wood with web #1: thoughts on separating tension and compression

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Blog entry by Justus posted 11-27-2008 11:06 PM 848 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Those of you who have already seen my projects might have noticed the abundance of web clamps. I kind of like them. They are cheap and handy. But that’s not all that makes them an ideal companion for wood. The straps those web clamps are made of have a rather low modulus which means they expand if you put force on them – quite in the same amount wood does. They actually have a similar expansion/shrinkage with changes of humidity compared to wood. Quite unlike steel. Screws and nails have a high modulus, before they get visibly longer, the wood is broken. Consult your prefered woodworking handbook on the topic.

Looking at typical lightweight constructions, there is commonly a separation between structures supporting tension and structures taking the compression. Muscles, tendons and bones. Steel and concrete. Shroud and mast in sailboats.

So here is the lemma: Wood takes the compression, a web clamp provides the tension. No other fasteners, no glue. Cut the wood like a 3D-puzzle, assemble and pull everything together with a strap.

Stay tuned for examples. They will include a complete, sturdy and tested workbench, a baby craddle (at present serving its second term, soon to see its third baby), a children’s bed – and may be more.

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