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Walling sans mortar and mummies

I just finished up a very fun hardscape project using basalt.  I created raised beds around several trees with damaged root systems and also a flagstone path.  Hopefully the amount of soil around the trees will help in their recovery.  I enjoyed stacking the rocks without using mortar and it looks great with all of the plantings in place.  I can’t wait to see the path after all the mosses have grown in between.

On a job I just started, I discovered the mummified remains of either a cat or an otter, not really sure.  It looks like it had been crushed by some concrete.  Eventually this job will be a brick porch.  The concrete work took two days because of the challenges beneath a house from the 1850s.

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Rebuilding Rumford

Rumford fireplaces are efficient and well designed.  The Rumford fireplace created a sensation in London when he introduced the idea of restricting the chimney opening to increase the updraught, which was a much more efficient way to heat a room than earlier fireplaces.  This was in the late 18th century.  I like Rumfords and had the task of rebuilding one that was deteriorating from age and use.  The best part are the wolf head tiles that serve as fresh air intake vents.  It has been a couple of weeks of restoration lately as I just wrapped up repointing one side of an 1893 building in downtown Port Townsend.

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Long hours equals progress

I took the early ferry and got to the Shoreline job before 8 a.m.  It was another nice day and I was able to get the entire length of the wall underway.  The first section is ready for capping.  I got to put in some cool items today like an iron train wheel, a metal door, and a huge piece of quartz.  I love to use the wall as a place for highlighting special things.  More of the same tomorrow.

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Endings and Beginnings

By tomorrow I should be done with a Bitterroot Ledgestone garage veneer that has been very slow going.  The stones are very small so it is hard to see progress but I completed a huge section today.  Tomorrow I work on the narrower side and a shallow arch.

 

I started a new job over the weekend that is a ferry ride away.  It is worth the commute to work for such appreciative and enthusiastic clients.  I am excited for this project as it is my favorite type of masonry to do, brick and stone mixture.  I poured a footing, laid the block and started the first corner.  It is a nicely shaped wall, gently curving, two feet tall with an opening in the center for stone steps.  More pics to come next week.

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The art of deconstruction

I have a very creative client who likes things to be different.  The snaking footing pictures from the previous post turned into a block wall that is meant to look old and falling apart.  It was a fun challenge and looks very authentic.  There are plenty of peep holes to spy the surrounding horse pasture.  I am excited to see the garden expand in and around the wall.  The cantilevered section goes up eight block high and the rebar pierces the sky beyond that in a nice display of form follows function.  The rebar is actually holding those blocks up by being tied to the concrete footing and the grout inside the cells.   How did I get the block to go up and over ten foot pieces of rebar?  Well, that’s a trade secret.

 

Up next is a Bitterroot Ledgestone veneer on a garage/work shop that I started today.  Montana seems to have a monopoly on nice stone and this stuff is no different.  The warm colors of the stone will be real nice to look at when the gray skies return.  The stone is layed on a concrete foundation and the walls are wonderboard with metal wall ties.  Super sturdy construction.

 

And I am very pleased with a take home project that involved turning a second hand shelving unit into a dish rack.  I popped off the top, raised it slightly to fit a plate and then got to the business of lining up nineteen wooden dowels.  I was about to glue it all together when I realized I wouldn’t be able to fit my drill though the dowels to attach it to the wall.  So it is at the clients house being painted and I will have to line up those dowels one more time!  It was nice to work from home.

 

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Never Too Early…

…for firewood.  Just completed a really cool woodshed that has a place for recycling, garbage cans and mower.  I liked the project so much that I added to my own woodshed at home.  I was able to repurpose wood for the woodshed floor,  the recycling bin shelves, and the separations between sections.  I tied the roof into the house with the flashing but kept the structure separate and backed it with metal roofing to discourage bugs.

In another part of town I baked in the sun as I formed up an undulating concrete footing that will support a serpentine block wall.  I am looking forward to this project as the client has a unique vision that I am eager to fulfill.

August is flying by!

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Summer

I had a great trip in NY with Luca where it was pool weather every day.  We came back on July 5th to great Northwest weather as well.  Not pool weather but definitely summer.  It has been very busy this past month.  In continuing to enclose a yard uptown that I have been working on off and on for awhile,   I recently finished the gates and trellis’.  They came out really nice with good communication between myself and the homeowner.  I am happy to have made their vision a reality.

I have also been back downtown restoring old chimneys, this time next door to the ten chimneys at 810 Water St.  Again the mortar was too deteriorated to salvage so I tore them down to the flashing and rebuilt them.  This time there were only three chimneys to rebuild.  Unfortunately, everything I do up there gets covered in seagull guano.  Oh well.

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Juggling

Things are getting pretty busy this summer.  Trying my best to balance work, taking care of Luca, and getting things done before my trip to New York.  I finished rebuilding the ten chimneys atop 810 Water St.  Getting the metal flu liner in the chimney that leads to the boiler was very difficult since the flu got smaller in the middle.  It took six hours but I figured it out.  I will go back soon to acid wash the chimneys and repoint the sandstone caps.

 

On Monday I was back at a wonderful Uptown house where I have done quite a bit of work.   Last time, I finished a fence, gate and trellis around their ADU yard.  They have a majestic Redwood in the yard that had been pruned recently.  I was able to fashion a couple of those cut offs into gate handles.  Fun.

 

Now I am building a bike shed, something that is right up my alley.  I have the platform and framing established, tomorrow I will start the plywood and the roof.  I like the change of location from downtown rooftop to Uptown front yard.

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Seagulls and Bricks

My latest project has me on top of an 1893 brick building downtown.  There is a parapet wall topped with ten brick chimneys and sandstone caps.  The seagulls love it up here and have made nests and messes for many, many years.  The mortar is too rotten to repoint and the bricks are too dirty so I am tearing them down to the flashing, cleaning the brick and relaying the chimneys.  For some reason, not all of the chimneys have the same number of courses or corbel details so I am laying them all as a unified group.

The weather has been very Belgian this week, windy and wet so making progress has been difficult.  I have rebuilt three of the ten chimneys and was able to do two today so if the weather improves I should be done in a week.  Ironically, the only chimney that needs a metal liner down to the boiler was blocked by four bricks that had fallen off the top.  They were lodged ten feet below the roof line.  I went into the bedroom, took out a brick and removed the blockage.  Those bricks were caked in seagull guano and creosote.  Gross.  I mortared in a brick to fill the hole and now I can drop the liner down.

It is interesting working with seagulls.  They had eggs up there on Monday, but just shells remained Tuesday.  Another egg appeared Wednesday right near my stuff, not in a nest.  Today it was broken up.  I don’t know if my presence is disturbing their nesting but I am pretty sure those eggs did not hatch but were destroyed.  The seagulls waste no time in soiling a brand new chimney.  And they were really loud while I was on the phone today.  A little courtesy guys!

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Fantastic Weather For Working Outdoors

The brick patio was completed today and it really came together nicely.  The river rock border for the planting area and the river rock under the step really compliment the brick.  The main area for the table and chairs came out well with a nice curving shape.  I am very pleased with the results and even more pleased that the sunshine was out every day of this job.