How To Form Small Concrete Projects The Easy Way - Fine Homebuilding

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Theres a Better Way

How To Form Small Concrete Projects The Easy Way

comments (7) December 10th, 2010 in Blogs
grateful.ed Chuck Miller, editor at large

Video Length: 1:51
Produced by: John Ross

When you’re making small scale architectural elements out of concrete, you could use a stick to make sure that the concrete is compacted into all of the voids, but there’s a better way.

We’re making some pilasters for a concrete fireplace surround, but the same technique should apply to any small masonry project.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Build a mold out of plywood assembled with drywall screws
  • For more detail, use pieces of trim or other found objects in the mold. We used cove moldings at the bottom to give a rounded reveal along the edge of our pilaster
  • Cover the inside of the mold with blue masking tape. This acts as a form release agent so your cured concrete should fall right out
  • When half the concrete is in your mold, run the shoe of your sawzall (without a blade installed) along the sides of the form. The vibrations will settle the concrete and get rid of the voids
  • Top the mold off with concrete, and wait for your project to cure before removing it

I heard about using a sawzall for this purpose on a jobsite one time; no one has ever sent it in.  It’s just a tip I’ve been using over the years and it really works well.  Thanks whoever.


More on Small Concrete Projects

Building concrete-countertop forms

Removing concrete-countertop forms

Mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow

Concrete countertops FAQ

posted in: Blogs, saws, concrete, masonry

Comments (7)

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Posted: 6:56 pm on October 17th

reggiejohnson reggiejohnson writes: Jeeze, guess I should have sent this one in - never thought of that one! I've been using this method of vibrating concrete for a long time now on all sorts of castings... in fact I had a dedicated sawsall just for this & it pretty much blew up on my last project! Seems as though Craftsman won't replace it...
Posted: 8:15 am on August 12th

Renoactor Renoactor writes: Great idea. I used it to compact some soil in a basement drain project. A bit slow for that purpose but better than renting a tamper. just one thing. I have an old "Sawzall" with a hex-head screw for setting the blade. Screw not tight: screw somewhere in dirt. Take the screw out first. D'oh!
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Posted: 10:19 pm on December 20th

markgibbesh markgibbesh writes: I have seen concrete counter builders use a square pad electric sander toi do this too. Easier to control with one hand than a recip. saw too!
Posted: 5:13 pm on December 14th

808Dave 808Dave writes: Huh? "How To Form Small Concrete Projects The Easy Way"? This is 95% about consolidation/vibration, maybe 5% about *forming*, and more specifically about using blue tape as a release, which isn't a bad idea, but...bait and switch, IMHO.
Posted: 2:34 am on December 14th

corvettelen corvettelen writes: Great idea to do small concrete jobs with perfect finish and no voids.
Thanks for the tip.
Posted: 3:19 pm on December 13th

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