Copper Pipe Shelf System

Here’s a shelf system I designed for a friend who was going to build something similar using galvanized pipe. I thought copper was a better idea because there would be no need to thread the pipe ends.
Copper Shelf Unit
The drawing shows a single tower. Several towers can be built and connected together. To make the tower assembly you could either screw or solder the joints.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our bridge book. Amazon has the book on sale for about $12.00 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2014 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

A Conflict between treated wood and metal parts

Pressure treated wood is a popular product for outdoor construction, i.e. bridges and decks. The chemicals (including chromated copper arsenate – CCA) that were used to treat wood in the U.S. and perhaps other countries were revised in recent years to remove at least some of the potentially harmful properties. The new formulations did help with the environmental risks, but they caused new problems for construction. When wood treated with the new chemicals was exposed to metal parts, the metal tended to corrode, even moreso in water contact environments, in only a few years. The pressure treatments I’m talking about are alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) and copper azole (CA), which are both active corrosion materials.

So, the experts started recommending using galvanized steel or stainless steel for any metal parts, i.e. connector plates, joist hangars, and fasteners, that came into contact with pressure treated wood. Galvanized steel or stainless steel would withstand the chemicals for a while. So at least, the corrosion rate would be slowed down.

In my experience in remodeling, and specifically rebuilding decks, I found that some structures that had used ACQ or CA showed exactly how corrosive the treatments were. Galvanized steel joist hangers were nearly destroyed in only a few years.

I had this concern in mind when I built my suspension bridge. The cable locking system parts are hot-dip galvanized steel. But I also added a padding-wrap made of a bituminous material to add more protection between them and the painted (another layer of protection) pressure-treated beams that supported the bridge. Maybe I over-did it a little, but I like the things that I build to outlive me.

In building our new house, I ran into the problem again. In Oregon (and I’m guessing other states in the U.S.) it is required to install foundation anchor bolts in the stem wall foundation. These are to tie the house to the foundation. The bolts go through the pressure treated wooden plates and are secured with nuts. I had the issue again of metal making contact with pressure treated wood. I used ungalvanized (standard, but oversized to 5/8″ vs 1/2″ bolts) because I’m not convinced simple galvanization is the answer anyway. I opted to protect the bolts with a sleeve that I made from polyethylene tubing (5/8″ interior) material.

Bolt1

The bolt came through the hole in the pressure treated plate…

Bolt2

and then I used a water impervious roofing material tab…

Bolt3

before adding the galvanized steel plate.

Bolt4

At the completion all metal was completely isolated from the treated wood.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our bridge book. Amazon has the book on sale for about $12.00 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2014 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Size Matters.

My business card read, “SMALL HOMES, SOLAR ENERGY” in big letters in the upper left corner. My goal was to build small, energy efficient solar-heated homes. It was 1985, when the country was dealing with an ongoing energy crisis – imported oil prices were high and everyone said that Americans in particular were using too much. So it seemed that my plan to build smaller more energy-efficient houses would work.

It didn’t. I did design and/or build a few small solar projects. But as for new homes – people just didn’t want to build a small house. They figured that the more square feet, the less cost per square foot to build! The long-range costs of heating and cooling huge houses mattered little. And as time marched on, oil prices went up, came down some, and went up a little higher. People got used to the costs, amazingly enough. Most people continued to build houses much larger than anyone really needs. So my ideal to design efficient housing pretty much fell by the wayside.

In 1995, I was invited to build a house in Japan. That’s another story for later, but what I’m recalling is the size of the apartment that I lived in during the four months I was there. Here’s a sketch I made of the floorplan (the elevations are at the end of this post):
ApartmentDesign1-loresThe apartment was in a two-story building with 10-12 apartments on each level. Each apartment was meant for a single, couple, or even a couple with a small child. It was an incredibly small space, at approximately 225 square feet with a loft sleeping area. But it was not that bad, with a more efficient use of space than small apartments in the U.S., usually called studios, and usually reserved for cities with high rents or singles and couples just starting out. You’ll note a similar design in a travel trailer, a place that few people in this country would want to live in for an extended period, unless they had no choice.

But Japanese have the choice, and most choose to use efficient living spaces rather than build gigantic houses with multiple bathrooms, bedrooms, formal dining rooms, and all that. I suspect most Japanese men would laugh at the thought of a “Man Cave.”

I’m building a house for myself and my spouse at the moment. It’s less than 1,000 square feet, but seems huge to us. I tried to design something that was practical and comfortable with unique elements such as a gable-end roof venting system and radiant heat flooring. There’s a fun little breakfast nook and a recessed entry to accommodate the need to shed wet raingear before coming inside the house, a common problem in western Oregon. And there are other things. But, alas, it seems the first question many ask about our new house is, “How many square feet is it?”

ApartmentDesign2-lores
ApartmentDesign3-lores
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our bridge book. It includes some cool ideas that apply to other projects, like how to put a really tall post into a deep hole when you aren’t that tall. Amazon has the book on sale for about $13.00 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Evolution of the CLS and an Alternative Plan

When the idea of the cable locking system first came to me, it was to assemble and disassemble the means of holding the beams for the deck of a suspension bridge. How it was to be produced and what that might cost were of secondary consideration then. After working out just how I would have it made, I found a manufacturer that would do the job, and it was a reasonable cost.

It was a long process getting the patent for the cable locking system, but once that was accomplished we set about writing a book – Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System. The book was meant to promote the cable locking system and talk about all the steps we took to build the bridge.

I never thought there was much of a market for small suspension bridges, after all, how many people have a creek or ravine that they need to cross on their property? But after we published the book, there was a fair amount of interest in the cable locking system, mostly in the United States, but also from around the globe. And we had put in the book, and on our website, “contact us if you are interested in the CLS.”

About a year later, some people were asking about purchasing CLS components. We had three companies that could do the job, but we were only considering about 50 “units.” After some waiting they gave quotes on 100 or 300 units. The prices seemed expensive, and after informing the interested buyers, we heard no more from them.

The cost of production seemed to be a problem and we weren’t willing to buy and store parts in case someone ordered them. So I wondered: Can I simplify the CLS so that it could be produced more cheaply, and by just about anyone, with a minimum of tools? I came up with a possible answer.

The “inverse” CLS employs the cable locking system but places it somewhat in reverse of the
original application. It eliminates some of the materials and simplifies the manufacturing process while still using the patented cable locking system. Here’s a drawing:

CableLockingNew

The new system has some drawbacks, in that it has to be placed beneath the beam during assembly as opposed to slipping the beam into the original CLS. Also, the beam has to be pre-drilled and a PVC tubing should be inserted to protect the cable from corrosion. But overall, assembly is not all that different from the original cable locking system design.

Picture a swing: hung by two ropes (chains, cables, etc) one on each side. To assemble the “inverse” system, while cradling the beam in your lap, grasp the first of the two suspender cables, push it through the pre-drilled hole ( with tube protector) such that the cable can be inserted through the “inverse” CLS. Pull tight. Proceed to other side and repeat. A screw through the side of the inverse will lock it to the beam so that it can’t move about. I actually use a screw in my original design, if you noticed in the book.

Hopefully this design will be something more affordable and something that people can have made locally without a lot of hassle. I prefer the original set-up for ease of assembling “on the fly” and less intrusion to the beam, but this is an option for you to consider.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out the book. It includes some cool ideas that apply to other projects, like how to put a really tall post into a deep hole when you aren’t that tall. Amazon has the book on sale for about $12.00 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Zip Line!

When I created this blog I promised something would be posted about zip lines aka ziplines. So, here is the first post about all that.

I visited Costa Rica a few years ago and rode on my first wild zip line. That is, it wasn’t a carnival ride or a rope in someone’s yard. It was down a mountain, in the rainforest, and attached to trees, and pretty freeking amazing. When I got home, my spousal unit said, “You’re going to build one of these, aren’t you?” And I said “Of course!”

I set up a a 420 foot zipline on our property. So far I’ve built the tower and ladder, which is a great treehouse getaway:
ZipBuilder

and I built the lower platform:
ZipLanding

and have installed and tested a temporary (smaller diameter) cable. Here is a fun movie of a sandbag wearing my spousal unit’s blouse slamming into the platform:
Zip Line Test with Fake Spousal Unit Getting Seriously Hurt.

While I was pleased at the 32 MPH speed, this test proved that I need to raise the final cable a bit on the tower tree and on the base post as well when I finalize everything.

There are more photos of the building process on my website: Zipline Photos.

The full size cable is up on the hill ready to install but at this point the path down the mountain needs to be cleared (again) before we continue with the construction. For now, I’m working to finish building our house, so this project is on hold for the moment, but will be completed at some point.

What’s funny about this particular project is that when my spousal unit’s elderly relative heard about it, she wrote us out of her will, telling another relative in private (which of course didn’t remain private) that “Building a zip line is pure Tom Foolery! These people have time to burn!” Well, building a zip line is what I do on the weekends rather than watch football. Just don’t call me Tom.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out my book about building a bridge. It includes some cool ideas that apply to other projects, like how to put a really tall post into a deep hole when you aren’t that tall. Amazon has the book on sale for about $12.00 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Dealing with the Tedious

Let’s face it, a lot of construction work, any work, can be tedious and boring. There are things that you can accomplish while your brain is elsewhere i.e. digging a ditch, stuffing envelopes, cleaning horse stalls. But some mundane tasks need you to be thinking about what you’re doing, no matter how boring the tasks are. Those are the worst.

There were roughly 600 Douglas-fir siding boards to stain for our house project. I stained all the surfaces: front, back, edges, and ends. And as I worked, I sorted the boards according to quality and thickness so that when I’m ready to nail them to the house, things should go pretty fast. So, it wasn’t a task I could just do brainlessly. I had to pay attention.

970781_10200679571090678_313718740_n

But my mind could wander a bit as I brushed on the stain. One of the things I pondered was a similar mundane task I had in my childhood: shucking and shelling corn. We had animals on the farm that thrived on dried corn. Ears of semi-dried corn got tossed into a 20x20x6 foot bin and my job was to shuck and shell the stuff. The bin was full: a bottomless pit of corn cobs all summer long. The job couldn’t be done in an hour, a day, a week, a month. It seemed endless. And summers were long in Texas.

Add to that the satisfaction of a finished product: there was none. When I shucked the corn and put each ear into the sheller and turned the crank, the product went directly into a bucket which went to the feed bins. I never got to look over a nice pile of shucked, shelled corn and think about how productive my day was, shucking and shelling all that corn. The results of my efforts were gone. Well, there was milk and meat on the dinner table, but that wasn’t the same thing to a kid who had sore fingers from shucking countless ears of corn.

So this mundane task, that took me about a month to finish, at least has something cool to show at the end. Neat piles of stained fir are lined up in the house, ready to install. Here’s a photo of the piles, a few of them anyway.

siding

While a tedious task, I’m glad to have something to show for my efforts.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out my book about building a bridge. It includes some cool ideas that apply to other projects, like how to put a really tall post into a deep hole when you aren’t that tall. Amazon has the book on sale for about $12.00 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Repurposing Old Stuff – DIY Shelf Unit

This was actually my partner’s idea, but since I’m the one who put it to use I will take the credit: a shelf made from an old ladder!

laddershelves

This shelf was made using an old beat up aluminum ladder that I cut in half for the task and 3/4″ plywood for the shelves. I used 2×10 blocks for the middle supports, but they didn’t need to be that serious, I just had scraps around.

True, ladders have been used as shelves in other applications, but I haven’t seen them set up in this way. So there you go – something cool to do with an old ladder or two. We might build something like this inside our house.

Or maybe not.

Be sure to check out my book about building a bridge. It includes some cool ideas that apply to other projects, like how to put a really tall post into a deep hole when you aren’t that tall. Amazon has the book on sale for about $14.50 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspenion Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.