Wood cube structure idea...workable?

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Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Malak » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:46 pm

Hi everyone!

We are making some preparations for our very first BM shade structure, and would love any insight into whether our ideas are structurally (and mentally) sound. As we are coming in from Australia with a pretty limited amount of time we thought going with a wood structure might be a cheap and reliable idea. Below is the latest drawing of the plan, and we are considering adding 2-3ft sections at 45 degrees at each top corner to increase the stability. The verdict is also still out on how we will fit an appropriate silver tarp/shade cloth with/without eyelets.

We are also unsure about the best and most appropriate hole-digging method - will a small, hand operated post-hole digger be easy to work with on the playa? I've read that it can be pretty random in terms of how hard the soil is.

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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby International Incident » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:33 am

Hmmm, digging holes isn't something that is encouraged. But have a look at the theme camps page on the BM site. That has a section that covers securing your structure - that might help.

Digging a hole won't really help with the shade structure flying away because of the wind.

You may be better with rigging up tie ropes to the structure and securing those to long rebar.

What's the aim of the structure? Would a monkey hut suffice instead?
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Rice » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:43 am

Think 100 mile per hour wind gusts.

Without tie-downs that shade structure is going to get airborne in a huge wind gust and at minimum wreck someone's camp before crashing through the windshield of a expensive RV (maybe killing a few people on the way). There are many ways of securing a shade structure. Using two ratchet straps to rebar at each corner might be enough.

Seriously though, 2011 was a super mild, minimal wind year. Plan for 12 hour dust storms with 100MPH wind gusts and perhaps 1/2 mile wide dust devils wiping through your camp. It is difficult to over-engineer for Burning Man.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Malak » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:54 am

Sorry I mucked up the original post a little bit in terms of the extra details:

We are planning on using tie-downs 2x on each top corner of the structure to rebar stakes

In terms of the shade cloth, that will be double wrapped around two ends with ply wood likely to be nailed on top of it.

Assuming high wind conditions, will something like this fall apart or hold together?
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby International Incident » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:56 am

As long as you use good quality material and tie it down there's no reason why it shouldn't be awesome!
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Rice » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:05 am

I agree, it seems to be an ok design. You seem to have the tie-down options covered pretty good.

After the burn is over, you will know if it was truly a good plan or not. :)

There are many weather/materials/planning/random-crap factors that can influence the success or failure of a project at Burning Man.

In 2010 we had rain on the Monday, that was "interesting". Shade that could handle the wind, failed due to the weight of water... Electronics failed. Burners improvised and kept burning.
2007, 8 & 9 had dust storms every day, and huge wind.
2011 was weird and nerve racking - since it was so nice, kept expecting "the storm" and it just didn't happen.

Still plan for huge wind and you probably will be fine.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Malak » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:21 am

Come to think of it the shade wouldn't hold very well in the rain - unless I can get the cloth/tarp super tight and run the poles so there is a slight fall - even then...I guess if it rains i'll figure it out when it rains!
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby carefactornil » Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:54 am

Hi,

It sounds like you're planning on something similar to how I'm building my maze.

Have a look at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQMZnJfrhss

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isbaeLYFpQQ

I've got the advantage of having a LOT of cubes all together which won't be blowing anywhere. Also, I've got no vertical sheets of material, just OSB or snow fence.

In essence, you should be OK with screws in the corners and using angle brackets and/or joists as you'll see in my structure. That "should" be OK as a structure. The challenge is then keeping it on the ground. I'd advice "hairpin" pieces of rebar over the pieces of cube that lie flat on the playa - 1' into the ground should be suffice and you'll just need a sledgehammer to get those in and a jemmy to get them out.

Good luck and you never know, you might start a trend!
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Bob » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:55 am

Yes, a post-hole digger will work, and you have permission to dig holes big enough for posts so long as you tamp the soil back in the holes.

That's a pretty dinky structure, though. I'd use 10-ft lumber.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Eric » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:00 pm

Malak wrote:In terms of the shade cloth, that will be double wrapped around two ends with ply wood likely to be nailed on top of it.


Put lots of wind-slits in your shade cloth. Lots. If you don't you're just creating a large sail that the wind will tug at. The wind will win.

This is our parachute from 2006 after a storm went through. Only it's second year on the playa, and it had wind slits, but apparently not enough. All it takes is one nasty storm... (though we loved looking like a haunted dome for the rest of the week)

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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby C187 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:33 pm

Bob wrote:Yes, a post-hole digger will work, and you have permission to dig holes big enough for posts so long as you tamp the soil back in the holes.

That's a pretty dinky structure, though. I'd use 10-ft lumber.


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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Bob » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:07 pm

Slits?

Why did you do that instead of taking your tarp down?
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Rice » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:16 pm

Bob wrote:Slits?

Why did you do that instead of taking your tarp down?

I guess if you never leave your camp, it would be easy to take down.

If, however, no one was in the camp - slits in the shade might prevent it from taking flight. . . .
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Bob » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:42 pm

Pre-shredding your moop is stupid. If your tarp isn't working, take it down.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby SnowBlind » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:14 am

stretch80 wrote:
Bob wrote:Slits?

Why did you do that instead of taking your tarp down?

I guess if you never leave your camp, it would be easy to take down.

If, however, no one was in the camp - slits in the shade might prevent it from taking flight. . . .


Very true. We had a shade one year that we had to take down when the wind picked up. It's super annoying if you are away from camp and the wind picks up, and all you do is worry what is happening to your camp.

You really want things tied down so you can have peace of mind when you are away.

Bob wrote:Yes, a post-hole digger will work, and you have permission to dig holes big enough for posts so long as you tamp the soil back in the holes


Keep in mind that the dirt you take out of the ground will fly away over the course of the week, and you won't have anything to tamp it back down with. Instead, put everything you take out of the ground into a bag. That way you can use it to refill the holes at the end.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby trilobyte » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:22 am

What Bob said. Permission is needed BEFORE you dig, you may want to plan an alternate that uses stakes or rebar in the event they don't green-light your plan.

In the US most lumber yards will stock 2x4's in both 8' and 10' lengths. If you use those lengths for your length/width, less cutting. Good luck!
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby dubz » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:36 am

What size wood are you using? It looks square in the sketch, but I can't imagine you're planning on using 1x1's. 2x4's? I worry about your corner joints, as using only screws or nails through the end of 2x4's is NOT a sound way to build a structure. Joists or brackets, as previously mentioned, are a must. Corner joists like you spoke of may work, but I still think that this structure is OK at best, flying into your neighbors camp at worst....

Why are you going with this option over one of the tried and true playa structures? I think you would be much better off with a Monkey Hut, or EMT conduit based structure, or a carport. Also, what is this going to be used for? Sleeping space for two? At 7'x5', there are not many tents that would fit under it....
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Eric » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:55 am

Bob wrote:Slits?

Why did you do that instead of taking your tarp down?


Obviously we're stupider than you Bob. Oh, that or maybe it wasn't feasible for the shade structure.

(A) Not a tarp, a parachute

(B) 20' high dome- it took 3 or 4 people to get the parachute up. The guy who owns it has money & had slits put into it & hemmed, it lasted through '05 with no problems in the wind at all, the slits let out the pressure. In '06 a nasty ass wind-burst went through our area & destroyed everything in it's path- recycle was right behind us & half their dome collapse due to the wind.

(C) We like the thrill of Doing It Wrong, except we didn't. Hence my warning that a solid shade cloth is a sail, and proof that even something engineered for the wind might not survive.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby some seeing eye » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:46 am

Malak, I think you are on the right track.

I use 2"x3" green 8' studs as the verticals from building material stores found in Reno. They are fixed in location on the ground by driving 2' 1/2" rebar into the ground about 15". The rebar is tie-wrapped to the verticals. A couple of nails driven into the top of the verticals engage grommets in shade cloth. Some people use surplus camo netting.

The key to the structure is a network of ropes making a square between verticals and an X between them. Then the ropes continue down as guy lines at the corners. My structure is about 20x25' with 4 corner vertical posts. I have also made the design for a one tent subcamp, with shade cloth running down the sides with an about 15x15' footprint.

You want nails or screws at strategic points to prevent knots and tie-wraps from slipping up or down.

I have seen tarps as the shade material anchored to vehicles and the vertical posts with guy lines and sometimes it works, but tarps are a sail, so you mileage may vary in disaster.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Bob » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:53 am

You do NOT need permission to dig small post holes.

I've only had one structure blow down, back in '97. The Cafe. Had planned to cover it with shade mesh, but they switched and handed me a gigantic rotten pre-shredded parachute. But ultimately, it broke because I built it stupid.
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Re: Wood cube structure idea...workable?

Postby Rice » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:18 pm

We use a deck post spike like the following:
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