Sunday, July 22, 2012

How To - PA Blue Stone Steps - Beechdale Rd, Roland Park MD

Beechdale Project includes 8 PA Blue Stone Steps. The bottom steps measures in at 3 ft long with the top step being 4'. The interesting thing with PA Blue stone slabs each stone ranges in sizes these are from 3"-5" as seen with the 4th step up is 5" thick. This build incorporates tying the steps into a freestanding wall on right and retaining wall on left (as seen below) . The steps have a 6" rise with a 14" tread. Making walking up and down them very easy for any one. 

I start with slabs of stones. Then I use feather and wedges to make the slabs into the sizes I need. My goal is to create a min of a 16" tread. 

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How To - Wedge and Feathers Voodoo Magic

Next I measure out my stone step to determine what I need to build under each one to get me to my goal of 6" rise. Some of the biggest issues with natural stone - one side might be 3" the other 4" and the back side some thing totally different. Making it very challenging some times to get the stone to be level. Most of the time I shoot to have each step drop a little at the front in order for water to run off quicker. Then again your working with natural stone you do the best you can. 

The steps I'm building with I've kept the drill marks since the home has a great deal of stones with them over the window frames. So it gives the look that the steps had been built at the same time period. Visually tying the two together. 

Next I set up my square to make my marks for the next steps. Using a crayon I mark a cross two lines one for 14" and the other for 16". ( placement of the step above)

The 16" mark is where I start to build up my stone under the step to get me to the 6" rise I need. The 14" mark is my over hang of 2" to give a little contrast and negative space under the step. 

Next I'll use a string line or my 8' level to get me to the needed height for my under step build. I find the size stones and build to the string line or level. Taking into consideration of any size differences of the step I'm setting ie. one side being  3" and to other 4".

As seen in this photo I set my first stone at 3" since I'm using a 3" step in order to get my 6" rise. 

Then I build back just like a wall. Compensating as needed in order to make my step level or pitch a little down at the front for water to run off. Building steps for me are like setting tie stones. Once you set the stone you have to make sure all voids under the stone step/tie are filled. ( no wobbles )

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Looking down 6 steps. Only 2 to go and I'm at the top of the wall. The top wall is the board that goes across the top by the driveway. ( level )

Whats missing? How do I set each step that weighs 600 pounds...... my brand new/used Komatsu PC 27 Mini Excavator with the Geith Thumb/bucket. Yup this is why I bought this machine just for this kind of work. Four guys = $$$$ or one skid loader with straps = Pain in my butt.  Both could do the same task but not with agility, speed and skill as this machine. 

The biggest challenge with the job has been working over a bank. I was at my furthest reach setting my first step 112" out. I have really had a great time on this project. My only heart break to date was breaking one of my steps when it fell out of the thumb. Sh--t happens! Just had to go get another one to keep me on track. Just stone. Then I was able to pull out the drill, feather and wedges to make that 4th step up. Good times...

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