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A Tricky Job ...

Posted by Jay J on April 3rd, 2000 11:47 AM
In reply to Retaining Wall by Dan on April 2nd, 2000 09:08 PM [Go to top of thread]


I certainly have my opinions and they may not be the same as others. SO, with that in mind, here goes ...

I am not a big fan of using wood for retaining walls that are over 18" high. I do know of, and have seen, walls that are 2x's that height where wood is used but I just don't like them. Unless a wall is cemented, it's not built 'straight up'. It's built on an angle TOWARDS the terrain behind it that it's to protect from encroachment. Behind the wall is a 'layer' of gravel to help with drainage as well as a layer at the base. There are right and wrong ways to build a retaining. Especially where there's a positive-sloped wall involved (one where the water will drain TOWARDS the wall), I don't use wood. There's too much pressure behind it.

If you want to consider a fortress stone wall, visit Orco Products, and search around for their PDF documents that talk about wall design. AT 3' in height, you have less to worry about than one that's 4' high. (I'm serious!) Yours is relatively simple, considering its height. If you insist on a timber wall, pre-cut and pre-drill your timbers such that no 2 verticle seams over-lap each other. The seams should be staggerd like bricks on a house. If you don't pre-drill, you may split the wood. If you don't stagger the joints, you create a weak spot. A good electric drill is what you'll need. I'd use 8" galvanized spikes; not nails. At the corners and at about 4' distances along the timbers, I use 2' steel rebarb. You'll need a 1/2" drill bit for that. Reem out the hole a little bit and use a steel mallot (not a carpenter's hammer) to carefully pound in the rebarb. The same prep and hammering for the spikes. The rebarb should be used for the bottom 3 rows of 4x4x8s. (YOu want to be sure that about 12" of the rebarb 'sticks out' into the ground for support. That's its purpose as well as to strengthen the corners.) You don't need the rebarb elsewhere because you should be nailing your timbers on the 'ends' and at 2' intervals in-between. If you need more info, e-mail me directly.

My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J

PS: Forget a cordless drill on this one!

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