Masonary walls made easy!
This section is a work in progress and you should bookmark it. 13th august added guestbook.
I have some photos and diagrams in progress to add soon (started 23rd April 00)
Click on the picture for more walls and how to details)
Masonary is a lot easier than most people think. If you want to try yourself but feel intimidated by all the technology and expertise involved, then you have made a good choice by coming here. I work for a masonry company in Victoria. I will try to keep it simple and easy to follow. Before you start to work with cement, sand and mortar. (unforgiving materials) I suggest that you try some walls with earth as the binder.
Earth as the binderThis is for practice and to build up your confidence.
The same basic technique is used and the end result is a little less durable but it lives! Your garden will benefit from rock walls of this type too! All sorts of plants and animals can live on this type of wall Living wall Pics. Succulents, mosses and some herbs evolved just for this.
Equipment needed A trowel, hammer, some nails, fine soil, a pail and some water, wooden posts and a level and some line or string is all that you need to make a retaining wall. With soil as the binder, you should put a limit of about 3 feet (90 cm on the height. Straight lengths are made using 2 posts and stringline top and bottom for guidance. The face of the stones are put out as far as the string line and never further. Run your eye from one string to the other to check. The general alignment of the stone is with the strings. See diagram
To make the earth binder you mix fine soil in a pail or wheelbarrow with water to make a fairly stiff mix, not runny. Apply to the top of the wall before you add the next stone, set the stone in place, jiggle it to the exact spot and carry on.
The stiffer the mix, the higher you can go. Using the 2 stringlines and bringing the stones to the line is one of the keys to building a neat wall.
Curves. Curves are hard and usually require a mason to do a whole lot of level work, check, recheck, adjust and have a very good eye. Mostly they draw a curve on the ground and simply work up from there to the top of the wall. I do not recommend that to you! It takes years of practice to do this well.
My workaround is to use 2, 3, or more poles and fairly stiff plastic pipe or small diameter steel bars to mark the curve. The poles are put in place along the curve, the plastic or steel is attached to the poles top and bottom and bent into the correct curve . Then the steel or plastic is used as an eye guide just as the stringline was used for the straight wall.
Cement:sand mix for retaining walls You should be quite safe with a mix of 4 shovels of coarse sand to one shovel of cement. Remember that you are making mortar not concrete! Mortar is generally made as a dryish mix. We often mix in a wheelbarrow if we are on small jobs and first you mix the sand and cement together dry until they are evenly blended together. Then slowly add water. Mix it all up and when your mixture resembles moist soil and the shovel smears the surface as you cut through it, you stop adding water. It might seem strange but that mix makes good mortar. It is sticky, it cusions the rocks as you add them to the wall, and you can easily compress it with a trowel or your (gloved) fingers into the joints in the rock. If you use a wet mix, it takes longer to set and (especially on small jobs) you get very little done in a day. Once again, you are not trying to make concrete! The dryer mix gives you the cussioning effect (also when the cement hardens), workability and a mix which is less corosive. If you work with a very wet mix and and even one hole in your gloves, the cement damages your skin and you will know about it!. People often work with the dry mix without gloves. You should be quite safe if the base of a retaining wall ia half as wide as it is high. For instance,3 feet wide at the base if it is 6 feet high. See diagram
How to make columns and pillars
Sorry for the delays in getting this online. I see from my page statistics that the engines are hitting this page fairly well.(6th July 00) A few complaining emails and I will be quicker :)
My wall was a rubble wall. There are other choices. Check out this wall for a different style!
For more information or to suggest improvements email Brian white
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This is a new guestbook just for masonary comments and ideas