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Stone cutters process or shape crude and rough pieces of rocks into desirable shapes, sizes and patterns for the purpose of building and creating structures. An occupation that existed since the dawn of civilization, stone masonry was born when people began fashioning homes for themselves built with mud, straw or stone. During the Neolithic Age, people learned how to use fire and subsequently created quicklime, mortars and plasters. By using these to cement stones together, they went on to create buildings, structures and sculptures. Some of these structures are still wholly or partly standing today.
It is a fact that stone masonry is as ancient as civilization itself. Throughout the ages, these impressive works of architecture and engineering of the ancient world were heavily dependent upon the work of stone masons. From the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, to the Persian palaces and Greek temples and down to the Roman Colosseum, the significant contribution of stone masonry to these engineering marvels is plainly evident.
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Stone cutters or stone masons build stone walls, floors, interiors and exteriors of private homes, buildings and other structures, such as stone piers, arches, sills, steps and hearths. They work with both natural and artificial stones. The natural stones are marble, granite, sandstone and limestone while the artificial stones are made of cement and cement mixed with marble chips and other masonry materials. Masons are highly skilled worker who meticulously follow the blueprint of an architectural or engineering design of a building or other structures in construction.
A stone cutter is a broad term that includes any or all of the following: stone mason, brick mason, block mason or simply mason. Stone masonry workers are further subdivided into several specialized area of expertise, including:
Quarrymen split masses of rocks underground and haul it to the surface.
Stone sawyers cut rough blocks of rocks into cubes for further processing.
Banker masons carve stones into intricate geometrical patterns for use in a building's architectural design.
Stone carvers sculpt stones into artistic forms such as figurines or abstract designs.
Fixer masons are specialists who fix stone into buildings using a lifting tackle, and cement it in place using mortars, grout, cements, etc.
Memorial masons carve tombstones and inscriptions.
Masons usually work in and around construction sites. Being outdoors most of the time, they are often prey to poor weather and climate condition. Generally, they work forty hours a week and earn extra pay for overtime, holidays and weekend work. Their task is physically taxing and demanding as they often lift heavy materials, and stand, bend or kneel for long periods of time. The workplace is also hazardous as they usually work from an elevated position, and falling from heights or scaffolding is not uncommon. Even lifting and moving heavy objects could cause back pains and other musculoskeletal problems.