Cutting rocks - making natural stone veneer

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Old 06-26-12, 04:52 PM
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Cutting rocks - making natural stone veneer

I live in Montana and have a log house with a concrete block foundation which is partly exposed. It currently has t111 covering it, and the blocks underneath have not been treated or painted in any way.

I was originally thinking of manufactured stone veneer, but honestly am not in love with any of it. I looked at the real stone veneer, which I think looks beautiful, but costs are high ($12 +/sq. ft.). I was wondering why I couldn't cut my own natural stone veneer? I live in a place where I can harvest plenty of rock, so I wouldn't need to pay for that. I would obviously need the tools... a good masonry saw?

Has anyone done this, or does anyone see major flaws in my thinking I could make this myself? Thanks for any help.
 
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Old 06-26-12, 07:17 PM
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With real stone you will need a brick ledge to support the weight of the stone.

Other than that, a brick wet saw will cut through rock fairly easily. The can be had starting at $300. (without blade)
 
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Old 06-27-12, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for the reply. Sounds do-able then.

Is the brick shelf needed just to support the stone to get started? Remove it when finished?
 
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Old 06-27-12, 10:09 AM
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Don't know for sure but I would think if you scored the rock with a saw and then used a wide flat chisel to break the stone - might be easier/quicker.

btw - welcome to the forums!
 
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Old 06-27-12, 07:22 PM
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Is the brick shelf needed just to support the stone to get started? Remove it when finished?
No. It would need to stay there. It needs to support the weight of the stone. Cast stone products are not as heavy as "real" stone and do not need the brick ledge.
 
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Old 06-27-12, 07:57 PM
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Thanks so much for the answers. Looks like I may have some experimenting to do.

As far as the brick shelf goes, how then do you deal with areas over doors... in this case my garage door that is 9' wide with about 2' of stone veneer above? Is there a certain height above which a shelf is necessary, and below which it is not? Thanks.
 
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Old 06-27-12, 10:53 PM
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You will need a lintel over the garage door, as well as any other doors and/or windows. And it will need to be quite hefty, without deflecting under the deadload weight of more than a hundred pounds per linear foot (including the mortar to hold the rocks in place, and assuming you won't be cutting them down to just a half-inch thick--trying to do that will result in a lot of cracking of the pieces). If the garage door header is stout enough, you could possibly bolt the lintel to it, using through-bolts and plate washers. Doing so will prevent the lintel from rotating. If the header is "iffy," you could consider sandwiching it between the lintel on the outside and another full-length steel member on the inside. Crunching a few numbers results in your needing a plain steel lintel having a section modulus of close to 1.3 Cubic Inches, normal to the X-X axis. Mild steel angle, 3-1/2 x 2-1/2 x 1/2 would work, with a total weight of 94 lb. for a 10' stick, and supported by a stout column on each end.
 
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Old 06-29-12, 09:01 AM
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Thanks for the very thorough answer! Brings back fond memories of asking my dad (a civil engineer) for help with math, and thanks to you, I now know what a section modulus is (dad would be proud).

Did you come up with the of 100lb/linear foot based on a height of 2' (as above garage door)?

Also, for aesthetic reasons only, I was going to build an arch above the door using more of a ledgestone. Since my garage is 9' wide and the space above is 2' (or maybe a little less) it will have to be a pretty shallow arch, but maybe it will take some of the load off the stone above it? Not trying to cut corners with the characteristics of the lintel.. more just thinking out loud.
 
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Old 06-29-12, 01:45 PM
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Yes, I confess to being a semi-retired civil engineer. And yes, I made the assumptions that your rock would be 2' deep (vertically), have a cut thickness of a tad over 4" and have an average density of 140 lb./c.f. The arithmetic works out to around 90 lb. per ft., without the weight of mortar or the lintel. If you decide to go with the shallow arch idea, you could get a fab shop to heat-curve any steel lintel to the amount of curve you need. A few hours work by a good man with a torch should do it. They could also weld some random shear lugs on the vertical leg to act as brick (stone) ties, to keep your mortared rock in place.

Before you get too far along, you would do well to check the total equipment investment that will be required. Diamond sawblades can cost more than $200 a piece, and you'll probably be wearing out more than just a few of them. I'd be tempted to try going the cheap route, myself--shallow scoring cuts using an angle grinder with thin stone blade, followed by some grunt work with a brickset and a 3-lb. maul. Probably reminds you of your Dad, as us engineers almost always tend to be frugal (my wife says I'm so tight I sometimes squeak).
 
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Old 06-30-12, 10:53 PM
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Thanks again. I had thought that the cost of the blades in the cutting might be a bit of an investment (though I wasn't sure how much). After looking on-line a bit, I did find an outfit that sells natural stone veneer for $4 something/sq. ft. At that price (even with the shipping), I think it would well beat the time and investment of doing it myself. I have ordered a sample from them and will check it out. If not satisfactory, I'll experiment with making the veneer myself.

Did your kids get scolded for calling concrete "cement?"
 
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Old 07-01-12, 12:00 AM
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Wish I had a dollar for every time I've corrected people for the "cement-concrete" thing--kids, wives, sister, brother, parents, friends, distant relatives, total strangers, etc. I could retire in comfort.

Best reaction yet recently came from a guy on the local Craigslist--he was advertising "cement patio support post blocks". I told him if they were truly made from just cement, a fluffy gray powder, they wouldn't be strong enough to support anything. He responded with a rather nasty, three-paragraph email, accusing me of harrassment and threatening legal action if I continued "to take liberties with the Craigslist format". That should teach me, huh?
 
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