Category: Spotlight

The Not-So-Impossible Staircases

Once upon a time, stone castles were conceived with protection from enemies as a primary objective. Thus, top of hill locations, moats encircling them, stone construction and access points were all seriously considered. The main entry was usually one level above the ground, and occupants would lower and raise a ladder as needed for entering or leaving the property. Interior masonry stairs were often in the walls or towers and might be straight or spiral. The newel staircase was common, but so also were stone spiral ones which were designed clockwise going up. A would-be attacker would have to...

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On the Level

Ancient Egyptians were marvels of invention and construction and deemed the most advanced civilization the world had yet known. It thrived more than 1,000 years and created all kinds of innovative products which are commonplace still today — eye makeup, written language, papyrus sheets (well before the Chinese invented paper), the plow, toothpaste, shaving implements, door locks, shoes, wine, scissors, the humble chisel. And, you simply cannot build a real pyramid without a good grasp plumb, level and square characteristics. Third time’s a charm in some cases, and such it was for the 4th dynasty king of Egypt, Sneferu...

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A Day Of Competition: MASONRY MADNESS®

Don’t miss MASONRY MADNESS® at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas! It’s a collection of the most exciting masonry competitions in the world and it all takes place on one day, at one location. There’s nothing like it on the planet! Four intense battles, one event after the other, you’ll see the best bricklayers, blocklayers, mason apprentices and tenders battle in four unique masonry contests to prove who is the world’s best. You don’t want to miss seeing these highly skilled craftsmen compete for the largest value of cash and prizes awarded for any construction industry...

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From Railroad Tracks to Saw Blades

Wood rails in Europe in the mid-1500s served as “wagonways” for horse-drawn carts to move easier than on dirt roads. A couple centuries later, iron was used for both the rails and wheels, and the term became “tramways”. Of course, the steam engine changed everything. Between American Colonel John Stevens and British inventor George Stephenson, the early steam locomotives were developed. Once the idea of the railroad was embraced in the U.S. and hundreds and thousands of miles of track were being laid, concerns were evident on two fronts: the fervent consumption of iron and the downside of iron’s...

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Masonry Field Testing – Keeping Projects on Track

Field testing of masonry materials is a component of many quality assurance programs on projects. Properly done, testing can provide the necessary assurances that the materials used in construction comply with relevant specifications and that the resulting construction will perform as designed. We have all been on projects, however, when the word comes back that the test results were ‘non-compliant’. This dreaded term leads to project shut downs, countless meetings, additional testing, and in extreme cases removal of existing construction. Unfortunately, sometimes the root cause of these programs is not the quality of the materials or construction, but improper...

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