Bond Beam Ring Up

Another glorious, sunny day on the tiny cottage construction site. Above is Ben running both of our mortar mixers. For most of the day he only would actually run one motor at a time, prepping the other while one ran, but even that allowed for a 50% increase in speed over doing just one mixer. If we had a second extension cord he could likely have gone even faster with ease. As it was he mixed 40 5-gallon buckets of concrete (six 100-lb bags of Portland Cement + sand, water, etc) and five buckets of mortar. That is almost one cubic yard of concrete! Yeah, Ben!

Will lifted almost all of that up to me on the scaffolding. He also hefted the channel block up to me as well. I figure Will lifted 6,000 lbs or maybe a lot more considering he had to tote the buckets and blocks from the pallets and mixing station. A bit of homeschool Physical Education to build strong bones and muscles as well as a strong house!

Our big focus for today was filling the remaining wall cores and laying up the channel block to form the bond beam around the top of the walls. This ties the house together preventing the walls and roof from spreading.

The tricky part was the rebar sticking up from the walls needed to go through holes we had to drill in the channel block. I had worried, needlessly, about how this was going to work out. Turned out we were able to just drill 3/4″ holes 4″ in the bottom from the ends of the channel blocks along their mid-line. The rebar was flexible enough over the three courses below that had just been core poured to move a little and fit into the holes as necessary.

I did make a mistake on the placement of windows such that we had to cut one block and then fill another small spot further down the wall. The diamond skill-saw blade does an amazing job although the process is horribly dusty. Better planning on my part would have avoided this all together.

This is how I did the scaffolding walkway along the inside of the back wall. Today it got a real workout and performed like a champ. At times both Will and I were up there with several five gallon buckets of concrete and as many as four concrete blocks. That’s a lot of weight, maybe seven or eight hundred pounds at peak plus our moving around creating dynamic forces. The platform was rock stable and never felt unsafe.

In contrast, the outer scaffolding I did with standard 2xX’s on the flat and supports every four feet or so. It was stable but the boards would bend under my weight, especially when hefting five gallons of concrete. Next time I will build all my walkways with the spaced 2×4 technique.

This is the base for the support that will hold up the stove pipe coming out of our north wall. In the bottom’s of the cores I placed pieces of foam half across the hole that allowed me to pour fill the cores of the twisted blocks unifying them with the cores below for maximum strength. On the inside this will meld with the attic floor balancing the chimney support stepping away on the outside.

42째F/20째F Sunny

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Bond Beam Ring Up

  1. Wayne says:

    I’ve been following this on a daily basis for the last month, Walter. I haven’t left any comments until now but I’m just agog with this amazing useful documentation. And that you somehow have the energy left after each day’s work to write about it and post photos. Thanks for all of that.

    There will come a time when I want to do something similar. The details may differ because of the climate, but I am soaking up everything I can from what you and the family are doing there.

    Again, thanks for the amazing documentation and excellent writing, and hope the weather continues to favor you!

  2. karl says:


    here is a link to a chimney liner system that is vastly superior to any alternative. i used to work for this guy and truely believe that this system would outlast your house even after several chimney fires. if you have any amish community in your area they will probably be able to show you an example of this system. this system is very prevalent in europe–our disposable economy here in the US hasn’t realized this technology.
    the website is lame but they will send you literature if you call them.
    i have done extensive research in this area for my own purposes. sorry to sound like a spam ad but i’m sure that you haven’t heard of this one yet.

  3. Thank you, Karl! I have been looking for something like that. For this winter we’re just using stove pipe but in the long run I plan to have a lined flue and masonry stove for energy storage. We heat entirely with wood, always have, but I would also like to have that option for the nine months of the year when cooking with wood makes sense in our climate. Firewood is something we have an abundance of.

  4. As always, Walter, I stand amazed at the strength and focus of you and your family.

    Thank you for sharing your family’s work ~

    Harriette Jacobs & Family

  5. karl says:

    masonry heater? have you seen
    i am enthralled with this guys design. although i have moved on to
    the wood fired boiler is perfectly fulfills my technophile urges, plus the radiant stuff segues my old career skills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.