The Wall

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by: Grandma Fixit on 09/21/2008 Views 13732

Budget

$30.00

Tools & Materials

  • Plants
  • Cement
  • Bricks (free)
  • Mortar mix and colorant
  • Wood (for form)
  • Potting soil

Summary

It is always best to select a site that requires no bending and kneeling. When all reasonable sites have been exhausted you can resign yourself to digging in the dirt in the most uncomfortable position imaginable. Excavation for the footer should optimally be accomplished by the use of heavy machinery. For your project it will probably entail the use of a shovel, chopping tool, root removal tool, knee pads and tape for your mouth.The "footing" for your wall should be straight, level, strong and slightly below the surface. After many hours I managed to "sink and secure"?? one eight foot 2 X 4 levelly and slightly under the surface of my selected site. This represents a little more than one-half of the width of the "gully" into which the footing will be poured. I am curious at what point ones knees exceed the age of the rest of ones body by several years. I could have sworn all the parts started out together. Pouring the footing: It must be noted that the raw material for this pour comes dry, in an eighty pound bag. The supplier of this material assumes that the purchaser has muscles the size of a gorilla and can easily bench press a small car. Unfortunately in my case the purchaser is an old lady (66) who can barely lift her head, let alone eighty pound bags. This necessitates a certain amount of ingenuity. Put the trough in the wagon, pull the wagon under the tailgate of the truck, manhandle the bag to the edge and let it fall in. This places the dry concrete in the wagon (split open) with lime dust wafting in the breeze. Pull the wagon back to the work site (issuing puffs of noxious fumes at every bump), add water and mix. Believe it or not, this was the easiest part so far.The next step is the removal of the form(after a reasonable time of allowing the concrete to set-up, this proved to be so easy it is not worth describing, just lift them outBuilding the wall: The first step in actual bricklaying involves "laying down the mortar". This is described as applying a mortar bed on the clean footing, run your trowel along the bed leaving a groove to allow for seepage. Place the brick on the bed and "tap"?? the brick in place using the handle of the trowel. I found it necessary to "tap"?? the bricks with a hammer but the result is the same.Place the mortar for the horizontal joints first. In my case I couldn't spread the mortar for more than three bricks at a time as I work rather slowly and if you take too long the stuff sets. "Butter"?? each brick to form the vertical or "head joint". Most of the mortar fell off and required lots of "butter". "When placing consecutive courses, remove the excess mortar with a quick striking motion of the trowel. Excess mortar should ideally be saved and applied to the next head joint of the brick"; most of mine was in the dirt. Once the brick was "buttered" and placed where it belonged, hammered into place and scraped, there really was no "excess mortar". Cutting the brick: I am sorry to say that my wall did not come out even enough not to require me to cut some of the bricks. If at all possible I would recommend building walls that require no alteration in the shape of the bricks but of course this is not always possible. Most novice brick layers do not have access to a brick cutting machines and probably wouldn't know how to operate it even if they did. My machine was a skill saw and required the construction of a "special" brick holder so the saw didn't just spin the brick in my face. A large amount of dust and smoke is generated during the cutting procedure so allow me to reiterate, building it so you don't have to cut them is the best way.Another problem I encountered was that all the instruction videos showed solid bricks. Mine had holes in them. After the first row "applying the mortar bed"?? became almost impossible, the mortar doesn't like to sit on that little edge, a lot of it falls in the holes and you can't "remove the excess mortar with a quick striking motion of the trowel"??if half of it is in a hole. I also found that my speed did not pick up but my knees and back got older by the brick. You can't really quit in the middle because by now the neighbors have come by to check out "your project" and you would look like a poor sport if you just left everything like that.Finishing the wall: It is necessary to put a "cap" on the wall if your bricks are full of holes; this was one of the easier assignments and was accomplished with very little language. All that was left was to fill the new enclosure with dirt, plant some shrubs and sit back and enjoy. I hope you have enjoyed sharing my experiences and are now ready to build one of your own.

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