Thursday, March 29, 2012

Loyalsock Trail PA

A year and a half ago me and my wife headed to my hometown Dushore PA for my birthday getaway. This year we went again just to get a vacation before the the year was over. One of the most important thing I was able to do was take photos. I had lost every one on my hard drive not to long after returning from the first trip. In my head I had all the photos I had taken all planned out. This was just one of them. An old rail road bed which has several dry laid stone lintels build to allow the streams to pass water throw them. Some of these stones measure in at 4' L x 4' W x 16" H. I believe all of them had been made stone from the area. They using feather and wedges to create the blocks they needed for the build. Amazing to see in person - take a hike on the Loyalsock trail and see for yourself.

To read my first blog check out My Home Town

More to come soon.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Watermarks - Protect Your Intellectual Property

You might have noticed this on my photos in the last month. 

Watermark- Yes! Do you use them? Did you hear about the 12 high school students whose pictures ended up on a Porn site? Yup that's right. Is this something you should be concerned about?  I don't know.  Do you have kids? No kids, no worries...wrong you should always be worried. 

Do you also know someone can use 10% of written content as long as the source has been credited?  YOU CAN NOT - CAN NOT - take someones photo(s) without permission! CAN NOT. 

What got me started? I had a meeting with a local landscaper architect.  In the summer of 2011 I was asked to bid as a sub contractor on one of his jobs that included Dry Laid Stone Construction. In my area dry stack stone is something landscape companies do by building walls 12" high around trees for flower beds. Maryland really does not have much in way of Dry laid stone construction. I was so excited to see someone including dry stone in their designs - I had to meet this wonderful designer.

When the time came this year to meet the designer who cares enough to include green building into his landscapes I was pumped. During our meeting at his office I was able understand what he does and explain to him what I do.  As we sat and spoke about the current job I had bid on, he showed me some of the photos he had in his photo library--- wait he shows me some photos of stuff he likes. Ok yes photos of work he had pulled from the google image library off the web. Dry laid stone construction he liked.  As he scrolled down I spotted 3 of my jobs right on one page. WOW that's cool! Wait cool or not cool? 12 high school students......

I was honored to be in his portfolio of LIKED dry stone construction. Since my website is built on blogger but owned my google - my images become public.  This lesson gave me the opportunity to promote the safety and protection of using a watermark. I don't want my stone walls to end up on some (XXX rated).gorockin website. That might not be pretty. And, this is no laughing matter. Instead this is a copyright violation. You need to protect yourself, your work, your images. You need to keep someone from hyperlinking and or taking credit for your work. 

Making a watermark! This task takes a little more time to add to each photo, but is well worth it if the watermark can protect you and promote you all at the same time. But wait theres more if you buy now!!! We'll throw in this great safety device to keep others from JACKING YOUR PICS. Just pay shipping and handling. 

Don't be taken - add a watermark on your pictures.  

Free programs like Picasa (owned by google - go figure) can create a basic watermark with copyright very easily. You can find just about anything on the web and there are many programs you could use. I use Photoshop in order to mark my photos. Something is better then nothing. Any photo you put on the internet needs to have a watermark.

PS. A water mark is also what someone might find on there coffee table after setting down a cold beer without a coaster. Not to get the two confused after a long day of stone walling.

Related Blogs:

Business Sense - Who's stealing your Photo's? Copyright Violation

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How To - Wall Stone Ingredients

I wanted to take a moment to show some examples of wall stone used in building a dry stone construction. Stone needed for your wall may vary depending on style, region and available materials. Did I miss any thing? 

Foundation stone should be some of your large solid stone which should lay flat on earth.  A good solid foundation is the start to anything good. You don't build a house on a crappy foundation, same goes for a wall. The better your foundation the easier your wall will go up. For my walls I try to find stones which range from 4-6 inches. Stones larger then this are hard for me to find plus difficult for one man to place and set.

Packing Stone / Hearting - These are the small stones used to help put between the voids of your larger stones - face stones. Without a well packed wall, things are destined to fall apart. I've had the opportunity to see a few walls fail because of no packing or lack of it.

Keeping things easy I normally run to my local stone yard to pick up about 5 tons of yard material. As seen in this pic above. I get a little of everything in the mix. Stones range from BIG to stone dust. I use what I can. Saves me a lot of time. Otherwise I just go hiking in our horse pastures to gather up contractor buckets of stone. A bucket of stone really doesn't go that far on a wall. So if your planning to gather - have a lot of buckets and time. 

Corner Stones - If your wall includes corners you will need to be sure to find and put aside any stones that happen to have square edges. 

Another corner stone - right side and bottom back this will make a great right corner as seen on the upper picture.

Face stones or building stones - I've marked the stones with red dots which have good faces. A stone with a good face also needs to be placed into the wall with length in. A stone that is 8 inch min. length is key. Otherwise the stone would not be structurally sound for building. Such as a tracer. Stones which may not have as nice faces can be used on the back side of a retaining wall. On free standing walls you should always have your facing stones facing outside so you can view them. 

It takes time to spot face stones unless you have alot of nice stone. Or you spend a little bit of time shaping. Little by little one will learn how to spot stones - stones for building walls.  Find the shape you need and fit it into the wall.

This pictures is an example of face stones being placed into a wall. Notes: stones will vary from area to area such as rip rap - stones which may have a shape such as football triangles.... etc.  Or notice the wall below.

Tie Rock or Through Stones - These are the long stones which need to be the width of the wall then a couple more inches if they protrude out of the wall. This is a common practice on most walls but not all. These stones above are 24" - 26"in length. Intended for a freestanding wall I'm building which is 4' high. Same as size as pictured below.

This wall was built at the Stone Trust in Vermont. The stone has some nice looking square stones along with a lot of rounder rocks. 

Cap Stones / Covers / Coping- From region to region, customer, waller, or stone type caps will very. In the United Kingdom or Kentucky it is not uncommon to see vertical coping. The wall above has large flat cap stones with vertical copes. 

Cap stones should always have some thickness, size and weight. A stone which is too small may easily be knocked of the wall. I have seen a few walls in my area built by landscape companies who sometimes build a nice wall but don't use any stone with mass on the top. This is how I built my first two walls when I didn't know any better. Without good caps the wall will not be solid. You can think of it like the tie stones or a boat anchor. You need something to keep the boat from moving right? Or how about a cake without icing on the top. Might not be as good without it. I love icing.

Random vertical coping without flat caps under them. If you can use a flat cap under, your more likely to keep water out. If you think of a roof - you normally have a little overhang this allows the water to roll off the edge away from the house just as it will with a wall. For example if the top of the wall is 12" a 16" will give you 2" of over hang on each side. I've seen a lot of historical walls without the flat cap stones under the vertical caps in Kentucky. Most are still standing. The reason for this is - finding enough large stone is not so common when you have miles and miles of fence (dry stone walls). 

These stones I had to place with a skid steer. They are 2 person stones ranging about 4" high by about 24" wide and 20" length in size. This wall was built as a seating wall for the client. The back side are smaller stones but still have some extreme weight to them.

Additional flat cap stones. 

• Foundation Stones
• Packing Stones
• Face Stones 
• Tie Stones
• Cap Stones
- Just to name a few.

The best thing about Dry Laid Stone Construction. Very little stone is wasted when building. 
When you're building a wall picking and sorting stone remember what stones you will need for each part of the process. If you spot them early on you will save yourself a great deal of frustration later and $. Not to mention your wall build will be more like a well oiled machine. 

Just don't spend all day sorting stone. It can be easy if you're new at walling to become obsessed with stone. Gather and build, gather and build!!! 

Other helpful Image on Stone Trust "Your Wall"

Monday, March 12, 2012

How To - Tie Rocks / Through - Stones

Ties Rocks or Through Stone are the same thing.  I'll call them ties. When building a freestanding walls or retaining walls it is very important to build with ties. Tie stones helping make a wall structurally sound. Ties stones are used to help tie the front and back of the wall together. Over time the wall will settle along with rise with frost heaves making it a flexible system. The ties will keep the wall from bulging outward by lock it together.

Illustration/spec sheet provided by the Dry Stone Conservancy USA.

This is the specs for 2011 DSC competition of a historical wall at Shaker Village KY. Most walls at this site are 36" high with 12" of vertical coping stones. Ties are placed at 18" up - level, spaced out 36" on center, protruding on both sides 2-3". 

2011 Dry Stone Conservancy DSC 8th Annual event at Shaker Village in KY. This wall section only had ties placed flush on this side but protruding on parking lot side. Set on level at 17" from grade. 

This was a the Warren Road retaining wall project at the first row of tie stones placed 36" on center. The original wall did not have them. Nor was the original wall 4' wide at the base. These ties were placed at 22" up. This wall did not have any stones to act as ties. I purchased PA Blue stone in order to add them into the wall. Not all walls will have ties. Some areas which are historical may not have used ties. Some areas do not have stone adequate as ties. Some stone may not work with ties such as rubble. Some walling styles just don't use them such as in areas of Carven district of Yorkshire*. If your working with stones you can layer and creating a double wall then you should be building with tie stones. 

When possible you should always use the larges stones you have for ties - of course within reason. You want to be able to lift them with at least one or two people. You should always pack underneath of them making sure every thing is tight. My ties above I used a level to help insure they were level front to back. (this day was raining so I just happen to keep both levels on this tie under the tent-no other reason to check it twice..ha ha) Make sure just like any stone you cover your joints below. If you don't happen to have tie stones long enough for the job you can use two long stones to help run past each other. But I would advise before you consider this read up more by purchasing the DRY STONE WALLING - a practical handbook. If you don't own this book and you enjoy walling or you consider yourself a professional. You should add this to your collection! A over whelming amount of content.

This is the upper row of tie stones 3' long - tie back into the bank on the Warren Road Project.


Notice tie stone protruding and set level. With walls over 48" it would be suggest to use additional ties set at half way points. On this wall which was 7' with flat caps I did 2 rows of ties placed at 22" up. My tie stones I used were 2" thick. The Dry Stone Conservancy DSC suggests walls 36"- 48" tall use one row of ties half way up. Walls 48"-60" use two rows at equal height. Walls less then this ties would not be necessary. But you could stager or place them random if you had a great deal of longer stones. This will only strengthen the wall.

In this picture above the red dots show all the tie stones as recommended by the Dry Stone Conservancy DSC to be staggered or centered above the lower row.  

Tie stones are a key ingredient to make a structurally sound wall. Note: In United Kingdom not all walls use this building practice. In the USA this was very commonly found in all historic stone fences in Kentucky built by the Scottish, Irish and English immigrants. These historic walls over 100 years still stand today! Some of the walls even had ties stones which staggered through out the wall in random placement. 

I believe historical structures show us the value of "Sound" construction without a Civil/Engineer telling you other wise in the USA. The lack of education and awareness is alarming in the United States when it comes to dry laid stone construction or walls built without mortar. 

Dry Laid Stone Construction which fails is most likely due to improper building. Not following the key building rules will add to accelerated failure. 

• Covering joints
• Length into the wall
• Pack the wall from the inside
• Lay stones level

Masterclass - Through Stones by Sean Adcock
Reproduced by kind permission of the author Sean Adcock -
MC Through Stones Summer 07

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Advertising 24/7- Rockin' Kia Soul 2012

Since 2007 I have spent a great deal of time driving back and forth to Kentucky to learn the craft of Dry Laid Stone Construction (dry stack stone). The Dry Stone Conservancy has for years helped to educate those interested. In the last year I have spent even more time traveling down to Kentucky and up to Vermont for testing. So with more road trips in the works I needed to retire my faithful 1993 Honda Accord. In my 29 years of driving I have never owned a new car. Wow amazing concept "NEW".

Three years back when the Kia Soul first hit the market my wife bought one. After seeing just how great this little car/truck was, I started looking at all my options. I wanted to get good gas mileage (I'm getting 28 city-she of course gets 35 {1.6 manual} I must have something wrong with my foot? ) I wanted room to carry shovels, wall frames, tools etc.... Comfortable for road trips. Last but not least a great $$ VALUE! 

I looked at used Honda Element's- kind of ugly but lots of room I have to say. Not so great on gas, extremely pricey - sure do a great job holding their value. 

The Scion xB was a bit bigger then the Kia but also bad on gas and more money starting at $17k. With a 22 city / 28 highway MPG.

I even considered the Nissan Cube- Ya nope...very cute- love that back wrap around window. Starting at $15k. With a 25 city / 31 highway MPG.

Hands down it was back to the 2012 Kia Soul. The Base price models with 1.6 L Manual 6 speeds start at $14k. With a 27 city / 35 highway MPG. I went with the automatic 1.6 and am lovin' it! Got to love that new car smell. Now I'm spoiled with satellite radio, nice little sound system, blue tooth, paddle shifting... man this is a hoot. For the price of a nice used car I was able to buy a new Kia Soul. I couldn't be happier. Now I drive everywhere I can - I even make up excuses to drive places. 

The next task on the list was advertising. I got a hold of my buddy at M5 signs. We worked up a plan and he put it together. I bought the black Kia just for the reason of being able to work with my logo. Ya I know my wife told me I'm going to be cleaning it every day - that it might get old. But thats ok I love this little Soul. (She's always right!) Back to the logo's. Besides just sticking with the basics I went with Highway Reflective White Vinyl. The benefit is I have 24 hour advertising. Something people don't think about when they make signs to market their business. You have to get your money's worth any way you can these days. The phone # is my Google voice number. So now I'm sure to drive all over town just to be seen. Ya ok I love the satellite radio and the fact that it still smells new I admit it.

One lead from this advertising on the Kia will have paid for it self. With that kind of return on your money I might need a few more to add to the fleet. I'm just happy I can now show up to the job site in something that matches the level of professionalism of my work.

Thats what you call one Rockin' Kia Soul! 

Or as some know it...the Hamster car!

Enjoy the Kia Soul commercials below - party rock in the house tonight...

Kia Soul

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dry Stone Resource Blog

For those who have not had time to look at my other blog- Please do so now.

Dry Stone Resource

This site is intended to help Educate, promote, preserve, inform both the professional industry along with helping the home owner. Understand Dry Laid Stone Construction. A resource for free listing of Dry Stone Masons in the USA, definitions, workshops, testing, events, along with technical documents and so much more.

I'm currently building a list for Certified - DSC or DSWA Dry stone masons in the USA. If you're certified please email me your information.