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Stonework Courses

As the school winds down after 43 years, Ron has just added an encore 3-day stonemasonry workshop  July 20-22, with arrival late Thursday, July 19th and running until mid-afternoon Sunday. $300.

During these workshops, usually one per summer, students learn how to construct various structures utilizing stone, incorporating techniques that may be carried over into building or covering foundations, barbeque fireplaces, walls, ponds, and waterfalls.

The 2012 session built a pond and small waterfall. Shown is Andy Burton of Minnesota.



May 2007 stonework students: Jennifer James (Illinois), Tony Chmiel (Wisconsin), Pat Simeon (Ohio), Ted Laufenberg, Wisconsin.

May stonework 2

May 2006 participants, l-r: Gary Barker, Jon Hendrickson, Lyle Sorenson, Shane Fiore, Beth Cronin, Sam Billmeier, Tom Jensen, Dr. Gary Carlson

Topics covered:

  • stone selection (size, color and shape)
  • moving and lifting stones
  • digging, hauling, and screening of appropriate sand and gravel
  • mixing concrete and mortar
  • foundation footings
  • reinforcement
  • stone placement in terms of design and structure
  • laying up stone
  • working with the rocks, in most cases, without splitting them
  • cleaning rocks with abrasives, detergents and chemicals
  • resources: vendors selling materials

No previous experience is assumed for these workshops. They are specifically for beginners – do-it-yourselfers, not experienced masons. Toward the end of the course, we spend part of a day on field trips – viewing examples of interesting stonework around the area.

Students must provide their own construction hardhat, shovel, garden or mixing hoe, garden rake, small trowel, wire and scrub brush, rubber boots, kneepads, heavy rubber gloves and protective eye, mouth, and ear wear.

A resource and reading list is provided before the course.



Accommodations in log cabins for participants is provided without charge. Couples will have their own cabin (more information on lodging).

Required tools for the stonework courses:

  1. Measuring tape – any length

  2. Mason’s line and line level

  3. Hammer

  4. Carpenter’s level – any length

  5. Plastic tarp to cover your tools

  6. Rubber gloves – heavy work style

  7. Leather gloves

  8. Lots of old clothes – no shorts or sweatpants

  9. Rubber boots – preferably with sturdy toe

  10. Hardhat and eye and ear protection

  11. Kneepads

  12. Small trowel

  13. standard wire brush (2)

  14. Long-handled scrub brush (2)

  15. Shovel – long handled – for digging and scooping cement

  16. Garden rake

  17. five-gallon pails – for your tools (3)

  18. Optional: wheelbarrow (only if you have extra room), 5-8 lb. sledgehammer, brick or geologist’s hammer, handsaw, grubaxe or pick.

Personal gear (but not safety gear) is the same list as for log building students

Great Lakes School of Log Building 
1350 Snowshoe Trail,  Isabella, MN 55607

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