THE SECRETS OF MAKING CHEAP CEMENT. FARMERS TALKING TO FARMERS about ‘tricks’ of the rural, home building trade. The very THOUGHT! MICKEY MOUSE THE CEMENT IN MY NEW FARM HOUSE? YEAH! You BET! Big, greedy corporations have been MANDATING the costly way you do things now, since 1928! GET A GRIP Who (except #*%&(& Portland Cement corp) sez ‘my way or the highway?” Not ANCIENT ROME who built everything in cement using natural ingredients, recipes and concepts. And their buildings are still there. The only person who's going to object besides PORTLAND is city inspectors, but you don’t have those up in Michigan or at RUSHING River, IDAHO where you're building, do you? On your farm, cutting cement costs in HALF not only sounds good but you could spend the money on a hundred bare root fruit trees and if any damn inspector comes around, give him a few bushels of APPLES! Besides, once it's up, is he going to take a core sample? No.

ALWAYS go for the Cheap cement recipe that is where there isn’t a weighty LOAD on it . Sounds pretty neat, but we’re curious as to how the newly laid ‘Mickey Mouse cheap mix” block will hold up to the elements if it takes a few days to construct, seal, and roof the building. ELEMENTS?

OUR RESIDENT EXPERT tells us: "Well, if you’re Mickey mousing cement, KEEP THE FINISHED WALL dry. Varnish the sucker and Put a roof on it!

OUR QUERYING FARMER ASKS: If I were doing this, it would be over several weekends, and I’m wondering if I could safely leave the partial walls etc.?? Maybe after your experimental brick has cured you can check its water resistance in that state, I’d try to mix up a batch myself, with a hand mixer but my wife doesn’t let me near her kitchen stuff .

TIV, OUR FARMER & a true JACK OF ALL TRADES knowing how to use every tool that exists, answer. “Go to a Lowes, Builder’s Square or similar building supply house, go back in the section which has pails of bedding mud for drywall joints, mortar mix etc. and look at the various tools. Among them will generally be two brands of mixers for insertion in a half-inch drill for mixing small quantities of mortar and paint. You will use it to mix soaked cardboard boxes or any paper fiber source.

If you soak paper strips overnight it pulps even easier and more quickly. You can go out and find a hundred boxes behind a store, soak them in a hard plastic kiddie pool and build a fibrous freebie cement with 10% Portland in the mix. Cellulose brick will shed water. It will be more absorptive if rained upon. That won’t cause any deterioration in the cellulose/cement brick, but until the excess water is re-evaporated the compressive strength would be reduced somewhat. Sand and cement don’t compress but the cellulose component can (like sawdust or paper cellulose Cement is heavy on the sawdust)---not too important if there is no load on the wall.. After the walls are erected or after a roof-panel is made of the stuff and raised, a water-shedding paint should be applied. Take your choice of cement-paint (read the label) or acrylic latex-based paint.. Note that each has advantages and accompanying disadvantages. You can patch small joints, cracks or damage to a cement-paint wall with a little cheap Portland and water cement paste. You have to use epoxy to repair a wall painted with acrylic latex. Embed roofing fiber-tape for larger repairs (comes in four-inch rolls)

Making and testing samples is always advisable beforeplunging ahead. Tiv the farmer says this stuff works fine. It was the subject of an article in Countryside four or five years back for someone who built himself a quickie, small dome, and Jack Bays (don’t know if he is still alive), an eccentric in Cedaredge, Colorado, used to sell a king-size malted-milk mixer you dropped in a fifty-five gallon barrel to mix this and other good stuff of his devising. Since it was then more available and of even less value (stores paid you to haul it off), he used pulped cardboard boxes, in which the fibers are a little stronger than those in paper. There have been some recent developments along these lines, and one patent "Tridex" which used junk materials like this to make an extremely strong building panel with good insulation characteristics. It even has a good load-bearing capacity.


There is a man name Mike McCain in Columbus New Mexico building roofed, insulated structures for .75 cents per square foot. Mike uses a material that is made on site in a home made machine that cost less than $100 to build from scrap. Mike calls this material "Fibrous Cement" because he uses a mixture of 10% cement, 30% screened dirty sand and 60% water soaked paper. Yep, I didn't stutter and this is not a typo. I said PAPER, as in discarded newspaper, junk mail, slick circulars, even cardboard. Staples, paperclips, small rocks, high clay content or pretty slick paper can all add to the strength of the mixture. Yha-hoo! Finally a good use for junk mail! Fibrous cement is amazing stuff. Mike makes adobe like blocks from it and uses it like adobe blocks. Properly mixed fibrous cement has a load bearing strength greater than adobe, and is lighter than adobe and has an R value of 2.8 per inch. That means a 1' wall has a value of about 33+ R value a 2' wall would be 66.7. It will hold a screw, you can build the structure then cut the doors and windows with a chainsaw.


Mike builds the walls and roof from this material. Fibrous cement will not burn and termites will not eat it. You can paint it, use it like plaster, seal it with hot tar or cover it with elastometeric plastic coatings. It is easier to work with than regular cement since it is lighter and too much water simply drains away instead of weakening the mixture. It is not satisfactory for footings or situations where it is subject to high continuous moisture saturation. Mike does construct buried structures. This method makes Cob look onerous. You can construct any size or shape building you can dream up with Fibrous Cement. You can use a slip form and pour solid walls if desired. Fibrous cement blocks are hard enough to stack after a few hours in the New Mexico sun and may be used after a few days of curing. Mike constructs domes and round buildings with simple poles or cable ceilings/roofs covered with fibrous cement. Any shape is possible.


Mike makes simple machines to mix this stuff out of discarded auto differentials, old lawnmower blades and 55 gallon barrels or old stock tanks. Currently he is using an old used 7' x 2' high stock tank and a 22" lawnmower blade. The tank is mounted over the driveshaft of the old differential and the lawnmower blade is attached inside the tank. This makes a device similar to a large blender. One of the axles is attached to a universal joint and drive shaft which is then attached to the lug nuts on a drive wheel of a vehicle on jack stands. When the vehicles drive wheels turn so does the lawnmower blade. This does require a high torque drive system to move the 22" blade in a full tank of slurry, i.e., needs a V8! Mike starts the vehicle and starts filling the tank with water. As the tank is filling he is tossing in slightly separated old news papers, junk mail etc, etc.. The lawnmower blade beginscreating a slurry out of the wet paper immediately. When the tank is almost full, Mike adds a few buckets of dirty sand and a bag of cement. After churning for a while, mike drains the tank onto some wire mesh to extract a lot of the extra water and to make the slurry easier to handle. The water is clear, it contains no cement as the fibers of the paper have soaked up the cement. This water could be collected and used in the next batch.


I have pounded my share of tires and I don't find it over bearing but believe me this looks a lot easier. I made a test batch in our kitchen this afternoon using the above formula and the wife's blender.(She was not here and did not witness the mess I made. I did not ask permission to put cement in her blender, thank God I didn't have to go through that).I made about 1000 Ml of slurry and I have a 3" x 4 " block about a 1.5 inches thick now drying in the sun. Here's how I did it. To make it easier on our 20 year old dime store blender I soaked a 2 quart sauce pan full of news paper cut into strips before putting them in the blender. I put about 400 ML of water in the blender and started it on its highest setting. Then I started dropping in wet newspaper strips in gobs. Watch it, that damn stuff tries to come over the top when you add paper and it goes in every direction.;-)


The old blender would groan for a while then change sounds as it liquefied the mess. Sometimes I  added water, and sometimes I added paper until I had a thick slurry of paper and water up to the 600ML line on our blender. Then, I added 300 ML of dirt and 100ML of cement. (This is a 60% paper, 30% dirt 10% cement formula. A tablespoon is 150ML).Boy did that old blender groan. It also got kind of hot. Finally, when the old blender seemed to have had about enough and was ready to choke down, I stopped and poured the mixture over some hardware cloth to drain. After about 30 minutes the slurry could be formed into a block for drying. Pretty impressive, if you're significant other doesn't witness the stress on the kitchen equipment. The finished home must be waterproofed with polymer varnish. According to Mike McCain "Fibrous Cement was invented and patented in 1928 but it was too cheap and simple to be profitably promoted so it fell by the wayside." It probably also didn't help that this methodology was a CHEAP ALTERNATIVE to wood construction. In that era, wood and wood fiber production for paper was very closely guarded by the Hearst and Du Pont families because they owned most of the timber tracts and the chemicals for processing wood fiber into paper. The hemp industry and even the minor little rammed earth industry that tried to get started in the mid 30's fell victim to "big money interest" and "big Government co-operation." There is far more detail than I really can go into here. If you want to know more about Fibrous Cement then here is the info. Get an old magazine called "Earth Quarterly" ISSUE #1.. for a super article on Fibrous Cement. These people used to publish Dry Country News  Find old copies used for a buck at ABEBOOKS.COM

~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~ MAKING YOUR OWN CEMENT BLOCKS FOR a quarter EACH! Someone on the list said that they had gotten some concrete blocks for $0.70 per block. If possible, I would certainly like to know the source for that block. I’ve visited two lumberyards and a couple of construction companies and, so far, lowest price I've found is $1.39 per block. We're looking for concrete block to construct a block wall a couple of block high around our garden. At a $1.39 per block, we might have to abandon the idea. At $0.80 or $0.90 per block we could still do it. The highest quoted price, BTW, was $1.89 per block. ANSWER: Our list Leader, the multi careered Tiv said that it would be cheaper to make up one or several strippable forms with tapered blocks fastened to the bottom-board---twist lock hinges, removable pin hinges, or DIY clamps to hold the form together for pouring and setting up. Oil the surfaces with old motor oil. AT last a use for that! That alone makes it worth the price of admission! (My attempt at turning it into fine ladies' soap having failed.) If you buy bags of Portland cement, a pickup load of sharp sand and gravel, mix with a shovel or hoe in a wheelbarrow or on a piece of oiled plywood, a block would cost $0.25 to $0.50, depending upon how strong the block should be for the proposed use. Doesn’t sound like you need much strength, so thin out the mix a lot---make some samples to establish the minimum of Portland---also use a lot of gravel, very little sand so less cement is required.

You can coat and stick-together gravel surfaces with less cement paste than sand takes. My recommendation for absolute lowest-cost is an all-gravel mix since surface porosity should not be of any importance in the garden. The only place you can buy concrete block for 70c today is from a demolition contractor or salvage yard. What's cheap that could be added in? Clay soil? Peat if you live near a bog, hay like the Indians used for adobe bricks? Get creative. Coffee grinds? Nah they're too fine on my roses!

Tiv: this Mickey Mouse stuff works fine.It was the subject of an article in Countryside four or five years back for someone who built himself a quickie, small dome, and Jack Bays (don't know if he is still alive), an eccentric in Cedaredge, Colorado, used to sell a king-size malted-milk mixer you dropped in a fifty-five gallon barrel to mix this and other good stuff of his devising." GOOGLE "jack bays" + cedaredge just like that, many articles on him. "Since it was then more available and of even less value (stores paid you to haul it off), he used pulped cardboard boxes, in which the fibers are a little stronger than those in paper. There have been some recent developments along these lines, and one patent "Tridex" which used junk materials like this to make an extremely strong building panel with good insulation characteristics.

NOW, IF YOU ARE INSPIRED, GOOGLE “IMAGE SECTION”, seeking words “MAYA” + STELE combined and you will see some unique cement columns that have totem faces and bodies in them …not added to cement mix, no… carved into the stone. If you could figure a way to carve fresh cement like that, or pour it into molds, pour faces/ tiles in cement, get those geometric forms....wow.

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