Due to the complexity of the stonemason’s craft and the fact that there is a wide range of works related to it, in many cases there is a certain level of specialization of the craftsman in one field or another. This wide range of works include: the manufacture of pieces in the workshop, including ornamental, architectural and sculptural ones, the placing of such elements in newly-built constructions and rehabilitations, the restoration of stone elements, etc. Raul Martínez has specialized in the manual carving of whichever type of stone element: whether that is a purely artistic one or one related to architecture and construction (voussoirs for arches, different pieces for hórreos, preparation of ashlars or pieces for whatever type of stone wall, balusters, all types of mouldings, bases, columns, shafts, capitals, ornamental elements linked to architecture such as pinnacles, crosses, fountains, benches and street furniture, etc.).
In the more complex works he carries out, his intervention consists in the manufacture of a series of pieces at the workshop but not the final placing of them, even if, to check that it has in fact been manufactured correctly and that everything is according to the original design, there is an assembly check which is carried out at the workshop.
He works in an artisanal way and basically follows the same method that has been used throughout history in the carving of stone. However, he has introduced some innovations in terms of tools to ease his work (such as the radial saw, the pneumatic hammer, auxiliary elevation methods, etc.) since one cannot forget that apart from it being a material of great hardness (he mainly works with granite), its carving requires a lot of time and physical effort. In no case do these tools substitute the traditional tools which stonemasons have always used when carrying out their work and which give the final piece greater quality. The main process continues to be a manual one, since none of the parts of this process have been automatized with exception of the cutting of the blocks, thus, creating unique pieces which are a proof of the expertise and the effort of the stonemason.
In the development of these works, it is very important to know how each of the tools work, that is, one must bear in mind the thickness the stone needs to have in order to be able to work on it correctly with a certain tool. The elaboration of a piece always parts from an idea, a previous design which is reflected in a very exact way in the different plans. When one needs a large number of equal pieces for a certain commission (examples of this being the steps of a spiral staircase, the voussoirs of the wall of that same staircase or of a lighthouse, the base of paired columns), then what they use is real size templates to ensure that the marking of each piece is correct and to minimize the differences that could appear between them when their carving is finished. These templates (usually carried out in zinc sheets) are essential, for example, in the elaboration of arches and vaults. The plans and templates are therefore indispensable elements in the elaboration of the pieces. In this design process counter-templates can also be elaborated (usually made of wood veneer) to help verify, especially in the case of complex mouldings, that the final piece is true to the original design.
After this first step, the actual carving of the element is carried out, trechando (to define the draft lines/margins in order to safeguard the edges) with the aid of a chisel all the lines which define the outline of the piece. Then they make sure all the planes are correctly elaborated, continuously checking the work with a measuring stick and a square.
Apart from the carving of the architectural pieces, in many cases they also manufacture the system of assembly of some elements.
When building walls, they first clean the ground and they check the site layout following the measurements in order to proceed with the foundations. Once the foundations have been carried out the wall is erected, starting always from the corners and paying special attention to its perfect setting. To erect the successive courses, they aid themselves by placing levelling metallic rods at the right angles, fixing them to the ground and then using ropes which demarcate each of the courses. To give a greater strength to the wall, every two or three pieces of each course they add bond stones.
He started his training to become a Master Stonemason at the Escola de Canteiros in Poio, Pontevedra, (2011-2016), with a learning method which was basically all about the practice, in a workshop. Currently, he is training to obtain the Professional Certificate in the speciality of Placing Natural Stone. It is a course of about 800 hours delivered by the master Luis Vázquez Guntín.
Moreover, he has an MA in History of Art, specializing in Artistic Heritage (University in Santiago de Compostela, 2005-2010).