Did we invent Gridbeam?
No. We were introduced to this construction technique in 1974, in How to Build Your Own Living Structures by Ken Isaacs in which he elegantly shows how to build work cubes using this system. Holes were then drilled 3 inches apart down their lengths. We were amazed at the strength of these simple joints. Isaacs’ entire book still stands today as one of the best in creative housing solutions. Phil Jergenson improved on this work by doubling the number of holes, allowing these three axis joints anywhere along the lengths. He then incorporated this system into complex mechanical constructions such as electric vehicles and even portable houses.
Did we patent Gridbeam?
No we did not. When something as basic as Gridbeam comes along, the best thing to do is promote its use, not obstruct it. Simple math and common sense will tell you that no one individual could or should control an idea with such potential. This approach, we hope, will encourage a more open environment for participation. We have been using and selling Gridbeam for more than 35 years.
Why drill all the holes if only some are needed?
Several reasons. First, since the manufacture of Gridbeam is automated, it is far cheaper to drill all the holes, than to drill oddly placed ones. Second, without all the holes, you would not be able to construct anything else from the components. Thirdly, it would be impossible to stock all the many different lengths and sizes of Gridbeam with only limited hole patterns to work with. After all, people come in all sizes and shapes. It only seems natural that our furniture and vehicles could also change to fit us by fine tuning the whole pattern. A partly drilled piece simply has less of a future.
Can I build things that I design?
Yes, and we encourage this kind of thinking. We believe that our modular, user-friendly systems approach can help you make your dreams come true! Gridbeam now makes it easy to build ideas quickly and without a mess. You can either build with our pre-cut packages and adapt it to what you want, or design it from scratch. Gridbeam’s modular construction gives you the user, fantastic abilities to change its shape.
What about furniture?
If it’s furniture you need, Gridbeam allows you to build your system to fit the space. The warmth and character of wood makes it the popular choice for indoor use. It’s adaptability is unparalleled. With Gridbeam, lofts and storage systems can be created using all the space in a room more efficiently from floor to ceiling. If you use your space three-dimensionally, you can double or triple the function of a given area. Imagine platforms, chairs, tables, shelves, and work stations designed by you to fit your personal space.
What about building machines, or even vehicles?
If you’re planning to build something like a machine or a vehicle, you can choose many types of interchangeable components which mate up to Gridbeam. Electric motors, pillow blocks, shafts, and gear boxes can all be installed to create any kind of device. Because of the 90 degree angles and parallel moving rails, Gridbeam is a natural for machine construction. Aluminum’s high strength to weight ratio makes it the material of choice for an electric vehicle.
What makes Gridbeam so strong?
We believe the mechanical method of joining structural members is the reason. The steel bolts carry much of the load. Gridbeam has flat sides, which press together solidly when the bolts are tightened. This spreads the loads more evenly down the length of the beam. Three-axis joints (three members) in a frame system create additional strength and rock solid 90 degree angles.
Since aluminum Gridbeam is a hollow tube, it has a great torsional strength to resist twisting. Structural triangulation is rarely needed. When structural failures occur in aluminum, it is almost always at the welded connections. Gridbeam has no welds to crack or break. To build even heavier, stronger projects, 2 inch galvanized square steel tubing is available through Unistrut dealers. This tubing is perfect for scaffolding, small buildings, trailers, etc.
What kind of tools do I need to build with Gridbeam?
Simple hand tools are all that’s needed. Just two 9/16 inch wrenches will fit the 3/8 inch bolts and nuts used to assemble aluminum Gridbeam. Wood Gridbeam uses a 1/4 inch bolt diameter and a 7/16 inch wrench. Nut drivers are even faster than wrenches. This can save a small fortune in equipment that doesn’t need to be purchased. Clean assembly and no waste are other good reasons to use Gridbeam.
Why don’t you use cross bracing for squareness?
Cross bracing is rarely needed in constructions with beams less than 4 feet long. The tri-joint creates all the stiffness and structural triangulation you need. The totally flat sides of Gridbeam allow structural skins such as plywood or sheet metal to be bolted on for added strength or shear when needed. Only on very large projects using Telspar with greater than 8 foot long spans is bracing even considered.
How easy is Gridbeam to work with?
Anyone can build with Gridbeam! The first thing that you notice is how quickly projects happen. This is because you don’t have to fight it. Projects are always square and you don’t need to ever feel trapped by bad design as with welded projects.
Do I need a shop to build with Gridbeam?
No, not if you want to assemble projects with pre-made Gridbeam. We have done the dirty work for you. All you need is a standard crescent wrench or two. Projects can be assembled in the living room, bedroom, shop, or patio. No sawdust with modular pre-cut lengths.
Why do I need a modular building system?
Without systems, modern life would be impossible. The systems approach is the reason computers are doing more for us every day. They’re not smart, just organized. The computer is now a necessary tool in thousands of fields of endeavor.
A simple ruler is a modular system of measurement. Our homes and buildings are made with construction materials which are modular. A brick, a sheet of plywood and even framing materials are modules which are assembled with a systems approach. Good architects always utilize these standards to save time, energy, materials, and money. Virtually all of our manufacturing methods today dictate that our buildings materials be shaped into straight lengths. Our architecture is the most dramatic example of this straight and linear approach. Gridbeam is merely an improvement on an existing shape (square beam) with the added enhancement of standardized holes along it’s length.