This was our most ambitious project of 2014. I was approached by Kate Bordline and her contractor pal Phil, to build the bartop for the distillery Kate, along with her business partners, was opening, Our Detroit. The original thinking was for the bartop to be concrete, but I'd been itching to do some board formed concrete for a while and I managed to talk them into using concrete for the base as well. When a creative idea gets into my mind often I can not get it out. It's not that I'm always thinking about this idea, or obsessing on this idea, but it is there with me. Most of the time the only way to exercise this idea is to bring it to life. Board forming was one of those ideas.
Board formed concrete. 75 years ago metal and plastic were not used when making the forms for precast concrete or cast in place walls, wood was. Wood was strong enough to withstand the pressure exerted by pouring concrete, and was cheap and readily available. The texture and grain pattern left was an accepted by product of this building method. Detroit has many examples of board formed concrete, on being Ponyride, where our shop is located. Cast concrete buildings, developed and revolutionized by Albert Kahn Associates, replaced wood framed buildings, allowing much more open space in the building, greater fire resistance, and increased strength and durability. Steel reinforced concrete factories built in Detroit in the early 20th century were revolutionary and even though the grain pattern on the walls, ceilings and outside of these building were mostly an afterthought those imprints speak to me.
Above is an example of board formed concrete from Ponyride's co-working space.
Above is the samples for the base of the bar and below is form for the sample.
The release used on the wood was Vaseline cut with equal parts mineral spirits. In coming posts I will cover what lumber was used, how the form for the base was built and cast, and finally casting and finishing the bartop.