To get an idea where the first course of blocks would go, I snapped a blue chalk line between points defined by a plumb bob hanging from mason line intersections:
Block came today, June 9, 2007:
540 blocks. The black tub is a 14 gallon "odd job" tub from Home Depot in which I will mix mortar. 10 bags of mortar mix are under the gray tarpaulin.
Notice that all the asphalt is gone. We moved it in the old Ford van in two loads to a local recycling yard. Heavy stuff, glad to be rid of it. Here is the van full of asphalt:
June 16. Back to laying block. I positioned a corner block using a plumb bob:
Then marked the location of each block using a carpenter's pencil:
Mix dry mortar mix with water in a big tub:
Useful tools shown: concrete hoe in the tub, yellow level, trowel. Notice the staked red mason's lines defining the corner of the building. I used these lines instead of a chalk line because chalk lines would be covered with mortar. The mason's lines showed me where to set the corner blocks and the first couple of blocks on each side of the corner.
Throw about an inch of wet mortar into the trench, furrow with trowel, set block against the mason's lines:
Tap it with the trowel handle until it is level:
After setting the four corner blocks plus a few on each side, I moved the mason's lines from the stakes to wooden mason's blocks, one on each corner:
These blocks set the mason's line 3/8" from the side of the blocks. This is far enough so that squeezed mortar does not disturb the line. Each block will be set parallel to this reference line. When pulled tight, wall height can be checked also. Here is the famous east trench in progress:
I am building up the corners ahead of the courses. They must all be level with each other so that the mason's lines are good references.
June 23. Three full courses done, blocks still below ground level. Here is the west trench in the afternoon sun:
The block on the end is the corner block for the 4th course. All 4th-course corner blocks are in place and they are all level with each other according to the water level! They each varied by a few 8ths of an inch until this course. That's the good news. The bad news is the hump in the north trench:
I hoped this would smooth out as we added blocks but the initial hump in the footing was too high to compensate with mortar. Bring out the saw with diamond blade:
I measured the height of one of the blocks in the hump over the mason's line and marked a new block:
Score the block all the way around:
Tap with brick chisel:
I cut various amounts off of six blocks. These will be used on the 4th course to flatten out the hump. Yes, I'm a mason.
June 24. Here is the 4th course in the north trench. With the cut blocks in place, the hump is gone. One slightly raised block near the end... Rrrrrr:
Here is the 4th course rising out of the ground:
June 27. The 5th course begins. The two big gaps are the garage door openings:
This requires half blocks. Draw a line bisecting the block:
Score with saw:
Tap with brick chisel:
June 30. The wall is done except for 3 blocks in the east wall. Ran out of mortar :-(
July 1. The wall is done. All the pallets are empty. I used all the blocks except one (three were broken).
Next: The Sill Plate.