Back Arch Up


This morning when I went to uncover the back wall of the tiny cottage I discovered that some busy chipmunk had cached a load of maple seeds under the burlap bags we used for insulation. Sadly I had to remove the store. I brushed them over the wall to the base where hopefully the little fellow will find them.

Peg-legged Hope helps.

Three more steps along our journey. Today we finished building the truss parts (above) that will hold up the forms for pouring the roof. We built the first one together using the rebar bending jig as a form and then each additional one is built on top of that. By using an identical pattern it is easy to build the multiple trusses. By making them only half each on the ground it will be easy for us to lift them up with people power to the top of the scaffolding structure thus saving the expense of a crane. The truss pieces are designed to slide together on the structure like one of those Chinese wooden puzzles with interlocking pieces.


Will and I made the foam forms that will even out the back edges of the wall. On the outside of the wall we’ll simply put two 4’x8′ sheets of 2″ pink form to make the forms. On the inside of the wall, below the wire work, will go curved pieces. I cut the first one using our rebar jig as the guide and then Will cut three more copies from the negative stencil of that piece.

After we are done pouring cement we’ll trim the outside pieces and reverse the inside foam positions, moving the inside ones to the outside where they will become part of our house insulation. Waste not – want not.


The foam form pieces that Will cut served to also let us check that we got our block placement right for the back wall. In the above photo you can see half of the inside foam form along the upper arched back wall.

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The two sideways blocks at the top are just place holders for the chimney. The base of the chimney is lower down. The reason for the 2×4 up against the base is that as I placed my third block (first inline) I needed something to keep it from tipping out. The 2×4 also holds up a piece of plywood that will keep the cement from spilling out the cores until it cures.


That is the inside edge of the chimney support. The inset blocks project out behind the north wall to give the chimney a resting spot. The rebar will tie into the attic floor to act as a tensor for the wall right there so the projecting blocks can’t be levered out. No tilting towers please!


Here is the official Mix Master, Ben, mixing up two batches of high slump PVA fiber concrete for pouring down the cores of the back wall. He has gotten so good at it that I can throw multiple formulas at him and he’ll produce the mixes I need, managing two different batches simultaneously. For example, say I need a half batch of stiff mortar mix vs three batches of 8″ slump core fill. Ben’s a whiz with the mortar mixers!


Before covering the walls with insulating burlap bags for the evening our final task was to set anchor blocks for the bases of the barrel vault ribs. These blocks have holes drilled through them to accept cross ties of #4 (1/2″) rebar that will act as the tensors for the roof and the top of the wall. The front wall actually has two of these, one above the other. We are doubling the front wall beam because that passes over a large expanse of windows. The cost of an extra piece of steel is minimal for the piece of mind.

44째F/34째F Misty in the Clouds

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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