Wednesday, September 11, 2019

2019 Fall Newsletter, Stones teach life lessons. Are you listening?

Not on our mailing list? Sign up today - Email Mark@RockinWalls.com

Stones teach life lessons.
Are you listening? 

We are pleased to announce our last freestanding wall workshop for 2019.

Limited space! Don't delay - sign up today!


http://rwtrainingcenter.blogspot.com/p/workshops.html
Oct 19-20, 2019 - 2 day (Saturday/Sunday) Freestanding Wall Workshop $450

All Levels, Homeowner - Contractor, 2-Day
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Freestanding Wall Workshop is an introduction into the basic skills of Dry Laid Stone Construction. This workshop is one of the most commonly taught classes worldwide. Over two days we will cover the proper fundamental methods outlined by the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA-GB.

Are you considering the path of certification? Understand why you should in the video below by Brian Post DSWA Examiner Master Craftsman.  The freestanding wall workshop is the place to start your journey.  You will learn the proper process of what is involved in a DSWA level 1 test by strip out and rebuild of a freestanding wall. (DSWA Level 1 6'L x 4'.5" H wall stripped out and rebuilt in 7 hours.)  A workshop is a great place to work at a comfortable pace learning the steps for success.

All workshops are a simple and easy pace with no heavy lifting, plenty of stone and a beautiful scenic environment with horses grazing in the background.

What you will learn:

• Proper dry laid stone methods
• Strip out, organizing and rebuilding of existing wall
• Sorting and selecting the right stone for the right place
• Basic tools - overview & demonstration - Hammer and Chisels
• Feather and wedging overview & demonstration (great technique for making caps, tie stones, steps and        much more)
• Walking Tour of on-site examples of dry laid stone walls (discussion)
• Safety, tools, worksite, equipment
• Demo - Operate - Mini Skid Steer Ditch Witch SK850 (participation is optional)
• Possible Slideshow presentation Saturday end of day (Dependent on interest level)
Stone type: Flat bedded sandstone local to region. Wall stone including Laurel Mountain, Colonial Blue Stone and PA fieldstone to name a few.

This workshop is also great for those who are interested in Retaining Walls. A freestanding wall is the same fundamental principles. 

(Note: this workshop will be a strip out and rebuild of an existing wall. Some tools will be covered in this workshop.)
With the year coming to an end, we would like to ask you to consider Giving. Help us help others One Stone @ A Time.

Rockin Walls Training Center a 501c3 
With the Community Foundation of Carroll County

Please consider a Tax Deductible Donation Today!  CLICK HERE
Rockin Walls Training Center is a proud supporter of The Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA-GB. Our training site is committed to both training and certification. In 2018 we offered our first Level 1 & Level 2 certification. Stay tuned as we prepare to announce another Level 1, 2 & 3 certification test date in October of 2020.  If you wish to reserve a space,
Contact Mark@RockinWalls.com Subject 2020 DSWA Certification reservation.

If you would like to understand why Certification is Key - Please take the time to watch the YouTube Video below. Brian Post explains in depth the value and importance of the DSWA Certification.

We highly encourage all those interested in Level 1 to sign up for a Freestanding Wall Workshop. Hands on over and over will help you gain the confidence and understanding.

Read more about the 4 levels of DSWA certification: CLICK HERE





DSWA Mastercraftsman/Examiner Brian Post (Vermont) explains the benefits of certification
Rockin Walls Training Center - The only Sponsored center in North America by the leaders in the masonry industry. Offering "Try Before You Buy Tools"

Please Support & Thank: 
BonTool • Trow & Holden Company • Kraft Tool Co. • Swanson Tool Co. • Pave Tech • Block Shear • Balducci Stone Yard • Micon Products (Rebit Chisels) • Spartan Tools • Zip Level -Technidea Corporation • PRO Power Assist WheelBarrow

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Ditch Witch SK850 PLUS - Newest Employee to the Rockin Walls Team

August 24, 2019
DITCH WITCH SK850 PLUS = (SK1050)

Today I added my newest employee a upgraded to a New Used Ditch Witch SK850 PLUS (ie SK1050) from McGrew Equipment Company. It's Crazy to think 7 years and 1 week I purchased my first used walk behind Mini Skid steer a Toro Dingo TX 420 seen below. 

TORO TX420

My first piece of equipment I purchased for Rockin Walls was a used New Holland LX665 Skid Steer wheel machine. Next it was a used Mini Excavator Komatsu PC27. Then came the Toro Dingo TX420. Why when I owned a skid steer some might ask. I found this little machine great to work on and off without climbing in and out. Since I work alone a lot of times I need to set a large stone by myself. This machine could do what I would need another person to do. Along with digging, moving stone around, easy to take to the jobsite, store on the jobsite, minimal impact on damage on the site and so much more.  Now it happens to be a much smaller machine with only a 500 lbs lift capacity. With me on the back custom ride on platform I would easily move 800 lbs. Now it only moves 4.5 mph forward and 2 mph backwards. So they say! I only clocked 3 mph forward on my machine. 7 years of good times and still rolling!

Related Blogs: 

Equipment - "Dingo" Walk Behind Mini Skid Steer

Equipment - Bobcat MT55, Mini Track Loader, (dingo)

2015 Toro Dingo® TX 1000 / Updated 5/2017 Maybe Not The Best?! ever

Equipment - Buying A Mini Excavator 

TORO TX420
TORO TX420
For Sale
1 Toro Dingo TX 420 w 1388 hours, gas, 36" bucket -  $ CALL

Today it was time to move up to fast speeds and more lifting capacity. Now I have to be honest I was really thinking about the Vermeer machine then maybe a Ditch Witch. When I was up renting at Gap Power Rental in PA. I noticed they had the Ditch Witch, Vermeer and Bobcat. SO of course I had to ask which do they like?! The response was Ditch Witch #1, Bobcat #2 Vermeer was sadly for them constantly in need of repair and maintenance. From a rental standpoint this didn't work well for them!

Then one day out of the blue Brain the rep from Jesco of Baltimore gave me a call just to check in since he knew I was looking! We got to talking I passed on my new learned knowledge from Gap Power. He then went on to tell me about the SK850 (can add a 300 lbs weight kit $500 then this becomes the PLUS model) which is now called the SK1050. (by the way the SK #'s mean what it can lift. SMART - you ask me no guess work.....lol after all don't you hate that..) Brian went on to let me know they had some good deals on some year old NEW SK1050. Which were very good deals to be honest. If you're looking for a machine be sure to give them a call and Ask for Brain - be sure to let them know how you heard about them - PLEASE. 

JESCO
8411 Pulaski Highway
Baltimore, MD 21237
Phone: (410) 687-1700

DITCH WITCH SK850 PLUS = (SK1050) Gary, Left - Mark Jurus, Right
If you asked me 8 years ago if I would every buy a mini skid steer - I would have laughed at you! NOW I wouldn't think twice about doing it again. Today I did! I was ready and prepared to spend more than any 1 machine I have every purchase! Why because it makes my job easier everyday as my helper. Finding good help has become increasingly harder and harder for many. Although I have always preferred to work alone. Simply easier and less headaches of paperwork, insurance, workmans comp, payroll.... just goes on and one. For me my equipment are my employees. Together we are a team.

My search for this machine has be extremely difficult. Why? All I can guess is that most companies have no reason to sell them. When something works well why replace it?!

I started watching ebay, craigslist, any search I could do. The sad thing, nothing was popping up. I missed one SK850 620 hours which had sold $17,000 at McGrew Auction 1 month earlier - I just wasn't actively looking at that time. I needed to be sure all my finances were in order with winter coming. In other searches I found a Ebay listing for SK850 900 hours w/shipping $20,000 (I don't think that sold.) Then Ebay had a SK1050 - 750 hours IOWA which the auction ended at $21,000 not hitting the reserve, fellow was closing his biz and would have taken $24,000 that's not bad for a $30,000 + machine! 

So when another popped up with out NO IMAGE at McGrew I called (what are the chances?) - spoke with Gary. He said it was coming in - he would get me pics. A week went by after checking everyday on line then it showed up. Yes for auction : ( .   I called Gary he said YES it just came in the day before and I was on his call list. So I wasted no time since it was a rain day Friday drove 30 mins north to Seven Valleys PA. To give this Ditch Witch a spin. WOW it was bigger, quiter, seemed much faster and a lot newer then my little Dingo TX420. Plus what would I do with 2x the lifting capacity. O' I know move more stone to help me do my job quicker. 

Fell in LOVE - then had to wait 1 day to hear if they would sell it outright without going to auction in the next couple weeks. Now one important thing was what are the chances of finding one with in 30 mins. Not to mention it just happened to be the PLUS model as seen in the pics. SCORE!!! It had to be mine. At 9 am Saturday I called with no answer.. left no message I didn't want to be a bother.. moments later with caller ID Gary saw he missed my call - rang me and said yes we will sell it at $00,000. I dropped everything I was doing ask the wife if she had the horses covered. Grabbed the truck and trailer and rolled up the road. 

Life is full of surprises! The chances of me finding this machine in my area at an AMAZING price with INCREDIBLE customer service blew me away. EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR! 

Many Thanks to Gary and Greg for giving the go ahead to make dreams come true. 

If you happen to see a machine you want - call them or just go to the auction!
Please be sure to let them know I sent you. Ask for Gary in sales. They will take good care of you. 

McGrew Equipment Company
2191 Seven Valleys Rd.
P.O. Box 6
Seven Valleys, PA 17360
(717) 428-0922




MakeDitch Witch
ModelSK850
TypeMini Track Loader
Standard Flow8.8 GPM
High Flow13. GPM
Pressure3625 PSI
Hydraulic HP Standard Flow18. HP
Hydraulic HP High Flow29.4 HP
Engine HP37 HP Yanmar® 3TNV88C Diesel
Width36 7" track (42) in. 9" track
Lift Capacity at 35%860 lb. ~ PLUS 1062
Lift Capacity at 50%1232. lb. ~ PLUS ?
Operating Weight3100 lb.

Ditch Witch SK1050

Thank you for your time. I hope you this content to be helpful or the links included. Until next time! Mark J.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Oct 19-20, 2019 Freestanding Wall Workshop


Oct 19-20, 2019 2 day (Saturday/Sunday) Freestanding Wall Workshop $450

All Levels, Homeowner - Contractor, 2-Day

Freestanding Wall workshop is an Introduction into the Basic skills of Dry Stone Masonry. Over two days we will cover the fundamentals of Dry Stone Construction, Theory, History, The Uses of Dry Stone in the present day, How to determine the size of a batter frame for your project, how to make a frame, selecting the right stone for the right place in the wall which develops confidence, efficiency and the importance of rhythm and minimizing unproductive actions, but not at the expense of quality. 



Stone type: Flat bedded sandstone local to region. Wall stone include Laurel Mountain, Colonial Blue Stone and PA fieldstone to name a few. 

This workshop is also great for those who are interested in Retaining Walls. A freestanding wall is the same fundamental principles. 

(Note: this workshop will be a strip out and rebuild of existing wall, Some tools will be covered in this workshop)



$450.00 Oct 19-20, 2019 2 day Freestanding

(6 spots remain)
________________________


Monday, July 22, 2019

VIDEO: 2019 Myersville Project - Dry Laid Stone Retaining Wall Systems

Expand your living space to the great outdoors! 



CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO:

2019 Myersville Project - Dry Laid Stone Retaining Wall Systems / Patio Space


  
June 2019 Myersville MD Straw Bale Home - Retaining Wall Patio Systems ~ Expand your living space to the great outdoors. • (2) 4 ft - (1) 5 ft walls • 140+ sq ft retaining walls • Laurel Mountain Stone • 15 steps • 12 boulders • 2 large built in planters • 1600 sq ft of Core Gravel patio w/tan 1/2" pea gravel • 1:6 batter • 38 tie stones • flat caps 16"-20" w/ 2" overhang • low voltage lighting plumbed • 34 stainless steel railing rods installed in wall • 300+ tons of back wall boulders, stone and gravel. • machinery mini X w/thumb, dingo, tractor, telehandler • tools: stone splitter w/gas air compressor, 9000 watt generator, job trailer, hammer drill, 14" cut off saw, dust collector system, 3 various grinders, echo pb 8010 leaf blower, compactor, various hand tools, carbide chisels, hammers...ear bud and tunes, gallon of honey sweet tea, respirator, PPE gloves, glasses sun tan lotion, big hat! • build time 9/2018 - 6/2019 (maybe 30 days lost to bad weather) (note photos do not show completion of Core Gravel patio)

 Core Gravel 38-18 patio with tan pea gravel







Sunday, May 26, 2019

AMAZINGLY LARGE!! Dry Laid Stone Building 2014 - Willowbank Campus, Niagara ON Canada


An amazing memory for me from Canada back in 2014. Had the chance to get back to see this building in 2018.

9/2014 Dry Stone Blacksmith Building, Willowbank School, Niagara Falls Canada
Human inhabited Dry Laid Stone building in North America that Dean McLellan (from Canada) had orchestrated the built over a 2 year period with wallers from all over the world.

Related Blog:

Specs: 42' L x 30'.6" W x 88" H, bottom of foundation walls 33" W, top of walls 22"-24" W

Monday, May 20, 2019

Curved Walls Made Easy w/TOOL's • Sola Inclinometer - Milwaukee Pocket Level

Myersville 2019 Project curved retaining walls
In this blog I'm going to share with you a tool which has helped me build curved walls (dry laid stone). Along with a simple and affordable alternative.


To start I just wanted to share my story of my first real curved wall build. It all started in 2010 on a DSC project located in Baltimore City Maryland at Wyman Park Dell. Neil Rippingale was running the project and was off site when I started my first section on the project with a curve not by choice. This was where I was in the production line up. Only having my level 1 DSC/DSWA I was very green. Well I don't think I felt like that - but it was the god's honest truth - I didn't have a clue. I started my build of a 24" high x 4' long section. Before I got more then half way up the other team leaders stopped me! They highly suggested I rebuild the section before Neil made it back. In English that would really mean Dude that section is pathetic, chop, chop strip it down and rebuild it before Neil asks you too.  LOL Ok maybe not that bad but it was BAD! 

Most wallers building curved walls by either setting up wall frames such as rebar or wooden frames in random places throughout the curve. For years this was how I did it (as seen below). It gives you a reference but also blocks you line of site. I often found I got hard lines behind the frames without smooth transitions around the frames. Hard to explain except for those who have experienced this first hand. You get it! 


Related blog:  How - To Wall Frames

In 2015 my walling friend Kim Coggin told me about this tool called a Sola Inclinometer. Which she learned from another waller Michael Murphy. Her exact words were "You need to buy one of these!" Sure ya why and what does it do? Well I trust Kim and Michael so I did just that bought one. 2015 I used this for the very first time on a 32" - 72" curved retaining wall. The first thing you have to do is set it to your wall frame to get the correct angle with the bubble. Then lock it in place. As seen in second photo up both are set at a 1:6 batter.

Now curves can be a mind game when you first start walling. I had a very hard time trusting this tool was correct - then again the bubble never lies! The other issue I had was getting the hang of reading it. Since I was not use to a vertical angled level. Not sure which mind game was harder building the curve or trusting the Inclinometer. When I got the wall done I was amazed how smooth everything looked - WOW game changer! From that day forward this is what I use. One important thing to keep in mind if you have stones that have bull noses or stick out this can often throw of your wall angle. Always be sure to keep you stones IE behind the string line. In this case the imaginary batter you have set for the wall. 



Now the model I bought was the Sola Inclinometer APN 60 T which has been replaced with the Sola Magnetic Analog Inclinometer w/Carry Bag - NAM 50. Prices range from $99-$150+ if you can find one! I would suggest trying both part #'s to see what pops up in search engines. If this is the way you want to go for a tool. The total height is only 2ft. When I'm building taller sections I place this on a 4ft or 6ft level set on the wall to be sure everything is correct. 

my DSWA Level 3A untimed test requirement. 
--------------------------------
SPECS:

"CHARACTERISTICS
Accurate, adjustable angular dimensions
Better, faster and more accurate reading through the patented SOLA FOCUS vials
Break-resistant acrylic block-vial with a tightness guarantee of 30 years
Measured values of circular scale:
1. Angular degrees 4 x 90°
2. Gradients 0 – 100%
3. Inclination ratios
Shock-absorbing end caps

APPLICATIONS
Horizontal measurement
Vertical measurement
Angle/inclination measurement"

--------------------------------

BUT-WAIT!!! I'm going to share a $$ saving tip below! 



With the love of the Sola and my passion to to help others. I realized that the New Sola Magnetic model didn't make any sense at that CRAZY PRICE!!

I began my quest to find an affordable solution for others to get the same results for less the $30 bucks.  In my travels I spotted the Milwaukee "4" Magnetic Pocket Level"Model # 48-22-5102 @ Home Depot for $20. The next thing I purchased was 36 in. x 1 in. x 1/16 in. Steel Square Tube $11. You can attach it to just about anything which is straight even a level. The other cool thing is it really will fit in your pocket. Last amazing benefit - it won't hurt your wallet. You can use it for just about anything. While you can't read the numbers as easy as the Sola. It really doesn't matter, you only need to set the bubble to your wall frame. Voila - Easy Peasy! 
--------------------------------
SPECS:

"The Milwaukee® Pocket Level offer users a compact, yet heavy duty alternative to current protractors and angle finders, while also functioning as a traditional pocket level for quick checks. Amplified Rare Earth Magnet Technology utilizes magnetic circuits to redirect and focus the magnetic field for industry-leading holding power. Providing functionality similar to a protractor, a Locking 360° Adjustable Vial secures the vial in place so users can identify and repeat any angle needed. A locking screw protects the accuracy of the vial whether it’s taken in and out of pockets or pouches. SHARPSITE™ Vial Technology magnifies the bubble so it’s easier to read, and the vial is engineered with high-impact acrylic for ultimate durability that will protect accuracy over the life of the level."

--------------------------------


my DSWA Level 3A untimed test requirement.

Something else both can be used for is determining a grade/slope. All you would need to do is grab a 6' level or something else long and straight. Place the level on it and adjust the bubble then read the #. For example I needed to build my DSWA Level 3 features on a 20 degree slope (seen above). The hill I found actually turned out to be 25. After learning how to do it the right way with measurements and math.....etc.  I was able to come up with the same answer much quicker without doing a lot of work under 2 mins. Now this is only really works for short distances but it does give you a good starting point.

After reading this blog I'm sure you now have a better understand how I build curved walls and the tools that assist me day to day. I'm sure these tools can be used in many applications. Walling is the one I know the best. 

Myersville 2019 Project curved retaining walls
Thank you for reading my blog I hope either tool offers years of joy walling. Please be sure to put in the comments below what you use or how you like to build curved walls. 
Mark J-

Monday, March 25, 2019

WHY I DO WHAT I DO EVERY DAY! Myersville Straw Bale Home, Backyard Patio Systems Current 2019

Current - March 2019 5'ft now underway above 4'ft wall below

The back end work can take months and months of building and planning. To often when you see a finished project it is hard to image what really goes into a project of this size! Currently I believe I'm well over 200 tons of JUST back wall stone to build this out. To avoid settling over time and the cost difference. The plan to go with straight stone instead of compacted earth just made sense long term. I've included a few pictures to help tell the story along the project journey currently still on today. The process of this project with the stone has taught me so much everyday about myself. What I'm should I be doing, Where I'm at in my skills and speed, How I should be doing it, Who I am as I work in the, freezing temps, snow, rain, sick, dark and WHY I DO WHAT I DO EVERY DAY! THE LIFE OF A CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL WALLER.

Let me tell you a bit about the project I first meet the clients back in 2015 when the home was first being built. Like anything it was so hard to image what was being created by Sigi Koko, WHO specializing in designing natural buildings, plans and hands on workshops. See more www.buildnaturally.com

As my part of the project started I encouraged the clients to reach out to a few artist to determine the best way to go about the railing system. They felt most comfortable with their builder and his ability to create amazing woodwork on the 3 inside steps and railings.  The felt he would be best fit to handle the job. When we meet he explained to me some of the requirements for the original clay model design. I soon realized a lot of things just didn't make sense. While I don't build rails and never have I quickly learned some new things. To start if you have more then a 2' ft drop you need a railing. If you have more then 2 steps you need a handrail. I also believe there is one in there if the span is to far a way say the steps you can't touch both sides you need a handrail on both sides. From county to county, state to state this can vary I'm no expert. For the most part many of these are just common sense. So when designing the retaining walls or stairs be sure to consider including the contractor if you can. So you can design around his/her needs to install properly without frustration. This is what I did and in the process I quickly realized a lot of things just wouldn't look right or made any sense. For example the seating wall on the clay model is the right lower wall. A 3' railing would have to be installed on top of this since the overall height would have exceeded over 7' ft. from the ground. Talking about blocking the view when you walk around the house to the backyard. Or just sitting on the wall with a railing behind you YUK! Ya that just wasn't going to work. So with a few hours sitting in the seat of my mini excavator, staring, thinking, thinking some more, imagining.  I came up with a rough quick sketch (seen below) where new design needed to go. 


The new plan simplified some things but also complicated a few others. The removal of the floating steps. To more master curved steps in the middle lower walls. The left lower wall would be dropped by 12" to match the right 4' wall. Which now added a smaller circle plan at the bottom of the upper strait steps (as seen in drawing above where you see the word DOOR) So much to think about so hard to see. Just like the first day I saw the home being built in 2015. I could have ever imagined what it looks like today. WOW! So while we had a clear path, we let the stream guide us down the the now river as we occasionally bummed a few rock on the way. Adapting to the space. I could go on on and on about every little thing which really is a big thing when it's all finished. Just like the saying the butterfly theory. To often I think of those large landscape firms that have a design team who come in, measure it all out, sit at a desk in front of computer using some software to create the perfect plan. Is there ever a perfect plan in life?  The crew sticks to it and when it's all said and done it looks planned. Just like it was. Life is full of surprises, everyday we make choices good ones bad ones but are they really either or just the river taking us on a new journey. Allowing to be open, listen, feeling, trusting your gut that's what living is all about. Follow what feels right. If you don't like something change. Have a plan just be open to letting in the light and making changes. It will always show in those who do. 

In the beginning - nothing but burlap on the walls to protect the lime plaster from drying to quickly.
This was my canvas when I started. Not much in the way of any compacted earth over the 5 years of home being built. The biggest challenge how to create a upper patio that you could walk out on but also get to the lower level master bedroom. ONLY 9'ft below. Wait and lets not forget there is the lower breezeway doors limiting how far you can really come out on the upper patio. Sure yes you could build a 9ft retaining wall. Most walls you would divided the height by 2 and get how wide your base is. Yes 4.5 ft wall at the bottom wide. I've ever heard from engineers about gravity walls add 1 ft to be safe 5.5 ft wide base. Thats alot of walling and stone. Thankfully nothing had to be dug out. There is nothing there to start really. Hardscape patios for future plans boulder back walls layered in reduced sizes of stone as I got closer to the top. 


The placing and setting of locally quarried limestone boulder set by a my mini excavator became a new process for me. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this back wall building with boulders. It was like a arcade game sitting on the mini excavator using the joysticks to set each large stone in place.  


I will say it goes quick - just like any placement of stone you have to look for similar sizes and be sure to break the joints as you go. A few safety tips particle board to avoid the 10' tall doors from being damaged. I can't image the replacement cost.  The $40 dollars wood and $4 for the pool noodles were a smart safe investment. This photo also shows the protruding foundation set on earth not gravel. The gravel is only outside the walls incase you don't know how much rain we have seen in the last year. Hard to work in mud with machines or walking safely with stones in your hand. You can also see the white pipe. This is perforated schedule 40 connected to the builders black corrugated french drain so it now has daylight out the wall but can handle any weight load if by chance the bridging of lintel stone settle. 



As I made progress on the job I had to consider daily the planning of the site to be sure to best optimise my time. For example the placement of the bulk stone, The banker table the generator, the stone splitter the job box with tools not in the job trailer around the front. Every step adds time. How best to save a step helps with time management when possible. Not all things are possible on every site. Always think about one's movements on your projects. 


With winter season at hand many of the stones were placed on pallets to avoid breezing to the ground.  Later more large gravel was put down to minimize the bulk pile from freezing to the earth. Now as seen the shape is starting to come together the first small onsite boulder was a hit with many more to follow as they kept getting bigger and bigger (as seen above in pic with mini) . The mini excavator was push to the limits but with a few little learned techniques it all come together nicely. Thank you mini for making my job easy except when you drop a boulder it breaks the wall and you have to repeat the steps twice to build a wall drop a boulder fix the wall, try to place the boulder - drop the boulder to fix the wall. Ok make that's 3 times the charm. NOT I know I used some words I never use. Like jungle gym or buttermilk. Ok maybe not those exact words might have sounded like that over the running engine of the mini excavator ...


The start of the master circular steps were next on the list to build. With a total of 30 stones all saw cut on the sides, natural faces, feather and wedge faces or dressed faces. Build time about 1 month. Nothing easy about making steps unless you pre-order them to size. Which can be the easier route to take when you get what you want. I don't like to have my design dictated by my opinions. This can really limit your creative ability. Each option has pro/cons. Just stick with what works for you and the client. This is always a win win solution. 


Hard to believe I started this build back in Sept 2018. When I meet again with the clients, Serge and Joan in Myersville MD. To come up with a patio system which would fit there needs and the homes style. As seen in this clay model as I began this blog. Little by little each new section was being created almost like a room in a house. It felt so great to have a section done. Giving that new sense of space. I'm sure this blog has really helped to give a bit of sense of the timeline involved with such a build. Walling is very quick when your just walling! It's everything else that adds up. Stating that fact I lost count (my invoices didn't) of how many 14" diamond saw blades I used. All adds up! 



8 Pound Hammer,  www.ziplevel.com,  Swanson Levels,  Analog Inclinometer in my hands, Gorilla Step Platform




Close up of the first wall and small boulder. Plus the schedule 40 french drain to daylight. As mentioned above the white pipe. 


Upper steps will have 5' retaining wall now started. This will be the upper patio to back doors. In this same pic you will see what I like to call mountain shadow the title for the walling around the large boulder on right with all native stones placed around to give a timeless feature in the wall. Notice that banker table and stone splitter keep finding new homes as I build. Why you forgot already... every step should be made into a small steps. Less movement saves you time and the client money. 


Second of 2 walls finished with built in stainless steel railing rods for the home builder to build on. I call them plug and play. 

Mark Jurus in Large Planter
Eamon Espey in Small Planter
The larger planter is about 4'x5' and the small planter is 30"x 36" this is for unknown planted shade vide on upper system as see in pictures with full house in view. 



Now in the home stretch as I've started the last of the 3 walls of which is the upper patio to the back door. I'm so excited to so you more. I have a great deal of Vblogs I've created and will show up on my YouTube channel to come. Please subscribe to stay tuned. I'm really excited about the Pro Series intend for those of you in the trades or learning the trade. My goal helping others as others have helped me. http://www.youtube.com/c/RockinWalls

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you found information in the blog helpful to you. 

The clift note specs on this project:
2019 March, Myersville Straw Bale home, 2 of 3 retaining walls 4 ft + including many large local boulders from the property. 1:6 batter wall, flat caps, stainless steel railing rods built into wall 3 courses down, all tie stones plumbed with electrical pipes for future Low Voltage Led lighting. Protruding foundation below grade. Small planter built 3' x 30" at end of wall by house for above vine trellis system. Dollar store pool noodles just for the fun of it. To protect the stainless steel all thread rods which the home builder will be installing 3' Locust logs for post from property. Stainless steel rods to be installed 4" spacing for code and to tie in with upper vine trellis system. 7 custom cut onsite - feather wedge faces curved steps 7" rise w/ 16" tread 30 stones cut to fit singles with some double stacked. Railing rods also installed. Wall built on steps. Boulders built out from home including bridging of 2 french drains and 1 out of wall lintel. Wall to be built behind this patio 5' tall for upper patio to back door as seen on background.