Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

The Shed: Stavlund Quarry

November 27, 2010

Small beginnings

Inspired by the gorgeous 204 Beech blog and by the desire to savor the pleasures in my life, I thought I’d try to chronicle the latest project at the house:  the shed.  Our place is small, with neither basement nor garage, so storage is at a premium, and we’d like to move the girls’ bedroom up into the attic sometime soon.  Plus, all of the neighbors have sheds, and we’re struggling with some serious shed envy.

After some protracted consideration, we’ve decided to site the structure at the back right corner of the property.  This puts it at the top of the hill upon which our house sits, where the ground is the most level and the property least utilized.

Preparations provide most of the labor in building projects (or at least it feels that way), and this one is no exception.  After laying out the rough dimensions of the building, I started kicking around the idea of moving some of the granite boulders that are scattered around the site.  “Once I build this shed, they’ll be covered up forever, and that’d be a shame,” I thought to myself, adding “besides, it’ll be nice to use them for landscaping around the yard”.

Lovely Assistant

But my definition of ‘forever’ was about to be expanded.  As I started digging, the 1-foot rock faces peeking out from the soil proved to be the very tops of some quite large boulders.  “Tips of some icebergs,” I thought to myself as I kept digging and hoping that I’d be able to move the pieces which I unearthed.  But try as I might, I couldn’t find the bottom of these boulders– they were connected to the crust of the earth itself, it seemed.  Some of the smaller pieces (say, up to the size of a large suitcase) had been separated by roots and ice over the past few million years, but the larger stuff was connected directly to even larger stone surfaces that extended right into the hillside.  It was a humbling thing to gaze upon something so prehistoric.

Prying out a smallish boulder.


21st-Century delivery of an ancient tool.

Even the smaller pieces, though, were too much for me to lift (or even to roll out with my various digging/prying implements).  My plan here came in the form of an ancient tool that was used to build the pyramids:  feathers and wedges.  Utterly simple, they consist of feathers which are carefully placed into a row of drilled holes perpendicular to the direction of the cut line.  The chunky wedges are then inserted between the feathers, and things are then set to pop.  Firm but gentle blows of a small sledge hammer– up the cut line and then back again– are all that are needed to seat the wedges and then deliver several tons of old-fashioned pressure to cleave the rock.  One hears the tone of the hammer blows increase in pitch, until the sound softens and a barely discernible crack

Another 21st-century help: the Milwaukee SDS Hammer Drill (thank you Ebay).

appears.  A few more blows and you’re carefully searching the dirt for every last one of your wedges and feathers.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Seeing the light of day for the first time in millions of years.

The final haul of boulders, chunks, and flakes. And a big hole that needs filling.

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3 Responses to “The Shed: Stavlund Quarry”

  1. Build Shed says:

    I really enjoyed the facts shared here. God bless.

  2. It is legitimate choice to read you blog!

  3. Citra says:

    Hi Deb,Saw your post and got interested in your own hobibt home existing in lil ol’ Perth. Would love to come and see such awesome architecture in my native city.Any chance of coming to have a look at what you have built?I’m currently up in Exmouth, hoping to get land to embark on a project with a mate and I. We aim to have a few accommodations made from monolithic building practises, as well as a sunken amphitheatre made from earthbags. Our project is called Option B’:Option B is unique tourist accommodation: an eco-friendly hostel/backpackers/camping area all rolled in to one, created from scratch and run with as minimal an impact on the environment as possible with a focus on educating guests of all walks of life about sustainable living practices and introducing them to the splendid surrounds of the Gascoyne region. Option B will endeavour to use natural resources (such as solar and wind generated power) for energy on site, as well as solely using recycled materials to build guest accommodations (converted caravans, train carriages, yachts and hobibt homes’) that are designed to aesthetically reflect a “green” business geographically located in an area with spectacular marine life and a plethora of water based activities nearby. Minimising water wastage will be a priority and made effective via grey water systems, compost waste solutions and self- sufficient gardens. Ample edible produce from our garden beds will be a task, to say the least, in Exmouth’s harsh climate but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to tackling. Whilst the business wouldn’t be “off-the-grid” or entirely self-sustainable, the concept that we hope would appeal to guests would be that of attaining as close to a carbon neutral option as possible while staying at our ‘homestay away from home’. Option B will provide a wealth of activities (and advice on activities) without stretching the visitor’s budget. We’re aiming to (gradually over time) fine tune our approach to tourist accommodation that will hopefully develop a unique vibe on site and one day make Option B a tourist attraction/destination in itself set in the stunning surrounds of Exmouth, built and run by two enthusiastic West Australians who collectively hold over two decades of experience in the hospitality industry. My mobile is 0420 228 104 and email is . I’m back in Perth for a week in the middle of November. BR,Peteps. Jim awesome hobibt home. If I’m ever in NY I’ll definitely come visit!

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