Timber Frame Pavilion – Garden Gazebo Plan, Drawing

Laying out and Making the Concrete Pier Forms

Timber Frame Pavilion - Batter boards made from stakes and level ledgers
Batter boards made from stakes and level ledgers

I laid out the post locations using string and batter boards then dug the footing holes. The batter boards are made by hammering in three stakes and connecting them with level ledger boards.

Ledgers attached to stakes to create a level plane
Ledgers attached to stakes to create a level plane

Weights hang from these mason lines and cross over the center of each pier form.

Strings drawn across center of each form - Form Layout
Strings drawn across center of each form

These lines are strung over the ledger boards 10 feet apart and are square and level. The tops of the ledger boards are all on a level plane.

Strings are level and square on 10\' centers
Strings are level and square on 10′ centers

The pier forms are simple boxes made from half inch plywood and 2×2’s. I added a fillet strip to the corners to form a chamfer.

Timber Frame Pavilion - A Pier chamfer is created with wooden fillet strip inside concrete form
Pier chamfer is created with wooden fillet strip inside concrete form

I can remove the lines once all the forms are leveled and squared to these strings, and secured to small stakes in the ground. All the tops of the pier forms are now on the same level plane.

Timber Frame Pavilion - Forms have vegetable oil smeared on to keep cement from sticking
Forms have vegetable oil smeared on to keep cement from sticking

To keep the cement from sticking to the plywood I apply a good amount of vegetable oil to all inside surfaces.

I pound in some rebar to reinforce the piers. Pounding the rebar into the hard clay at the bottom of the hole keeps it in place roughly in the center of the form.

Fill Timber Frame Pavilion Forms with Concrete

Holes and forms filled with cement - Wheelbarrow and Shovel mixed by hand
Holes and forms filled with cement

I mix concrete and fill the holes and forms. This is my second wheelbarrow load for this form. I use a short length of rebar to work the concrete and settle it. I overfill the form then lightly tap it to bring bubbles to the surface. I’ll then let it sit and settle for a few minutes.

A chamfer on the top edge is formed by hand with small trowel - Finishing Concrete
A chamfer on the top edge is formed by hand with small trowel

Then I scrape off the excess and form a chamfer on the top edges with a flat margin trowel. I’ll use a flat trowel and marks on the form to find center, then work in an anchor bolt before the cement sets up.

An Anchor bolt embedded in cement in center of form
Anchor bolt embedded in wet cement in center of form

I cover the forms with plastic and leave to cure for a few days.

Stripping Pier Forms

Piers are revealed when forms are disassembled (or stripped) after a few days
Piers are revealed when forms are disassembled (or stripped) after a few days

It was very hot and dry when I poured them so I didn’t want the concrete to dry too quickly. The plastic helps to prevented that.
When set, I stripped the forms. For me, it’s like unwrapping a present. It’s always cool to see how it works out. I’ll remove the screws from the small stakes, then the screws holding the four sides together. Then gently pry off the plywood panels.
The pier forms needed to be a bit taller where the ground sloped slightly away. These forms required 2×2’s to hold them together.

I label the form sides in case I need to reassemble them later
I label the form sides in case I need to reassemble them later

As the forms came apart I labeled them with a sharpie in case I wanted to reassemble them for another project.

Exposed piers are kept covered with plastic to properly cure - Timber Frame Pavilion
Exposed piers are kept covered with plastic to properly cure

I cover the piers with plastic for a few more days to keep from drying too fast.
I scrape off any sharp edges or corners with a piece of wood while the concrete is still soft.
I’ll leave the batter board stakes and ledger boards as is for now. I might need them later for temporary bracing supports.

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