Ancient Colums

  Our family likes ruins, especially those over a couple of thousand years. Rome and Greece have good ones. So does England. When we made the Patio, we decided we needed some columns. They won't do anything, much like the ones in Greece don't do anything. But when they're there, we can hang things on them and have plants grow up them.

  In the beginning (June 2011), there were no columns or boxwoods. No footers or plants. It was void. There were only posthole diggers (cause the tractor can't get close anymore) and old boards. There were also holly and funny green/yellow bushes that have since moved. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here now, one year later in July 2012, are the columns, finally in place. They came along with some bushes and other garden fauna. The top beams or other features were just put on during a hot, near stormy 15th of July.

  Back in June 2011, a hole was dug. It just so happened, this hole to hold the footer for Column #3, was right over one of the Drains (also visible during Patio Part 1 Excavation). I worked around this by digging around it and leaving lots of gravel dust on top to account for settling. The hole is about 17" or 18" square. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here's the footer for Column #1. This is before the exposed base form is put on. The steel is already in the footer, this time placed a little closer together, cause I didn't know what kind of columns we would eventually use. If they were formed concrete, like we are doing, these would hold them. If they were hollow wood or similar, I would put the column down on these rebar rods and place some concrete down into the hollow column the first foot or so.

  Once the concrete came up to the top, on goes the footer form. This form, for column #3, sits on top of the concrete already in the hole (about 18" deep) and makes the 14" by 14" exposed base. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Fast forward one year and a month, to June 2012. There will be three columns. This is the test fit for Column #3. We weren't sure what kind of columns: Wood, resin, marble, steel, newspaper, concrete, etc. We priced a bunch. Most were in the $1000's except for the resin and wood ones which were in the $300 range each. So we decided to buy some forms and build them like the Romans - from concrete.

  June 21, 2012, the longest day. Here you see some steelwork on Column #1. The footers have four rebars sticking out of each. Iron workers call rebar "steel." Note I made a cage (another iron worker term). See the black pots covering Column #2? The black pots are homes for spiders. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here's an occupant of Column #2.

  These are Canadian made Sonotube knock offs. The real Sonotubes were delivered to us in the pouring rain and left outside. They turned into Dr. Seuss columns (kind of bent and warped). So we had them replaced. We got these knock offs in exchange. They were very straight. Here the top and bottom bracing is on. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image This is how the columns get their concrete. The cement is brought out from the garage and poured into the Black Mixer. Then I get about 2/3 of the mixed dough into the bucket (the rest goes on the ground). Then I haul it up to the top of the column and place it in the tube.

  Here's concrete all placed in the tube with the steel sticking out. This was before I put the cap form on top. The columns are seven feet high and 10" in diameter. I guess that is about 550lbs without the cap. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image A picture frame? Nope. Its the form for the cap that goes on the top of the column. Its made of some 1x3s, 1x2s, and some quarter round I had lying around. The plastic covers the plywood with the round hole that goes over the column.

  Setting the J-Bolts in the top of the cap. I don't remember making sure the bottom concrete in the cap will be smooth - it was a pretty dry mix. We'll see when we unwrap the whole thing in a few days. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here is the carpentry work for Column #3. The capital form is at the left and the base bracing is in the middle. The top bracing is already on the top of the form. Every form is about 1/4" to 1/2" different in size so I have to make bracing and forms for each one separately, adding about two hours for each.

  Something I figured out when working on the capital form for Column #3. I use plywood to form the bottom of the capital. Once the concrete sets, the sides unscrew from each other and the plywood base. But then the base can't come off the top of the set concrete. So for the second column (Column #3), I cut these grooves into the bottom of the plywood, so I can break it into to halves to remove it. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here is how the rebar ties into the rebar in the footers. It also shows the steel cage I bent from some wire mesh. This is Column #3.

  Here is Column #3 up and ready to place. It was ready last night (June 22, 2012), but a big storm came in about 6:30pm and prevented concrete placement, about a two hour job plus cleanup. So today we made two columns (#3 and #2). Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here are all three. From right to left: #1, placed June 21, and #2 and #3, both placed June 23. #1 is suited up in anti-rain gear. The others now wear their anti-rain gear as well as they wait to cure. #2 is not quite finished. There's no cap yet. Note the conduit peaking up through the center - that's in case I need electrical service up there. Note Porta-Shed in the background along with the Black Mixer.

  Stripping down the the columns. Column #1 on the right is done. Column #3 on the left is started and #2 is still setting up. Note the spiral marks - they come from the inside of the form. Little spiral ridges went all the way up the columns. So I took the guard off the angle grinder, put this course sandpaper like grinding wheel on, ground off the ridges. I also took the first layer of cement off to make it ancient. Finally, I took about 1/4 inch chunk of meat off my left index knuckle as the guardless grinding wheel rode into my finger. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image A better shot of Column #3. Spiral ridges are gone and the spiral marks are less visible. The white marks on the echinus (or what I normally call cavetto echinus) are transfers of paint from the molds.

  Here are all three naked columns (June 28). They are trying on some boards to get an idea of the overhang and height of the beams that will go across. You can just make out the conduit sticking out of the top of Column #2 to electrify them. Maybe we'll go for yellow and blue hues of the Roman Collesseum. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image On July 14 and 15, I fabbed up the entablatures. Except ours are made of oak, not marble. Oak is heavier. I use the EF-3 to move the true 4x6 12 foot beams in pairs to the saw horses. Here they will be meticulously carved with stories of conquest before being set in place.

  Carving is complete on two of the entablatures. These two are marked with the inverted "E" which represents the conquest to finish this project to allow me to get back to the Wall. The ends are ground down to take some weight out of the sections that are not structural, saving about five pounds total. Plus, bolt holes are drilled for anchoring them to the tops of the columns. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Even though oak seems heavier than carble, I can carve and shape it using a variety of corded and cordless electrical machines. The new Milwaulkee circular saw is pretty nices and smooth, replacing my 25 year old Craftsman. I love the green tools, including the 1/2" drill which I used for the Driveway Relo in 2008 and the cordless litium-ion drill. The most used tool this time, though, was the Dewalt reciprocating saw, which was bought for the Front Sidewalks. Then there are the non-electrical tools, similar to what the ancients used, except that they come in more colors.

  After getting the oak entablatures chiseled and formed, I test fit them out in the fitting yard. Each one weighs about 120lbs less about 6lbs for what the carvings took off. They fit very well out here in the fitting yard! The real test is the accuracy of the predrilled bolt holes. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image With the little green boxwoods lining the walkway, the EF-3 can't get close enough to the back columns to install. And given their 120lbs of bulky mass and my weak arms, I had to call in some help. So I contacted my brother, Atlas, to help me hold up the sky. Here we have already put three up and have the last to go.

  Coaxing the last Entablature into place. We are both wearing our Atlas t-shirts since we are each demonstrating feats of strength. I pounded on the last one to have it drop into place. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here they are finished. The measurements came out pretty well. I charted all the location of the bolts sticking out of the concrete. Then I calculated how far in each should be from the top edge echinus and transfered the measurements to the beams. Then I drilled the holes. I hit the 2" offset for all of them and missed the length measurement by about 1/8th on two of the four. All in all, pretty good.

  Here's the view from one end. We may put a square base around the bottoms later in the year after we see how these weather. You can see Libby, the Wheeled Wonder Dog in the the background. Click for a Larger Image

Rock On