engraved stone

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yorkstone is one of those quintessential English stones that everyone has heard about but how many people actually know what a very special stone Yorkstone really is? Of all the natural stones quarried in the UK York stone is probably the most versatile. Used for paving, house signs, headstones, fireplaces and all types of buildings from churches to office blocks. Yorkstone is now increasingly the stone of choice for quality house signs.
Yorkstone is a sedimentary Limestone, that is a stone laid down from the sediment of long disappeared lakes and seas. This process means that all sedimentary limestone's are to a greater or lesser degree layered or stratified. The strata on stones such as Portland or Bath stone are deep and each layer or strata can produce a different class of stone some with fine clear stone, some with heavy fossilised shell. However, York stone is laid down in fine layers of just a few millimetres thick per layer. . It is this layering that gives Yorkstone much of its character. The stone is constructed in layers or strata, that can be seen in the edge of the stone. This forms a dense hard stone with greater tensile strength than most other limestone's.
It is this tensile strength and hardness that makes York stone so suitable as paving. Yorkstone paving slabs have an incredible capacity for wear and tear, and today old York paving originally laid down a hundred or more years ago is a prized and expensive re-claimed commodity.
The colour of new Yorkstone tends to be mainly buff or gold, but old Yorkstone was commonly available in greys and dark browns as well as a true blue! This variety of colour and hue made Yorkstone the material of choice for fireplace builders in the eighties. As a young man I built hundreds of these fireplaces, sadly out of fashion now of course. Yorkstone is ideal for engraving as it seldom shows sign of the fossil shell that can mar the finish of other limestone's and the colour generally remains fairly uniform throughout the slab or block though can darken when a new layer or strata is cut through. The density of the grain means that engravings and carvings are crisp and sharp.
This uniformity and consistency is one of the reasons Yorkstone has always been valued for its suitability for engraving. It has been used for generations for headstones and today is being increasingly chosen for engraved house signs and commemorative plaques.
Yorkstone has other attributes less well known, for instance did you know that it is an excellent fine abrasive? All stone masons yard and workshops used to have a block of Yorkstone and a large hand turned Yorkstone wheel for sharpening chisels. Lubricated with water the stone was often the only sharpening stone available. Another use was to finish off the leaded lettering on headstones. After the lead had been hammered into the finished letters, they were rubbed over with a piece of York stone and water, this flattened and blackened the lead at the same time.

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