Finally finished the decking project this week. Ended up setting a dual pattern. I have a Herringbone pattern that sets itself between the upper and lower deck and then the continuation of the diagonal pattern that lines the upper and majority of the layer. It came out very nice. I tried to make make sure that each board runs the full length of alignment so that there is less cuts in the deck to avoid drawing attention to those unwanted lines. The hard part was working with the bad knots in the wood that the pickers chose at the lumber yard.
|Most of the deck done. Had to stop due to lack of decking lumber.|
|Where Herringbone meets the diagonal.|
Since my deck is raised above ground level, I had to raise my fire pit as well. The easiest way I saw was to use concrete blocks as my risers and just build my way up. I basically have a 3 x 3 feet fire pit area and raised it 24 inches high above level ground. The first level of concrete sits on pea gravel, the same configuration I made for the deck blocks for leveling. The second and third level are mortared together with the exception of the big center divide which I'm using as an air and water passage way. The passage way will provide air flow up into the fire to keep the flames going and the same passage way will allow water to flow down if there is rain to not keep water out of the pit.
Once the concrete blocks are built up, I used fire bricks with adhesive (refactory) mortar to line the inside of the fire pit. I built this first because the fire bricks are of exact man made sizing and easy to square and setup my lines. After the mortar dried, I used some 2 inch thick Mexican flagstone and chiseled downed the pieces I needed. I then mortared those in place and used some clamps for assistance. Then I chiseled down some lime stone topper rocks and mortared those on top to finish the job off.
|Started masonry work on raising the fire pit base. These are 8 x 16 concrete blocks.|
|Finished laying the inner fire brick lining of the fire pit.|
|Was trying to create a squeeze funnel for mortaring between the crack. This experiment failed because the outlet was too small. But next time, I'm sure I can make it work with a bigger outlet.|
|Clamping the Mexican flagstone in place to set the position.|
|Another view of the same work from the picture above.|
|Setting the position of the lime stone topper.|
In Austin, fire bricks are a seasonal items at the big box stores. I think the season starts at around September and ends around January. I had a hard time finding what I needed until I talked to one of my construction buddy who pointed me in the right direction. If you go to a stone/rock yard around your area, they should carry everything you need including refactory mortar which is needed for mortaring the fire bricks together. You can make refactory mortar, but it was a process I did not want to partake at this junction in time. Also, fire brick sells for more than 50% less at these stone/rock yards than at the big box store.
These are the lessons I've learned
- For your design, pick out rocks with sizes coming closest to it.
- It's easier to chisel edges of a rock than the middle of a rock.
- It's easier to chisel thinner rocks than thicker rocks.
- Place your rock over a surface that has some give. For example, I had better chance getting the result I wanted when chiseling over grass than over solid ground.
- Use cold chisels. And buy at least two sizes, one with a long cutting edge for defining your line and one with a shorter cutting edge but longer handle for making the deeper cuts.
- Using the chisel with the longer cutting edge, score the cutting line multiple times with medium power hits before doing for the final blows. This should help create fractures on the surface of the rock and start the fracture lines towards the deeper part of the rock. Although this isn't a guarantee, it has worked more than not.
|Finally finished with everything including clean up.|
|Placed some furniture on it to see how it all looks.|
I plan on finishing the deck with a pressure wash with some Thompson water stain next week.