Drystack Ledgestone update
This project is taking far longer than I expected when I started around the first of the year, as with most of my complex projects, I completely underestimated the amount of time required. I originally told my self, I would knock this out in a month, reasoning that I had about 20 feet of stone to do, and if I could add a band of stone about 8″ in height per evening, that it could be accomplished in a month.
Significant progress since my original post on this six months ago. Six months? What have I been doing? The truth is that you really can’t work on this everynight – other projects, and life seem to provide plenty of interruptions. For those other DYI folks out there, here are a couple of things I’m learning. A 60lb bag of type S mortar will take about 4 hours to consume, and will put up on average about 6 rows of stone, each row being somewhere around 11 feet in length and 3 inches in average height. On the last couple of batches, I mixed 1/2 bag of type S, and added 10%-15% Flexbond thinset mortar. The thinset is used primarily for tile work and is acrylic fortified – it is much more “plastic” and far stickier than regular type S. Adding some to the mix improved the holding power of the mortar, and I plan to continue this recipe as I go further in height.
Here is a closer look at some of the work – the mortar really isn’t seen unless one inspects closely, or uses a camera flash as seen in the first picture above. Since I began this work, I’ve begun to look at drystack stonework in restaurants and other commercial buildings. Most often, the stones used there are square or rectangular in shape and are of set heights that work well to facilitate coursing. I chose the ledgestone variety because I thought it looked more realistic and natural, and have found that it does require a lot more time to find and fit pieces. If one were to choose the drystack stone, especially the archietechtural series (which is very regular in shape), I’m sure that speed of installation would improve dramatically.
I’ve delayed setting up the steel scaffolds because they have a fixed work height of about 6 feet per section, and I’ve found it optimal for me to install stone in a height zone between my waist and shoulders. Using the two ladders with scaffold boards, I’m able to work in one foot increments, adjusting up a rung at a time as I go. Another rung or two and then I’ll switch to the scaffold since I’m closing in on ten feet now.
At this point, I’m reliant upon a helper, in this case my wife Leslie, to hand stones up to me as I call out for them, “no the other red one by your left foot..” Once I get to the scaffold, I’ll have to haul the rock up in batches and make selections from what I have in queue on the platform with me. The next 5 feet should be interesting, and the last 5 should be exciting, working way up in the air. I just hope it doesn’t take another six months.