How To Level Tilted Tombstones

You can level tilted tombstones easily using the method described here. We will  walk through the steps to lifting and leveling a grave marker that has sunk into the ground.  Over time headstones tend to settle and begin to lean or tilt.  This can happen as quickly as one or two years or it may take a number of decades.

Safety

When working on monuments, gravestones or headstones, remember that they are normally extremely heavy.  Granite can weigh 168 lbs per cubic foot.  That adds up really quickly when you have large blocks that you are working with.  It’s not uncommon for tombstones to weigh thousands of pounds.

Be careful to ensure that you and those you work with understand how to be safe when working with such large pieces of stone.  We keep hands, arms and feet always out of areas where the stone could fall and pin or crush them.

Tools

Due to the fact that grave monuments are often so heavy and difficult to lift, the use of purpose built tools is recommended.  In our case we are going to be using the Tombstone Jack™.  Other tools that can be used include cranes, hoists and pry bar systems.  We will also use a number of common tools that you likely already have: shovel, level, gravel, various pieces of wood.

Process: Level Tilted Tombstones

Now let’s run through all the steps you will need to follow to straighten your tilting headstone.

Identify

Identify the tombstone that you are going to level.  This can be any tilted grave marker if you are working directly for the cemetery operator or if you are doing some work for a specific family, ensure that you correctly selected the grave monument that they are requesting to be leveled.

Leaning headstone in cemetery
Tombstone in need of leveling

Choose lifting means

As mentioned before we are going to use the Tombstone Jack™ for it’s ease of use, safety and capacity.  To level any tombstone you are going to have to get it up so that you can place leveling material under it.  Since this step is going to be the one that determines how much “work” you actually have to do; choose wisely!

Lift

Once you have your lifting means in place you will need to secure the headstone and lift it.  Using the Tombstone Jack™ you have two options when it comes to lifting.  You can use the lifting feet or the lifting clamps.

This is a picture of the Tombstone Jack™ lifting feet.

Lift feet for the Tombstone Jack
The Tombstone Jack with the lift feet attached and ready to work.

This is the Tombstone Jack™ lifting clamps.

Clamps use to lift a headstone with the Tombstone Jack
The Clamp system for the Tombstone Jack

When deciding which to use there are several things to consider.  Look at the stone you would be clamping to.  Is it fairly smooth and without cracks?  What is the estimated weight of the monument/headstone?  If the weight is under 3000 lbs and the surfaces where the clamps would touch are solid then go with the Tombstone Jack™ lifting clamps.  If not use the Tombstone Jack™ lifting feet.

Because of these factors we decided to use the lift feet.  We used a shovel to remove several inches of dirt from the sides of the gravestone so that we could place the feet under the monument.

Tombstone Jack lifting headstone
Young man lifts one end of headstone

Gravel to level

Once we had the monument lifted, we placed several inches of gravel under the monument.  We used a bucket to pour it under the gravestone and then we used a piece of wood to spread it around and make it level.  This is an important safety tip, to ensure that you never place your hands, arms or feet under a monument that has been raised above the ground.

Tombstone Jack lifts so you can apply gravel to level
Mike is using a safe method to spread gravel under a headstone

Place down and measure

Lower the gravestone down onto the gravel and use a level to check and ensure that it is level.  If it is not, raise it back up and place more gravel to achieve your desired level.  Once the gravestone is reading as level, you can remove the Tombstone Jack™.

Clean-up

Put your tools and the Tombstone Jack™ away and stand back and admire your work.  It feels good to level tilted tombstones and have a nice level grave marker when you started with one that was so in danger.

Level Tilting Tombstones - Success!
The Tombstone Jack was used to level this headstone.

In conclusion using the Tombstone Jack™ makes the work of repairing, restoring and preserving our loved ones final resting places something that anyone can do.  Most of all you can see you don’t need any special skills or ability to level tilted tombstones.  You can start giving your community and your loved ones the respect you have for them.

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