Saturday, May 31, 2014

DSWA The Stone Trust - Instructor Course 2014

May 27-28, 2014.  Nine wallers came together all for the same cause to be the next group of DSWA Certified Dry Stone Instructors to graduate from The Stone Trust. I was one of those nine. 

Left to right... Brian Fairfield ME, T.J. Mora VT,  Seth Harris VT, Jamie Masefield VT, Kim & Jerry Coggin PA  • First Husband and wife team level 2 certified and Instructor/ first certified women at level 2 con-grads to both, Michael Murphy MI, (Instructor Steve Jonas VT), Me - Mark Jurus MD, Scott Young Quebec. Now thats one amazing class of students. 

The first part of the each day we spent working with our instructor Steve Jonas from Concentus Consulting. Who taught us about all the different learning styles, ask questions, learn to listen, ask more questions, give feedback and so much more like Johari Window, Heli Veiw, Myers - Brigg Type Indicator.....

Lets not forget how to stand on a box for 10 minutes without touching the ground. Moral of the story? People don't always listen clearly when given directions. 

Lunch break! 

Each day we all spent about 20 minutes roll playing down in the lower barn. Brian above and Seth below work with all of use to teach us something new. You might notice in the above photo short sleeves, then the next day everyone was in hats and jackets. 

What a great class thank you to all for such an amazing time!! The road trip back home threw the mountains of PA was picture perfect.

Monday, May 26, 2014

DSWA Instructor Course @ The Stone Trust Vermont

I'm headed to The Stone Trust in Vermont (5/26 -29/2014) to become Maryland's first Certified Instructor by the Dry Stone Walling Association of UK. I look forward to the opportunity to offer workshops in the near future at Meadow Creek Farm Located in Hampstead MD. 

The Stone Trust offers courses and testing in the craft of dry laid stone all year round. Take a look at their website:

While I'm up in Vermont I plan to document a few of the wallers on video and also travel to see the Five Dry Laid Stone Arch Bridges in NH still in use today!

Title: 5. Historic American Buildings Survey E. W. Clark, Photographer CARR BRIDGE REBUILT LOOKING NORTH - Old Carr Bridge, Spanning Beard Creek, Hillsboro, Hillsborough County, NH
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540
Latitude/Longitude: 43.11472, -71.89556

1) Carr Bridge (mid 1800's) 
2) Gleason Falls Bridges (circa 1830)
3) Gleason Falls Road over Beard's Brook (mid 1800's) 
4) Second New Hampshire Turnpike Bridge (circa 1864)
5) Sawyer Bridge (circa 1866)

Title: HABS NH,6-HILL.V,1B- (sheet 1 of 1) - Old Carr Bridge, Spanning Beard Creek, Hillsboro, Hillsborough County, NH
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 

Title: 3. Historical American Buildings Survey L. C. Durette, Photographer May 15, 1936 GLEASON FALLS BRIDGE DETAIL FROM DOWN STREAM - Gleason Falls Bridge, Spanning Beard Brook, Hillsboro, Hillsborough County, NH
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tool - ZipLevel Pro 2000

Why would you need a ZipLevel?  You don't unless you build level, build steps, check elevations, currently use a laser level just to name a few.

What does it do?  Elevation Measurement System..... in simple terms it measures vertical up or down. The display measures in fractional inches, decimal inches, feet, feet-inches, centimeters, and meters. Can your laser do all that?  It can even tell you the outside temp!

It also takes up less room then a laser level. Best part this device makes me more efficient with my time and accuracy on the job site. I'm able read the digital display (which runs on a 9 volt battery) is so easy for me to read and understand. I'm able to go 40' vertical and with the 100' cord I can measure over 200' circle. Best part it can go around objects. Are you sold yet?

How does it work? Well I'll give you the short version. It has fluid in the middle of the device which flows in the cord. The pressurized system measures the weight of the liquid in the sealed cord between the box and the unit. OK just kidding its really magic... ha ha more like magically easy to set up, read, use and carry to any job site.  ZipLevel User Guide

How do I use my ZipLevel? When I go to a job site I can either check how a project was built or simply get measurements to help me with the planning process. I had one job that had so many over grown plantings between each end of the old wall - I wasn't able to see how it was built. As seen below.

click to go larger
With the ZipLevel I could check the end to the left past the blue tarp then the other end to the right by the brick steps. Of course this was the only sections of the wall left since another contractor walked off the job. He removed all the middle section of wall. In less then 2 minutes I had my answer.  I started at the right side by the steps - zeroed out the device then walked to the other end to find that the 45' length of wall was 1" off in height from one end to the other. With this I was able to determine the wall was built level.  I would rebuild this wall exactly the same way it was built in the landscape. Finished wall below.

As you can see built level from each end. It was great when setting my walling frames, I just made a mark on each one as to where I needed to be in order to be level. Then I set my string line up to make sure the home owner was happy with the height. This was a great way for client to have a visual to see what the size would be.

This is also a great idea when going to meet with a client. In just minutes you can set a wooden stakes making the needed marks and setting a string line. Just so the client could see what your proposing. You can't do that with a laser level.

The ZipLevel also helps me with building steps.

The best part of building steps I take a measurement at the bottom grade then go to the top of the bank to see what I'm working with.  Next I determine what my rise in my steps will be along with my tread to determine how far into the bank along with how many treads I'll need. So for example the height is 42" now if I would like to use a stander rise like 7". Take 42" -:- 7" = 6 treads (steps) like this project above. 

As I'm building with each step I can measure up. So at this point I place the ZipLevel Box on the tread (step) the last one I just placed.  I ZERO it out.

Next I move the box up to see where my 7" will be in order to start digging and building for the next step. These treads are only 3" thick so I need to build up 4" under them to get my correct height.

Using the ZipLevel helps make my job easier taking the guessing out. I'm sure there are simple ways to do this with out fancy tools. Since I'm not good at math this tool works the best for me. 

This project - Beechdale Road, is another great examample where I used the ZipLevel a good bit.  The biggest help was when I was building the foundation. The project required 8 steps to get to the bottom. With this build I was working off the top of the driveway which was my ZERO mark. Then I move the ZipLevel down to the bottom of the foundation.

I would be starting with the bottom step FIRST - Scary!!!. Building all the walls round each step before I moving up. If the first step was off the hole project would be off by the time I would get to the top of the driveway. I don't think that would be a good situation to be in once your done.

Related Blog:
PA Blue Stone Steps - Beechdale Rd,  Roland Park MD

The other part of this project where the ZipLevel came in hand was the corner of the retaining wall and the cheekend (wall head) to keep both of these at the same exact height. All I had to do was mark my walling frames to know where the top of the wall would end on each. 

Related Blog: 

On this project I built a patio at the end of the steps. I wanted the last step off to match all of the steps to the porch. This measured at 7" down. With this in mind this would be the top of the patio. Now I would need to excavate down in order to be able to build back up to the 7" (now my ZERO MARK) off the porch steps. Knowing I had Pa blue stone which measured out at 2" then my base of 3/8 stone would be 3" I dug down 5". With the ZipLevel I could simply place the box at any place in the excavated field to make sure I was -5" below.

What does it cost?
$899.00 100' cord PRO-2000 ( this is the unit I use)
$699.00 75' cord PRO-2000B basic

Should I buy USED? You can buy a used unit you just have to make sure if the screen is flashing "CORD" you will have send it back to have it recalibration after they replace the liquid fluid. This will cost $180 - shipping included back to you. 

I had looked at a few and found one which I bought on an Auction website only after asking the seller this exact question does the word "CORD" come up on the screen - he said NO. Well that was not the case. After spending about $500 then knowing I'd be spending another $180. I desisted the traction and shipped it back to the seller for a full refund.  After getting my money back I went ahead and ordered up a new unit direct from the company. 

A investment I've NOT regretted to this day. 

Where to buy?
Technidea Corporation
2121 East Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92027 USA 

760.480.4740 Office
760.480.4738 Fax

I will continue to dedicate a portion of my time to keep blogging on all the functions the ZipLevel offers. This is truly an amazing tool which can help with setting up, estimating, saving time and simply just a easier way to read numbers. I for one am all about easy after all I'd rather save the hard stuff for lifting stone.