Slap It On


Saturday 15 March, 2014 by Uncle Spike

Decent workmanship is hard to come by, we all know that; whether by first hand experience at cash wasted on numpties, or from tales from your friends and family. Here is no exception; in fact it’s probably more extreme. There are a lot of guys out there with a long-handled shovel, a hammer and a moped, and they go by the name of Builder. Yeah right.

There are of course some great craftsmen here too, and we got to know a few when hand picking each individual guy for our self-build house. But of course, they don’t come cheap. So when the cash pot runs dry, it’s down to Uncle Spike to have a go. To be truthful, I have done a fair amount of DIY and building related stuff over the years, so when I do hire someone, it’s usually out of necessity rather than anything else. And I always keep a close eye on them, partly to pick up tricks of the trade as, with most things in life, if you have the basic tools and the know-how, most jobs are doable, given the time.

Like everywhere, hiring a stonemason to do steps or wall fascias is expensive, so we opted to only do the necessary areas at first. Since then I had to have a go myself, but although sometimes the results aren’t all that impressive, sometimes one can be proud of one’s achievements. 

It’s not just a cash saving exercise, it’s often more a case of if you don’t do it yourself, it ain’t gonna get done. Period. One such case was the largely unseen back wall of the house. It didn’t ‘need’ doing, but it always bugged me, so one week in late spring a couple of years back I set to work.

First bit. Sit and stare at wall for a few hours. Scratch head and start. Using a hefty iron mallet and a steel bolster, knock off some plaster to allow the mortar to be able to ‘key’ in to the wall.




Then remembering to add a thick nylon pipe as a protective conduit for the telephone cable. I deliberately left a space so that the spare cable, joins, ADSL splitter and electrical connections could eventually be housed behind a vented metal door, protecting hem that bit better from the elements. Although to be honest, the metalwork is still ‘on the list’, but moving up towards the top 🙂




Then trundle back and forth with trusty wheelbarrow, laden down with 3-5cm (1.5-2″) thick natural stone. The worst bit for me is mixing up the mortar, or sand, lime and cement. I use 3mm course sand and Portland cement on a ratio of one 50kg (129lb) bag of cement to 3.5 barrow loads of sand and one 20kg sack of liquid lime. It seems to do the trick.




Some of the stone pieces are fairly hefty, so I slap on a good 5cm (2″) of mix before it’s a quick ‘lift, aim, splat’ on to the desired spot. After clearing off the excess and adding small stone chunks as separators, the stone is pretty well solid within minutes.



The time consuming part is the pointing, or filling in all the gaps afterwards with a mix of fine 1mm sand, cement and lime (which ensures elasticity during drying). I certainly wouldn’t want to do this as a living, and wouldn’t dare try and sell my workmanship, but as I always think, “Is it fit for purpose?”.




This link will take you to more of Uncle Spikes ‘Builder’ type adventures.

14 thoughts on “Slap It On

  1. this post tells me that you are a homemaker. in both senses of the word! 🙂 🙂 🙂


  2. ballerina95 says:

    Nice job. Are the stone pieces still intact?


  3. Hard to be a DIY person, but isn’t the reward of your hardwork worth every hour of pain and challenge? Beautiful work, Uncle Spike.


  4. janegundogan says:

    You see! I told you you were handy!! Let me know when you are free.


  5. panikikubik says:

    I’m impressed. You’re talended and that must be a gift when you’re living at a farm. Great.


  6. That’s very clever, Uncle S. Amazing how you got them to all fit nicely together and a straight line of edges on the top. Nice that the stones all co-operated or did you have to ‘persuade’ them with the mallet? They have a computer program that can fit all the pieces together for you, … program-schmogram!


    • Uncle Spike says:

      I have a few tonnes of the stone, so I just grab a load and go from there. I started with the largest stones resting on the floor and balanced against other stones. After half an hour you can build up from there, breaking up large stones with a hammer if needs to be create the sort of shape required. Afterwards you just fill in all the holes and then create a straight top too from cement.


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