The purpose of having a headstone is to ensure that the deceased is remembered long after he or she has lived. Headstones are used by the Jews, Christians as well as Muslims when they bury their dead. There are different materials which are used for manufacturing the stones, and the facts, figures and personal messages etched on the stone last only if the stone is made of a sturdy and non-porous material. The polish and the cutting of the stone also decide its longevity.
- Headstones are chosen based on various factors, especially the funeral. And the most important of course is the budget. Then it depends on what is the art work that needs to be done or the carving that needs to be done, the material that is preferred as well as the longevity of the material.
- In order to manufacture a headstone, the appropriate stone needs to be cut from the rock bed by drilling with pneumatic drills and long steel bits, which have teeth to cut at the core of the rock.
- Another method of cutting the stone from the rock bed is by jet piercing. In this, a rocket motor with steel shaft expels pressurized hydrocarbon fuels and air and that helps to break away the stone.
- The most efficient method, and one that does not waste any of the stone, is by a water jet which cuts the stone.
How the headstones are made form rock?
After the rock is cut, it is removed from the rocked and sold to manufacturers. Though some quarries do this as well, it is most common for them to send this rock to manufacturers who specialize on cutting the stone further.
- The manufacturers cut these rocks into smaller slabs which are of different thicknesses from 8 to 12 inches. This is done with rotary diamond saws. These slabs which are cut are then passed under different number of rotating heads which have different levels of grit.
- The first few are more abrasive the last ones merely buff. These polish the stones till they are smooth and glossy. The polished stone is then cut as per the shape required. This is done either manually with a chisel and hammer or else with a multi blade saw. After this, again the surfaces are polished again. If intricate patterns are required, wire saws are used.
- Fine etching as well as minute details needed on the headstones is done manually. the entire process of finishing, etching and sandblasting takes at least two to three days to complete the piece of headstone, before it is actually sold.
- Liquid glue is applied and rubber stencils are applied over the glue and then it is covered with carbon backed design which has been laid out. The carbon transfers to the rubber stencil this design which the draftsman has prepared.
How do the workers make the designs after this?
Letter cutting and engraving is done through either automated or manual sandblasting. After all this the stone is sprayed with steam to get rid of any stencils or glue and again polishing is done and then it is covered in paper or cellophane to protect the finishing. The headstone is then packed in crates and sent to the funeral director.
The headstones go through quality control processes at each stage during the manufacturing process. Each slab is checked for the consistency of color in the initial stages. The design, etching methods and the ways of sandblasting vary from one headstone maker to another, but the whole idea is to make the headstones stand out as the best ones. If there are any chips seen or scratches seen or any fissures, then the stone is removed from the manufacturing line. Strict quality control is maintained under professional supervision.