Unavailable Decorative Block


  #1  
Old 07-16-06, 07:57 AM
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Unavailable Decorative Block

Many years ago, my Dad built a fence and a wall using decorative concrete block which today is no longer available. Is there a method of making my own? The block in question seems simple in design, with and open rectangle in the center, and angle openings further out. Same outer dimentions as a regular block, just half size. Instead of being an 8" block, it's only 4" deep. I hope that's understandable. I'd like to repair some of the damaged blocks from the last 40 or so years they've been there. Thanks.

cuedude
 
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Old 07-19-06, 08:50 AM
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Interesting project.

If I were doing it, I would try this:

Use 3/4" plywood to build a 8" wide x 16" long x 4" high box (dimenisons are ID). Cut a piece of plywood for the bottom of the box that is as large as the outside footpirint of the box, i e, approx 9-1/2 x 17-1/2. Assemble with wood screws (no glue).

Cut a couple of pieces of dimensional lumber to size and fasten together to make a block that is the approximate size of the center cavity of the block, i e, 4" high x (cavity length) x (cavity width). Fasten this piece dead center to the bottom piece of the box.

You now have the mold to make the basic shape of the block. You will have to cut to shape additional wooden pieces for each of the indentations on the exterior of the decorative block, and fasten them to the correct positions inside the mold. Actually it will probably be easier to do this step before you fasten the center cavity form.

You can mix your own concrete and use the mold to make duplicates of the decorative block. Treat the interior mold surface with oil so that the block will release more easily.

Note: If any of the decorative elements run horizontally across the end or side of the block, it will be necessary to disassemble the mold to remove the finished block. If not, you may be able to gently tap the mold off of the block.
 
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Old 07-19-06, 04:38 PM
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Hi ag guy,

and thanks for the reply. I thought for a while I had once again asked the impossible.

I don't know if I want to disassemble the mold after each one, I'll be making roughly 100 of them. My Dad built a sort of floating wall in front of the front door, and lately I've noticed the support block is cracking due to explosion of the metal inside. Once the support blocks are taken out, I'm sure the wall will fall down, hence the need for so many. I'll also be needing about 50 white 8x8 square blocks. These I amy be able to find. If not, I'll make them also. It should be a fun project. LOL.

Again, thanks for the response.

cuedude
 
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Old 07-19-06, 04:41 PM
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They are available, but maybe not in your part of the country. In Laredo we sell them. You might try searching for "solar screen block" or just "screen block". I will look in my reference tomorrow and give you the standard shape number, which may help you in finding them.

To be honest, trying to form and make them yourself is a losing proposition.
 
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Old 07-20-06, 07:49 AM
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Cuedude:

OK, modify the setup like this:

Instead of making the bottom the same size as the box OD, make it 3/4" larger all around, approx 19" x 11". Rip lumber to strips 3/4" x 3/4" and fasten to the perimeter of the box bottom, creating a "shoebox lid" piece.

Assemble the box itself as two separate pieces, each being one side and one end. Slide the two side/end pieces into the "shoebox lid" base. Run a strap clamp around the box to hold it together. Mold the block. As soon as the concrete is set sufficiently to hold shape, release the clamp and set the block aside to finish curing. {Should take about 20 seconds to release it.} Now you're ready for the next one. With that many to do, I'd make more than one mold.

You may find that the upper part of the box wants to "rack", get out of square. You may have to make a lumber or plywood "box support", with a hole 17-1/2" x 9-1/2", to deal with this.

I would also look into the information Tscarborough is offering, before I went to this much trouble, to see whether it may be possible to just buy these after all.
 
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Old 07-20-06, 11:43 AM
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Unavailable Decorative Block

The type of block you are talking about are probably called "screen block" and were made in many different patterns in the 1950's, 60's and 70's (especially in the warmer climates). Most were modular masonry dimensions (nominal size less 3/8" for mortar). Typically the thicknesses were 3 5/8" and 7 5/8".

Few are made today, so if your local Key West dealer does not have them, I would suggest a Miami area block producer. Some producers may have them in their inventory. They may not be your current pattern, but if you are considering a totally new wall to keep the current architectural style.

The process is not as easy as you probably think. It is doable for a couple of units, but not of 100. You would be dealing with a "wet cast" mix and not a "dry cast" mix as the original block used. The time to set up for stripping is quite long, especially with some of the patterns that have non-connected cores.

If you do make them, you wil definetely need quite a few molds. Check your block dimensions since they are probably modular dimensions like 7 5/8" and not 8".

Frank Lloyd Wright used hand cast block for some of his better projects, but steel molds were used (hundreds of them).

Your "exploding" steel in the support block probably was from the steel in a bond beam (a guess). Some people in seaside areas of Florida used sea water and beach same for bond beam fill, which rusted the reinforcement. (Not as bad for you as it was for some of the older buildings in Miami).

Dick
 
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Old 07-20-06, 03:27 PM
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Everyone is giving me good advise, and I will check into Miami dealers before I attempt this project.

The metal that is exploding is actually one of the original supports poles for the Carport. It's actually a 4" OD pipe. It's only been there for 47 years, so I guess it's time for something to happen.

Thanks for the help.

cuedude
 
 

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