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View Full Version : How do you cut your caps?


Venturewest
02-26-2009, 03:34 PM
I just installed a terraced retaining wall using Anchor Diamond Pro Stonecut SRW's. I did some nice freeform curves but now I have to cut most of my cap blocks to match the radius of the wall. What method do you guys prefer? I just rented a block shear which works incredibly well for a split face, but when you put 2 faces together you end up with a 1/4" gap.

How much tolerance do you allow on your joints? Is 3/16" or 1/4" acceptable? Hope this question makes sense and I thank you in advance for your help.

zedosix
02-26-2009, 05:57 PM
I just installed a terraced retaining wall using Anchor Diamond Pro Stonecut SRW's. I did some nice freeform curves but now I have to cut most of my cap blocks to match the radius of the wall. What method do you guys prefer? I just rented a block shear which works incredibly well for a split face, but when you put 2 faces together you end up with a 1/4" gap.

How much tolerance do you allow on your joints? Is 3/16" or 1/4" acceptable? Hope this question makes sense and I thank you in advance for your help.

We cut them on a 14" table saw, sometimes we place them on the wall and if the cut is minimal we pass the quick cut blade thru it right there. Have to be straight with your cuts or it will look like chit. Also have to be carefull not to cut into the block under the cap.

Btw, 1/4" or 3/16" is too much gap. We do our best to keep the gaps tight as possilbe.

neighborguy
02-26-2009, 06:16 PM
I measure and cut each one individually. I generally use the handheld cutoff saw. The splitter will only be used on our sites for the end cap to keep the rough look. I like the idea of cutting with the blade in between two caps for the cut to match up. I may have to try that.

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
02-26-2009, 06:25 PM
We cut them on a 14" table saw, sometimes we place them on the wall and if the cut is minimal we pass the quick cut blade thru it right there. Have to be straight with your cuts or it will look like chit. Also have to be carefull not to cut into the block under the cap.

Btw, 1/4" or 3/16" is too much gap. We do our best to keep the gaps tight as possilbe.


I agree with Zedo, and to add you also have to cut both sides/ends of the cap somtimes to make them flow with the wall.

Venturewest
02-26-2009, 08:15 PM
Thanks for the responses. So if I am understanding correctly you guys use either a hand saw or table masonry saw and cut all necessary blocks so that all gaps on your caps are under 1/8" or 3/16"? Do any of you have any close up pics of similar wall caps? I see so many walls around here where the caps still have the factory mitre and there are the huge gaps on the backside. That is definitely not acceptable on this wall of course. Here is a pic of the wall by the way.

zedosix
02-26-2009, 09:44 PM
just a few, thats about as close I have

Venturewest
02-26-2009, 10:16 PM
really nice, thanks for posting those. Do you do a chipped edge on some of those with a chipping hammer after you cut them?

I think I am going to go buy a chop saw tomorrow with a masonry blade. I have some tear in my elbow and I don't think I can get an accurate cut with a hand cutoff saw.

zedosix
02-26-2009, 10:19 PM
really nice, thanks for posting those. Do you do a chipped edge on some of those with a chipping hammer after you cut them?

I think I am going to go buy a chop saw tomorrow with a masonry blade. I have some tear in my elbow and I don't think I can get an accurate cut with a hand cutoff saw.

this is what you need to cut those caps

Venturewest
02-26-2009, 10:39 PM
thats a slick set up there. You cannot rent one of those anywhere around here and I don't do enough block or pavers to justify a purchase. I will let you know how the chop saw works. I have been wanting one for metal work anyways. We have tons of masonry crews around here. Every single house here is either natural stone, brick, or a combo. They are so dang busy though. Hard to get them to come do a 2 hour job.

How long would you say it takes you to cut and glue caps per foot?

zedosix
02-26-2009, 10:55 PM
thats a slick set up there. You cannot rent one of those anywhere around here and I don't do enough block or pavers to justify a purchase. I will let you know how the chop saw works. I have been wanting one for metal work anyways. We have tons of masonry crews around here. Every single house here is either natural stone, brick, or a combo. They are so dang busy though. Hard to get them to come do a 2 hour job.

How long would you say it takes you to cut and glue caps per foot?

Hmmm, per foot, well each cap is a foot give or take so I would say on a 50' wall it would take one hour approx. if we are using wedge caps that really cuts time down alot because you can play with the caps to eliminate alot of cutting. Since I design all my jobs I can work known radius's into the plan to really eliminate alot of cutting. Now if the job is with straight caps and all the caps need to be cut it would take maybe 3 hours. We've done hundreds of walls, and steps etc., so you kinda get the hang of it after a while.

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
02-26-2009, 10:59 PM
Venture, if you have a homedepot that rents tools they usually have a wet saw for rent, if they don't a 14" chopsaw works with a diamond blade. Just make sure you wear a dust mask right Zedo! After you cut your cap take a thicker scrap piece and use the rough or tumbled side to file on your cap to get the rough tumbled effect. This only takes a minute on each side and gives a better finish than a chipping hammer. If that is your wall in the pics that will probably be a 3-4 hour job for one guy to cut and glue. It's funny how you get different caps to the same block system. Our Anchor Highland block only comes with straight caps.

After looking at your pics I wouldn't worry about texturing the caps on the cuts you make. If you use a chop saw you'll get a nice straight cut. The only problem is the chop saws won't cut the length of the cap you'll have to flip the block and cut from each side.

Venturewest
02-26-2009, 11:16 PM
Thanks for the good advice guys. I will post a pic when I am finished.

jbailey52
02-27-2009, 11:08 AM
Hey zedo.. in the 5th pic... do you have any info on the downspout receptical? Never saw one line that before

zedosix
02-27-2009, 11:25 AM
Hey zedo.. in the 5th pic... do you have any info on the downspout receptical? Never saw one line that before

The owner had them already, I have no idea where he got them from. I should enquire about it.

B & B Yardscape
02-27-2009, 11:43 AM
You guys that posted pics, those are great.

What I do is cut every other cap on both sides. I set the first one where it should go. Leave a space slightly smaller than the length of a cap and then set the next one where it should go. Now over the gap I place the cap to be cut. I reach under that cap and between the ones on either side with a pencil. I run the pencil along each of the side caps.

I take the cap off, flip it over and cut it with a Sthil chop saw that I rent. I bought my own blade 2 years ago and for $15 for saw rental is cheaper than buying right now.

I then take the cut cap back to the wall and put it in, adjust as necessary the un-cut block next in line. Leave a gap, place a cap and repeat.

Did that make sense?

I never mark more than one at a time, because there are always adjustments as you work. When all are cut, I go back and glue everything.

tatmkr
02-27-2009, 02:48 PM
really nice, thanks for posting those. Do you do a chipped edge on some of those with a chipping hammer after you cut them?

I think I am going to go buy a chop saw tomorrow with a masonry blade. I have some tear in my elbow and I don't think I can get an accurate cut with a hand cutoff saw.

Call a company like diamond blade wharehouse. I get tons of phone calls from diamond blade makers. They usually call and try to sell me 12-14 blades and they will give me a Stihl cut cut off saw (ts400 or 470). I find that this usually works out to a pretty good deal, because it's generally about $1100 for the whole shebang, and the saw usually runs about $850 by it's self. One thing to note with hand cutting is to keep the thing straight, there is nothing worse than seeing all the cuts angled on the blocks or the caps.

tatmkr
02-27-2009, 02:52 PM
A well cut wall, with straight cuts, and zero tolerance. Cut with a Stihl ts400.
My only complaint with my guys was the whold block stuck in on the right, on a curve like this, there shoud never be a whole block. It just means you cut the previous one too shallow.
gl

zedosix
02-27-2009, 03:15 PM
can't see what your talking about???

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
02-27-2009, 04:45 PM
can't see what your talking about???

I think what he is talking about is the block/cap in the very center is a full block uncut and gives the radius a flat spot if you look from the top. That's what has bugged me before.

zedosix
02-27-2009, 05:02 PM
I think what he is talking about is the block/cap in the very center is a full block uncut and gives the radius a flat spot if you look from the top. That's what has bugged me before.

Ya I hear you. There are times where it does work out though, as long as you don't get that flat spot you're ok.

Venturewest
02-27-2009, 10:08 PM
Nice work on that freestanding wall. Really nice stuff. Assuming my arm was 100% and I could Stihl ts400 or similar, I think I would ruin about 50 blocks getting the hang of it.

How do you guys hold the blocks while you cut them? Don't they want to slide or even be thrown by the saw? And I guess it is just practice to keep you blade at perfect 90 deg as you cut. If you were off even a few degrees it would open the joint up.

I have to say also, that the Anchor diamond pro stonecut was a nice block for the money, but I hate caps. The wall is such a rough look and then the caps are completely smooth. Also the face of the wall block is so rough that there is no consistent way to measure the reveal on the cap. You basically have to just eyeball it unless I am missing something. Looks like the highland or the Belgard celtic has better matching caps.

zedosix
02-27-2009, 10:25 PM
If cutting by hand held saw, I just put my foot on it to hold it in place. When its on the table saw you just push the block thru and hold it steady. You aren't really trying to stop it from getting thrown. Well unless you twist it while its going thru then you better get your hands outta the way.:)

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
02-28-2009, 12:20 AM
When I use Anchor Highland I use Paveloc Creta caps which are tumbled. If the wall block has a tumbled look I use a tumbled cap if it is just a raw broken face I use a raw broken face cap. I wish anchor would do a tumbled cap but they don't unfortunately.

riverwalklandscaping
03-07-2009, 12:50 PM
if you only need to do it once in a great while you can throw a cheap dimond blade on your 7 1/4 circular saw. Just don't use a good one, use an old one that you don't care if you burn out the motor on and wear a mask. Preferably carefully drizzle some water on while you make the cut. This is more of a homeowner one time thing.. but it works.

Venturewest
03-07-2009, 03:01 PM
Here is a follow up. After all the great advice, this is what I did. Bought a 14" abrasive cut off saw and a 14" diamond blade. It worked alright, but it didn't cut all the way through the block and getting a perfect line from the underside was too much of a pain. Also couldnt deal with all the dust. Finally found someone who rented a 14" MK wetsaw with gasoline engine. That was the ticket. It turned out well, but I have new respect for the hardscaping guys.