In the construction of my kidney bean shaped paver patio, I had to figure out how to give a bunch of rectangle paver stones a nice curved edge.
I figured I had three options:
- Break the stones along the curve using a chisel
- Cut the stones one by one using a concrete saw
- Cut the stones all at once, while in place with a concrete saw
Pros and Cons
There were pros and cons of each.
Using a chisel is the least expensive way to go. It also avoids handling a heavy and relatively dangerous piece of machinery such as a concrete saw. The downside is the relatively jagged edge a chisel leaves, which might be desirable in some case, but I was going for smooth.
Ruling out a chisel, I knew I was going to use a concrete saw. I went to my local Tru Value hardware store and rented a bad boy with a diamond blade for under $100 a day. Since I rented it on a Saturday, and they were not open on Sunday, I was able to keep it until Monday morning for the same price as a one-day rental.
As the True Value associate showed me how to operate the saw and load it into my car, we paused for a moment to admire. It’s a beautiful tool that reminded me of a chainsaw with an even more threatening blade. I was going to have to be very aware of the spinning edge in relationship to myself and surroundings at all times.
One By One Or All At Once
The next decision was whether to cut to stones one by one or at the same time while in place.
Cutting them all at once seemed like it would be the fastest and easiest way to go, but I was concerned about the 3/4″ layer of leveling sand beneath the paver stones. Would the saw dig out so much sand that it would be impossible to level the edge?
The other option was to lay all the stones in place and draw an outline of the desired curved kidney bean shape. To cut the stones, I would have removed them one by one and cut them off to the side of the worksite.
This technique would help me to control the leveling sand a little better, but it would take longer and would be more difficult to line up the curved edge.
I decided to cut the stones all at once and risk having to re-level the sand.
Get to Work
It was hot Texas day in June when I dawned my safety goggles, mask, and earplugs and picked up the diamond bladed concrete saw. I pulled the starter chord and heard the engine start to whine and felt the gyroscopic pressure from a rapidly spinning blade.
I bent over to make the first cut, paying close attention to my feet and knees in relation to the blade. The saw felt heavy and took a lot of muscle to keep online.
Stone dust started flying everywhere, and a bead of sweat dripped onto the stones. I immediately stopped the saw and cleaned up the sweat drop because I had read that paver stone dust would harden if wet, just like concrete.
To help with this, I had my wife stand behind me at a safe distance with safety gear and a shop vac to blow away the dust particles as I produced them.
I made sure to cut into the circle at a slight angle to produce a tight seam when I laid the outer border stones.
The blade went through two and a half inches of paver stone like knife through a steak. I could only handle about four feet of cutting at a time before taking a break to recharge my muscles and wipe the sweat from my forehead.
The Finished Product
By the time I made it to the end, I had a beautifully curved edge. The impact to the leveling sand was fairly minimal, certainly not enough to warrant cutting the stones one by one.
Using this kind of saw can be a bit dangerous and take a lot of muscle, but the results are pretty stunning. When guests come by to have drinks on our new patio, they ooh and awe over the curved design. They can’t believe that it was a DIY project.
Click here for more information on Diamond Bladed Concrete Saws.