A Revolution in DIY engineering – How to Build With Grid Beam

A Revolution in DIY engineering – How to Build With Grid Beam

A review of How to Build With Grid Beam @ The Citizen Scientist. Sheldon writes-

How to Build With Grid Beam is a guide to a clever and flexible system of construction for a wide range of home-built projects, from storage units to work spaces to furniture, vehicles, and structures. The system relies on the use of “sticks” or beams of square tube steel or aluminum or wood with holes placed at regular intervals along the length of each stick. Using lag bolts or other fasteners, these sticks can be assembled quickly and easily into structures that are quite robust and easily adapted and reconfigured. And when you are finished with a project, you simply disassemble the project and use the components for something else. By using adapters and add-ons, most of which can be found in hardware stores, industrial supply houses, or fabricated in even a modestly-equipped shop, the system can be expanded to encompass a staggering array of applications.

14 thoughts on “A Revolution in DIY engineering – How to Build With Grid Beam

  1. Anonymous says:

    if someone could just provide a full scan….

  2. Glenn says:

    My father used to build stuff out of perforated angle, which is now pretty expensive. Where would one purchase grid beam materials? Or is it a make-your-own deal?

  3. Apis says:

    Hmm, this is actually a pretty nice idea: makes it easy to disassemble and reuse parts, easier to share designs and projects and easier to assemble. The innovation is really standardization of parts. Kind of like mechano and lego.

    @Glenn: If you take a look at the excerpt from the book:
    Where do you get grid beam? You have
    three options:
    1. Buy a kit. (See the Suppliers chapter
    for sources.)
    2. Buy specialty components such as sticks
    froma vendor, and supply the rest of the
    pieces yourself. Grid beam is designed
    to work with standard, widely available
    sheet materials such as plywood and
    hardboard. Most grid beam components
    are available as off-the-shelf
    parts. This approach gets you exactly
    the right parts for your special project.
    3. Drill your own sticks. While timeconsuming,
    this can save you money,
    and is the only way to go if you need a
    kind of stick that no one manufactures.
    Basic shop skills are required.

  4. Davidr says:

    Check out this website for pictures of the system and you’ll see how you could make your own. It’s a simple idea from about 30 years ago I believe. It works with any rectilinear project. It’s just accurately drilled holes in wood or metal and a bunch of bolts.


    It seems to me that you wouldn’t want to over stress any of this since obviously the strength of the undrilled material is compromised by having so many holes. If you just drill what you need in an accurately constructed jig the first time then when you take it apart for the next project you have a largely undrilled but much stronger piece to work with that also has holes that could be part of the next project.

    On the other hand it’s a giant tinkertoy set for the home builder and you could try several designs rather quickly. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to make a set of gridbeams out of small material to play with your design, complete it, and then go back and build the real thing with the minimum number of holes.

  5. nowen says:

    Echoing Glenn: Where to get the materials?

    It’s like ikea but without limitations.

  6. Jason says:

    So when are we going to be able to get starter grid-beam kits from the Makers Shed?

  7. suidae says:

    What’s with all this ‘Where do I buy it?’ stuff?

    It’s poles with holes. Make a jig by drilling couple of holes in a piece of angle iron, and fixing a peg into one. Drill a hole in the end of a stick, put the peg into it and then drill through the hole. Repeat.

    Or, GridStrap it. Make a semi-automated rig to do the drilling and use the Grid Beams to build a second semi-automated rig that can reproduce it’s own parts. Repeat.

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