28 March 2011

Cool Strawbale Tool!

During construction of one of my projects in Maryland, the builder came up with an ingenious method for installing nailers into the strawbales.  These arrows were used for trim nailers, to attach electrical boxes, and anywhere we would need to nail something to the strawbale walls.  The credit for this ingenuity goes to Jeff Geddes of Paragon Custom Homes in MD.  You can see progress photos of this project at Adrienne's Blog (she's one of the homeowners-to-be).  Below are step-by-step photos of how to make the arrows.  To use them once you made them, simply hold the arrow facing toward the strawbale wall at the location where you need a nailer.  Then push and then hammer the arrow into the straw.  One warning...they are difficult to get back out, so check your location carefully!

start with a 12"-long 1x4

cut an arrow head on one end

kerf angled cuts into the sides as shown

whack along the grain to remove excess between kerfs
You may need something more substantial in locations where you are going to hang something heavy on the strawbale walls (like kitchen cabinets or a heavy bookcase).  In this case, I would sew a longer ledger (made from a 2x4 or 2x6) that is almost as long as whatever you are hanging.  Drill an even number of holes in the ledger every 8 to 12 inches.  The holes need to be big enough to get your strawbale needles through.  Sew a long piece of baling twine through the first hole and all the way through the strawbale wall.  Send the twine back through the strawbale wall approximately 8 to 12 inches away along your board (whatever your hole spacing is).  Feed the baling twine back through the strawbales and through the next hole in your ledger board.  Push tightly on the ledger board, pull the twine very very tight, and tie off the two ends of twine together.  (You can use the same knot you use to resize bales.)  Repeat this for each pair of holes in your ledger board.  This nailer will be very strong!

You can also sew small items to the strawbale walls by using a wood or plywood washer (as shown below).  Make sure your twine wraps into the kerf cuts, and tie everything very tightly, so that the washer pulls into the face of the straw.

wood or plywood "washer" for strawbale walls

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