Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Day 20 - Monday - Westminster MD - "still steppin' it up!"

Today was another day for steps. This image was of course the end of day. In this blog I'm going to show a few things I've talked about in earlier posts. I really tried to capture more images to cover some of these techniques/tips I've covered. 

I started off the day moving some of the blue stone pattern to the top of the hill. Keeping it out of my way and also to help to get some of the grass to pop pack where it was sitting. 

Blue Stone sheet stock
I wanted to take a picture of the blue stone sheet stock. Mainly so viewers could see what I'm starting with to make my steps. As you can see they are all different sizes and shapes. For the most part these range in thickness from 3"- 4". I'm doing my best to build 7" rise per step. This is natural stone....lol nothing is exact-I'm very much on the money! 

I set one of my first double stacks for the day only to see how tall it was. I wasn't so happy I had to pull this one since it was a little to tall and long. I went looking for something better.  

I found a pre cut scrap I had on a pallet. Perfect! The only things I had to do was remove or dress out a little of the drill marks from previously being feather and wedges. I also had to grind the top down just a hair on the right. I then built with stone on the back into the bank. Since this was a little smaller on the back end. Then moved on to working on fitting the low voltage pipe.

After that was all set I did a bit of hand digging in order to feed another pipe down the middle of the joint. In this image you can see my favorite little hand digging tool from Ames (I'll put a link soon). I also love to use the green astro turf. This is wonderful for all kinds of things. Here I'm simply using it to keep the dirt out of the wall stone.  

Next it was time to connect the pipes with 3 in 1 spray and then bend the pipe with the heat gun. 

After completing the double stack bottom course. I then went looking for a little thinner top step in order to stay on target for my over all heights. Each step should be 7" if one steps gets to tall then this will threw me off further up. I have a top patio height of 64"+/- 7"x9 steps.... also you may have remembered from yesterday the Zip Level was at 18.3/8". By the time I set this step I want to be at 21" inces being the 3rd step. This was just the size I wanted the only issue was I had to use both the tracer and pointer to give it a little smoother straight face. For those learning to shape on little pro tip when working a area always chisel in not out. If you chisel out you are more likely to take off a lot more of the stone then you planned. With this I started with the tracer to get my straight line. I ended up with a few stops which were bull noise. Think of this as point of the stone sticking out. The pointer is a chisel looks a lot like a carpenter's pencil after you sharpen it with a pocket knife. The pointer lets you take of the points for ease of explaining. 

In this image I've used the pointer chisel to remove all the major bull noses. 

Next it was time to set the stone up on top. 

As soon as I set it on the stone from yesterday. I was able to feel and see the high spots. Which it was spinning and rocking. As circled in red.

Next it was time to grind them down with the 7" grinder. 

After placing it just how I wanted with my PVC 1" rollers. I then placed my level under to make sure I had the overhang I wanted. I talked about this before but don't think I had a great photo to show exactly what I meant. 

Then it was time for the right top 3rd step. This photo I also wanted to show what I talked about before using 2 of the 4x4 to set the stone on. Next to but over top of the step. You will also see on the right 4x4 the door stops. This is helping me make the stone level. I line everything up, the front face the amount of over hang. 

I then use a metal square to work of the edge to mark out with a sharpie or crayon. The line where I plan to cut.

I do my cut from the top stone all the way to the bottom stone which I'm overhanging - the left step. I can then remove the cut piece and slide the right step away. Finishing off by now using the line to finish cutting the left step. 

I then remove all the blocks under the step. By using the 6x6 which I had talked about before with the missing section. No this is my favorite block. Any block will do even a stone will work. 

Once next to one another. I like to come back in with a tracer chisel to remove the crisp saw line. Now one thing to keep in mind if you have a larger tread (step) you really want to do this before you set in next to another. WHY? If stone slivers fall into the joint it could keep the two stones from making good contact until removed. If this is a heavy step this can be a real challenge. Chisel before setting. 

In this image I'm simply showing how I built back with stone and on the sides where my walls will be. Next I'll fill in the remaining space with 3/4" washed gravel. 

Before calling it a night. I picked the next thin under step stone for #4 lined everything up for cuts on Wednesday. But before I do all that I'll be setting my top line to make sure I have the correct tread width along with the needed height to get to the upper patio space. You can also see I did a little build up on the sides by the steps with stone. In prepration for walls to come after the steps are finished. 

Thats a wrap.


  1. Thanks for the day’s summary! I love the meticulous attention to detail! It was so exciting to check out the first three that I went up and down a few times! LOL