Sunday, January 30, 2011

Responsible Walling-Site Safety

Site Safety is about the areas we work. If not careful, one could easily look over the smallest but most important issues when walling. Being responsible is key. Recently I watched a great video I was surprised to see so much heavy equipment being used on the job site over peoples heads. But 1 out of a hand full had a hard hat. If OSHA walked on the site this job/workshop would have been shut down and possibly fined. It could have been an oversight, laziness, ignorance, convenience factor who knows. The reality is if some one or something gets injured or killed, now you have bigger issues on your hands. It doesn't take long to set up. When you're plan and pricing your jobs be sure to consider safety. Once you start your job set out to put safety procedure into place. On a job I worked every morning meeting safety was reviewed. You should also check your state laws. Simple common sense can go a long way. As we all know cut corners can quickly result in accidents.

This was held in VA. The city was so happy to have this work done. They hired a road crew to direct traffic. All the participants were required to wear reflective vests and eye protection on the job at all times

This was a wall I was working on. The reason for cones are boarders horses walk past this site in order to get to the barn. If a horse spooks they could easily get hurt very quickly with all the stones laying on the ground. Also if you notice to the right at this end of the wall you will see the stake with pink tape and a protective cap. On the left side the orange cone covers the same stake. I have worked on several job sites with contractors and I'm always surprised when I hear what are those for? Man slip or trip on a stone you'll see real quick! Even the long rebar holding up the frames have been looped for safety and taped with hot pink for visibility in low light.

This was at Shaker Village KY. Notice the site has over head protection from the elements keeping the work area about 10-15 degrees cooler. The tent is tied down in the corners for overnight protection. Normally on jobs DSC always pulls down their canopies at the end of the day. The walk space around the wall as seen in both photos above is very important. You should keep a minimum of 18 inches clear. This will keep anyone from tripping on stones. Since Shaker Village is a tourist site caution tape was place around the outside area. Keeping spectators away from swinging hammers and ground stones. 

This example of job site at Wyman Park Baltimore MD. You will notice the orange fence to the right. This was set up by the contractor to protect the work areas. The walk space is live all day long for passersby so all stone stayed on the pallets as we worked. Stone from the old wall was kept close to the new build. At the end of the day any loose or empty pallets were removed. The walk alway kept clear. The wall was covered with plastic to avoid removal of frames or stones while in progress. You will also notice to the left a plywood board to protect the tree(s) from the mini excavator which was removing the old wall.

Taking small steps will make for better Site Safety.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pinning & Chinks

A pin or chink are small stones placed in the front of a dry stone wall. The pin as we will call it being used to help lift a large stone to match the one next to it. Or place in the wall to fill a void or gap. Some dry stone masons use this to help make walls look visually attractive or to help get a stone to the needed height. The down side of this process is over time the small stones may fall out of the wall or be crushed by the larger ones they hold up. Moral of the story avoid front pinning or chinking. The space in which the stone is filling will not be seen when building proper walls without them. Some times a pin may be needed. Back pinning is ok when packing your walls. To read more pros and cons of pinning-refer to Dry Stone Walling: A Practical Handbook  page 130

A few examples:

Notice all the small stones missing? Others still are holding. These larger stones are 2-3ft in size. I don't know the history of this wall located in Baltimore County on Factory Road. The wall is amazing in size and only one of a kind in the area. Seems a little over the top with all the pinning 90% still in place. 

The stone mason uses some stones to help get the lift he needs to the next stone. Other areas he uses the stone to fill the voids. Not all pinning can be avoided.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Video - Mechanical Pencil

One of the most valuable tools on the job site is the pencil. Many of us use the carpenter pencil which can be easily picked up at any do-it-yourself centers. You might say it's only a pencil. But remember time is money. When it comes time to sharpening your carpenter pencil you better have a knife or a sharpener handy. Using a sharpener on a carpenter pencil leaves a lot of wasted lead. With a good mechanical pencil you never have to worry again. The Art Alternatives pencil comes with 3 leads, an eraser and a built in sharpener. The pencil costs as little as $9.00 for the set.

Model: AA16004 Clutch Pencil Set

First film shot using the new Panasonic HDC-SD60

Monday, January 17, 2011

Video - Dry Stone Principles

How To Build A Dry Stone Wall

Four Basic Principles
1) Length running into the wall
2) Cover the joints
3) Pack from the inside
4) Lay stones level

Five Golden Rules:
1) Lay one stone and pack it.
2) Lay five stones, stand back and look.
3) Build to the line, not above it.
4) Move lines up according to height of stone.
5) Don't hammer on the wall.

If you have never had the chance to take a workshop you should! You can be a first timer or an experienced stone mason. Workshops are a great way to continue to educate yourself or your crews. It's never too late to learn.

Learn the 4 basic principles and the 5 golden rules of dry stone. Hand signs created and shown by Dale Mitchell (Mitchell Landscapes, LLC NC) . To learn more about up coming workshops visit The Stone Trust.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Buying a Digital SLR Camera

Sunny Wieler from Stone Art ask a simple question. The answer is YES...well not really yes....

A SLR can be a good investment if you plan to shoot in anything but AUTO mode. If you really don't have the time to master Manual Mode stick with a great Point & Shoot camera! I took a basic continuing studies class for digital. But I also had previous education in Photography (shooting traditional film with a 35mm canon camera.) 

There are some great choices on the market. I like the Nikon D90 (review) since it was the first SLR to shoot Video. At the time it was nice to have both. The camera is considered top of midrange. I would say if you’re looking consider the D300 (review).

This camera is a true professional level. Look for one used and spending as much as you would if you bought a new lower model.

I found the Canon's to just be priced out of my range for what I wanted to do. Between Nikon or Canon you can't go wrong. The other thing to consider don't under value some of the older less pixel SLR's on the market. In our class a fellow was shooting with an old digital Pentax with I believe maybe 2 meg pixels. But man that camera could do some stuff.

Other things to really look at are if you’re going to shoot manual you NEED to be able to adjust Aperture and Shutter speed with separate dials. Some camera's Nikon etc. have both on the same knob. This is a no no!

Buying a great lens. You can spend just as much for a lens as a camera body. Why spend the money?  Because if you don't your pictures will only be as good as the quality of the lens your shooting through.

Cliff notes
-Nikon or Canon are not a bad place to start.
-SLR is great investment if you’re not shooting in Auto Mode. Other wise don't waste your money!
-Make time to take a basic class
-Don't get suckered into pixel world unless you’re photographing for print mag
-Separate dials for Aperture and Shutter Speed- for quicker set up when shooting.
-Buy the best lens you can afford. Just having a great SLR won't be the great if you buy a cheap lens. 

Must have:
-Good SD Card. SD cards do have speed rating class's such as 4, 6, 10 these all refer to how quick the data gets transferred to them. Think of it as a recoding speed. If you own a SD card with out any data listed then chance are you have a basic card. SD (8MB-2GB), SDHC (4GB-32GB), SDXC (48GB-128GB) Lexmar is about to launch the first 128GB card
 -Spare battery - for that just in case moment!
-Lens Filter - to protect your camera lens from scratches. Cheaper to buy a lens filter then replace a valuable lens.
- USB, SD card reader for quicker downloads to your computer
-Extra hard drives-my instructor always said since memory is cheap have your images stored off your computer as needed.
-Spare battery charger kits ie car charge..
-Basic tripod

Shooting notes:
-Always shoot in Highest JPG/Highest Raw. You can always down size  image information.
-Learn your camera filters
-Trial and error are great learning tools

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Nikon and Panasonic

For over 2 years I've been shooting with a Nikon D90 SLR camera. Like they say a pictures worth a 1000 words. When it comes to having the right tools for the job this is just one of mine. It's so important to take pictures. 1) to help promote my work 2)  to document my growth. 3) "I wish I should have"

The D90 has been a great camera since it was one of the first SLR's to shoot video. I have been doing just that. I have also learned a lot in the last year about working with Imovie app on the Mac (standard program) I have enjoyed making movies so much it I felt it was time to move into a Digital Camcorder. So with all the X-mas and birthday money I bought a Panasonic HDC-SD60 after referring to Cnet for help.

shot with Nikon D90

Now I will be able to shot more in FULL HD. I can't wait. Look out YouTube! If you have any request please let me know. If your not shooting - start now. If you don't have video's on YouTube learn. Its free, you can help others, you can avoid the tv and best of all share what you capture. The internet can be such a powerful tool.

To read more about the extra's you should consider check out Buying a Digital SLR.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oldetown Historic Landscape

Between the holidays I spent a lot of time visiting family and friends. One my travels I made the time to visit some folks I call friends. One of those happens to be Jared Herman the founder of Oldetown Historic Landscape of Fredrick Maryland. I had only had the opportunity to chat over the phone with Jared a couple times. I  meet up with him at his great office space in a the lower part of a historic building in Fredrick. The white painted walls of old stones give a warm cozy feeling with the vivid moss green non stone walls. We sat at his non polished irregular granite table held by one large stone from the middle. With that sense of balancing stone art.

We talked for some time - then he was kind enough to show me around town at some amazing jobs him and his partner have done. What a great way to spend wintery days with new stone friends. The one thing that really sets Jared's work aside is he spends the time to cad all his layouts and designs. The benefits are with Monster Stones he makes no mistakes when they are being places with cranes which cost $$$ per hour. I had another friend who was using a free program from Google called SketchUp. Jared suggesting spending more time learning the program which as he points out works both as a great selling point to clients seeing jobs, but at the same time can take the guess work out for material costs and employee guess work when laying out the job. A road map one could say.

This stone arch is built out of reclaimed Lime stone. With some cuts in the lower. He was looking for that old farm wall feel. I haven't seen to many of these in KY USA.