Monday, April 8, 2013

Finishing up the Light Clay Wood Chip


Here is a video update of the shed.  Winter and other projects and responsibilities have slowed down the progress of the shed, but I have been working more on it lately.  I am just about done with the light clay wood chip infill, and am getting ready for the plaster.  This weekend we installed the door and started putting up the chicken wire over the pallets in preparation for the plaster.

Looking back on this project, I have decided that it has taken A LOT OF WORK!  This way of building is not for the faint of heart.  Some of the painstakingly time consuming things I have done so far are:

  1. The foundation:  stone by stone trying to save as much mortar as possible by fitting each rock neatly within the wall.  Usually masons will slop on a large wad of mortar and roughly fit the rocks together.  It takes much less time, but uses about twice as much mortar.  I used 15 bags.  Even easier would have been to pour cement footings.  The way I did it saved me money, and used up a pile of rocks and used cement curbing dumped in my yard by my neighbor (dumped before I bought the lot[he did insist on taking care of the pile, but I told him I had a use for it])
  2. Salvaging the materials:  I spent hours dumpster diving looking for useful materials. Then, when I got them, I usually had to take out nails, cut of bad parts, or reinforce sections.  Pallet wood is tough and ornery.  The nails don't come out easily, it is hard to cut, and never straight.  
  3. The light clay wood chips: Even though I used a cement mixer this process took forever.  We dug by hand a hole big enough for our trampoline to get enough clay.  We found that the term "light clay wood chips" isn't really "light" at all.  When you try and use a light clay slip to hold the wood chips together, they just become flaky when they dry out (even worse if they freeze while still wet).  It takes a lot of clay to keep the chips stuck together.  Our recipe ended up being something like 1/2 parts water, 1 1/2 parts clay, 1 part wood chips.  The end consistency ended up a lot like plaster.  In fact, I ended up using it much like plaster to patch holes.  That is another problem with the way I used pallets; There were many gaps that I missed while filling up the walls that I had to patch later.
Other time consuming things I have still waiting for me to complete include plastering both inside and outside and putting down the earthen floor.  The upside of both of these is that I will be using far less material to make both products.  The walls of the shed are about 10 inches thick and took a few tones of clay and wood to fill. I plan on putting just two coats of plaster on the walls, so they shouldn't take as much clay .  I will need to sift the clay better, but a good chunk of the plaster will be made of sand.

I am not saying that the methods I have employed are bad, but they are just more than I originally reckoned for.  When I am done, I will have a large, sturdy, environmentally friendly, warm, and comfy shed.  I think I'll turn it into my glass shop.

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