Laying the Footer 2

So now it was time to lay the footer. Actually an entire winter passed between the last article and this one, so I had to dig out some cave-ins that occurred during the time off.

The footer blocks needed to have 2 pieces of 1/2" rebar running through them, connecting them all together. Every fourth block also needed to have a slot in the center of it to support an L-shaped piece of rebar that went up through the foundation walls. This meant I was going to have to drill holes in the block, lots of holes. I bought a cheap hammer drill from a home improvement store and quickly realized that it was not at all what I needed. So I found a local tool store that had just bought out another stores inventory that was going out of business, and they had a huge stock of Milwaukee rotary hammers for super cheap. So I bought one of those and a 3/4" bit. The 3/4" bit was just the right size for the 1/2" rebar without having to beat the rebar through the holes. I quickly learned to use the slowest drilling speed possible to avoid damaging the blocks. I reduced a couple of blocks to dust before I figured that out. Remember that these blocks are being filled with concrete anyway, so weakening them a little isn't a huge problem.

Sutherlands had 1/2" rebar in 10 foot lengths, so I decided that I would just overlap the 10 foot sections by a couple of feet, drilling 2 holes side by side in the block wherever they overlapped.

So I had a large number of blocks to drill, 144 if I remember correctly. Marking the drilling spots on each block was taking far too long, so I built templates out of some strong wood. I used 2 templates which could be rotated or flipped to create all the various drilling patterns that I needed for the overlapping rebar sections. So to drill a block, I just identified what type of pattern I needed, layed the corresponding template on top of the block, and started drilling. Once I had everything set up it went extremely fast.

But... If I had it to do over, I probably would have poured the footer instead of using block, because then I could have just laid the rebar into the concrete forms and supported it with some pieces of wood and wire. Would have been so much faster than drilling the blocks.

Once I had a bunch of blocks drilled, I would start laying them out. The end blocks had to have rebar intersecting from 2 directions so they needed more holes (2 blocks on each end had to be drilled for this). I laid an end first, leveling it perfectly by digging or adding dirt and compacting as necessary. I set my laser level on top of the first two end blocks, then continued laying blocks and leveling them until I was just over 10 feet. At that point I shoved the rebar in. Then I continued with about another 8 feet of block, then shoved the next rebar in, making sure they overlapped the first pieces where I had drilled the double holes. I continued all the way to the end of a row, leveling and straightening as I went. I think it took about 1 or 2 days per row, because as always I ran into little unexpected things that slowed me down, such as rock in my way.

When I got to the end of my first row, I knew I had a problem. There was no way to insert the rebar. I finally realized that I was going to have to dig some extra trench at the end of each row in order to be able to insert the rebar through the end blocks.

Overlapping the 4 pieces of rebar at the end of each row proved to be quite difficult, and my pattern wasn't always lining up the way I had planned. But eventually the work got done and it looked like a professional had planned it that way, so I was happy.

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