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Making boxes with free bricks...

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Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  jinx on 3/5/2010, 2:05 pm

Hello again all! I found enough free brick to do up several boxes. I've never laid brick before so yesterday I googled and think I can manage just fine. But most of the instructions included laying a full cement slab of concrete for a foundation. I'm hoping that if I dig a trench and just lay level footings (is that what it would be called) around my box dimensions that would suffice for a foundation for my 3 or 4 brick high wall... any expert advice or anyone that has used bricks have any thoughts or ideas?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and time!
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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  happyfrog on 3/5/2010, 2:12 pm

sounds like you've got a good plan.

only thing i would suggest is laying plastic against the freshly cured bricks after cementing - because i think ?? cement leaches stuff for a while after it's dry and apparently cured. but check on that. . .

after a while i think it's safe for direct contact but i don't know enough to say for sure.

will make beautiful boxes, though that's for sure! envious here a bit! Smile

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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  jinx on 3/5/2010, 2:39 pm

happyfrog wrote:only thing i would suggest is laying plastic against the freshly cured bricks after cementing - because i think ?? cement leaches stuff for a while after it's dry and apparently cured. but check on that. . . Smile

That is interesting that you bring up leaching because it was that reason I went looking for box garden ideas and was introduced to SFG. The pasture at my newly purchased home is fenced using chemically treated railroad ties as posts. So the idea of planting above any possible contaminated soil was a no brainer for me. I never knew that cement might pose a threat as well. I've googled and can only find cement and leaching in regards to water. Would it be the same leaching risks with soil? Any one have more thoughts on that? I have unused cement bags in the garage and have discount mortar on hold for me. So I would be using cement for the footings, and then mortar to lay the bricks.

Thanks!!
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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  Kabaju42 on 3/5/2010, 3:58 pm

You'll be fine just laying a footing. In fact you could probably build the brick wall without any cement since you'll only be going up 6-8".

Personally I doubt the cement will leach anything other than water. My understanding is that cement is just finely ground bits of rock like slag, sand, etc. Could be wrong though.
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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  boffer on 3/5/2010, 5:26 pm

Mortar and concrete products can leech some lime and additives till they're well cured. Just put plastic against the inside wall before you fill it up.

The most important of laying brick or block is starting with a solid, level base. Kabaju42 is right, the weight of your wall is negligible by construction standards. If you have good solid compacted dirt to lay on, it will be sufficient.

However, getting that little dirt trench level can be frustrating. Enough so, sometimes it's worth pouring a 'footer' just because it's easier to set the forms level. If you made your footer 6 inches wide, and 2-3 inches deep, it won't take much concrete. You can make your forms on the ground and then set them in. Use little rocks or dirt to support the forms to get them level. I know your bricks aren't 6 inches wide, but that will give you a little room for error as you try to get your box square. Been there, done that!
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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  jinx on 3/5/2010, 6:18 pm

boffer wrote:However, getting that little dirt trench level can be frustrating. Enough so, sometimes it's worth pouring a 'footer' just because it's easier to set the forms level. If you made your footer 6 inches wide, and 2-3 inches deep, it won't take much concrete. You can make your forms on the ground and then set them in. Use little rocks or dirt to support the forms to get them level. I know your bricks aren't 6 inches wide, but that will give you a little room for error as you try to get your box square. Been there, done that!

Thanks for the tip! I'm sure I will learn a lot during the process by making mistakes, so it is nice to have some people like you all to learn from.
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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  Retired Member 1 on 3/6/2010, 8:56 am

I used scrap lumber (primarily 1 by) for my boxes since I have several pallets of used brick just lying around. My plan is to brick around the boxes sometime this year, figuring the 1 inch lumber will gradually rot away. I had planned on digging a shallow trench as level as possible and using mortar directly on the soil for the first level of bricks -- saw that method somewhere on the web for short walls. Perhaps a shallow trench and concrete might work better? I'll be interested in your progress and comments as you build. And pics when they are finished, please.

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belfrybat

Post  boffer on 3/6/2010, 9:31 am

It just depends on what you want the final product to look like. Maybe non-level wavy mortar lines is a look that would work with used bricks. Joint lines are typically 3/8 to 1/2 inch. That's not a lot of space to correct errors if you're looking for straight and level.

One way to fudge a little, is to leave the squeeze-out. Instead of striking the joint clean, just leave the mortar that 'squeezes' out when you lay the brick. It's a good method for used bricks that might not all be exactly the same size.

Laying brick is a great DIY project. It's not too heavy, you can go as slow or fast as you want, you can get creative, and not too many people do it anymore so you'll have something unique. It's no-maintenance and lasts forever.

Have fun, and be sure to post pics-I've seen very few brick boxes.
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I got them!!!!

Post  jinx on 3/6/2010, 7:02 pm

I went and picked up my free bricks today!! Between me and the kids (16 and 14) it took us about 2.5 hours to get them all loaded. We thought we had over loaded our trailer but we just made it home safe and all tires are still in tact.

I ended up stopping at two different locations that had bricks they were not wanting. The first was really nice, never used red bricks (about 300). The second are really old, used clay bricks (close to 1,000) THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!!

I'm thinking I will stick with the clay bricks. Not only do they coordinate with the brick on our house, they have more history which would fit into the history of our house (originally built in 1895) plus there is more then enough of them that I will be able to build all our boxes out of them. I'm so excited!

I'm hoping by next weekend I will have my plot ready and trenches dug to start laying my brick walls. I've taken pictures of everything so will be able to create a before and after album of pictures when I feel I have something worthy to show. Can't wait to share!!
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Practice

Post  boffer on 3/7/2010, 12:18 pm

It sounds like you have enough bricks that maybe you could do a small practice project. These are brick posts my wife made, her first time laying brick. We put them on a heavy 'footer' so they could be easily moved around and for stability. The post with the struck joints (actually her finger was the striking tool) holds a glazing ball. The other, with the squeezed out joints, will eventually get a homemade bird bath sitting on it.










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Thanks for the pictures!

Post  jinx on 3/7/2010, 5:14 pm

Thanks boffer, for the pictures. This gives me a good idea of what the squeezed joints look like. I had an idea when you first mentioned it, but the picture doesn't leave any question about it. Since the brick is so beautiful I think the struck look will allow the beauty of the bricks to show more then the squeezed joints. But since they are old clay bricks, a lot of them are not perfectly squared. So maybe something in between your wives 2 projects would work good... some controlled squeez left in the joint but not so much it covers the bricks.

I like your suggestion of a practice project though. I hadn't thought of that and you are right, I do have enough to spare on practicing before I start my boxes.

Thanks again!
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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

Post  boffer on 3/7/2010, 6:23 pm

These were used bricks, from a used brick project, that were scrounged from a used....
Anyhow, our bricks have faded and are dull looking, so the squeeze adds a little interest. You're right, it could detract from the beauty of your brick. But, you're not building a house, do it to please your eye.

Another thought or two, preserving that beauty. One, seal the face of the brick so the cement residue will wash off easily, or use muriatic acid and water solution, 1 to 10 respectively to clean the cement residue off.

If the latter, "do as you otter, and add acid to water". That's a safety tip from an old science teacher I had.
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Re: Making boxes with free bricks...

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