Words to know about monument making.


Alpha and Omega – “The Beginning and the End,” when used with Cross or some other symbol of Christ.  Meaningless without sacred symbol
Anchor – Symbol of Hope
Apex – The top of a die, cap, plinth or spire sloping upwards to a point from the four sides
Arms – The two horizontal projections on a cross, also referred to as Traverse bar
Ashlar – Small pieces of granite, rough or finished, which make up the side walls of a mausoleum
Axed – A surface dressed with a bush hammer


Barre Guild – Barre organization of quarries-manufacturers to maintain high standards of granite and craftsmanship
Base – The bottom part of a two-piece monument, or the lower parts under a die as the first base is always the bottom, the second base may be one tier higher, the third base one tier higher, etc.
Bas-relief – Sculpture in low relief. (Pronounced Baa-relief)
Bed –  The bed of a base applies to that  part of its top surface cut to fit the joint of  the die
Bevel – A slanting top. A bevel differs from a “slant” in that a “slant” refers to a sharply slanting face
Bleeding Heart – Symbol of Grief, Bereavement
Block – A large, rectangular piece of rough material
Blue Bell – Floral Symbol of Constancy, Sorrowful Regret
Blued – A surface darkened in color by a sand-blast abrasive
Bottom Jointed – Bottom of a die, or other connecting piece, squared up for setting on a base
Buffer Head – The circular disk used to buff or polish the material


Calla Lily – Floral symbol for Sympathy and Zeal
Canopy – An ornamental or roof-like covering supported by columns
Candelabrum – An ornamental candlestick having 3, 5, and 7 branches popular as a Jewish symbol for a woman
Cap – Usually applied to the top part of a three or four piece monument
Capital – The uppermost part of a column or pilaster which serves as a crown to the shaft
Carving – See: Shaped carving, shaped with screen background, plain or flat, plain or flat with screen background, skin, screen panel
Chamfer – Surface made by cutting away a square edge. A beveled edge
Check – A square cut member one inch or less. When larger than one inch they are called rabbets
Chipped – A defect, a small piece broken out of edge
Columbarium – A structure of vaults lined with recesses for cinerary urns; also, in plural, the niches in such a structure
Convex – Curving outward like a segment of a globe or circle-opposite to concave
Cross – Symbol of Christianity
Crown of Roses – Symbol for Reward for Virtue
Crucifix – Latin Cross with figure of Our Lord upon it
Crypt – Enclosure for a casket in a mausoleum–when preceded by a number, as 10-crypt or 2-crypt, it indicates the number of caskets which may be placed in a mausoleum; a vault wholly or partly underground, especially a vault under a church; a grave or tomb
Cubical Content – The cubic feet and inches in a die, base or block
Curbing – Fence or low enclosure for cemetery lot


Daffodil – Symbol of Desire, Regard
Daisy – Floral symbol of Innocence and Hope
Design – A photograph or an artist’s rendering of a memorial
Diameter – The length of a straight line passing through the center of a circle from side to side
Die – The main part of the monument
Dimension Piece – Rough material broken to size
Dove – Symbolic of The Holy Ghost
Dowel – A pin used on horizontal joints when necessary to bind pieces together
Drainage Holes – Holes drilled in vases and bases for carrying off water
Drill –  Tool used for boring holes in rough material
Drop – The distance between the lowest and highest points of an oval or bevel, serpentine, wash, etc.
Dust Off – See “frost”


Egg-and-Dart – A classic molding decorated with an egg-shaped ornament alternating with another in the form of a dart
Ends –  The right and left sides of a die as you stand facing it
Epitaph – An inscription or writing engraved on, or suited to be on, a tomb or monument


Face – The front of a monument or front of a slant-face marker
Facet – The flat raised surface between the flutings of an Ionic column
Flat Carving – See skin carving
Flute – A channel or curved section; often applied to one of a vertical series of such channels used to decorate columns and pilasters
Fluting – Decoration by means of flutes or channels
Front –  The face of a monument
Frost – To remove the polish by sand-blasting
Fruit and Vine – Symbolic of the Personality of Jesus Christ
Full Size Detail – A rawing of a memorial, or part of same, to the exact size ordered, showing carving, lettering or members as they will appear when finished


Gable Top – Top of a monument shaped like the roof of a house often called Two-way top
Garden Types – Benches, sun dials, flower urns and pergolas made for normal or landscaped surroundings, not necessarily for cemetery purposes
Gladiolus – Symbol of The Incarnation, Preparedness
Gothic Top – A convex top which rounds up to a peak on the center line
Granite – A hard igneous crystalline rock composed of quartz, feldspar, hornblende and biotite. Barre granite has same basic elements as contained in rubies and sapphires
Grapevine – Symbol of Religious Truths and Mysteries. The Church, Unity
Grass Marker – A flat top marker set approximately level with the ground


Hickey – A low, rectangular marker with bevel top of any desired finish, but with rock pitched sides
High Relief – Sculpture in which the projection of the figures from the background is half or more than half of  the natural circumference
Hollyhock – Symbol of Ambition
Horizontal Type – Wherein the longest side is the joint or bottom


Laurel – Floral symbol for Glory
Ledger – A flat memorial placed full length on the ground, which usually covers the whole grave
Lily – Floral symbol for Easter, Purity, Innocence, Heavenly Bliss, The Blessed Virgin
Lily of the Valley – Symbol of Return of Happiness
Line – A line marked on the surface by pitching, chipping, or sandblasting


Nosings On Markers –  The top of a slant face marker; also the perpendicular face surface below the slant.  On Monuments – A small member which projects beyond the  surface. It is usually found on the end of the die


Oak Leaf – Symbol of Courage, Strength, Endurance
Obelisk (or Spire) – A square or tapering shaft of impressive height
Ogee – A moulding consisting of two members, the one concave, the other convex. It has a profile in the form of the letter S
Olive Branch – Symbol of Peace
Ornament – A broad term used to describe carving, screening or other ornamentation
Outline Frosted Letter – Letters formed by sandblast lines on polished surface with the polish blown off between the lines
Oval Top Dies – With the top cut as a part or segment of a circle


Palm – Symbol of Victory, Spiritual Victory
Panel – A sunken, raised or flush compartment with a moulding or other margin, as in faces of monuments
Passion Flower – Symbol of The Anguish of the Crucifixion Faith
Pedestal and Square –  The base or foot of a column, statue, vase, or the like; the part on which an upright work stands. It consists of three parts, the base, the die and the cap
Perspective – (a) The art of drawing an object on a plane or curved surface exactly as it appears to the eye. (b) The apparent meeting of parallel lines as their distance from the observer increases
Pitching – The chipping of a rock surface to a line “Pitch to a line,” etc., or “rock pitch,” is a die or base that is pitched to a line in all or part rock finish
Plain Carving – See Skin Carving
Plain Die – A finished die without ornament or lettering
Plinth – A square block serving as a base for a statue, vase, etc.; the base of a column and often the second base of a three or four piece memorial
Poinsettia – Symbol of The Nativity-Christ
Polished – A high gloss finish, when followed by a number as Polished -1-or Polished -2-. The number refers to the number of sides polished
Poppy – Floral symbol of Sleep-Death when looked upon as sleep
Posts – Corner boundary markers for cemetery lot
Primrose – Symbol of Youth-Sadness
Proportion – The relation or adaptation of one portion to another or to the whole, as respects magnitude; a harmonizing relation between parts


Rabbet – Usually called a check when one inch or less wide and a rabbet if wider than one inch
Relief – The projection of figures, ornaments, etc. from a background. Kinds of relief are named according to the degree of projection, as high, bas-relief, etc
Return – The continuation of a wall or molding in a different or opposite direction
Rift –  The direction of easiest splitting in a granite mass, or the two parallel surfaces of a block lying in the direction of easiest splitting the vertical surface at right angles to the head grain
Rolls – A short column placed in a horizontal position with ends finished to any specification
Rope – Symbol of Eternity
Rose – Floral symbol for Love, Wisdom, Beauty
Rosette – An ornament in the form of a conventional rose, or other design of circular form, used as a decoration
Rough Stock – Material as it comes from the quarry before any finishing has been done
Round Raised Letters – Letters raised in a half round above the surface
Rounds – An edge that is rounded
Rubbing – The impression of a carved, lettered or contour surface obtained by rubbing with crayon over paper when applied to surface


Saw Block – A block of rough material large enough to run through a saw
Scotia – A concave moulding
Screen – Large monument suggestive of a chancel or sanctuary screen
Screen Carving – A process of sandblasting through a screen resulting in symmetrical deep holes and lines like a honeycomb sometime called lace carving
Scroll – A rotary head with a series of concentric rings, used as a grinding tool when “ironing”or “emerying”
Scroll – An ornamentation generally used in Christian art to symbolize immortality.
Sculpture – Carving in full relief, statuary, bas-relief
Seam – A very fine crack
Seats – A type of cemetery memorial, exedra bench
Serif – The swelled ends of classic letters, generally called swell-headed letters
Serpentine – A reverse curved surface, derived from the movement of a serpent, often called Ogee top
Shamrock – Symbol of The Holy Trinity, St Patrick. Emblem of Ireland
Shaped Carving – Carving like sculpture
Screen Background – Same as above with screen background
Shell Rock – A rock surface irregularly broken in deeper and longer scallops than in regular rock finish
Shot – Spherical grinding material of iron or steel used to level surfaces-used in various sizes
Shoulder – A member or projection raised above the surface similar to nosing
Sides – See “ends.” Sink-Sunk -Sinkage- Referring to lowered surfaces
Slab – A strip of granite axed or polished on one or two long faces with the edges in the rough state and    usually 8”, 10”, or 12” thick
Slant – An extreme bevel usually with a nosing at the top and bottom- as slant marker
Square – A tool used to square up stone
Square Raised Letters – Letters raised above the surface, edges of letter square
Star – Symbol of Birth or Life
Steeled – A term sometimes used by competitive manufacturers to describe a finish somewhat similar to Memokraft
Stock – Rough material
Straight Edge – A tool of wood or steel with a true edge on long narrow side used to check accuracy of surfaces
Streak – A fine line of imperfect grain, either darker or lighter than the whole
Sword – A symbol of Power, Justice, Warfare, Fortitude
Symbolism – The language and meaning of flowers and other signs


Taper – A narrowing shape in monument design, the taper usually is toward the top
Thistle – Symbol of Independence-Austerity-Emblem of Scotland
Tomb – A large sarcophagus type memorial with the center excavated to receive a casket or caskets
Top – The top surface of a die or monolith
Torch – (Upright). Symbol of Eternal Life. (Inverted). Symbol of Death or Atheism
Tulip – Floral symbol of Charity Love
Turned Work – Memorial pieces circular in shape, rolls, columns, balls, urns


Urn – A vase solid or dished to receive flowers. Preferably urn if solid-vase if hollowed out to receive flowers. Symbol of Destiny-Eternal life in the hands of the Divine Potter


V-sunk letter by hand-tool – Letter sunken by hand-tool
Vase – See Urn
Vertical Joint – A vertical surface made ready to join another vertical surface
Vertical Type – Symmetrical upright monument
Vestibule – An entrance or passage hall next to the outer door of  a mausoleum
Violet – Floral symbol for Modesty, Faithfulness


Wash – The exposed part of the upper edges of a base when given a slope to shed water. A narrow beveled surface
Water Lily – Symbol of Charity
Wild Rose – Symbol of Love, Simplicity
Wings – Supporting stones that extend from either side of a central die, usually to form a memorial of the screen type
Wreath – Symbol of Remembrance.

  • Of Roses: Heavenly bliss,
  • Of Laurel: Reward, Victory
  • Of  Olive: Peace
  • Of Ivy:  Conviviality
  • Of Oak: Strength
  • Of Bay: Mourning
  • Of Willow: Bereavement, Mourning
  • Of Yew: Immortality
Better Business Bureau
Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Michigan Funeral Directors Association
Indiana Funeral Director's Association
Monument Builders of North America