If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A little progress report

Since we seen each other this morning around 10 am I have poured my efforts into the wall construction.
First thing was to find the height of where the future brick paver patio is to be installed.
Once I determined that i could run a line level out to check the plane of the soil.  It appears that the top of the new patio is going to be about 4 inches under the soil that is there now.  oops.  Guess I need to dig some more.  In the mean time I can still begin the wall because I no know where the brick pavers will be.

I want my wall to be lower than the pavers by 4 inches or so.  So I had to dig a big deep trench.  The wall needs to sit on at least 6 inches of gravel.  With 4 inches of the wall being buried that means I had to dig a trench 6" for gravel, 4 inches of buried wall and the 4 inches of remaining soil that needs to be excavated for a whopping total of 14" deep trench.  Of course you can't just slam a wall into a trench.  Well you could but the odds of it being straight and square to the house are decidedly not in your favor.  So the next step is to put of a string.  Pound a stake at the house and one out towards the end of the wall.
For this I use a little geometry.  Like this:
To create corners, we use the 3-4-5 rule from basic geometry: A2 + B2 = C2. This means the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the square of both legs.

I figured you would get it.  What?  It sounds like Portuguese?  Basically you measure 3 foot down one wall (house) and 4 foot down the other (string) and when it is square then the measurement between the two points will be 5 ft.  You just move your line back and forth until you hit the mark.

Yes I learned this in geometry class and yes I forgot it but luckily while doing bits and pieces of construction work my whole life I was taught a second time and this time it stuck.  (probably because there were no hot chicks around)

So now that I had a square line to work from I began setting blocks.  One at a time.  Leveling side to side and front to back using a torpedo level.  Once I had a few laid i could further check their levelness with a four foot level.  It's easy to stray from the mark when your only leveling 12 inches at a time.
A little tip when using cut faced blocks like this is to use a 2 or 4 foot level on the back side of the blocks to make sure they are in a straight line.  Using the split face on the front doesn't work so well.  Just make sure all the backs of your blocks are touching the level.
The beauty of it is once you get the bottom row done you simply stack em up, back filling as you go.

I use 23A which is basically processed road gravel for the base in my trench.  It compacts well and also drains the water away.  I also used it to back fill behind the wall.  You don't want to use soil that holds a lot of moisture because when it freezes in the winter it will push your wall out.

Now as soon as I get the propane line relocated I can finish the wall.

Until then I guess I'll dig out the soil for the pavers.  Under my pavers I will need at least 6 inches of gravel and 1 inch of bedding sand.  Let's see pavers are 2 inches thick plus sand and gravel plus the extra soil I didn't get out the first time.  12 inches.  Son of a............!


  1. Make sure the work is all done before I come to visit:-)

  2. Make sure the work is all done before I come to visit:-)

  3. Hey Bushman,
    This project is looking great - I’m really visualizing it as you are doing the work.

    Now...about the posts that hold up the deck - how deep into the ground do thy go and are they held there with concrete? (I'm assuming they are 4x4's)

    I’m in the process of replacing a rotting 4x4 post, that supports part of my original deck.The newer portion of my deck (mainly new stairs) has the concrete support feet which are designed for 4x4 beams.
    They are doing a great job of keeping water away from the beams when it rains - but the one I am replacing is sitting directly on the concrete and the wood is rotting - not good.

    Anyway...I’m interested in knowing if you use treated lumber for your deck or do you stain it later?

    The deck looks great...as does the underneath portion, which I looking forward to seeing in its completed state.

    Keep the posts coming...thanks, Jenny


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