Monday, August 15, 2016

2016 Fall Dry Laid Stone Workshops Dates


Yes it's that time of year to think about FALL DRY STONE WORKSHOPS @ Rockin Walls Training Center. Ok if you're still at the beach or on vacation this might be the best time to think cooler temps relaxing with the stone under shady trees.  Be one with mother nature and learn the craft of dry laid stone.

I'm always thinking of NEW MIXES of First Ever workshops to be taught in the USA. I believe in offering interested wallers workshops which fit their desired needs for their personal projects. The 2 day workshop line up will have dates coming shortly for end of September and October 2016.

2 Day - September 17-18
• Day 1: Flat work with PA Blue stone, squares and rectangles + stand up irregular, plus edging / base examples.
• Day 2: Seating - Dry Laid Stone Garden Retaining Wall with loose flat caps

2 Day - October 29-30
• Day 1: Fundamentals: Building Wall Frames, Intro "Try before you buy" -  Tools, Build Foundation.
• Day 2: Short Dry Laid Stone Freestanding Wall with formal Flat Caps - PA Blue Stone

WOMEN'S WORKSHOP by Kim Coggin assisted by Mark Jurus as needed.


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Friday, August 12, 2016

HPTC Project 2016 @ Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Understanding Proper Dry Laid Stone Techniques - Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site PA - HPTC

Rebuild of east headrace sections 3' +/- H dry laid stone retaining wall most likely built in 1771 to supply the water to the water wheel to run the furnace. The wall was then rebuilt in 1939 by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and then again in 1984 NPS Williamsport Preservation Training Center of Williamsport, MD. Documentation of the project can be found in the park’s central file H3015, and in the archives
accessioned as HOFU- 936. Black- and- white photographs documenting the deteriorated condition of the wall in 1983, and its reconstruction in 1984.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in southeastern Berks County, near Elverson, Pennsylvania, is an example of an American 19th century rural "iron plantation"....Wikipedia

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Historic Preservation Training Center HPTC - Trade Rodeo - National Park Service / June 2016

- Key Points of Repointing

I had a great time at the Historic Preservation Training Center HPTC. Which hosted there first ever Trade Rodeo for the National Park Service NPS this month. HPTC could best described as the Navy Seals of the NPS. When a repair, updates, replacements, new items needs to be created the HPTC comes to the rescue. Armed with many craftsman and women along with architects... the list just keeps going. I'm so honored that the HPTC is located in Frederick Maryland which is only 1 hour away. Right in my backyard. The Dry Stone Conservancy DSC had worked hand in had the NPS in the past with a great deal of training and repairs of Dry Laid Stone Constructions all over the USA. I'm looking forward to future projects within the surrounding states both new builds along with repairs of old structures. 

The Rodeo was a 2 day event which covered many basics as seen below in a few of the photos. The topics covered:

- Get the Lead Out
- Log Hewing: Carving a Timber the Pioneer Way
- What's Mud Got To Do With It: Adobe
- The Nitty Gritty of Mortar Analysis
- Getting Keen on Sharpening (wood tools)
- Documenting Historic Structures
- Roof Installation: Keeping Your Structure Dry
- Getting To Know Terrazzo
- Something Old, Something New, Something Dutchmanned, Something Glued
- Key Points of Repointing
- Stay in Your Lane
- Look - Don't Touch: Blood-borne and Airborne Pathogens

I was invited  to the rodeo since I will be working along side HPTC staff at the Hopewell Furnace State Park in PA July 2016.  With the initiative to train youth in the trades to help bring awarness to the endless need for services of historic landmarks all over the USA. We will be working on repairing sections of wall with removal of mortar and fixing failed dry laid stone retaining wall sections. As a Certified Dry Stone Instructor with the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA UK. I'm honored to be the lead instructor. 

I had an amazing time meeting the talented team of tradesman/women at HPTC. I'm look forward to a life long relationship.  Now I have my government Dun and Bradstreet number this will allow me to bid on Government contracts and work with the NPS directly if chosen. How cool is that? Helping to preserve history while teaching others what you love?!

Life is amazon, how our paths are chosen when we choose to follow them. 

- Key Points of Repointing

- Something Old, Something New, Something Dutchmanned, Something Glued

- Getting To Know Terrazzo

- Getting To Know Terrazzo
- Getting To Know Terrazzo
- Getting To Know Terrazzo

- Getting To Know Terrazzo

Now what is really cool in this photos is the red vacuum looking machine in the back round. What you might not notice but the demonstrator is using a grinding wheel with no dust mask. Because he is hooked up to the Pullmer Ermator S26 HEPA Dust Extractor. If you don't know OSHA has come out with a new list of requirements to protect workers from Air Born Silica. This device has adaptors to fit to any of your tools as you cut, grid.... just about anything that generates dust. Extremely cool. Pricy if your a one man show - but what is your life worth? Safety first!!!

- Getting To Know Terrazzo

- What's Mud Got To Do With It: Adobe

Water test of Clay to sand ratio in jar which if you really look or click on this photo you will see this is a 50/50 ratio. This is a test which was do in order to know if anything needed to be added to help produce the Adobe blocks. 

- Log Hewing: Carving a Timber the Pioneer Way

- Wood working shop

- Getting Keen on Sharpening (wood tools)

The Mission of the HPTC: The Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) is dedicated to the safe preservation and maintenance of national parks or partner facilities by demonstrating outstanding leadership, delivering quality preservation services, and developing educational courses that fulfill the competency requirements of Service employees in the career fields of Historic Preservation Skills, Risk Management, Maintenance, and Planning, Design, and Construction.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Nick Aitken - Scotland @ The Stone Trust VT USA - Feidin & Galloway Dyke Workshop

WWW.THESTONETRUST.ORG First Every 2 Day Workshop to be taught in the USA.  May 14th-15th, 2016 Dummerston Center Vermont. 

Lead Instructors Nick Aitken - Scotland (as seen in video) and Dean McLellan - Canada  both DSWA Master / Examiner / Instructor.

Scottish And Irish Wall Workshop, Dry laid stone construction. (Dry Stack)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

For Sale Local Landscape Boulders - Barn Foundation Stone

Local Cockeysville marble and Preatyboy Shist Landscape Boulders. Starting at $15.00 - $25.00. 

Bulk or Palleted also available starting at 100.00 and up. 

White Limestone Cockeysville Marble historic barn foundation stone.

Preatyboy shist barn foundation stone

Local bulk hauling available.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

4/2016 Millers Station Springhouse Foundation

4/2016 Millers Station Springhouse. 34 day build, 42 ' long freestanding dry laid stone construction. What a killer way to start 2016 year off!!! My neighbors John and Christina had asked if I could build a structure which would look like an old foundation. Me and John talked a bit about his vision of having a water feature coming out of the back corner of the tall walls. Yes in time this will be covered up. I sure can't wait to see what's in store for next chapter of this project.
Freehand sketch of illustrated design

As a team we discussed and planned with his vision in mind. I had suggested the placement of the structure be turned in order for it to be seen easily when looking from inside or when sitting inside the closed deck.

Wall specs: Primary stone Butler Stone which is a quartzite material - super hard. Mixed with West Mountain and PA colonial blue stone. From right to left 5' H x 12' L, Back wall 5' H x 16' L, 4' H x 6' L, left wall 4' H x 8' L. 2 cheekends (wall head), 3 corners, 12 tie stones, 2 window frames, 1 bench made up of 3 stones cantilevered from wall, 1 lental. Batter angle 1:8 with 16" tops 32" base on tall wall with 39" protruding foundation set below grade on earth. 

The PA Colonial tie stones set at 18" high centered on 3' and staggered at upper level.

Building cheekends (wall head) or any kind of corners requires stone which are referred to as squares and rectangles. This project was all primarily palleted local Butler stone from Butler Maryland. While Butler stone in general is very pricy by the ton.  Squares and recs are all produced by cutting the chosen stones with a guillotine splitter. To some the price of this produced stone can seem out of space. But the truth of the matter, one can spend all day hunting and hoping the right stone is somewhere on a pallet. Or you can stop wasting valuable time and just purchase what you need! After all time is money - your time is not FREE!!

I like to think of building a wall like baking a pie. YOU have to have all the right ingredients before you start. Knowing what you're going to build and how you plan to build it is key. I'll talk more about this in the future blog on this project. 

This is the corner section where the water feature will coming down into a large pond in the front. 

If you look at each corner, cheekend or window you will notice a dovetail weave with stone. Just like well built wooden drawer.  Take a closer look and you will see every other stone goes length into the wall. This helps tie the stones into the structure. 

This is the 4' section. I love the angle of the wall section with the floating benches.

The 20" lentil was built as a feature in the 6' wall section.  Giving a little more light in and a bit of zing as a hidden surprise. 

One incredible project with lots of technical challenges. Pushing me to build at the highest level of my ability.  What a pleasure it was to create. 

Let me help you build your dreams!

Many thanks to John and Christina for believing in what I do!

Top of 5' cheekend a level never lies. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Professional Trade Ignorance "Old Timer"

Jericho Rd, Kingsville, MD

The definition of Ignorance is the lack of knowledge. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ. I believe that it is so valuable to continue to learn every day. After all we never stop learning. This is why I blog, why I go to workshops, why I love what I do. I love stone!

"Old Timer" is what my waller friends and I call someone who knows it all. Set in there way and there is nothing new anyone can teach them. No interest whatsoever to further themselves or team in their trade = Have a narrow mind and really don't have a clue what they are doing when it comes to PROPER Construction.  This explains where there ignorance comes in. An Old timer can be a stonemason or even a landscape company who builds with natural stone. Without using fundamental principles of proper building methods. 

What are these?
Four Basic Principles
1) Length running into the wall

2) Cover the joints
3) Pack from the inside
4) Lay stones level

These can be found on the The Stone Trust VT USA website. A Testing/Training Center for Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA UK

Related Blog: Master Craftsman Principles Dec 1994

So now you understand some key rules. Let start with this little story. Once upon a time Feb 2016 I was headed to look at a newly restored covered bridge on Jericho Road, Kingsville MD. When low and behold I spotted this dry laid stone wall. Of Course I had to back up - stop get out and double check to make sure it was dry. Come on that's just what I do!!! I'm crazy in love.... Next it was photograph time along with inspecting a few questionable stones. It was clear that something just wasn't right with the building methods to rebuild this wall. After hitting Google Earth I inspected the old wall - it was clear that it may have also failed since it was not properly built. By using proper methods a structure could last over 100 years. I then drove up to the house to ask a bit more about the repair. Happily the homeowner had just pulled up when I was knocking on the door. They had mentioned that the repaired was a year ago. By Old ????? $????! Mason??? in Baldwin. 

From a quick homeowner description this was how I interpreted the repaired. The drain pipe is there so I'm guessing they may have used geogrid and aggregate from the description. What I could tell from the front of the wall looking in, it seemed as if only rubble was placed behind the face stones. So hard to say what's behind that. This is how they build a Paver Wall illustrated above. Not a dry laid stone wall. As seen below. 

Dry laid is two walls or stone from the front wall back to earth bank. This helps tie it in. Also a key element missing is Tie Stones. It is suggested on dry laid stone walls over 30" Ties be placed halfway up. A Tie stone ties the two walls together front and back. Supporting the upper structure as it settles over time. 

Related Blog: How To - Tie Rocks / Through - Stones (mar 2012)
Master Craftsman Through Stones Summer 2007 (dec 2011)

This is my drawing of a proper built wall spec'd for Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum 2016 historical repair - BID. 

I was so excited about this project I googled the wet mason who kindly answered my call. I asked him if he did a lot of dry laid stone work. He said we do all kinds of masonry. Ok so that really didn't answer my question did it?  I had informed him that I was a Marylands only dual certified mason with a dedicated training center.  I asked if he had ever considered taking a workshop? He of course informed me that certification was bologie. That he had been doing masonry for over 30 years and learning from other masons. "That I sounded younger then him - there for clearly there was nothing I could possible teach him!" Now thats IGNORANCE. We never stop learning do we?. I of course told him he did great work but if he realized what I was asking doesn't make sense.  That I would want to teach other local masons what what I've learned - Which might be considered a competitor in my trade. Why would I do this? I'm passionate about sharing with others. Hence the reason for this blog. Plenty of pie for everyone. His reply was "your calling me, your not my competitor". Wow- so I thanked him for his time. He of course hung up : (  

I had a similar conversation when I reached out to a large landscape company T?? in Monkton who told me that they had been building walls for 40 years. I was more then welcome to stop by with my resume and drop off some photos. All I wanted to do was meet with them to share my knowledge. (photos showed the same building method as above WRONG - interlocking paver design) I of course said I'm not looking for a job. I just wanted to help you. I guess that was a shocker. Why was I so taken back? Because every waller in my trade helps eachother. Thats what we do. We share and critique. In order to help us learn to be better.  To make smarter choices so we may grow. 

After a near death experience in 2007. It became clear how valuable our time is on earth. How important it is to share what we can with others. 

I'm going to share what is wrong with this wall structurally.  This wall at some point will fail! Like the original one did. Now you have watch the video seen the drawing and read the words on what is proper. Principles taught by training organizations such as the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA UK and the Dry Stone Conservancy DSC USA. 

Keys notes to understand what I'm about to share. 
- YELLOW Lines - Are Vertical running joints. 1 over 2 - 2 over 1. Typically not more. 

- HIGHLIGHTED YELLOW is Pinning/ Chinks / Or small stones. 
• Pinning is when you use a small stone to hold up a larger one. Pinning is best used in the wall but not on the front of the wall. Front pinning might be the solution to a front stone. The likelihood of a front pin falling out is very likely over time. Or it may just be crushed by the stone it's holding up. Pinning from the sides or in the back is common practice as needed to support a stone. 

• Chinking is the most common issue with this wall - Every stone in a wall should have a job. A chink is nothing more than just a stone that visually fills a hole but can be removed easily with no effort. Chinked stones will fall out since they have nothing holding them in. 

Related Blog: Pinning & Chinks (jan 2011)

• Small stones used in the front of wall,  Are not a good choice to be a structural support long term most likely helping to cause the wall to fail. Due the fact that they are holding up larger stones above them.  I would only use stones of this size as packing stone in the middle of the wall. 

- RED lines are what I believe are Traced stones "Tracers". This is when a stone is laid with the longest face out. Think of a Brick what is the longest face. Now if you take that same brick and place the length into the wall it will now be structurally correct (for a dry laid stone construction). A traced wall is more likely to simply fall over since the weight of the wall is outside instead of the mass sitting in the middle. 

Related Blog: Definition: Tracing, Stone - no, no (feb 2012)

- BLUE is what is called a shinner. This is when someone takes a stone and places it vertical. Over time the stone could separate because the grain is exposed to the elements. In these photos only one shows up. 


This group of photos are the same as below except this is the left side. Below is the right side. The drainage pipe should be the reference. 

Dry laid stone walls are free draining and flexible. So why would you need a drainage pipe?

This section was also a repaired section. If you look at the google earth link on the very first photo of the blog. You can view this original section bulging out. Clearly also because it doesn't have a back wall support. 

Moral of the story? 

Don't hire anyone certified / non certified without looking at there work. You should now be able to make the right choice when hiring a DRY LAID STONE MASON. Opposed to someone who claims they have 30 years experience..... A picture's worth 1000 words they say. 

To understand more read this short book with EXAMPLES of Wrong and Right: StoneWork, Standard & Common Faults