Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cutting Retaining Wall Blocks and a Driveway Surprise

Yesterday while it rained, we drove to Home Depot and picked up two more retaining wall blocks so that we could finish our retaining wall behind the barn.  We had an extra cap block already so it was an inexpensive supply run.....$3.22...if only all the supply runs were that inexpensive.

This is how the wall looked before we trimmed the block and cap.  After marking the pieces, we use a nail and a straight edge to scratch a line, we used a wide masonry chisel (similar to this one) to score the block on all four sides.  Take your time and try to get as straight of a line as possible.  This step may require 2 or 3 passes to make the scored mark deep enough, roughly 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch. Use a wide chisel because it helps with keeping a straight line.  Once the line is complete, slightly tap on the waste side of the line all the way around the block.  Do this several times.  You will notice a change in the sound once the block starts to crack.  If everything goes correctly, it should break along the scored line.  The trick is to go slow.
Here is the finished wall.  The new exposed surface has the same rough uneven finish like the front of the blocks.  Cutting the blocks to the correct size, instead of leaving a staggered stepped effect on the end, gives you a nice finished professionally installed looked.  It's not difficult and even if you make a mistake the blocks are not that expensive.

Check out this Youtube video of how to trim a cement block.  This guy is good.  Of course he is hitting it harder than we do because he obviously has a lot more experience. But it gives you an idea of how simple it is to get a nice custom size cut.

Sasha approves.
I removed more of the remaining sod off the newly found driveway when the shovel hit something metallic.  Buried treasure?  Nope.
Looks like a drain.
That area of the driveway is low so it makes sense that they wanted to stop the water from running into the barn when it was located at the former location.

Tomorrow I'll sweep away the dirt and take better photos.  The soil was quite wet and I was trying not to let too much fall through the grate, so I didn't mess with it too much.