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Hi this is Carl the landscape guy and today I would like to show you a special construction site. It’s about the preparation and construction of a mortared natural stone wall. It’s not just any wall, but a wall located within the courtyard of the beautiful castle of Biedenkopf in Hessen, where a privy house was recently demolished. The house had been built for museum visitors of the castle and wasn’t a part of the historic building. The original castle was built as early as the 12th century and all the walls are built of natural stone, mostly greywacke which is like a dark sandstone. They want to use the castle courtyard as a venue for concerts and so on, and therefore, the nonhistorical, small, half-timbered house must be torn down. The demolition of the bottom slab is carried out with a Komatsu PC35 excavator and a hydraulic breaker. With the aid of a Schäffer SLT wheel loader, the crushed concrete rubble is removed from the castle courtyard and loaded into a transport container. In its place, a gravel base layer is laid down so that it can be paved here later. Back here this height difference is to be intercepted by a natural stone retaining wall. For this purpose, a half meter deep foundation of concrete in wall width is created. The first row of natural stones is already embedded in the foundation. It’s important that it’s built as much as possible in the style of the existing walls, so that it integrates well into the overall picture. That includes the correct natural stone material. Mostly regional stones were used in this case, specifically a light greywacke. In addition, if possible, a mortar should be used with the corresponding color. Once all materials are on site, then you still need two experts who can construct the wall in the same style as the castle. And there they are, the natural stone specialists Nico and Vangjeli. They first put on a mason’s cord to make it easier to align the wall and achieve the proper inclination. Because the wall should be slightly wider at the bottom than at the top, the cords are attached to pins so that they can be moved up and down. Now it depends on the experience of the two masons. Each stone is shaped and adjusted with the hammer. The greywacke sometimes is very porous and therefore breaks easier, which makes the process more difficult. The ready-mixed mortar is mixed on-site with water in a mixing machine and used immediately. The lower part of the retaining wall has only one viewing side. However, the back of the wall must also be built with stones and mortar, so that the wall is stable later. Nico places special emphasis on the cornerstones, which must have two viewing sides with almost 90° to each other, as well as, fit on the underlying stones so that no double cross joints occur. It is important to build it without two cross joints on top of each other, not only for the stability, but also for the appearance. So Nico and Vangjeli keep carving, adjusting and hewing the stones row by row. Some natural stones strongly absorb moisture, therefore, this mortar is particularly suitable because it can also be used as grout at the same time. The joints are being filled and smeared. Now the wall has almost reached its final height. The rear upper wall will be visible. Vangjeli closes the joints carefully here too. The top row is now laid. For this purpose, the cord is pushed up to the final height and is used to get the top layer nice and straight. Now, in addition to avoiding double cross joints, attention must be paid to the side and top views and the correct stone thickness. Then you get a level and an even appearance of the masonry top. The processing of the last row of stones is therefore a little more elaborate. Here, it is particularly important that the joints are well mortared and smeared, so that later, the least amount of water will seep into the wall. A cover plate is omitted in this case for aesthetic reasons. It is always amazing how the two brothers create such a straight wall out of supposedly misshapen, natural stones. Here the last stone is still missing on the top row of the corner. Nico closes the gaps with smaller stones, ensuring that the joints that are visible later are equal width apart and installed at the correct height. Now the joints can be closed with fresh mortar. The natural stone used here is relatively hard with a smooth surface. Therefore, the joints can be smeared well, without the excess grout immediately adhering to the stone. #masonry #castle #wallbuild