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How to Build a Bulkhead

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A bulkhead is used in a concrete footer where there are steps up or down. These bulkheads allow a change in concrete height, and serve as a stop gate for wet concrete. They are generally made from lumber and plywood and can be readily removed after the concrete has dried. You can build a bulkhead in 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size and scope of the project.

Measure the width of the footer that will receive the bulkhead. Add an extra 6 inches to the final width. Measure the widest -- rather than the narrowest -- part of the footer at the step down.

Record the measurement on a writing pad if you have more than one bulkhead to build. Sketch a plan view of the footer with the locations of the bulkheads noted. Note each measurement as well.

Lay out the bulkhead measurements on a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood. Bulkhead heights are to be built in 8-inch increments. However, sometimes the steps up along the footer are doubled to 16 inches. Lay out the width and height, and square it onto the plywood.

Snap chalk lines to connect the measurements. Put on safety goggles, place the plywood on a saw horse, and carefully cut out the bulkhead with a circular saw.

Cut 2-by-4s that correspond with the perimeter measurements of the plywood. For example, if your bulkhead is 24 inches wide and 8 inches tall, then cut two boards 21 inches and two boards 8 inches. Build a frame out of the 2-y-4s, laying them flat on the back side of the bulkhead. Attach the boards with 3-inch screws.

Drive the bulkhead into the soil with a hammer at the footer step-down. Place 2-by-4 stakes on the back side of the bulkhead at an angle and into the side of the footer bank. Attach the bulkhead to the stakes with 3-inch screws.

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