Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Resistent - Mineral VA

Yes dry stone walls are said to be Earthquake Resistant.
With a 5.8 earthquake from Mineral VA hitting the Baltimore MD area on 8/23/11. Very Rare!  I exited the cinderblock building I was in. Standing out side wondering what kind of wave pool I was swimming in?

The benefit of Dry Laid Walls they will shift and move as the earth moves. Which can not be said for the Washington Monument. Now closed and under inspection for cracks in the top. What gives? Stone on the ground held together with mortar.

Crazy stuff for us East Coasters.

USGS Earthquake Hazards Programs-Mapping - ALERTS.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Walk Bridge & 5 Stone Steps

My wife needed a bridge built for here Equine Assisted Learning. We have a stream which runs through our property. Being able to take clients back to her riding ring with out getting their feet wet was a small ticket to fill. I started with the building a walk bridge. I was able to find all reclaimed materials. I picked up 2 telephone poles 18 ft long. Our neighbors had given us a old lumber from a deck they removed. The posts which hold the telephone poles are fence posts. The bridge was a blast to build. I had never created any thing like it. But simply used a little common sense. A few string lines with a line level, rebar to stake the telephone poles to the vertical posts and some screws. All and all just a day's work. 
(2 steps)

Then came time for the steps. What to do? With the stream flooding at any given time, horses wondering around. I had to come up with something. I walked the farm for a half day thinking how great it would be to build with stone. BUT I didn't want to create a work of art which could take more time to build then the bridge. I just needed a simple solution.
(2 steps looking down on the two first steps)

( 3 steps. Old pavers below stones to get the needed height. Then covered by the dirt bank built up on both sides to avoid flood erosion. Plus hide boring pavers--shhhhh don't tell any one I said that)

I found the answer, several stones I had put aside in hopes of building steps. I passed over them several times thinking I need to save these. But after coming to terms I asked why? This was just what I needed. Wooden steps, dirt, boulders...ect just didn't make sense. This was the perfect fit. If you clicked on the link above you will understand. Why? Healing and Teaching with Horse power. Equine Assisted Therapy could best be described as helping People Heal throw Horses. Why would my large stepping stones be the perfect match? They create the feeling of strength and confidence due to there size. One will make the trip up the steps and over the bridge and back down the steps to reach a place to help them heal. 

 (3 steps looking down)

Life is about taking the steps to move spiritually from one place to another. If we don't take those steps we will fall down.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shang shí dŭ yuè Stone Project

Shang shí dŭ yuè  - "Rock upon which to gaze at the moon."


The customer contacted me to build a wall around the large stone in his yard. As I started to build the wall I asked him to please give me the name of the project. The name says it all. I could just sit or lay on this stone. A neighbor said how when her daughter was growing up. She would stand on their large stone and sing away. Just like it was here own stage. These large flat stones are all over this mountain area of Frederick. The have beautiful grey, blues, and silver colors. They are very light stones making them easy to move.

After the dig out I marked the area and set up string lines. Now you can start to see the large flat stone.

 Foundation bed dug out 3-4" down 24" wide.

Foundation stones placed level with grade (earth) Frames set up middle frame is the top of wall. The wall will be built level across full section. This was built as a protruding foundation. This means the wall will be set back from foundation stones 4". The frames are built out of 1"x4" wood with a 1:6 batter- for every 6 inchs up the wall will come in 1 inch.

Wall build started on right side. Large stone in wall had been placed as a step. I planned on having the wall built on top of it.

Later on the build I started on the left side building up the wall head. The reason for starting at the other end was to have every thing blend into the middle. If you build from one direction you will make your work go quick. But when you get to your other end you will need to come in. Other wise you will find it even harder to find the right size stones.

You will also notice the wall frames spaced out. I space the frames out to a distances which allow me to finish building in a day. The benefit I can see what I got done every day. I also set me string lines level and build to them. As you will notice the earth changes grade just about every where on this job site. Tricky building curves - I freestyle them keeping the frames close to the outer edges not to get in my way.

 Home owner has begun to place plants. All vertical stones place for different visual perspectives from multiple vantage points. More vertical stones and plants will be installed within the months to follow. The home owner has a beautiful touch for plants and natural landscapes. With insperations from New York Central park co designed by Frederich Law Olmsted. Along with Japanese garden design.

Finished Dry Laid Stone wall 34' long x 24" height (average) Butler stone, Red Sand Stone, PA Blue Stone and Historic Cockeysville Marble Stone. Double sided on both ends. Flat cap stones with one large blue local stone for seat. Two vertical stones one on right will be the entrance.

 Four stones act as steps to large stone. Two stones to right had been placed. The other lower two by large stone uncovered.

Wall head 18" height.

 Large local blue stone for seat.

You can not see the beauty of the large Shang shí dŭ yuè  - "Rock upon which to gaze at the moon."

Small wall head reworked after placing original red sand stone. This will be the entrance by walking along curved wall down four steps to Shang shí dŭ yuè Rock. Were you can now site on the large local blue stone to gaze at the moon. 

Project finish date 8/1/11
Thank you V.S. for the opportunity to work around your Shang shí dŭ yuè Rock

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How To - Compact for foundation stones

A question was asked about compacting soil. Soils vary from area to area. In my area Marlyand mid east coast. Soil is dense with clay and rock. When digging your bed for the foundation. Remove the sod, topsoil and any organic material.   Digging down 4-6 inch depending on average thickness of your stones being using. Be sure to make your bed level and compact before setting stones. Dig as needed to make adjustments.

I then set my large stones direct on earth. 

I'm able to do this since majority of jobs the soil has never been disturbed. The earth is very hard (compacted) In other cases if I have to add new soil or some kind of aggregate such as 3/4 stone.

I will need a hand tamp or more likely use a gas powered walk behind plate compactor. 

Notes: Plate compactors will have different strengths of compaction. For example 3500lb centrifugal force.  The one I use is rated 3000lb at 5500 vibrations per minute. Think of it as how much force you can apply with your hands pushing down on the ground. Then give it a rating. Some plate compactors even have such features such as water for better compaction with aggragrete. Others have reverse allowing one to walk into a corner and back out. With out having to do a circle. If you us aggregate for your base or new new soil you will need to compact the material to make the bed firm to place your stones. You can rent a plate compactor from the local rental shop.  Plate compactors are simply one of many different types of equipment used for compacting materials. Other equipment used would be  Jumping Jack, Drum Rollers...the list goes on.

Moral of the story if you are walking in 3 feet of fluffy snow with shoes you will sink. If you put snow moccasins on you will float on top. When using large stones for your foundation. They will not be likely to sink into the earth. They will act like snow moccasins and spread the load from above. They will also compact the soil as they settle over time. 

Always use tools and materials to match your needs from region to region. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

100 F Temps Hot as....

Cool off when your working on the job site

a 10 x 10 tent

a large 56 ounce cool beverage

a fan blowing fresh hot air

a radio to take your mind off the heat

a couple of buckets of water to put your feet in. (ok just packing stone)

Sweat wicking clothing and head band (Halo II)

As many of your know the last 2 weeks have been off the charts on the east coast. Nice to  finally get a little rain and see temps in the mid 80's for a change today. Working with a tent is one of the smartest things you could own. I like the 10x10. I picked up this one from Walmart for around $100. Just being in the shade keeps it about 10 degree's cooler. Plus you don't run the risk of over exposure to the sun. The 10x10 is also easy for me to set up and move around by myself every day-a big plus. I really got the fan to help slow down the little black nats that just wouldn't let up. I don't mind spraying my self with OFF every day but the home owner was ok with the use of electric. So I was happy to have the fan.  Really made a difference working in extreme 100 + temps. Every day was a good walling day in such extreme temps.