• There are many ways in which we can mark stone, this will be described and demonstrated throughout the workshop.
• Which Hammer should I use? What is its purpose? When should I use it? Which one should I buy? All part of the workshop.
• Which Chisel should I use? What is its purpose? When should I use it? Which one should I buy? Again, all part of the workshop.
• Using Diamond Blade Saws and Diamond tipped Grinders, Do’s and Don'ts.
• Working on Banker Benches, design and ease of use and practicalities.
• Texturing Stone for a finished surface.
• Tips on Drilling Stone including Feather and Wedge...and so much more!

• Shaping workshop, Hand Tools, Power tools, feather wedging and so much more!
(Note: YOU MUST HAVE - PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for this workshop.  Safety and use of this equipment is of paramount importance during the workshop.)
April 27-28 2019 2 day (Saturday/Sunday) Freestanding / Cheekend Workshop $450 All Levels, Homeowner - Contractor, 1-Day  8:30 am - 4:30 pm  
Neil Rippingale (Scotland) Master Craftsman ~ DSWA-UK, DSC-USA Examiner.
Mark Jurus (Maryland) Advanced (Level 3) DSWA-GB - Journeyman (Level 2) DSC-US/ Instructor DSWA-GB.

Freestanding Wall workshop is an Introduction into the Basic skills of Dry Stone Masonry. Over two days we will cover the fundamentals of Dry Stone Construction, Theory, History, The Uses of Dry Stone in the present day, How to determine the size of a batter frame for your project, how to make a frame, selecting the right stone for the right place in the wall which develops confidence, efficiency and the importance of rhythm and minimizing unproductive actions, but not at the expense of quality.
(Note: this workshop will be a strip out and rebuild of existing wall, tools will not be covered in this workshop)
- 7 spots remain - Freestanding workshop All Levels

- 3 spots remain for Advanced Level - Cheekend (2 people per cheekend)
(Note: you must have your own PPE, along with tools for shaping and dressing stone)
A cheekend / (wall head) is the most common way to end a wall.  Cheekends are one of the most important first features to learn. This two day workshop will cover strip out, rebuild and the proper method to finish off the end of a wall. In this workshop you will be partnered up with one other person to take on a traditional freestanding wall cheekend. You will learn how to tie the end back into the wall along with understanding how to pick, choose and make the stones you need to make it right! This workshop will also cover the setting up of a wall frame. This workshop is great for those gearing up for their Level 2 DSWA Certification. 
• Read more about workshops Click Here!
• To Sign up for a workshop Click Here

Dry Stone Certification WHAT TO KNOW for DSWA Level 1 TESTING

With the new year in front of us. This is a wonderful time to consider the steps needed to becoming certified as seen in the video above. The one question which comes up often is what do I have to do to become certified?

Many times we see folks think it is just as easy as taking a test. Yes and no! If you have never taken a workshop and you happen to be an experienced stone mason or just looking to start into a new trade. We suggest taking a freestanding wall workshop first.

WHY? The workshop will teach you the terminology, the steps of disassembling a freestanding wall-which is a very important process or organizing your stone before you rebuild your wall, learning to keep tooling to a minimum, making good choices quickly, and working next to someone just to name a few. All which will happen during the testing process. Watch the YouTube Video above to learn more. I've put this together to help others understand the steps to becoming certified.

  2019 Rockin Walls has started a Pro Series of videos.  This is intended to help other professionals with tricks, tips, tools and techniques to name a few - Get on the fast track of learning today. Please Subscribe!

Read More about Cheekends links below.

Professional Column Wall Ends Part 1
Professional Column Wall Ends Part 2

We stock and sell carbide chisels (CLICK HERE), $70 Rebit Pointer, Spartan $80 Tracer and $95 Heavy Duty Chipper. Please call or email for more details.

Thank you for taking the time to enjoy our love for stone. Take the time to share this with others.
Rockin Walls Training Center - The only Sponsored center in North America by the leaders in the masonry industry. Offering "Try Before You Buy Tools"
Please Support & Thank: 
BonTool • Trow & Holden Company • Kraft Tool Co. • Swanson Tool Co. • Pave Tech • Block Shear • Balducci Stone Yard • Micon Products (Rebit Chisels) • Spartan Tools • Zip Level -Technidea Corporation 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

StoneWurx 2012 Dry Laid Stone Stable Canada VIDEO

StoneWurx Project 2012 - Dry Laid Stone Stable Building located in Hanover Ontario Canada. The building is a total of 40'L x 21'W x 7'H. The stone is quarried Limestone ( with large stones set for as the foundation. This built took over 2 years on and off with DSWA Certified Wallers from Canada, US, UK and worldwide.

The building was built on the property of Wedding, parties and events are held at in and around this incredible structure. The project was organized and created by Dean McLellan Stonework. A wonderful example of a Dry Laid Stone BUILDING. I Revisited and Filmed this May 26, 2018. I had the great opportunity to work on the upper chimney and front corner of this structure during a 1 week period. Where I had the chance to meet many of my fellow wallers I had been friends with online for years. So Much Fun! I love all the small Features inside the building incredible example of what can be built with natural stone.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Pro Series - Setting Granite Cobblestone Edging

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Pro Tips on setting dry laid naturals cobblestone edging for a patios or walkway. I find it takes about 3 mins to set a cobble. For estimating I would suggest factoring in a total time of minimum 5 mins start to finish. Just add up your total length of the cobbles and their sizes.  Add a few extra to cover any stone which may break while setting. Cobblestones are granite which is a free grain stone. Less likely to break over time with mother nature. Other edging solutions are available such as plastic, timbers, pavers, or concrete. I prefer natural stone it typically will be the most expensive. It looks natural and will outlast any other option. Fitting the visual look and clients budget is key!

Granite cobbles colors:
White & Black speckled Grey called salt and pepper - Most common!
Yellow/Tan (as seen in video)
Black ( some of the hardest I found)
Phoenician Buff

Most common Sizes :
Jumbo Cobbles 4"x7"x10"
Regulation Cobbles 5"x5"x9"
Cube Cobbles 4"x4"x4"
Natural stone will very from stone to stone in size!

Bedding materials may very from area to area or the material you are using for a base with your patio/walkway...Typically the same methods.

Many thanks to just a few of Rockin Walls Training Center Sponsors.
• Pave Tech
- Larger Pave Tech Hammer: WALL MALLET 80mm Wht/Blk 
- Smaller Pave Tech Hammer: PAVER MALLET 60mm Red/Blk

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Dry Stone Certification WHAT TO KNOW for DSWA Level 1 TESTING

This Video is intended to simply cover some of the basics to assist and guide others in the process of pursuing Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA -GB Certification. Experience, practice  and workshops are some of the best ways to prepare. 

Many thanks to Jeremy Bishop Owner of Stone Craft Stonescapes for taking the time to help others.  Eamon was to shy to be on camera : (  Thank you Eamon for all your help at the site for prep. I'm proud to say both passed there DSWA level 1 April 2018 at Rockin Walls Training Center. Great job guys and gals who have invested in our trade!

DSWA Level 1 Requirements: Each candidate will strip down and rebuild 27 sq. ft. of free standing wall, within a seven hour period.  27 sq ft is roughly equal to a wall 4 feet 6 inches tall and 6 feet long.  (The square footage is measured on one face.)  The test is done in the presence of the Examiner to meet minimum Level I requirements.

Helpful Links:

2019 Is a fresh year to begin your journey to becoming a Certified Waller ! 
Consider taking a workshop(s) or Prep classes to gear up - plan for success. Invest in knowledge from others in our trades.

Workshops can be found at:

2019 Certification / Testing 
The Stone Trust VT -

Dean McLellan Stonework -
July 19 2019 DSWA UK Certification Day w/ MasterCraftsmen Jim James R Hanson and Laurie Lambeth (incredible fair, knowledgeable and great guys to top it off) Helped me alot for my level 3! TY Guys..m-

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2019 ROCKIN WALLS NEWS FLASH! Start of a New Year

Time flies when you're having fun. Do what makes you happy everyday!

I'm so excited to share with you some of the wonderful things to come.  Along with a few that just happened. Man I'm so pumped for this year..

First NEWS FLASH Workshops are up with PayPal Buttons! More important NEWS - Master Craftsman DSC/DSWA Neil Rippingale from Scotland RETURNS to RW Training Center to teach 2 workshops this Spring April 2019. 

• April 6th 2019 1 Day Fundamental Building Skills workshop (Saturday) $300

• April 26th 2019 - 1 Day Shaping workshop (Friday) $375 W / Neil Rippingale
• April 27-28 2019 2 day (Saturday/Sunday) Freestanding or Cheekend Workshop $450 W / Neil Rippingale

All the information can be found at

What's new with YouTube? Well this coming year I will be making plans to begin more Video Blogging. Stay tuned and please subscribe. Check out all YouTube  Videos with my Brand New Custom URL -

My Top 10 favorites! Yes see my all time favorites at the Baker Awards. A site dedicated to Maryland Artist of all types. Each year I list my work under visual arts. I'm a proud Graduate of MICA – Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA - Visual Communication Graphic Design please check out my portfolio along with all the other amazing talent

Wicked BIG! Yes too large to put into words. I've been having the time of my life creating the most amazing backyard space with multiple landings. I just can't begin to explain. So I will show you as I continue my journey creating. Stay tuned.

My work hits the NEW STANDS. Yes November Brian Post DSWA Mastercraftsman executive director of The Stone Trust, wrote part one of dry laid stone. My 2016 Millers MD Spring house just happen to be the Main article spread. How incredible is that? Thanks Brain for all you do spreading the good word of stone! 

Also at a Website on line you can pick up one of these amazing Dry Laid Stone Calendars from The Stone Trust. Rockin Walls the June centerfold of 2019. Highlighting Nick Balducci owner of 2 Bluestone Quarries in lower New York. You know your having fun when you get to pick any stone you want! See it on YouTube

To purchase a 2019 calendar $12.00click here: 

2018 I finished out the year with 2 New Levels of Certification - Level 2 Journeyman DSC - Dry Stone Conservancy US and Level 3 Advanced DSWA - Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain. For some this might not seem like a news flash but let me explain I'm currently only 1 of 11 to be DSWA Level 3 Advanced in the US. 1 of 11 the US is a big place..... and in addition I'm one of a few to be dual certified.

In order to reach these levels you must build several different stone features, then once you pass those you move to the timed test. For DSC you must strip out and rebuild freestanding wall 4' tall by 10' long measured at center of wall tie stones. = 40 square face feet in 8 hours. For DSWA you must strip out and rebuild a retaining wall 49 square face feet in 7 hours. As Seen at top of this Blog. That's what I call moving. Rockin and a Rolling to get the job done. 

Many thanks to my Wife Teresa for all the support with this Journey, Kim Coggin, George Gunn, Lydia Noble, Jared Flynn, Laurie Lambeth, James Hanson, Chris Tanguay, Brian Post, Dean McLellan and so many more who helped me understand the ins and outs the ups and downs. TEAM WORK ALL THE WAY. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Video: Pro Series - Tools For Setting Natural Stone Pattern Patios & Walks

Pro tips on helpful tools for setting dry laid naturals stone patios and walks
Many thanks to just a few of Rockin Walls Training Center Sponsors.
• Pave Tech - Larger Pave Tech Hammer: WALL MALLET 80mm Wht/Blk - Smaller Pave Tech Hammer: PAVER MALLET 60mm Red/Blk
• Swanson Levels:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

2018 Ellicott City MD, 680+ Sq Ft Bluestone Patio w/ 3 beautiful tiered steps - Backyard

5 Years ago I had the great opportunity to build a beautiful retaining wall in this same backyard for Gary and Michelle. Now it was time for part 2 - backyard usable flat space along with some new steps. A big upgrade from the temporary 2x4 steps Gary built. Michelle spent many hours looking and thinking just about what would fit her design style. The basic tread on tread was just to simple without making any statement. Now with the some limitations of dry laid we would have to come together with her findings on the internet. The parameters needed to allow me to work with large stones with weight to avoid movement, matching similar stone colors on the home and in the wall. The choice was to go with Bluestone treads along with Laurel Mountain stone for under the treads. More of the construction details further in the blog. 

680 Sq Ft Patio construction. Colonial Bluestone squares and rectangles, natural cleft - full color. We went with the full color to gain some of the copper and tans to blend with the copper colored stones in the retaining wall. Michelle also choose the Yellow cobbles to match the Laurel mountain stones on the steps. When building flatwork I choose to use a large cobble granite stone called "Jumbo". The Jumbo creates a good strong edging. Helping to hold in all the base, bedding stone and bluestone. As I like to say your building a sandbox. You need an edging to hold everything underneath inside. Pretty simple when it comes to dry laid more is always better. 

A great deal of time was spent with Michelle to help maximize but minimize the turf between the patio and retaining wall. Enough but not too much.  In addition have a smooth complementing mirrored curves to the retaining wall.

Some of the challenges with this build were two different grades. Everything starts off the house steps I built first. Then comes around the corner here and now has to meet the window wells. So this might be a little confusing. From the house steps I come out both ways 1/8th fall. Now as I come around to this side of house I just have to drop to the widows which came out to 1/4th fall at the same time still falling 1/8th away from the home. 1/8th is the bare min. Preferable with the natural cleft it is best to go with 1/4th. The client felt the angle under the steps with the patio would visually look to drastic. 

Now working level from window to window well all the way across to basement steps. Now I could have dropped again but the height worked out well with the jumbo cobbles. I was able to place half of the cobble below against the concrete steps.  Now with the newly added 6 inch cobble step from the patio to the basement steps. (Note: Jumbo cobbles standing vertical length 10"+) A simple and easy solution without changing the grade on the patio with one more drop down. The clients were extremely happy with this upgrade. Since in the past they have had extreme flooding in the backyard. One more security to avoid excess water being able flood out there basement. 

Cobbles were grinded on the sides to create a tight side by side fit. More below regarding the bonus flashing added. 

Amazing transformation from old to new. Check out Gary's 2x4 temporary steps under the sliding glass door. 

Full color bluestone has so many amazing shades of colors for blues, coppers, tans, greens and so on.

Just a little bit on the construction of the steps (7.25"+/- rise). First (bottom) steps 10' L x 13" tread, Second step 8' L x 13" tread, Top landing 6'L x 20" wide. Built with natural blue stone treads ranging from 3" - 4" thick. I built up under with the Laurel Mountain (tan) stone spending countless hours with a 7" Diamond Cup. Grinding and grinding to get each stone level for the bluestones to sit on. When it comes to steps I prefer to build 16" treads. You will also notice they bluestone overhang by 2"+ so you actually do get more like a 15" tread with the overhang. On these I had to work up a compromise with the client to minimize the loss of patio space. You will also notice great detail went into avoiding any running joints on the step construction. The bluestone stone to stone are flush both on the sides and on the tops. Not easy to do with natural stone set dry laid. Getting this even only comes with the countless ours of shaping. 

More pics below on this construction. NOTE: in right corner of lower step grey piping. These are 1/2" plastic electrical piping under patio. In the event of adding low voltage lighting the pipes only will need wiring. The transformer can plug right into the wall outlet above. Green flags note the exit. 

You can now see the stone retaining wall in the background I constructed 5 years earlier. This section of patio comes out from the door 18' L + then from the left to right 15' wide + (300 Sq Ft)

A great deal was spent to adjust and clean up unsightly lines in the pattern.  Along with steps taken to thermal out industry standard chisel marks on high spots from the quarry. These are natural stone cut by man so they are not always square. Nor does mother earth make each stone flat and uniformed. Each has a personality and character. 

Right side patio in this image cut with a gas cut off saw.  Where the left has the CPVC 1/2" pipe set waiting approval by client.

Bluestone patio pattern extended past suggested areas to be cut for curve. 

You know how sometimes in the middle night you come up with the best ideas!? Well this is one of them. The day before when I started this process of grinding and setting the cobbles. The client Michelle asked how the cobbles would keep all the bedding/ base stone in? While my original plan was ramp up the road base called crush and run CR8 in our area against the backside of the cobbles. In the middle of the night I was thinking about this and come up with very simple solution. To minimize stone or dust washing threw the small gaps between the cobble - Aluminium Flashing.  The magic answer. I cut 6" high and set this to the bottom of the cobbles which are standing vertical compared to the edging which are set long. This allows for the 2"+ bluestone at the top. The flashing is overlapped in middle and wrapped around the corners back to the cement. This will will also help to slow any extra water from getting back down the basement steps. 

Very clean and simple solution giving a nice 6" step up to patio. 

Typically the gutter and sump pump drain would be under the patio. The client choose to have these stay above. At any point with the dry laid stone patio it would be very easy to come back and set PVC piping for drains under patio. 

Marking and cutting the bluestones with a gas powered cut off saw and water system minimizing dust. 

Often many clients have no true understanding of the equipment which is required to produce something such as this. I listed out the main tools I used and calculated realistic days needed for each. This is what I used and how much would have been spent if rented from up the street. 

In my region flatwork such as this ranges from $27-$35. Not including the cobble edging. There is a great deal just in the Bluestone along with equipment. Then you have all the hauling of the base, bedding, dirt, and topsoil. When you price out today's composite decks there a close match. Pavers yes are a bit cheaper.  BUT they don't do so well with UV light and fade, not to mention don't always like salt if used during winter. Concrete can be super clean and simple.  Just lacks an real personality and ends up with cracks over time. 

Setting an all curver patio can be difficult to come up with a pattern. I ball parked pasted the intended cut area by a foot. In this photo keep in mind everything started in the at the steps in the very right corner. I set a 2'x2' stone first to start my pattern. Working against the house foundation was not perfectly flat did make the pattern a bit challenging.  (Always check your corners are square with a square or measure out one way 3ft make a mark then the other way 4ft then mark. Connect the two you should have 5ft. If not your not square.) Then as I went you can see I built out from the steps along the house keeping the 1/8th slope. Next I would start to build away from the house out 1/8th slope. Then the my pattern would the have to go to the left of the house in hopes that everything would still be square. I made cuts closest to the house and along the window wells. I also did my best to build with larger stones on the outsides for strength. Minimizing the chance of a little stone which often have a tendency to shift. 

The Electric Evolution 12" ($212.00) saw comes in handy for quick markings or precision cuts. This saw having an inline motor doesn't do nose dives when giving it throttle. Allowing for more control. I use a dust collector which catches cutting dust along with a large fan to safely remove other dust from the cutting area.

All areas of the future patio I removed all organic topsoil. This section closest to the home had the best sub base which the bedding stone sat directly on. Only to the outer edges did I have to build up with a road base and compact. The majority of the construction would be Sub base - compacted earth, Base CR8 compacted in little wetted 2 inch lifts.  A total of 4" inches as needed in most areas. Then bedding stone 3/8th wash aggregate #8 ranging from 1"-3". The Bluestone was on average 2". Short version - all areas cleared topsoil and organic material ie grass. Then built up since everything was lower. 

Steps - each and every one of these stones had to be hand shaped to achieve this high level of fit and finish for a dry laid stone construction. Each bluestone was saw cut then chisel faced then thermaled with a rose bud torch using propane and oxygen. 

Each course just like walling was built up and packed as needed. 

Just a few tools and equipment. The Dewalt dust collector in yellow to right dingo helping to bring in the larger sheets of bluestone treads. Tent to keep the heat down. Hi-Vis paint marking for the suggested patio layout by client.

The bluestone is one of my favorites to thermal. Mainly since you get the result you're hoping for after hitting the wet areas with the torch. This removes the clean smooth saw cut face giving a sand blasted look.  A more aesthetically pleasing look to the stone face. 

7" Grinder with the dust collector hooked up to it. Grinding and grinding with the dewalt diamond cup wheel.

Course by course, step by step. All dry laid stone foundation set on earth. 

Now family and friends are able to enjoy this living space all year round. Natural stone never goes out of style like man made "stones". A flexible and permeable system putting water back into the earth and not into stormwater systems. Less runoff as Ellicott City has seen time and time again in the last few years. Easily maintained with minimal adjustments that are typically needed in our region. Far more visual appeal than any other choice on the market today! 

Why spend money to have a backyard that looks like everyone else in the neighborhood. Let Rockin Walls create functional art that can be shared for generations. 

Quality not Quantity - One project at a time. Book now 443-291-9388 to transform your dreams into a functional living space.