Level IV – Master Craftsman DSWA Certification

This certificate is in two parts and must be applied and paid for separately. Candidates must hold a Level III / Advanced Certificate before applying for Master Craftsman Certificate Part A (Features).  Part A must be marked and passed before moving on to Part B (Timed test including one chosen feature).  Candidates must obtain the minimum mark in each section to achive this certificate.

Part A:

For Part A the candidate must build at least 325 sq feet of wall (measured on one face) including 3 of the specified features.  The wall does not need to be continuous, but each feature must be built within at least 54 square feet of wall.  The work is built on the candidates own time, not under the presence of the examiners.

The test wall must be the unaided work of the candidate, and must encompass examples of at least two different geologic types of stone and demonstrate at least two different building styles (ie: coursed and random).

Each feature (and associated wall) has a maximum score of 12.  The minimum passing score is a 9. Thus the total maximum score for Part A is 36 and the minimum passing score is 27.

The candidate must pay the application and fee to the Stone Trust prior to beginning work on the features.  The candidate must then submit at least 3 photos of each feature showing work in progress.  The features must be completed at least 6 weeks prior to the next test day, at which time the features will be examined.

The features required are unlikely to all lie within a continuous section of wall.  Multiple sections of wall can used to add up to the needed square ft.  The candidate should ensure that these are within reasonable travelling distance of each other. Work must encompass examples in at least two different stone types.

The Master Craftsman examination Part A can be part of a normal work situation/job.  However, the craftsmanship displayed throughout must all be to the highest standards expected for a Master Craftsman test.  In this situation, the off-site option must be applied for at the relevant rate.

Allowable Features:

• A round end OR round corner OR right-angle corner;
• A set of at least 4 steps, OR squeeze-stile; OR step-stile.
• An arch, OR a square pillar OR a round pillar
• A wall going up at least a 30 degree slope.


General Specs for each feature:

Round End

•  Both sides of wall parallel (i.e. wall maintains same width along it, no batter)
•  Tight, even, smooth curve
•  No vertical joints or loose stones
•  Excellent finish for wall, tight joints throughout

Round corner

•  Very smooth, tight, even curve to both sides, no change in line
•  Smooth even batter to the wall on both sides
•  Very tightly built wall with very few wide joints
•  Cope stones correctly chosen and placed to fit tightly around curve

Right angle corner

•  Long stones used in alternating directions to tie both the outside and inside corners
•  Even batter both inside and outside
•  Cope stones well-fitted and tight, large block cope at the corner.
•  Neat tight placement of stones with few open joints and no running joints.


•  At least 4 steps
•  Excellent selection of stone
•  Tread slightly overhangs riser
•  Tread stones well secured at side and back of tread
•  Pitch slightly forward to shed water
•  All risers the same height, no more than 8 ¾”
•  Neat finish to sides, no open or running joints

Squeeze Style

•  Cheek ends must be excellent
•  Base step level, firm, and tied into both sides
•  Upright flag (if used) tied well into wall
•  Upright flag (if used) not too high to step over
•  Just enough space for boot to pass though
•  Large end copes firmly set (block)

Step Stile

•  At least 3 steps, number appropriate to height of wall
•  Steps evenly spaced, no more than 7 ¾” rise
•  Steps protrude 8”- 9 ¾” on each side of the wall
•  Steps align so boots will not slip through
•  Flat surface on top of each step
•  All stones secure


•  Arch needs to be at least 2 feet tall to the bottom of the keystone
•  There must be regular walling above the arch
•  The stones must be very well selected and very well fit togther
•  There should be no vertical joints on the inside or side faces of the arch.

Square Pillar

•  A total height of at least 52 inches (4ft 4in)
•  A total face area of at least 39 square feet
•  The stones must be very well selected and very well fit togther
•  The corners must be very tightly fit and tied back well
•  The faces must be smooth and even (can be battered or vertical)

Round Pillar

•  A total height of at least 52 inches (4ft 4in)
•  A total face area of at least 39 square feet
•  The stones must be very well selected and very well fit togther
•  Neatly dressed stones that fit tight to keep an even smooth curve
•  The faces must be smooth and even (can be battered or vertical)

Wall going up 30 degree or steeper slope.

•  At least 54 square feet (measured on one side)
•  Foundations must be set stepped to follow ground
•  The correct number of steps in the foundation for the slope of the ground
•  Coursing and stones must be level
•  Neatly dressed stones that fit tightly together
•  The faces must be smooth and even (can be battered or vertical)

Click Here for Upcoming Test Dates and Registration

Part B:

For Part B the candidate must take apart (strip out) and rebuild 54 square feet of wall including one of the above features in a 7 hr period.  The wall and feature must be built to a high standard despite the time limit.  The feature and the building and hearting of the wall have the hightest point values.  The maximum available score is 87.  The minimum passing score is 65, and a minimum score must also be met for each criteria.  Candidates for this test should be very familiar with the Craftsman Certification booklet produced by the DSWA, available here.