Thursday, August 28, 2008

19, An easier way to do it?

By this stage of the construction, the sawing of the stone was starting to take it’s toll on me, using a 9” (225mm) dry diamond blade fitted to an angle grinder is an incredibly dirty and dusty job. Each time I was to do some cutting I needed to don protective coveralls, a respirator, ear muffs and safety glasses, very time consuming and uncomfortable. The work was very laborous as the the blade only allowed me to cut a maximum of about 3” deep for the initial cut, this meant that I had to either do an extra cut from the back, or for thicker blocks, the waste had to be chiselled away to allow for each subsequent cut. These cuts could then only be cut angled, to a maximum of about 2 to 2 ½” depth, which resulted in the surface being rather corrugated.

The surfaces in this state were excellent for bonding, but, too often for my own sanity, I always tended to be left with high spots. Murphy's law always dictated that a high spot on a bed would always correspond with another on the head of the stone below, requiring removal of the block and extra chiselling needing to be done. This tended to be frustrating and time wasting on the days that I would dedicate to laying.
While reading the book “Building with stone” by Peter Kincaid, I was inspired by his use of a hired “wet” saw to shape his blocks. This had led me, early in the year, to begin searching for a saw suitable for my own purpose. I perused all the “used machinery” catalogues I could get my hands on and scoured all the available media classified advertising for quite some time, but to no avail. I placed “wanted to buy” ads in various publications, but also came up dry. The only machinery that appeared to be available were basically oversized “brick saws”. These machines are only designed for the re-cutting of already dimensioned stone, they were not suitable at all for doing parallel cuts on rough blocks.
My search then took me to suppliers of new equipment. Ultimately the most modestly priced machine available, that was capable of meeting my needs, was going to set me back about $35,000.00!. This was a 3 phase machine with a blade size of about 600mm.
With the costs of bringing 3 phase power about 5km to reach my front gate and then a further 200m onto the property, along with the shipping charges and import duties etc. the price was going to be, at least, double that. This was out of the question.

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