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The Practical Mechanic:
Every Man His Own Mechanic
Broken Window, How To Mend It
Knowledge Must Be Paid For
Kinds Of Woods Used In Carpentry
Toosl Used In Carpentry
The Glue Pot
The Carpenter's Bench
How To Hold And Handle Tools
Divisions Of The Building Trade
Soldering And Brazing
Indoor And Outdoor Painting
Varnishes And Recipers For Making Varnishes
Polishing And Recipes For Polish
Wall Paper Hanging
( Originally Published 1902 )
When any art or manufacture begins to assume importance, and there is a continually increasing demand for the articles, be they what they may, that are made by those who are engaged in it, it has been invariably found that in due proportion to its growth the art or manufacture, as the case may be, becomes divided and even subdivided into many and various branches, until it is wellnigh impossible to carry the subdivision of the trade to a greater extent.
The building trade is an aggregation of various trades and their separate departments, which have become affiliated, as it were, and grouped together for the better attainment of the end desired.
Taking each a prominent and active part in the building trade we find the excavator, bricklayer, mason; pavior, slater, plasterer, carpenter and joiner, sawyer, ironmonger, smith and founder, zincworker, wire-worker, bell-hanger, gas-fitter, plumber, painter, decorator, giider, paperhanger and glazier-a goodly array of tradesmen and artisans whose aid and cooperation is absolutely necessary in building and finishing a house.
Practical Knowledge of all the Trades.
It is in doing repairs of an ordinary nature that the amateur will find practical knowledge of the arts connected with the building trades of use to him, in the first place. Secondly, he will find it of equal value in constructing any small building for use or ornament, or for both, out of doors, or for making any appliance within doors; and thirdly, as it has been already urged, he will find it of even more value in enabling him to look after men who may be at work on his premises, and in seeing that the work is done in a proper manner.
Excavations of all kinds can easily be compassed by the amateur, and he will find no difficulty whatever in making and using concrete. In connection with this kind of work lies the making of walls and paths of all kinds, and no one will deny that it is of advantage to the amateur to know how to do these things. In building walls with brick and stone he will probably fail, and more particularly because it is by no means as easily done as other kinds of work that fall more naturally within his compass; but, -at the same time, it is desirable to know how to repair and " point " a piece of garden wall, as it is technically called ; to fix a step that has become loose with cement; to put a piece of paving to rights and relay a loose paving-stone; and to repair a piece of plastering that has been displaced by damp or other causes.
Work in Metals.
Similarly he may not be able to accomplish much in smiths' work, but it is certainly of advantage to be able to work in iron so far as to be able, by aid of fire, hammer, and anvil, to beat a piece of iron into any shape that may be required, to drill a hole, and to turn a screw, which operations come under the category of forging. Casting, which necessitates the melting of metal in a furnace and running it into a mold, is an operation which may well be left to the iron-founder; but it is useful to possess an iron ladle, and run in lead round an iron bar or rail that has been loosened in the socket cut for it in a stone coping or step.
Zinc-working, as far as making a simple shoot and covering a small flat roof are concerned, and wire-working in the construc tion of a wire trellis, hanging basket, sieve for sifting earth or cinders, or repairing such articles, are far more practicable; and soldering and simple working in sheet metal are matters with which the amateur may readily make himself acquainted. Plumbing and gas-fitting, which if badly and inefficiently done may involve serious consequences, are best left to professional artisans ; but it is as well to know how to stop a leak in a pipe on an emergency, how to take down a gasalier, clean it, and put it in its place again, and how to substitute new gasburners for old ones with. safety.
In the decorative portions of the building trade he will find no very great difficulty. House-painting-that is to say, covering wood or metal with a uniform surface of oil paint-may be easily managed, and to a person possessed of taste and manual skill the work done by the decorator will present no very great difficulty. Paper-hanging requires nothing more than care and a certain amount of manual dexterity. Glazing is more easily done than most of the work that has been mentioned, but as it involves handling putty it is not, perhaps, very desirable work. Still, it is work that should be taken up and carried out by the amateur, as he can put in a pane of glass for about half the price at which a professional glazier will do it if the work be such as can be done at the shop, as the glazing of a light for a pit-frame, etc., and for from one-sixth to one-fourth the price charged if it be a window.
Practical Points in Excavating.
The following facts with regard to excavator's work, may be of use: "In loose ground a man can throw up about to cubic yards per day, but in hard or gravelly soils 5 yards will be a fair day's work. Three men will remove 30 yards of earth a distance of 20 yards in a day. A yard (cubic) of concrete requires about 3 hours' labor to mix and throw in, or if in heavy masses, and the materials handy, about 2 hours. With regard to the weight of materials, 19 cubic feet of sand, 18 ditto clay, 24 ditto earth, 15 1/2 ditto lime, 20 ditto gravel, will each weigh one ton. A cubic yard of earth before digging will occupy about 1 1/2 cubic yards when dug. Sand and gravel does not increase more than one-third as much as earth in bulk when dug, but will decrease in height one-fourth more than earth. A wheelbarrow (that is to say the broad, shallow barrow used by navvies) holds 1/10 yard cube. A cubic yard, or 27 cubic feet of earth, is a single load, and contains 20 bushels ; 1 cubic yard of gravel contains 18 bushels in the pit; when dug it will increase nearly one-third in bulk, but will subside nearly one-fourth in height, and decrease one-fifth in bulk when formed into embankments. When earth is well drained it will stand in embankment about 1/2 to 1."
This will prove a useful rule for the amateur in throwing up embankments, mounds, etc., in his grounds or garden. If revetted, to use an engineer's term, or covered with turf, the inclination may be greater, because the roots of the grass bind the surface earth together and keep it from being washed down by heavy rains. This will be evident from an inspection of the side of a hedge or bank covered with turf which may be inclined to the horizontal base line at angles ranging from 10 degrees to 20 degrees.
Making Good Concrete.
Concrete, now so much used in forming the foundations of buildings of every description, and even the walls themselves, is a mixture of cement and sand, gravel, broken stones, brick rubbish, or similiar materials in the proportion of one part of cement to five or six parts of any of the other ingredients that are used in its manu-facture. Good lime is often used instead of cement, but the amateur, if he uses lime at all, is advised to use cement with it in equal I parts. The cement, being the substance that binds the gravel ballast, etc., together into a solid mass impervious to water, is technically called the matrix, and the substance that is added to the lime is called the aggregate.
It may be said that any waste material of a hard nature may be used as aggregate in making concrete, sand and gravel of all kinds, including pea or fine gravel, pit gravel, river gravel, ashes, cinders, and coke, lime chippings, flints, old stones and bricks, especially when broken, broken earthenware and stoneware, and rubbish front the brickyard may all be used. Slag, too, the refuse of the iron furnaces, can be made available whenever it can be obtained. It should not be used in too large sizes. Pieces about the size of stones ordinarily used for mending roads, or such as will pass through a ring of 2 1/2 inches in diameter, are best suited for the purpose when the material is broken up on purpose for making concrete.
Any of the various cements in general use may be used in the manufacture of concrete, but the amateur is recommended it) all cases to use Portland cement.
Quantities of Cement Used.
When made into stucco for covering a wall, the following table will show the extent of surface that a bushel of cement may be made to cover when used pure or with various proportions of sand, and at certain thicknesses: 1 bushel of cement will cover 1 1/8 yards 1 inch thick, 1 1/2 yards 3/4 inch thick, 2 1/4 yards 1/2 inch thick; 1 bushel of cement and 1 of sand, 2 1/4 yards 1 inch thick, 3 yards 3/4 inch thick, 4 1/2 yards 1/2 inch thick; 1 bushel of cement and 3 of sand, 3 1/2 yards 1 inch thick, 4 1/2 yards 3/4 inch thick, 6 3/4 yards 1/2 inch thick.
As cement will not keep, especially in a moist atmosphere, the amateur, when he requires a small quantity for repairs, is recommended to buy just so much as he wants and no more.
In making concrete, it is important, in the first place, that the aggregate, be it what it may, should be deposited on a clean place-if on old boards, as scaffold boards, so much the better-so that no dirt may get mixed up with it. The concrete itself should be made on boards, nailed together on ledges or on three putlogs placed on the ground parallel to one another, forming a rough platform. The aggregate and the cement or lime used as the matrix must then be placed on the boards, the aggregate being measured out first, and the proper proportion of concrete to the aggregate being also measured out and thrown upon it. The heap is then wetted with water poured over it from a large water-pot fitted with a fine rose, and the whole is then mixed until the materials are thoroughly amalgamated.