In the first years of the 20th Century, cement was all the rage. And the idea of making your own cinder blocks (for fun and profit) apparently also became quite popular. In the early 1900s, the pages of American Carpenter and Builder (a building magazine from that era) were filled with advertisements for block-making machines and cement-stirring machines.
Sears offered the Wizard Block Making machine which retailed for $57.50 (a bargain at twice the price!). And Sears suggested that a man could save a lot of money on building a new home if he made his own blocks. Now if a man devoted himself to making nothing but blocks and if a man had someone else preparing the cement for pouring, he could make about one every two minutes. To do this, the poured cement was loaded into a form, pressed down, and then removed. The form was not removed until the concrete had hardened a bit. That meant if you were serious about making blocks, you had to have several forms on hand.
The ad below suggests that the block could be removed immediately from the form. I’d love to know if that was accurate. Having never made a block in the Sears Roebuck Wizard Block Making Machine, I can’t say for sure.
Sears estimated that 1,300 blocks were needed for the basement of The Chelsea (one of their kit homes). The Chelsea was a modest foursquare on a short cellar. If you devoted yourself to the creation of those blocks and really hustled, you’d need about five eight-hour days to do nothing but work like a dog making blocks. And that’s if he had someone else preparing the cement. That’s a lot of work.
* * *