I'm looking for information on traditional masonry techniques from the Ozarks region, known as field stone or field rock construction. As late as the 1960's, people around the Ozarks were building houses out of irregular chunks of rock that they would often pick out of the soil on the homesite itself, set into concrete. Here's the type of thing I mean.
An architectural historian has written up a really excellent historical article on this style of construction, but I am seeking something more technical on methods and materials. Any leads on resources or thoughts from your own experience would be appreciated.
I'm interested in this history for its own sake, but I am also exploring my options for a project. I have a roughly 4' x 20' retaining wall I need to replace in a challenging location. On one side the wall is immediately next to our concrete driveway, while on the other side it joins a neighbor's retaining wall and is never more than 4' from their property. We have abundant access to typical Ozarks field rock (melon-sized chunks of limestone and dolomite), which wouldn't seem to be suitable for dry stacking or a mortared wall, especially in a high-pressure location like that. Setting them in concrete a la the old field rock construction seems more possible, but I'm not sure. It may be that I'll have to go with more of a typical commercial system like concrete block, but I'm at least going to learn what I can about options for using our local stone.
Could you do something along the lines of this flint wall the core of the wall is made of something solid, so that could be concrete or in the example it was breeze blocks, traditionaly it was often chalk. and then the flints or field rocks in your case are mortared over the top.
Matt, I'm a mason by trade, and have built a lot of stone walls. This craft is an art and a science. A stone retaining wall like you are hoping to build will take a lot of work, but if you have "the eye" and have the time on your hands, why not give it a shot? You will need to first pour a concrete footing or build the wall on bedrock. After you have a level footing, start laying stone! It's nice to have a big pile so you have lots of shapes and sizes to choose from. You will use Type S mortar for your matrix. I like the mortar pretty dry, where you can form a ball of it in your hand. From there just start stacking the stones on top of each other like pieces in a puzzle. I like to build ramps when I'm building a retaining wall. By fitting the stones close together you will have minimal mortar joints which is aesthetically optimal. Some people use a stone hammer and chisel to shape the stone so they fit together better. Make sure you have a good 4 ft level so your wall stays plumb and level on the top. Beautiful stone work probably will take some time and practice to attain (unless your a natural) but keep at it and you will get a wall built! Maybe there is a stone mason in your community that would work with you for a day or two to get you started? Anyway - good luck!
P.S. - there are probably some Youtube videos out there that teach lessons on building with stone and mortar
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