Some more progress; what’s that light I see?

Posted by Jeffrey on Jul 31, 2006

Well, I have made some progress since the last post thanks to working on the cutting in the evenings after Tom has gone to bed. The hardest part of the cutting is that the breaker I am using

Here is the breaker; it takes a bit of force to cut the bricks!



(also under the blue tarp in the pictures below) is great at cutting large straight cuts, but not so good at cutting the smaller pieces and especially the small triangular pieces which are a large part of this design. So I have had to resort to using my Skil saw with a 7″ masonry blade to cut the tricky parts.

I’ve got a few more pieces to cut, then I can sweep in the Polymeric sand.



However, those of you that may have attempted this will realize that these pavers are really hard, so it takes forever to cut through one and since the blade is slightly less than the thickness of the paver, you have to turn them over to cut through the other side. Not the fastest way to cut through these units.

You can now see the shape of the lower path and the new sod I laid last week (in the pouring rain).



The alternative was to rent a Quick Cut saw from the Rentall store and do all the cutting in a single day or two. The problem with this approach was time (I can’t get a full day in to do all the cutting) and noise (my neighbours would be pretty upset). So I have worked on it as I could, putting in some hours in the evening (as long as the daylight holds out) and except for the noise of the Skilsaw (more on that in a moment), really not had to worry too much about how loud this operation got, since the breaker is not really loud, except for the “crack” as it snaps the brick in two.

Here is a shot of the wall and some new plants we put in the raised bed in front. I have set up a watering system on a timer that hopefully will come on every couple of days.



So Friday night I am cutting with the Skilsaw and start hearing this weird noise coming from the saw. You guessed it; it is kinda busted. Given the fact that it is 20 years old, it is pretty much at the end of it’s lifespan and cutting these bricks probably didn’t do anything to help.

So I went out and purchased a DeWalt saw, (believe it or not at Canadian Tire, not the Depot!), but haven’t taken it out of the box yet. I am still trying to coax the old saw through so I can finish the last few cuts before it packs it in. I am crossing my fingers that it will make it through.


OK, so it is taking a little bit longer…

Posted by Jeffrey on Jun 28, 2006

If any of you have been following this from the beginning, you have seen that despite the best of intentions, things tend to take a little bit longer than I anticipate. I always forget that a few things can get in the way of completing these types of projects: things like a full-time job that sometimes requires work in the evenings and weekends; a 1 year old, who definitely requires work in the evenings and weekends (:>) and generally the fact that I am not doing this as a full-time job (although I did many years ago). So I thought that 5 weeks would be enough, in terms of actual time working on this project, it has been nowhere near as long.

Fair enough, but many of you ask why not hire someone to do this stuff? Funny, I ask myself the same question many times as I am outside in the blazing sun, moving tons of gravel or cutting 2x4s. I think I will answer that when I have finished this one off and I have some time to rest!

So you may not notice much of a difference between this shot

I have to cut how many pieces??

and the last post, but those with sharp eyes (and nothing better to do) will see that I have laid all the full pieces on the top level. Just in time for Tom’s first birthday party this weekend, which we will be having outside.

What you can’t see from this angle is that I have also laid the stairs which required me to ask my neighbor Tom who is a retired bricklayer (no relation to Tom the birthday boy), the correct consistency for mortar after I had mixed a batch. He was good enough to help me mortar together the base pieces for the stair after I had spent a good 2 hours chipping old mortar off them and using the abrasive blade on my skill saw to cut them to the right size. (Just a quick note: while the saw trick works to score the pieces, since they are so big (8″x8″) you still have to figure out a way to get them to split where you want.)

So in this shot

In this picture the bottom path shape is roughed in. I changed my mind a bit on the shape after cutting the original to the right.

you can see that I have roughed in the lower path and hopefully I will have less cutting here because as you can see above I sure have enough in the upper section. That’s what you get for trying to get around using straight lines for everything.


Sun Cloud and Rain

Posted by Jeffrey on Jun 4, 2006

So over the last week, I have worked on the backyard mainly when I came home from work. Come home, eat, put the baby to bed and move a ton of gravel. Literally. I had to rebuild the ramp because when we constructed the wall, there was no way to get the gravel and pavers back to the area near the deck, so I had to build a solid ramp to get the wheelbarrows filled with gravel etc, up the wall so I could dump the stuff. Fair enough.
What has become apparent is that we don’t have enough gravel (Called HPB, or High-performance base material) for the entire job. So I have to do some more calculations to figure out how many more tons I will need. Probably about 3 more tons will do it. This is in addition to the 9 tons we got originally. No wonder my back is sore.
At least today turned out to be sunny. Saturday I got back from Tom’s music lesson and some shopping in the morning and thought that the persistent rain which had started first thing would be over soon and I could work the rest of the day. So I put on a windbreaker and a hat and went out, fully expecting that the rain would stop and the skies would part and it would be sunny and beautiful the rest of the day. No such luck. After about 1 1/2 hours of being soaked to the bone, I gave up and came inside. Luckily today was much nicer,
So I finished building the wall all around the raised section of the patio, and had to make a quick trip to the depot to pick up a few extra wall sections to finish it off today.

You can see the area I just laid today.

I leveled the first section near the house and put down some pavers and so far it is slow going. That’s because someone has to stay inside (or occasionally outside) to look after the baby, because he although he certainly seems to want to work, he is a bit to short to handle a shovel yet. So I have to load the wheelbarrow with pavers, run them up the ramp to where I am laying, and then pull them out, one-by-one. No problem, as long as we get it finished for the end of the month, in time for Thomas’ first birthday party, which will be (as I am told) a backyard BBQ. No pressure!
Now the next task will be to figure out how to get the 3 tons of gravel delivered as we still have 4 skids of pavers in the way…


The first delivery (stone etc.)

Posted by Jeffrey on May 23, 2006

We started the patio/path project this past weekend and the idea was that I would take the week off to see how much we could get done and figure out how to do the rest in bits and pieces over the next few weeks. I was not for an instant thinking that I could finish in a week, especially given that at our house even outdoor space is at a premium.
Here is a before shot (sorry it is a little dark).

You can see the sod before I got at it with the (manual) sod cutter.

The plan is to rip up the first bit of nasty old sod (which despite my best efforts was even at this early part of the season, sprouting a robust amount of crabgrass) and replace it with a patio. To connect up the patio, the space beside the deck, which currently has old red brick pavers (anyone out there want a bunch? They’re free and you can take them away!), and the section connecting to the driveway will be done as well.
So I rented a manual sod cutter and that thing would put any stairmaster to shame. You use it by pushing and kicking it under the sod so it only cuts the top 2-3 inches of grass and dirt and (hopefully) cuts a nice swath about 12-15 inches wide so you can just pick it up and expose the dirt underneath. Let me tell you it doesn’t always work out that way…

Just after the first day.

So on the previous Monday I got a call from a buddy of mine who runs the landsaping company who said they pulled some material out of a clients yard and since they couldn’t use it because it was sort of damaged, did I want it? Well since the price was good, I said sure. They dropped it off Friday and man those pieces were big and heavy! So heavy in fact that we didn’t have a clue how to move them as they were in back of the house and we needed them in the backyard. Wheelbarrow? Not a chance- too unstable. So we went with his recommendation and used a dolly we used to formely move books etc. Wouldn’t you know it, he was right! As an added bonus I got a sheet of chipboard cut down so that I could lay it under the dolly and it really did the trick moving those heavy pieces over rough terrain. The final piece of wood gave way as we were moving the last piece into place and we actually shredded a hole through the center where the wheels were.

You can see how big the pieces are


You can see what has to be filled in with aggregate.

Tomorrow we are getting 7 tons of aggregate delivered to put in the patio and paths. Someone has to move it…


Is it a Reno, if it is outside?

Posted by Jeffrey on May 10, 2006

Ok, I know it may be a bit of a stretch, but in the spirit of carrying on, I am going to try to document a project we will be working on this summer. We are going to put in a patio, retaining wall and brick paver path. I guess it is sort of a ‘reno:’ we are ripping out some stuff to allow us to put in what we want. So what if it is only grass and plants (not drywall and studs)…
For those who haven’t seen, I constructed a two-level deck

In this picture the deck is about 90% done

about 2 years ago and of course it took longer than I originally thought. Now we are putting in the patio and walk to hopefully tie it all together!
We went over to my friend Peter’s yard a couple of weekends ago to look at some of the materials he had in the yard and to get an idea of what was available. Too bad the weather was cold and damp. The rain was coming down sideways and we were just able to be out there long enough to take a few pictures and then back to the car to dry out.
Now I am putting together a plan so that we can figure out not only what it will look like but how much material we will use.