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Stone Foundations

Stone looks the best and will still look the best a few thousand years from now, after your home has returned to the elements. The easiest foundation I've ever seen was a giant boulder with the house built right on top of it! Unless you have such a thing, you'll be gathering smaller stones as pieces for your foundation puzzle.

Choosing stones

Ideally, you'll be able to gather stone from the site or nearby. Old quarries and along nearby road cuts are good places to scrounge rock. When you start collecting, you'll see beautiful ones all over! A 20 foot round building will require roughly 8 tons of stone. Be conscious! Remember, gathering materials impacts the environment.

[Stone]

Find stones that have two somewhat parallel sides. The more brick-shaped your stones are, the easier they are to build with. Make sure to pick ones that are up for the job. Leave soft, cracked, flaky ones where they are. When in doubt, throw them down on the ground to see if they'll break. Collect stones of different sizes and lots of little wedges.

[Hand Print]
Sometimes you may want to modify the shape of a stone. A steel mallet can be used to whack off unwanted protrusions. Practice helps you learn how rock breaks. Of course, each one has its own personality. You'll get a feel for it. Wear eye protection.

[Hand Print]
If rocks are not available, big broken-up concrete pieces make a good substitute. They stack easily because they usually have two parallel sides. Sometimes construction companies will even deliver their garbage concrete to your place. If the pieces are too big to handle, whack them with a sledge hammer. Remember to wear eye and ear protection.

[Hand Print]
If you like to vary your tasks, you can gather enough stones to start building, build for awhile, then go back and gather some more.


[Hand Print]
Gather stones that are as big as you can lift comfortably, and do it with care. You'll need your back everyday for the rest of your life.

 

If you would rather leave the collecting job to someone else, cement suppliers and landscape firms often have rocks for sale by the truckload. Check to see that they're suitable for building before you buy. They will deliver them.

Suggestions for moving rocks

Get one of the dumping-type wheelbarrows with two wheels for transporting the rocks. These are sometimes called gardening carts. This will save a lot of work. I think they're wonderful.
With one of these you can simply:

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roll the rocks in,

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lever the barrow to the upright position

3)

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and pull it to where you want them,

4)

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then dump.

 

[Rock Cradle]

The Rock Cradle

When I was in Australia, I learned about the rock cradle, a clever back-saving tool for moving big rocks. They made them out of reinforcing mesh used for concrete slabs (cut to approximately 9 feet by 2 feet). This can be bent into a cradle shape by using some brute force and a piece of pipe slipped over the wire ends for leverage.

The mesh in Australia is made out of small diameter rebar and is much more heavy duty than the mesh I've been able to find in my town in Oregon. I tried making one out of the reinforcing mesh that I could get, and it wasn't up to the job. A welding friend may be able to help you create a strong enough mesh for a rock cradle. It may be possible to adapt this design and make a rock cradle [Two Folks Carrying a Stone]out of heavy duty canvas.

A large stone can be rolled onto the cradle and one person on each side of the cradle can safely share the weight of the stone. You'll need to wear gloves so the metal doesn't chafe the skin on your hands. For bigger stones, a strong stick or crowbar can be stuck through the handles of the cradle and four or more people can carry the weight.

THE ROCK GAME

The rock game is a living room/lounge game that will teach you a lot about puzzling rocks together for your foundation. It's a very entertaining right brain game for all and a great conversation piece!! Collect special pretty rocks of different shapes, sizes and colors. Get some wedge shaped ones and some concave ones. Too many flat ones are boring. Keep your rocks for the game in a big bowl or large wooden tray. You can use a special little rock game rug to protect your floor.

One person decides which kind of structure to make in the beginning of each game: multiple arches, domes, little foundations, towers, or getting all the rocks on. Go around the circle taking turns adding a rock. Make up your own rules as you play.

You can get new rocks and throw out 'old' ones anytime as you learn which kinds of rocks stack well and which ones don't. This game will help you learn which rocks to collect for your foundation and how they fit together.

I hope you enjoy this game as much as I do!

Thanks Robbi and Ashley for teaching me this wonderful game!


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