Outdoor Bar Project
Outdoor Bar Commission
When the client who purchased my second table asked if I could build a flagstone patio and a six metre long outdoor bar on top of it, I took a leap of faith and said, "No problem!"
We met at Van Dyk Natural Stone quarry and selected two identical sheets split off a very long slab for the two wings of the bar, plus two more for the middle section. Then I overlapped the giant flagstones to establish the angles of the bar top and had them cut to form three joints.
I chose some large anchor slabs and the flagstones, and some more large ones when my client offered to buy me them for my own projects
The truck could not get the 12 tonnes of granite closer than 30 metres from the site
The patio was higher on one side due to the slope in the grade. I built an outer ring and levelled the middle with gravel
I was given atistic freedom to build images into the flagstone pattern, including a bottle and an opener, and a fish frying over open flames
I left space for the roots of the dozen majestic pine trees surrounding the site, I finished the patio as the gravel was freezing solid, and arranged the anchor stones in the shape of the future countertop, then covered it for the winter
Lucas Lock of nearby Dorset wqs hired to build the three sided log wall supporting the bar
The ends of the cantilevered wings would be supported by an upright forking tree branch
During the winter I built a crane that I would need to manoeuver the two-metre long flagstones. I designed it in my head in 20 minutes but it took over fifty hours to build it, then ten more hours of modification and fine tuning. By incorporating a universal joint based partly on Leonardo da Vinci's improvements to a medieval hoist, the boom could spin as well as raise and lower the 300 kg rocks. I used steel cables like those found on a modern construction crane to take the strain off the boom and transfer the weight of the load and the counterweight to the central post. This allowed the boom to be very lightweight. I cut one arm of the boom and put a hinge on it so that it could be folded and the whole crane could be dismantled and loaded into my long-suffering Subaru station wagon.
By equalising the counterweight, I could lift the flagstone with one finger and it would float out of the way like a cloud of smoke.
I would scribe the top of the log where it contacted the underside of the stone, then remove the stone to carve the wood, then fit the stone again. After repeating this sequence 10 to 15 times, 90% of the wood was contacting the stone.
I ran the rock saw through the joints again to make them so tight that a sheet of paper wouldn't fit through them
I had stained the insides of the logs before Lucas assembled the wall and bolted it together
My client had me build a stainless steel framework for a food preparation counter custom made of smooth sawn Indian granite
Three coats of a high quality stain would protect the wood from mould and insects for a few years until the next application.
Just when I thought I was finished, my client requested a set of four barstools with backrests. I searched the quarry for four sets of rocks of the correct proportions for the stool parts. Each stool was made with different shapes - triangles, squares, diamonds, and a combination of all three.
The client bought a large Big Green Egg barbecue and ordered in a huge cedar log to be hollowed and become a giant "eggcup"
After 600 hours of work, my first granite project was finished at last