Posted on

What came out of April’s 4-Day Walling Skills Intensive?

A vertical wall end back into the wall.

The week of April 12 broke beautiful for our first-ever Walling Skills Intensive.  Two women and three men joined instructors Michael Weitzner and Sam Brakeley, all with the intention of learning what they need to know to master the Level 2 hurdle. What DO you need to know and be able to do?

  • apply the basic principles of dry stone walling to building a strong  wall end
  • sort stone in order to efficiently rebuild a structurally sound cheek end
  • set batter frames and stringlines properly to create good lines, straightness, and even wall faces
  • create the conditions that result in a vertical wall end
  • choose appropriate stones for a wall end foundation
  • determine when and how to shape stones quickly and carefully
  • properly tie a wall end back into the wall
  • set coverbands and/or copes securely
  • accomplish the task to a high-degree of fit and finish in a seven-hour period

We offer the Walling Skills Intensive (WSI) to help people gain the needed skills to pass the Dry Stone Walling Association DSWA Level 2 Professional certification test. Participants practiced building to the required standards and speed. Two of the five wallers were ready for a practice test on day 4. The rest continued building their knowledge and skill in order to attempt the test when the time is right. Instructors evaluated the course as it is currently designed and are recommending revisions before we offer the WSI next year.

Key take-aways:

  • People who come to this workshop with considerable professional experience and a good number of wall ends under their belt will be ready for the culminating practice test.
  • People who come with less experience of building wall ends will get what they need to go out and build a lot more cheekends properly.

Rules of thumb:

  1. Build at least ten cheekends before you attempt the Level 2 test.
  2. Work with others who have already developed professional-level skills.

Our course description says, “Get a mentor to help you gain certification.” The Stone Trust has long sought to establish a mentoring program. We have written it into our 2021-2023 strategic plan and are actively working to get it up and running. If you are a certified professional waller interested in mentoring, please contact

The Stone Trust provided funding to two of the participants through the Entry-Level Professional Pathway Scholarship established early this year. As demand for training in dry stone walling and stone work increases across North America, we see our scholarship program as one means for accomplishing mission and vision. To accomplish that requires building a broad and deep pool of instructors, all of whom must at a minimum have achieved Level 2 certification. Thanks very much to generous funders of our scholarship fund. To find out how to contribute, please call or email Amy-Louise Pfeffer, Executive Director:, 802-952-8600.

Thank you, too, to Walling Skills Intensive participants and instructors, all of whom brought commitment and fortitude to an endeavor that culminated in a day fit for Noah on his ark! With all that hard work in the pouring rain, instructors forgot to give out t-shirts. Look for them in the mail.