CONCRETE DAYYYY!!!!! We sure do love pouring concrete around here. Concrete day means all the guys show up, bust their asses shoveling, skreeting, troweling, and finishing, and then we all get to the drinking, eating, drinking, chatting and drinking. Yeah! Lucky for our livers this pour ain’t our first rodeo. We’ve had to pour a lot of concrete out here. The pad for the wood boiler, the pad for the greenhouse, replacing drain pipes in the basement floor (that sucked), putting a new culvert pipe in the driveway, etc, etc, etc. Â Today we’re converting an old ass pole barn into a wood shop.
Way back in the day, one of the previous owners of this farm built this little pole barn off the side of what is now our metal shop. It’s a pretty decent roof on cedar posts…and that’s about it. It does have some wood siding, but it doesn’t look like it was ever really painted or sealed right so its all warped and dry rotted to hell. Â Seriously, a 5 year old on crutches could have kicked a hole in this thing. Also, judging by the soil in it, it defiantly housed some cattle for a good long time . Maybe it was a make-shift barn, we can only guess. At any rate, we’ve been using it as a place to store giant piles of stuff we wanna keep under a roof, but are to lazy to put where it should really go. Â Admittedly, not the best use of the space.
But then see then, what had happened was…Dave, Nemo and Zach got to talking one day about how the “the material shed” or “shit pile” has got a real solid roof on it but that the rest of it is totally falling apart. They were all like…
“Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we just poured a floor in there and made it into a REAL building.”Â “Yeah man, that would be great”Â “The roof is already up, the hard part’s done.”Â “Yep, we would just have to pour the floor then slap up some walls. Â Ohh yeah, walls are good” “Yes they are!” “Maybe it could be the wood shop we’ve been talking about.” “GREAT IDEA!!” “YEAH, 1-2-3-GO!”
That’s about how it went down. We’ve been talking about building some kind of wood shop for a long time now. Don’t get us wrong, we have a perfectly good shop that we use the hell out of on the daily. It’s almost big enough for Nemo to work in with wood building guitars, while Dave is also welding on scrap metal furniture or something else. However, having a metal shop/auto shop/wood shop in close quarters like that is a great way to catch piles of oily sawdust on fire…often. Â Like, several times. Sometimes it was kinda scary.
During the off season/winter we build and refinish handmade furniture and musical instruments as part of our income. So having a well planned our place to work is very financially beneficial for us. As it sits now, we barely have enough room to work, much less to expand. We need to make a separate wood shop. So that’s what we did. However, this floor isn’t any ordinary concrete slab, this one’s a bit tricky. This is gonna take some planning.
A lot goes into any concrete pour, especially a lot of that pesky planning stuff. All kinds of pesky planning. This job in particular was kinda unusual. First we had to remove about 18″ of dirt. Now, to the original builder’s credit, I’m sure when they built this little shed/barn back in the day, they probably didn’t put the rafters 6′ above the floor. But decades of cows pooping in it has raised the height of the floor VERY significantly. If we’re going to put down gravel, level it, and then pour 4″ of concrete on top of that, that means the ceiling rafters would be about 5’5″ feet above the floor on the low side. Nemo is 6’2″, Dave is 5’11″… so no dice. It’s time to dig!
After a few minutes of giving it a go with picks and shovels like morons, we decided to get in there with the tractor. This went MUCH faster! However, it was a tight squeeze. We were only able to dig out the center of the room. The sides still had to be dug by hand.
Our good buddy Greg of the Cassilly Crew gave us his two cents on how he’d pour this floor. Back when he and Dave worked at Cementland they did lots of crazy atypical concrete pours and Greg really knows his shit when it comes to working with concrete. Â Basically his thought is that this wood shop floor pour will consist of three pours: 1) The back wall to keep water from entering the building from that side. 2) The floor to stand on. and 3) The side wall tying it all together and Â in to the existing concrete foundation of the shop next to it. Sounds like a plan, Greg.
The first of the three pours was the back wall. This wall needed to have rebar sticking out of the bottom to connect it in to the second pour, the floor. And it needed a 90 degree turn in it to connect it into the third pour, which is the side wall. Greg also had the good idea to pour that 90 degree transition from the back to side wall together as part of the back wall so the corner wouldn’t have a seam and would be strong. Â Good thinking! Here’s some pictures of the forms and us pouring the concrete for the back wall.
One pour down, two more to go! The best part of pouring concrete is popping the forms. Here’s a few more pictures of the back wall once we took off the wrapping paper.
ONWARD to the floor pour!! This pour was the biggest of the three, so we’re not messing with mixing bags for this one. Hell no! A total of 5.75 yards of concrete. We ordered a truck for this one. We always get our concrete from Arnold Ready Mix, they’re great! Â Also whenever possible, we always opt to get fiber reinforced concrete if it’s available. It’s a bad ass material. Â It is basically just concrete with lots of little fiberglass hairs mixed into it. The hairs act as a reinforcement, strengthening the slab, thus no longer needing rebar. Ask anyone who has ever spent hours tying rebar with wire, this is an amazing development. The only thing that sucks about it is breaking it up if it ever needs to be torn out. It is a real bitch, that stuff is tough!
The floor slab was kind of a non-typical set up. The edge of the floor needed to be set off from where the side wall would eventually be. The reason being, if we poured the floor right up to the existing wall, we wouldn’t be able to skreet the concrete. For those of you who aren’t familiar with concrete lingo, skreeting it is basically like leveling off a cup of flour with a knife. Except the cup is the forms, the flour is the concrete, and the knife is a few 2X4’s. Got it? But since this slab is in an existing building this was more like leveling off the flour in a cup that’s in a Tupperware container. Unless we left some room on the sides the spatula would just hit the walls and we would never get it level and flat. Kinda hard to explain. A pictures worth a 1,000 words. Here’s pour #2, the floor.
After the slab is skreeted and the truck leaves, you’re not finished yet. You still have to, uh…finish the slab. Put a finish on it. We decided to put on a slick finish instead of a brush finish like a sidewalk. A brush finish is is better for traction but a slick finish would be easier to sweep, and it is a wood shop. Â We started off by hitting it with Big Red. Â Big Red is a bull float that we borrowed from his Kurtness, Kurt of the Cassilly Crew. Big Red has poured a lot of concrete at Cementland with us back in the day. Thanks Kurt! Â A bull float is a big trowel that is used to smooth a large flat area. Perfect! Here’s some pics of us putting a slick finish on the slab.
Now its time for pour #3, the side wall. Â This pour needed to be keyed into the floor and the old foundation of the metal shop next door, as well as the back wall. Â However we didn’t want to have to drill into our nice new slick floor to mount our forms, so Nemo came up with a clever way to brace the forms so no drilling was needed. Check out pour #3.
That’s the end of the final pour. It all turned out great. Â Here’s some pics of the final product.
Well, that’s how we went about pouring the wood shop floor. It came together pretty nicely. Only one last thing to do. Ever since Rob passed away, we always carve his initials into any concrete we pour at the farm, because if he were alive he would have definitely been there working with us.