(One of my many practical skills)
Having a monumental mason as my father made it natural that I learned at least a little bit about stone. In fact, being eager to learn and wishing to make extra pocket money while at school gave me the impetus to learn and do as much as possible. While I did not learn how to cut and carve letters into stone, or 'lettering' as it is called, I did learn every other skill in respect to the working and cutting of stone, including forming the complex shapes required for headstones.
Learning about stone and rock in geology at school and about stone in masonry related to my father's work made my knowledge of stone as natural as learning what one's parents look like. And that is regardless of being called 'Rock'!
The time of my learning stonemasoning was during the 1960's. The methods of working were traditional, and the only large scale production took place when large circular saws were used to cut the blocks of stone down in size. These cuts provided very flat surfaces nevertheless scored by saw marks that could be quite deep and which required 'polishing' in order to obtain a smoth surface as opposed to a sawn finish. The diamond circular saw blades were very expensive and so the saws were used relatively minimally. One of the main differences between then and now is that material and tool costs have reduced dramatically relative to labour costs, to now the saws are used as much as possible. Not only that, but computer controlled machines are now used for most masonry carving and profiling just as C.N.C. (Computer Numerical Control) is used in engineering and other manufacturing.
I mentioned above how, once stone is sawn, a process of polishing is required in order to remove the machine, or sawn, finish, which is too unsightly for visible surfaces.
Polishing: There were two methods of polishing stone, one a very manual and the other using a machine, which over timme had come to be generically known as the 'Flextol'. The company who manufactured these circular grinding machines, driven from an electric motor hung on a sliding track above head height, and driven through a flexible drive shaft, and which gave its name to the most popular machine polishing tool of this type, I am surprised to find still manufactures most of the product line for stone and stonemasonry - Flextol.
(To be extended ..... )