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Full-Scale 1565 Map of the World on Wood

Color laser prints allow ink transfer from paper to wood. It requires powder pigment and inkjet will not work. This map of the world was completed by Spanish master cartographer Paolo Forlani in the year 1565. I stumbled across it eight years ago. It is the most beautiful map I have ever seen. It speaks a history in what it details. The Great Lakes are an abstract italic “LAGO”. Notice there is no Pacific Ocean. The tricky part was getting it to be 30″ wide, when color laser prints max out at 12″ x 18″. The board took a great deal of staging and preparation prior to three painstaking hours for it to be ready to trim + sand + seal.

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How to build a deck without concrete.

This is how you build a structurally sound deck without concrete.

The helical screw pile.

The helical screw pile replaces the concrete footing + embedded post bracket used in conventional deck construction. The screw pile can be reused. It can be relocated. It can be readjusted after installation by multiple inches. I have never seen it not meet + exceed municipal / state building codes. This is the 50-inch Adjustable Screw Pile from Pylex.

Helical piles are not new technology. In the US they seem to predominately be used for reinforcing foundations and other miscellaneous structural applications, with piles so large they require pneumatic installation.

The beauty of this screw pile is that it can be installed by yourself manually.

The 50-inch Adjustable Screw Pile uses human-powered-fulcrum-force and can be installed by an able-bodied adult. No post holes, no heavy bags of messy concrete, no CO2 off-gassing during the weeks and months for curing concrete: just an all around versatile, resilient structural footing for a multitude of applications + conditions.

The Project

I began by replacing a high, long, rear-facing window with a sliding door. Consult a qualified professional prior to ever demolishing portions of load-bearing walls.

The sliding door was a lot of work. More than I will outline. It didn’t help that a door of the incorrect size was delivered. The mishap turned into about a week of maintaining a duct-taped tarp over a gaping hole in my house. The door manufacturer made right on the inconvenience, however, and I ended up only paying for the door’s shipping!

Once the door was flashed and trimmed I moved into deck construction.

Halfway through day 2 I’d framed out the upper portion of the deck. My deck is free-standing and did not use a ledger board. Notice I installed 45-degree “knee braces” on posts to prevent lateral movement. Also notice the top of a helical pile (bottom left in image above) for the forthcoming lower terrace.

Add decking…

By the end of day 3 the upper portion of the deck was complete and framing for the larger lower terrace well underway. I used Simpson Strong Tie hardware for all post and joist framing connections. Deck construction is generally conventional after post footings are installed.

By the end of the third weekend my finished product was in sight, but with a lot of details left to be constructed. I designed benches built into the framing which are what the shorter 4 x 4 posts protruding from the deck surface would become. Stair stringers provided another opportunity to deviate from concrete.

In typical deck stair construction a concrete pad is poured as a landing to anchor and support the stair stringers where they meet the ground. Sometimes smaller individual concrete footings are used. I explored concrete-less alternative approaches and came up with the ground spike, specifically the Pylex 32″ Ecospike.

Stair stringers are fastened to the 4 x 4 by a typical lag bolt. I shoveled out a couple inches of topsoil to hammer in the spikes, then backfilled with pea gravel to reduce direct ground moisture coming into contact with wood. I don’t know if the spike manufacturers have seen their product used for this application, but it worked like a charm and was obviously much more practical + versatile than installing a massive concrete slab.

Some of the finished stringers…

Decking obviously brings everything to life, but there were still a lot of finishing details, including railings and built-in benches. I wouldn’t finish benches until springtime.

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