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Ancient skills in modern (and poor economic) times?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Bull Moose, May 28, 2009.

  1. Bull Moose

    Bull Moose LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I am in the middle of a project to save my property from gradual erosion caused by poor drainage and lots of rain. Newt and others offered me some great advice to get me started and the project is turning out pretty well.

    The catch with the project is that I have virtually no money for it. My wife and I both recently lost our jobs. So every bit of dirt was hand dug, every stone hand sorted. No rentals, no purchases. On the plus side we are very green. Only the gas in the lawnmower (but it is an old push hand mower, not even self propelled for 1.5 acres) :dizzy:

    However, we did want to bring in some really large landscaping stones. The big, big ones you get from quarries. We wanted to get one for the center of our rain garden that could serve as an outdoor picnic area. In my area the prices per ton for these stones is surprisingly inexpensive.

    While I was at the quarry I had an idea. Retaining wall stones cost a fortune for as much linear footage as I am covering. Looks nice but is just not possible in our current situation. However, if I were able to CUT the stone myself from the big slabs I could fashion (with great effort and time) my own walls or borders for a fraction of the cost.

    I don't mind the time or hard work. I just hand dug a trench 195' long in horribly compacted, stony, and root filled dirt. If I have to sit there with a masonry hammer and a small chisel and chip away for hours I will do it.

    I just don't know how. Does anyone?
  2. PatriotLandscape

    PatriotLandscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MA
    Messages: 1,209

    well you would need a masonry drill and rock splitters and a lot of time weeks of splitting to get stones you want.
  3. amscapes03

    amscapes03 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 398

    Make sure to post pictures of the finished wall. I'll check back to this thread in the year 2020 to see them. Best of luck!!!
  4. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,576

    I think I'd be lookin for a job.
  5. Bull Moose

    Bull Moose LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    That's not really funny.

    My wife and I were both laid off. We live in an area that is declining and they announce major cutbacks almost daily. I do what I can to keep myself busy and to try and build equity in my home in the hopes that one day things may be better. Next time you make fun of someone who is unemployed you may want to think twice before typing and just be thankful that you have a job.

    If anyone has anything helpful to add, I am all ears.
  6. burnthecouch

    burnthecouch LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    I think what DVS is trying to say is you don't realize what you are getting yourself into with a project like this, and I'll second that notion. Having just completed roughly 200 linear feet of large quarry stone boulders (3 to 5 feet high) which maxed out both my skidsteer and mini in terms of sheer boulder size and weight while placing them. On paper it sounds good, but when you end up with a triaxle load of boulders in your yard things will look very differently to you.

    I don't doubt that your plan to use natural stone and boulders to fix your erosion issues will work, its been done for centuries, but I doubt the ability to build the great wall of china all over again without a lot of man power or machines. Both of which i'm not seeing or reading in your posts.
  7. 2low4NH

    2low4NH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NH
    Messages: 1,890

    have fun. you need a drill and feather wedges as well as a big hammer and some carbide tipped chisels. the chisels are in the two hundred range the bits are in the fifty range the drill is around four and feather wedges around a hundred. good luck learning how to cut the stone i have been a stone mason for thirteen years i am also the fourth generation of the company i still hae a hard time cutting stone.
  8. bigslick7878

    bigslick7878 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 809

    I still cant get over using a push mower to cut 1.5 acres....and you actually have to "push" the mower on top of it all.

    How long does something like that take? 5 hours? More?
  9. Bull Moose

    Bull Moose LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    About 8 hours a week. I get a lot of rain here so I get these random and sudden bursts of growth. I generally need to cut every 4 days if I wanted to keep it perfect.

    This being said, it's pretty decent exercise and with an Ipod and good headphones its not that horrible.
  10. Bull Moose

    Bull Moose LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I don't doubt the difficulty at all. What I do doubt is that requirements for diamond tips, carbide chisels, power drills, etc for an art that has existed for 10,000 years or more.

    Admittedly I don't have an army of slave laborers at my command, but I'm also not building an ancient fortress or a great pyramid.

    From what I can gather, this is what I need to do.

    1. Pack a lunch
    2. Charge the Ipod
    3. Find the grain.
    4. Score the stone in several places along the grain line
    5. Chisel away deep enough to use the feather and wedges
    6. Use the feather and wedges with a nice 2.5 lb hammer
    7. Tap tap tap gently and steadily across all the pressure points
    8. Don't breath in dust
    9. Pray

    If I'm missing something please let me know.

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