Home Improvement

Masonry Book

Building Stone Walls by John Vivian Building Stone Walls
by John Vivian

Paperback: 112 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.39 x 8.99 x 6.00
Publisher: Storey Books; (September 1986)
ISBN: 0882660748

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Amazon.com: Well, here it is: Basic tools, basic techniques, illustrations and photographs, and all the planning and safety instructions you will need to build a variety of stone walls. This is a book that can help you beautify your back yard with the grace and texture of natural stone, or launch you on a career of reconstructing the Inca Empire or building a second Great Wall of China if you get carried away. Up to you...

Customer Reviews
Excellent overview; good first book on building with stone, September 5, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Catskills, New York
Compact and concise, John Vivian's "Building Stone Walls" is a book that you can take with you while collecting (or buying) stone for your project, preparing the location, and building your wall. It offers a good overview of stacking stone, as well as a couple of less common ways of using stone (re-channeling moving water, for example). Best of all, it has some very practical, timesaving tips, particularly advice about when it is necessary to start with a trench and gravel base and when it is not.

With our particular project - building a retaining wall with field stone recycled from decaying fences around our house in the Catskills - we found that Vivian's book did not include quite enough detail. He only supplies a few paragraphs on the construction of a retaining wall, though to be fair, what information he gives is practical. By itself, however, this would not have been enough to guide us through the project.

For more detailed information on retaining walls, we turned to "The Granite Kiss", "Stone in the Garden" and "The Art and Craft of Stonescaping." Keep in mind, however, that the latter two books are more lavishly illustrated, a cross between a how-to book and a coffee-table book, so you probably would not take them out in the field.

That said, if you have never worked with stone, and want to get an idea of what is involved in planning and preparation, finding and moving stone, and building a wall, Vivian's book is a practical and inexpensive book to buy first. Five stars for useful, concise information in a very usable format.

worth it just for the philosophy, November 20, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from San Rafael, CA USA
This delightful, practical book is worth buying just for the first page of the introduction which is as simple, wise, and true as anything I have ever read -- about walls or about life. The book contains good, solid advice about technique and safety, and provides support for the right way of thinking and planning when you are about to build something that might stand for centuries.

Informative and fun to read; lots of good sense, October 10, 1999
Reviewer: Thomas Moertel from Pennsylvania
Building Stone Walls, as a book, works very well. The writing, typography, design, and illustration all support one another like well-chosen stones, and the result is pleasing: a simple, wonderful book. Even if you have no plans to build a stone wall, the book is worth reading because you can't help but share the author's enthusiasm as he describes the permanence of stone walls, talks about different kinds of stone, discusses tools and techniques, explains footings and drainage, provides advice for working with not-so-good stone, and shares myriad other pearls of wisdom. And, if you are planning on building a stone wall, or just have a fondness for stone, then by all means add this book to your library.

Reviewer: A reader from Hudson, Florida
Believe it or not, I read this book from the library of a house we rented in Kilcrohane, Ireland - we have always wanted to build stone walls and this book was an inspiration to begin in earnest. We live in Florida but that doesn't mean we can't have a beautiful stone wall like we saw in Ireland, or like they have in New England.

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