ST. CLOUD -- This week in our "Behind the Scenes" series on WJON, we show you the tremendous amount of labor that goes into making a headstone to remember those we lost.

Making a headstone today is not as simple as it was years ago. Rex Granite CEO Mike Zniewski says it feels more like a printing job then sculpting.

"Many years ago they were not like printing jobs they were like name, date, rose or no rose. Today it's just crazy," says Zniewski.

Zniewski says all his employees are experts in several highly trained skills to help make the process run smoothly.

"The stone cutter is a highly skilled position you just can't go out there and cut stone no matter how easy it looks out there," says Zniewski.

The work begins by cutting large blocks into slabs, which are polished and moved throughout the facility by cranes to begin the fine details.

"No body is lifting stones over 50 pounds, it's all done by crane," says Zniewski.

Once in place the stones are split or hand chipped into shape, then sand blasted or lasered where the face is put one.

But for more detailed work, the stone is sent overseas to highly trained sculptors.

"These guys do awesome work, they do face work, facial work, angels, roses," says Zniewski.

After the face is cleaned the stone is then ready for its final resting place.

"After they sand blasted and cleaned it's put on a truck and sent out," says Zniewski.

Zniewski says each stone is one of a kind and can take about 40 days to finally get it right.


Employee at Rex Granite begins hand chipping a headstone. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)