Chapter 21: The Self Taught Paver Guy

Encouraged because I made the best pavement of my street, I proceeded to remove the temporary path I did at the garage when I first started paving. I managed to pick up some "half pavers" from a nearby dump. They were left behind in excess by tradies who had finished their work at another house. With that, I was able to complete that area not only in a shorter duration but achieving a better finish. When Stephen heard about it, he laughed and said, "Smart."

However, such a short cut was limited to how many suitable pieces I could find in the dump. I decided it was finally time to do something about that problem and went to the tool shop. A wet saw that cost thousands to buy and tens to rent was out of the question. If I had that much money to burn, I would buy a car and crash it into a tree. At least that my money goes out in a bang. I reckoned I could spare a few bucks for a good blade that might help me cut pavers apart with my bread-and-butter tool, the angle grinder.

So I came across that blade they called "Diamond," I supposed that would be a woman's favourite blade. 

It looked like that (left). What do ya think? A beautiful solitaire isn't it? With all the hardness, high clarity and shit, no less. Unlike useless diamonds that are shoved into the cabinet for the rest of their lives, that blade would become a cheap solution to my problems. Well, not as cheap as I would like. I had to pay $30 for one. The great news was, it was built to last, unlike the metal cutting disks that I have been accustomed to.

So I went to the backyard with my exciting new toy and proceeded to slash tiles up. It was amazing.

I realised I could cut the pavers as thinly as I needed. I could also make notches to fit pavers into any crevices that I came across. The sound it made was a little loud and the dust it caused was quite alarming but not surprising. It wasn't a wet saw after all.

I was astonished how long I endured paving with just a hammer and chisel. It wasn't all that bad. I enjoyed the simplicity of the work. I wanted to prove that it wasn't necessary to over-complicate the method to perform a simple task. It was also an example I would use to refute the textbook mentality of Singaporeans that make us think doing any job requires a strict following of an SOP or a method statement, while failing to understand the logic behind the recommended steps.

Well, you see, I am not as reckless or foolish that I make myself to be. In this case, I was also concerned about the quality of work I did. I wanted to avoid the issues of bad paving work, such as uneven pavers after a period of time or even cracked pavers. The first question I asked myself was, should these pavers go crocked down the road, do I know how to fix it? I did a test and found that it wasn't all that bad. It is as simple as breaking one of them, fix the uneven sand before and replacing the broken paver. All I needed to do was to ensure those cases were kept to the minimum, if not completely eliminated.

With the new blade, I was able to cut even wafer thin slices off the stone if I needed to. It was impossible if I wanted to do the same using the cave man method.

Obviously, it gifted me the ability to cut not just a straight line but different shapes and sizes to accommodate whatever obstacles I might need to pave around.

With the new blade, I was able to finally convert these situations:

To these:

Lastly I would like to drop a note regarding the compaction of sand. I had tried doing the same for dirt. Most of us the call the dirt, sand. That is because they look just like sand. However, construction sand has different properties that are important. When it comes to paving, the key property is the ability to be compacted many times it's natural volume. There is also a popular myth that it is of absolute necessity to use a mechanical compactor to compact the sand in order for it to withstand load without some pavers going uneven in the long run. That might not be true, as I found out.

I left an area of sand that was leveled but yet to be paved over the weekend. It rained on Saturday. By the time I returned to work on it on Monday afternoon, I realised the surface of the sand was hard and firm so much so I couldn't even leave a clear dent in the sand when I punched on it lightly. Meanwhile, the dirt surface nearby sank immediately as I stepped on it, proving how different both materials were. These screenshots are evidence of what I described:

I put my whole weight on it, leaving no footprint when I lifted my foot

Any engineer will know a point load creates more pressure than a uniformly distributed load (UDL). For simplicity's sake, imagine if I put a piece of plywood over your feet and get a 70kg man to stand on the plywood. Ouch? Now imagine if I get a 45kg woman wearing high heels stepping on your foot with the heel. Double ouch! No doubt about it. My point is simple. If I can stand on one leg on the sand, compacted naturally by rain, without leaving a mark on it, I will never dent it standing on the stones paved over the sand tightly locked together. I wouldn't say that in certainty if you drive a car over the pavement everyday. However, this should be enough to withstand the load from any human being walking or jumping on it.

Unless you are damn fucking fat and you like to dance on silts.