Saturday, November 22, 2014

Time for a Recess

My friend Jason Hoffman recently completed this amazing arched 'recess' in a curved retaining wall, which is just part of a large dry stone patio project he was commissioned to build in Scotland. 

There are over 250 copes that all had to be painstakingly cut and similarly shaped and fitted over the length of the patio wall. Plus there is set of curved stairs 

Jason wrote and told me that this project ended up being an extremely wet and muddy one. It seems the area didn't drain very well. "The lack of drainage was very draining to work in every day."

Here's the finished project complete with newly laid stone patio.

The making of an arch is complicated enough without having to construct it on a curve.

Here's what Jason had to say about this one.

"Building curved arched recess problems no. 1... "Using a former which is rectangular rather than curved".

I realized that using a straight wooden former for building a curved arch was not going to be ideal.

The black tape marks the line of the outside face of the arch. As you can see, the curve comes in quite a bit

As with a straight arch the outside voussoir stones are resting on the wooden former. The inside voussoir stones are having to be pinned with small shims to keep them in place."

Although he loves building them, Jason says it looks like he's going to be taking a recess from building arches for a while. 


  1. how is the form removed when it sits on solid 'bench'

  2. The form was placed on some offcuts of 10mm plywood. When it was time to remove the form, these were hammered out. However, the form was pretty much stuck in place (although the arch was now free-standing). I had to remove all of the screws holding the wood together in order to remove it.