Just slightly over-engineered

Volume 12, Issue 5; 27 Jan 2009; last modified 08 Oct 2010

This is what happens when you let a bit-pusher mess with hardware.

When an experienced, professional carpenter looks at a project, she asks, “how strong do I have to make this to suit its application?”

I am not a professional carpenter.

When I look at a project, I ask, “how strong can I make this?”

Really not the same thing.

This point was driven home to me, not for the first time, as I was constructing the laminated header beam for this wall. Granted, I'm not planning to tie the header into the ceiling, so there was (just possibly) some grounds for considering its strength.

But I expect a sandwich of two two-by-fours around a core of half-inch plywood was overkill for suspending a couple of closet doors that can't weigh more than about 20 pounds (about 9kg for those of you comfortable with a reasonable system of weights and measures) over a sixty inch (1.5m) span.

Nevermind. Maybe I can use it to do chin-ups or something.

P.S. I did eventually finish.


Good British tradition Norm :-)

Brick sh... houses stood for ages, as did iron bridges and early suspension bridges.

Started about 1300, based on experience after that.

Couple of 4x2's should hold it. Half inch ply won't move. What's wrong with that I ask.

If you'd built it with 2x1 and 1/4 ply, you' be afraid to touch it! Not worth it.

Regards DaveP

—Posted by Dave Pawson on 27 Jan 2009 @ 05:44 UTC #

Yes, but I expect a single two-by-four would have been sufficient.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 27 Jan 2009 @ 05:54 UTC #

My brother is a builder, he says if a house was built 50 years ago it'll be standing in another 50, but a house built today is made from a bare minimum of materials, to a minimum cost, and has a design life of 15 to 20 years.

Sometimes over-engineered is an aesthetic plus, not just an extra cost.

—Posted by Adrian on 28 Jan 2009 @ 05:44 UTC #

That poor dog loses out again


you better build a kennel for your next project

—Posted by David Carlisle on 28 Jan 2009 @ 12:43 UTC #

That "poor dog" generally sits in one of two comfy dog beds, or on one of two couches, or in my chair, or in my lap. He sleeps on our bed, often on my pillow.

The word you're looking for is "pampered". :-)

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 28 Jan 2009 @ 02:18 UTC #

I build like you. I also always go with screws for all construction even though nails are cheaper and potentially faster ("Robertson" screws of course). Two benefits: they aren't ever slipping out, and they do come out easily when you want them to without wrecking the wood. Especially useful for projects you may wish to undo in future (seems like this is a good candidate). All homes should be built with screws so the wood can be reused.

—Posted by Derek Read on 20 Mar 2009 @ 12:36 UTC #

I think I would have just hired a professional, but I am lazy so go figure!

—Posted by Nikkie on 29 Apr 2009 @ 05:39 UTC #