A Stone Arch Monument

Stone Arch

Here is a few ideas on building a stone arch monument, and having never built one before this turned out to be an interesting project.A Stone Arch Monument

Time to Build

This arch took about two weeks or more to make with the help of my son. We built it for a local man in the community, who had lost his son to drugs and wonted a monument to remember him by.

The Base

To start building this you will require a very strong footing and base, and where we decided to build this the bedrock is only a foot or so down, so not much digging to do.

Stones

It would be recommended to use any of the larger stones on the bottom, and cementing them together as you build up. Sitting on bedrock there less likely to move in any direction.

Length of the Base.

Is best to extend the base out from where the arch will start, we went out about four feet for this one. The base needs to be very well made and sturdy.A Stone Arch Monument

Design of Arch

Once the stones are up high enough to start the arch, then I made a few drawings on plywood to give the owner the curve of the arch he liked best.

The Supports

After picking one of the arch designs out, then comes the project of making a support to hold the arch up while you build it.

You can make this out of plywood and two by fours making sure to support the arch very well. We used four by four post for supports under the plywood forms.

Stones for the Arch

The arch stones are usually wedge shaped, and as we were using stones from a river and old stone walls in the area. This took time to come up with the right  stones to fit in.

The stones can usually be shaped into a wedge design with stone hammers and chisels, With some practice you can become quite good at shaping stone.A stone arch monument

Finding Center of Arch.

The center of the arch, or the center distance between the columns is where you will fit the keystone that will finish holding your arch up. You can measure the distance, and then holding a level mark the center on your plywood forms.

Continue the Arch

After your first row is complete just continue on in the same way until you have the thickness of the arch that you wont.

Removing Supports

On this stone arch monument we waited about a month after it was completed  to take out the supports and plywood forms, giving the cement and stones a good length of time to bond in place.

And well its been over ten years now and its still standing, with nothing moved.

Working With Stone

Today there are saws that cut stone and brick to the desired shape you like, so this way is much easier then the hammer and chisel. Have seen brick and stone already shaped for arches at some cement suppliers.

So I hope to have given you some ideas on creating an arch for your home or backyard. They do take time to build , but once finished will probably out last you.

Wish you the best of luck on these projects , and if any questions just leave a comment and will get back to you.

Wayne.

 

 

Making Maple Syrup at Home

Syrup Season

Its that time again in southern Quebec for the maple trees to start producing  some sap, and giving you a chance for making maple syrup at home.Making Maple Syrup at Home

Temperatures

For the sap to run really well we need cold nights below freezing, and warm days with temperatures up to ten celsius or forty to fifty Fahrenheit.

Amount of Sap for Gallon of Syrup

It takes about thirty to forty gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup, so lots of work involved in the process.

Buckets to Plastic

When I first started making maple syrup it was buckets on the trees, where as today its all plastic tubing working by vacuum pumps.

The tubing does save a lot of work and not nearly as much work as gathering sap from the buckets.

Many today also use reverse osmosis, which removes most of the water from the sap, and thus reducing the boiling time.

Tapping and Boiling

If you wont to make a little syrup for yourself, then just tap a maple tree with your drill and hammer if your lucky enough to have one on your property.

You can gather the sap and boil it down on the kitchen stove, but just keep the windows open or stove vent running for steam to go out.

If your making just a few small containers for yourself it works ok. But if you don’t wont to get your house and kitchen messed up, you can boil it outside using a propane stove as this works well also, and just might be a little more family friendly.Maple Syrup at home

When Syrup is Ready

To tell if your sap has boiled down enough and reaching the syrup stage use a large spoon to see when it starts to drop off in flakes, and also when the syrup is turning a brown color and boiling up in your pot.

There are also thermometers for this to tell when its ready. But if your just doing a little for your self, you can tell how thick it is by watching it skim off a large spoon or other metal utensil.

With a little practise you can get it just right for your own taste.

You might also wont to filter it when hot  by straining it through a cloth, which removes any sugar sand from the syrup.

Benefits

Syrup has also been tested to show that it has healthy benefits with over fifty four antioxidants plus high amounts of zinc and manganese, that help the immune system.

Some people also just save the sap, putting it in containers and freezing it, then use it as a drink year round. With all of its health benefits is most likely a good idea.

Storage

Any syrup you make can be stored in your freezer, and will keep for years. Just don’t fill your containers too full as they will expand a little when freezing.

There are also many different recipes where maple syrup is used, and on pancakes for breakfast is a favorite.

Tools

The only tools you will need for this home project would be a battery drill and hammer, and a few buckets or pails and spouts.

If interested in any tools for this project have a look here.http://amzn.to/2n7NXEj

Best of luck to anyone wishing to try this, and comments are always appreciated.

Wayne.

 

Laying Your Stones in the Right Place

Working With Stones

If you ever have to do some work with stones then this article should give you a few ideas for laying your stones in the right place.stone work

A Wall of Stones

In this case we are building  a stone wall for an old blacksmiths shop, and I am guessing that this building was built around one hundred fifty to two hundred years ago.

The old cement holding the stones together has not stood the test of time  to well, and has mostly turned to sand with very little holding the stones together.

A temporary fix for this was not possible as the wall had moved out and in  by at least seven inches in places.Stone Work

Supports

One of the first things to do is remove a few stones at the top under the roof beam, so that you can get some supports set up to carry the weight of the roof.

For the supports you can use four by four post  under the beam which will be sufficient  to hold the roof up.

As some of the wall  is left standing and only removed as you work along there is no danger of roof moving.Stone Work

Cleaning Stones

Now you can start removing  the old wall and taking your time to clean any old cement off the stones as you go. A small stone hammer works very well for this. The wall for this building was twenty eight feet long and eight to ten feet in height, so is best to do a small section at a time and the rest still standing will help support the roof.

There are two windows in this wall so we went as far as the first window before starting the rebuild.Stone Work

Grading Stones

The stones you take out and clean  are usually graded into size, the piled about three feet from your wall. This makes it easier to find the proper size and thickness of the stones when starting to rebuild.

I also try to keep the larger heavy stones closer so they can be laid on the bottom rows.

On this project there was bedrock at the bottom, plus we also widened the base by an extra foot on each side for the extra strength.Stone work

Design

The original wall was twenty one inches wide so decided to make it the same so everything matched up to the original design of the building.Stone Work

Moving Larger Stones

If you find some stones too heavy  for lifting then just use a plank, and a couple of old water pipes about twenty inches long by one inch. Then you can lever the larger stones onto this and roll them into place.Stone Work

Cement

A pre mixed motor was used for this which had a glue already mixed into it, and wet your stones before laying them in the mix.

We purchased a small cement mixer from Canadian Tire for a couple hundred dollars which saved a lot of mixing by hand, and this was well worth the dollars spent on it.

Laying

As you lay the stones it is a good idea to place a row or two before cementing them in place. This will give you a good idea of how they are going to look and match up.

Also have the stones overlap the joints in the row below them as much as possible.Stone Work

Keeping Things Level

You will also wont to keep your wall level, and as in this case the wood beam was not perfectly straight from one end of building to the other.

On the outside of the beam you can use a line stretched tight from one end to the other, and then level down from this and your wall will remain straight with your line to match up with the top beam.

You can also run a line along the bottom to match the top level, but as this line is in the way most of the time is best just to use it to check how the level is every once and a while.Stone Work

Windows

For the windows on this wall we put the old frames  back in place and leveling them to give the right size to build the stones around, as new ones were being made for this.

The stones around the window frames can be left about an inch away as the new window trims will cover this gap.

The new frames can later be secured into the cement with metal screws into anchors put into the cement.Stone Work

Scaffolding

As you progress up the wall then a strong plank can be used between two ladders to work as a scaffolding to stand and put your stones on, and remembering to wet each stone to give a good bond in the cement.

A garden hose with a spray handle works great for this, and also for the mixing of the motor.Stone Work

New Window Frames

After you have cemented each section between the windows then you can cement the stones up tight to the beam, and this will have time to set hard as you go along.

Then once the new window frames which in this case were two inch oak are installed level, then you can finish the stones above and below the frames.

This is one of the last things you will need to do on the wall.Stone Work

Clean Up

At the end you can go over the stones with a wire brush and water to clean off the cement that has run down on them.

Also any small stones left over could be thrown in at the base of the wall that is below ground level.

Then sit back grab a beer and admire your work.Stone Work

 

Tools Needed

1   A couple step ladders and planks

2   Levels, I find a six, four and a two foot level work very well.

3   A few pails for carrying cement, and a few good cement trowels.

4   A few stone hammers which are a must, and pry bars.

5   Also knee pads are handy, as the stones get kind of rough on the knees after a while.

6   Some wire brushes to clean off the stones after your wall is up.

7   A cement mixer and garden hose

8   Wheelbarrow for moving stones and a few shovels.

Any questions about laying stones just leave a comment and I will get back to you.

And if interested in any tools for these projects try a look here http://amzn.to/2lRDxWl

Wayne,