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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Slipforms – Rock Hunting...

9:23 pm - 57 degrees - cloudy...

The rock hunt has started, so far I’ve gathered 18 sq ft of rock! 

My goal is to only pay for concrete and coloring oxide mix.  The rock will be collected from around the mountain.  The slipforms will be made from scrap materials lying around the house.  And I’m hoping to find some scrap wire and rebar somewhere.
Two days of gather rocks - 6' x 3' pile.

Our home is a 36’x36’ square and I plan on rocking the first 4 feet all the way around the house with slipforms {click here} – so that equals 544 sq ft of surface area that I’ll need to rock.  Actually, I will need less rock than that due to door and window openings, but I’d rather have more rock than needed on hand.

Over the years we have dug up so much rock we have piles of it everywhere, so I have started to dig through those piles looking for rocks that have at least one flat side and nice coloring.  I have also been walking around the mountain and just picking up nice rocks here and there that are lying on the ground. 

Now that I have a small pile going, I think I need to actually start sorting them out according to size – small, medium, large, extra large.  This will help when it comes time to actually building the wall – I can go to the specific size pile that I need instead of having to dig through one large jumbled mess.

I’ll also have an “uglies” pile – the rocks that go behind the front flat-faced stones – these will be used as filler, we’ll use less concrete that way.

Sorting rocks - small, medium, large, extra large.

Since almost all of our rocks have a rough, jagged look to them, we will have a “random rubble” look.  Random Rubble walls don’t have perfectly square or rectangular rocks or stones laying in nice straight rows, instead it’s a technique in which a coursed or obviously horizontal seaming effect is avoided.  A random rubble wall is just that – random.  Stones of various shapes and sizes are placed according to their best fit.  This technique is perfect for a beginner since there isn’t any cutting or fitting of stones required.

As I sort out the rocks, I’ll also have to clean them off.  Any loose dirt, debris or anything else that can end up between the rock and the concrete needs to be removed – a clean surface is needed for the concrete to properly adhere to the rock to produce a strong wall.  With that being said, I’m keeping the lichen on the front flat-faced rocks.  I’ll clean the lichen off all the other side’s where the concrete needs to adhere to, but I like the unique designs the lichen creates and I think it will add more interest.

Rock with lichen on the end.

Rock covered in lichen.

Rock covered in lichen.

With the use of the natural, rough, jagged looking rocks, I think our home will reflect that same characteristic and will have an interesting rugged appearance.  I can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like!

“The fact that the stones are used in their natural state as they come from the fields on which the house is build, gives a sense of self-improvement through thrift, rather than by acquisition from others... The material itself combines that sense of permanence, solidity and security so necessary for the establishment of a home.” ~ Frazier Peters, HOUSES OF STONE 1933

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Slipform Stone Walls...

1:33 pm - 50 degrees - raining...

I have mentioned before how we are kind of doing everything backwards, with a lot of shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’s being learned along the way.  That was not intentional, that is just how it has turned out. 

What do I mean by ‘doing everything backwards’?  Well, the second floor is further along than the first floor.  More accurately, the first floor doesn’t really exist yet... our home kind of looks like a one level on stilts – I currently park my rig under the house, in what will one day be the foyer.  Now you understand what I mean by doing stuff backwards.  Instead of building from the floor up, we are building from the roof down.  Once again, that was not intentional, that is just how it has turned out.

The other day Tony jokingly said that my summer project could be to slipform the downstairs exterior walls.  I had no clue what that was, so after a quick Google search, I said “YES!  That is going to be my summer project!”  I don’t think that is the response he was expecting.

Slipform stone construction has been used for over 100 years.  It is a method for making a reinforced concrete wall with stone facing in which stones and mortar are built up in courses within reusable slipforms. 

Slipforms are short forms, up to 2 feet high that are placed wall thickness apart, these forms serve as a guide for the stone work.  The flat-faced stones are placed inside the forms with the good faces against the form work.  Any stone with a flat face on at least one side can be used, and they don’t have to be very thick to cover a fair amount of wall.  Concrete is poured in behind the rocks, filling in the concrete with what are called “uglies”, or stones without a flat face, to use less concrete.  Rebar is added for strength, to make a wall that is approximately half reinforced concrete and half stonework. 

(photo source: Pinterest)

(photo source: Pinterest)

The slipformed walls can be faced with stone on one side or both sides.  After the concrete sets enough to hold the wall together, the forms are “slipped” up to pour the next level.  With slipforms it is easy for a novice to build free-standing stone walls.

Slipforming combines stone masonry and concrete work to form a wall that shares the attributes of both.  Slipforming lets the builder create a flat or plumb stone wall that has the beauty and strength with the reinforcement of concrete and steel, without using masonry skills, making it less expensive and more accessible to the layperson.  The final product is long-lasting, low maintenance, and virtually weather and fireproof.

(photo source: Pinterest)

I have been very adamant about wanting stone to go all the way around the house on the first level, but we have been hesitant because of the cost.  This is a perfect solution, although extremely labor intensive.  There will still be the cost for cement and rebar, but I believe we can dig up enough stones around our property to build the exterior walls, which will be a foot and a half thick.  And it will be progress!  I’m always excited when there’s progress on the house.

I have one month to research and gather supplies before the kids are out of school and I will have the time to start slipping rocks and concrete together. 

  X  Level
  X  Wheelbarrow
  X  Buckets (haul cement and small rocks)
      Cement Mix (gas or electric)
  X  Scrap lumber to build slipforms
      Stones (various sizes)
  X  Used motor oil (paint faces of slipforms –easier to pull away from dried cement)
  X   Stone House by Tomm Stanley research book
  X   Our Home Made of Stone by Helen Nearing research book

My two research books just arrived from Amazon!


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