Monday, April 30, 2012

Stone Work

Life is full of surprises and challenges.
These stones were dug out of our property. Rubble, too rounded and misshapen for much use I thought. I stored them for using in rock gardens and hardcore under foundations and floor.

This stone comes from a quarry close enough I can hear guys working. I felt I could not make a attractive wall with it because of my lack of skill and/or lack of tools.

I didn't pursue working with stone. (other than occasional retaining wall with mortar), but fate sometimes opens paths .

When we started to do groined (cross) vaults without shuttering or ribs I couldn't figure out how to cut the groin pieces so that they locked in. I couldn't get from pictures of finished groin vaults. In my web searches I came upon a discussion list "Contractor Talk", and specifically the masonry section. I asked a question about the cut in the groin, and although I didn't get my answer I discovered a forum that opened my eyes to the skill with rock masonry, a group willing to give advice and encouragement.

I would look with awe on the dry stack brick work done by the masons and posted there. I was intimidated with their skill.

Despite the insecurity I posted about the big cross vault. Some in this group were now in awe of that building. I started to get a few doubts about the premise: " I can't do rock work".

Next I start to get to know individuals , resulting with Matt Sevigny suggesting which tools I should purchase mail order from the USA, hand carried by my sister's family in June. They are carbide tipped and $60-100 a piece.

Sister's Family cancels the trip.

I am in hardware store buying roofing tar and as I know now what a stone chisel looks like (kinda) I notice some chisels way up on the wall in display. So I buy this for $5:

I have no idea what it is for , or if any good. So I send pic to Matt. Matt being the guy he is quickly tells me indeed it is a stone chisel and has hardened tip, not carbide but, and goes on to say.

"I think you will do great with those chisels. In fact, it may be the mire economic choice right now. Once you are comfortable cutting stone with a cold chisel, a carbide will be like a saw in your hands. Not really but you get my drift."

So I run outside and score a line on a stone, start working:

And all of a sudden it breaks in straight cut! Perfect enough for me. Made my day.

I didn't want to tempt fate and do more that day. So on May day 2012 while working on another project (Did I ever mention I jump and multi task?) I couldn't resist and went to bang some more to make better flag stones .
I have a habit of telling long stories to make a point. Usually dismal failure at making the point.

The point is we are going to work more with stone and make tighter and tighter joints until we can approach this work. I doubt I personally can reach that level but maybe someone else will.
Check this one.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

timbrel vault method for counter tops

Once we have done this over all except the sink, then we will poor a 5cm slab and finish with terazo .

the single arch is tight and it sounds like a drum when you hit it hard.

this was dicksons first go at timbrel.  On the other side is a 120cm span.  I now think we are ready for the timrel stairs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Broken dorodango

another view

We are re roofing the Brick kiln and the view from the roof of the groined vault house is good. The vault ends now all overhang 40cm at the top.

We have started on the kitchen counters, just the brick support and cabinet walls.

Next month we have a job to build the same building for a widow women's group.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dorodango (again!)

I know I promised to shut up about it, but I have noticed they have turned more brown from the black color. I enjoy having one at the office , to have and to hold. If you compare with my last Doro post you will notice.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Timbrel Foot Bridge

We needed to stop water running into our back yard and I needed more practice/experimenting with timbrel Arch before I do the stairs in the groined building.

We have this path of old pieces of bricks and water runs down into our back yard. Bernice wants a bridge here so water goes off to the left into a storm runoff ditch that dissipates the water into our front lawn. before it was running over the path and some down into the back yard. The bricks helped us out but it is now time to put in something that is cleanable. Around our house is too much mud and our lifestyle we track in mud. It sticks to the bricks. So i will also replace the brick pieces with irregular flagstone.

In my studies I have come upon timbrel or Catalan vaults. You build 3 layers of clay tiles in low arches or vaults. The first layer can be placed without form work using gypsum, which dries fast. Then next layer is using cement mortar and covers the first layer's joints. So like plywood. It is stronger than just one thick layer, and easier to hold the light "tiles" up. Gustavino used this method all over the east coast, ie Boston Public library.
Above I butter the tile (actually a thin brick) on two edges, tap it into place, hold a few seconds and then use a stick to lightly support the piece. I later learned that it helps to be generous with the gypsum mortar on inside and out. helps hold until you finish the arch. I used gypsum wall plaster, not sure how different it is but it worked. Note: the strength is not in the mortar at all, it only holds tiles in place.

Once I got the top pieces in to finish the arch it is stronger. you touch the end piece and they can fall, but once closed it immediately is firm.

Next I used the timbrel arch as form work and stood standard bricks over the whole thing and it is very strong.

Now to lay some stones over the top.