Earlier this year, Stone World began conducting and publishing Online Forums with veteran stone fabricators at www.StoneAdvice.com. Our topics have ranged from templating to countertop and sink installation, and our latest forum on sawing techniques can be found on page 100 of this issue. We have been getting responses from stone experts around the country - from smaller shops with basic equipment to larger facilities with the latest stoneworking technology, and it seems that every response we get has a different, useful perspective on the matter.

In going through these forums, I was surprised at how forthright and open the people in this industry have been in explaining the trials and tribulations of stone fabrication. They have been very detailed and specific in explaining what methods and techniques have worked in the shop, and more importantly, what hasn't worked.

Of course, the sharing of information on the Internet isn't limited to the Stone World forums, and it isn't even limited to www.StoneAdvice.com. There are many sites on the Internet where fabricators can post a topic and receive solid, thorough advice from industry veterans, who are sharing their experiences in the shop and in the field.

In actuality, I shouldn't be surprised at the open exchange of information among stone fabricators, because it has been this way for some time now. Compared to other trades, members of the stone industry often seem to have a camaraderie with one another that includes the sharing of experiences and knowledge. Maybe it's because these fabricators are spread throughout the country and don't feel “competitive,” or maybe it's because there is enough stone fabrication work to go around, but whatever the reason, it's good to know that this sort of shared information is out there.

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for exchanging information without using a computer. When asked, many fabricators are willing to open their doors to their fellow industry members so they can get a look at their facilities. Looking at a new bridge saw or CNC machine? Ask the manufacturer for references where you can see the equipment in action. Odds are they will have a place - or several places - for you to visit.

Trade shows and seminars are another arena where stone industry members can learn from their peers. Very often, some of the best information comes not only from the speakers or presenters, but from the voices in the crowd. This is true of the sessions at trade shows such as StonExpo and Coverings, and also at the Stone World Fabrication Workshops. While the presenters are the ones at the head of the class, some valuable insight also comes from those in attendance.

So if you're looking to learn more about a stoneworking method, machine or product, ask questions - on the Internet and in person. Chances are there is someone out there willing to provide an answer for you.