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Ever wonder how they made the odd shaped concrete buildings or curves or triangle shapes? It's no secret and your imagination is about the only limiting factor. Money of course helps to buy materials, but in many cases timber or plywood is used so well. Be inventive. A cardboard tube from the inside of a carpet rolls when cut in half, makes a large lock or slider for a fountain or stream. The wooden coil left from an electric cable reel makes a good inside shape into a circle for a monk shaped shape. All these things are free to ask. There are also special materials such as a product called "wiggle board" that can be bent to achieve fine smooth curves against the faces of the finished concrete. Take a walk through your local big box store with the idea of finding things that can be used to form concrete. You will be amazed at what you find. Empty pegs laid sideways in a wall shape make perfect gate holes or round window openings. Square, round, triangular or almost any shape you can imagine can be found. You can also always create your own forms. Let's see how to form a curved wall.
Start with a plate on the floor to create the wall shape you want is your first step. You can't bend a two in four of course so you use a larger piece of timber and cut the shape (or part of it) from it. If the curve fits two to six, lay out the curve and cut it out with a saber saw. If the curve is longer than your board or more than what fits two on six, use a two to eight and so on. When all the floor pieces are cut, make a duplicate set that will be the top plate in your molding work. Place the pieces in place and attach them to the foot or floor. The curved wall is now much easier to build. Use standard two to four hours, placing them as close together as possible along the floor plate to create a curved wall. Install your top plate. Using a quarter inch thick Luann plywood, starting at one end of your mold, attach the plywood to the tabs and gently bend the plywood around the wall. You may want to coat plywood with mold oil before installing it and even if this makes the installation a bit messy, it softens the plywood and makes it even easier to bend. Attach the plywood every two to four. This gives strength to your shape work and keeps the plywood in place when it dries out. When the facial form is completed, you can fill the back of the form and pour your concrete. Different shapes can be built into the face of the mold to provide recess in concrete or holes in the wall and so on.
Free-form concrete can be great fun but requires a concrete pump that can shoot a concrete product called gunit or shotcrete. Any form is limited by gravity. Rebars, foam molds and other objects can be used as temporary forms for the concrete until it cures. Swimming pools in the ground are quite often made of gunit, which is how they get the well curved wall sections and shapes. It takes a crew to use a gunit pump but when the basics learned with enough aids you can also use one.
Concrete when it is aerated in air needs some type of reinforcement to support the weight of the concrete. If you are trying to make closed stairs, for example, get an engineer to design the rebar layouts for you. Concrete is very heavy and can cause serous damage or worse if a collapse occurs.
Try to form some small architectural elements in your garden and pour them with a bag of redi-mix. Steps, small walls, a pool or pond and then move on to the larger functions. You will be amazed at how easy it is to make these stylish features.
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