A word of warning: Due to the weight of the concrete blocks and the concrete slabs, this stage of the build process is hard work, and it took me almost exactly 7 hours (without a break)! You can of course take it slower and perhaps complete one or two layers a day instead of completing the base in one day. It is certainly sensible to pace yourself or enlist some help at this stage.
Building the base involves cutting some of the concrete blocks. To do this I used a bolster chisel and club hammer. It was the first time that I had done this so I looked on youtube and found a video that explained how to do it.
You can view it here.
I was surprised at how accurately a block could be cut using this method. But some blocks were easier to cut than others, so you may have to chisel away the face of the block once it has been cut.
I would recommend wearing safety glasses when cutting the blocks!
So to begin, you need to cut some concrete blocks.
Here is a list of each layer (layer 1 being the bottom layer) with the size of the concrete blocks that you will need:
- Layer 5: No Concrete blocks, just four 600 x 600 x 38 concrete slabs
- Layer 4: Eight Full size blocks & three blocks cut to 300mm
- Layer 3: Ten Concrete blocks, just four 600 x 600 x 38 concrete slabs
- Layer 2: Ten Full size blocks & three blocks cut to 180mm & 4 blocks cut to 165mm
- Layer 1: Ten Full size blocks & three blocks cut to 300mm
For layer 2, I used 4 blocks cut to 165mm, but if I were to build the base again I would have used 2 blocks (1 for the front edge and 1 for the back edge) cut to 340mm. The reason for this is that the 165mm blocks were very fiddly to fit but if I just had one 340mm block then it would have been easier.
Is it hard to lay blocks and how precise do you have to be?
I thought that laying the concrete blocks would be a piece of cake, but it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. After looking at a few youtube videos of how to lay concrete blocks, it looked pretty quick and easy, but when I came to do it myself I found that it took a lot longer than I had anticipated and it was also much trickier.
So if you find that it's hard going, persevere and it will get easier. Don't worry about getting the measurements spot on. If a layer is not exactly 1200mm x 1200mm then it doesn't matter. If anyone notices that it is slightly off, then just say that it has character or you were going for a rustic look! My base (as you can see in the photos) has more than a few places where the blocks are not correctly aligned, but hey ho, I built it myself and I'm proud of it!