Friday, March 31, 2017

Bricks are Heavy

From time to time I find myself scouring the workshop looking for something clean, compact and heavy. Even more so, now that I have been doing wood working. With increased frequency, I need to weigh something down, usually while glue is drying. Usually I drag out the old used bolts bin, and the large chisel box, and maybe a few large blocks of wood that we use for cribbing. But I would prefer to have something that is cleaner and more easily stackable.

Coincidentally, I have several bags of old cement products (mortar mix, floor leveler, concrete, etc). I'm sure some of them are no good any more. The only way to be sure is to test them, but then they are almost certain to go bad once opened. Anyway, I really just want rid of them. They take up space, and who knows when I will need them again, or if they will be any good when I go to use them. I would prefer to just buy new when I have a need. But I don't just want to assume they are all bad and dump them, so I am testing them, one bag at a time. if it is bad, I dump it. If it is good, I am turning it into bricks.

I found an old plastic shoe box that is a good size and shape for making cement bricks. It looks like a plastic bread pan. First I mix up a small cup of the material and let it set overnight, just to be sure. If the material sets up OK, then I mix up a batch in the plastic pan.

Solid cement blocks are decently heavy, but to make them even heavier, I am adding pieces of scrap metal. I have a bucket where I throw anything metal that needs disposed of. When the bucket is full, I usually just set it out on the curb with a sign. Within a day, one of the cities scrap collectors will nab it. Well, I decided to make use of some of the smaller bits, like broken bolts and hand tools, to add to the cement mixture to make the blocks heavier.

I leave the blocks to dry overnight, and then I de-mold them. Pretty simple. I might paint the blocks at some point, or even wrap them in some cloth, to protect my work piece. I have some regular clay bricks that I covered in cloth at my store workshop to use similarly. But for right now, they are just plain cement bricks that I can stack on wood pieces while the glue dries.

I'm not sure how I'm going to like storing these, or how often I will use them, but this cement was basically going to be thrown out anyway. And the bricks will probably be easier to store than 60lbs. sacks of cement. If I end up not liking using or storing these bricks, I will just smash them with a sledge hammer, pull out the metal scraps, and throw the crushed cement out into the gravel driveway.

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