dad cuts stone caps

Cut Stone Caps for a Curved Retaining Wall

Over the past few weeks, my dad and I have been measuring and cutting the top pieces for the stone garden border we finished last month. Because the stone walls are so curved and windy, it took a lot of time and preparation to cut stone caps to fit over the paver blocks.

Materials Needed to Cut Stone Caps

  1. Stone Caps, and the stone edging already leveled and in-place
  2. Saw: We used a circular saw, but an end saw would be great if you have one
  3. Diamond Masonry blade (high performance), about $15-$20
  4. Pencils (lots of them, you will go through a lot)
  5. Straight edge (I used a 12″ level)
  6. Adhesive to glue the caps onto the wall.

How to Cut Stone Caps: The Process

Obviously, the process to cut stone caps for my landscape border would be much easier if I chose to do a straight line. Nothing wrong with doing a straight line of course, and you still may need to make a few cuts along the way… but my house is fairly boxy to begin with, so I went with a much more curvy, organic shape. There were a lot of stone caps to cut along the way. Curves are sexy.

stone edging collage

There are many ways to cut stone caps. This is merely one way. After dry fitting the stone caps, I decided to cut almost “every other” cap. Since I had to make so many cuts, it seemed like a good way to go. So, every opportunity that came up, I tried to cut one stone on 2 sides, rather than every making cuts to both sides of every cap.

Step 1: Set the adjacent caps

cut stone caps

Line up two stone caps right on your wall so that if you set another stone cap on top of them, both sides will have an overhang.

Step 2: Set the stone cap you need to cut.

cut stone caps

Set the stone cap you’d like to cut on top of those other caps you just laid out. Make sure that it’s overhanging on the left, right, front and back.

Step 3: Use a pencil to mark the underside of the stone cap you are cutting.

cut stone caps

  1. Mark the front and back on both sides, where the overhanging cap meets the other cap (so that you get a snug fit)
  2. Here you see the faint pencil lines that mark the shape of the stone
  3. Use a straight edge to connect the front and back lines
  4. Finally, you will have solid cut lines so you know where to cut the stone.

Step 4: Cut Stone Caps with your saw

dad cuts stone caps

Cutting the stone caps is extremely, extremely dusty. Use protective eyewear (seriously, even if you are watching your dad do it, you still need eyewear) and cut the caps with your pencil marks facing up. Some say that spraying a hose at the blade while using the saw will cut down on the dust. We just dealt with it. Just be aware of how messy/dusty this gets and if you have neighbors try to be respectful (don’t do this when they have clothes hanging on their line to dry)!

Step 5: Set the stone cap into place.

set the cut stone cap

Perfect fit. Depending on your curves, you may also need to go back and cut the back area to make it match up to the others. Overall, if you choose a style that has a little wear and tear / tumbled look to it, the minor imperfections become quite charming. I’m a firm believer that nothing is ever going to be perfect, and strive to set myself up for SUCCESS in my projects. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Step 6: Continue the process of cutting your stone caps.

cut stone cap

Slow and steady wins the race here. I took my time, and only did a few a day. Mostly because I didn’t want my neighbors to hate me with the dust (and it’s getting dark out much earlier so weekdays are pretty much a bust).  You can see that for the most part I had to cut every other cap. I just kept a slight overhang for some added interest on the “tiered” parts.  These are all dry fitted for now. I need to cut my grass.

Step 7: Glue the caps on.

After you’ve cut everything and dry-fitted it, you’ll be able to glue the caps on. This is probably a good idea if you want the wall to stay looking nice. I bump mine with the lawn mower all the time because I’m a bull in a China shop. So, the moral is… if you take the time to cut stone caps, take the time to glue stone caps. Use an adhesive like Liquid Nails landscape block, stone & timber adhesive.

 

In the end, this is how it turned out. What do you think? Don’ forget to check out my post on leveling and setting the stone border. You’ll need to do that, first.

cut stone caps

 

 

2 thoughts on “Cut Stone Caps for a Curved Retaining Wall”

  1. Thanks very much for this post. This is exactly what I was thinking about doing and this verified that it should work for me.

Leave a Reply