Burbank, Calif., contractor David Jack Corp. specializes in countertops. So when Los Angeles-based Reform Furniture hired the firm to cast a group of workstation tops for a client back East, it was business as usual — with one exception.
“The only thing,” says owner David Cunningham, “is that we had six weeks to build 480 tops.”
While historians have not kept records as to the largest number of concrete countertops poured in one job, most would agree that 480 is a whole lot. “We cranked ‘em out,” Cunningham reports.
Each desktop slab measured 50 inches wide and 26 inches deep. Each also had to be strong enough to hold 500 pounds without any support directly underneath.
Cunningham and his crew got to work. First, they poured a 35-foot-by-80-foot slab to create a form that would allow them to cast 120 tops at once. The desktops would be cast upside down, so the surface of the form slab was ground smooth. Aluminum channel forms were bolted to the surface. “I used to build tilt-wall buildings. I just went with that concept,” Cunningham says.
The crew then poured batch after batch of desktops, popping them off with help from a release agent. Wood strips were fixed to the back of each slab for attaching the workstation tops to their wood frames. The slabs were stacked to finish curing.
Up to 20 people at once worked assembly-line style on the project, with each person doing a specific task on several slabs all day long. One, or sometimes two full-time runners would procure diamond pads and other expendables that regularly became scarce.
The team could not use vibrators to work air out of the setting concrete. The tools were too likely to scrape the bottom of a curing slab, leaving blemishes on what would end up being the surface of a desk. As a result, the tops hardened with little air holes on their surfaces. The cured slabs were given a fill coat of an Army green color, then moved to the microtopping table for a coat of warm gray.
Thanks to the air holes and the rest of the process, the tops ended up looking more mottled than usual, which, as it turned out, was a good thing. “The client just went ape over that,” Cunningham says. “In reality, everything just worked in our favor.”
The tops were shipped in crates that weighed 3,000 pounds when full. “We filled two semi trucks with 80,000 pounds of countertops,” Cunningham says.
The tops were shipped to the first phase of a commercial project in Philadelphia. The recipients and their office designer have backed up their praise with orders for more. At this point, the total order may come in at about 3,000 tops, Cunningham says.
David Jack Corp. is no stranger to big productions. The company has poured concrete for a number of Hollywood movies and television shows. It has cast concrete tops in bulk before too, in the range of 50 to 100 for a restaurant. Accomplishing this mammoth job was just a matter of careful scheduling, Cunningham says. When they started the job in August 2005, they were finishing 10 tops a day. Two weeks later they were up to 45 or 50 per day.
More information about David Jack Corp. can be found at www.davidjackcorp.com or by calling (800) 225-8420.