Hatching Free Range Ideas


In Make something on May 21, 2010 at 3:26 pm

This idea unfolds in a series of points with the title explanation coming at the very end. Hang in there.

1. An engineer friend of mine is working on timber frame homes, you know those lovely wide spans supported by enormous beams? The personality of the house is about those timbers.  I love timber frame houses but I can’t afford them and neither can a lot of other people. Often conventional construction loans won’t work ’cause you have to have the work done before the bank pays out the money. They take cranes to assemble, although they go up in a week.  Timber frames mean you need a fairly deep pocket to begin.

2. And, those big timbers come from big trees. Granted, they are from places that grow those big trees on purpose, and since the framing is all bound up in a few big timbers, you don’t use all those small sticks that conventional frame houses use. Don’t know how the sustainability sum compares between the two. Here’s a group that is designing bamboo timber frame houses. Lovely! http://www.bambooliving.com

3. While this same friend was working on his advanced engineering degree, he ran across another scientist using soy-based glues for construction. Soy-based! And very strong!

4. Then I started thinking. Laminate timbers are also lovely. And straight. And much stronger because of all the surface area. Trash trees, grown quickly make laminate timbers. Museums often use them for walls because they are so true, and they stay true.

5. Bamboo flooring (now you’re getting a hint) is made of laminated bamboo. It’s lovely. And hard. Timbers made of laminated bamboo should be doable. With soy glue. Wait, you still need that crane which means that you will go ahead and build a BIG home, ’cause you already paid for the equipment.

(And then there’s this site that I found while looking to see if anyone was doing bamboo laminate timbers. Worth checking out if sustainable design is your thing. www.inhabitat.com)

But wait, there’s more.

6. Box beams are also very strong. Surface area again. Can’t you build box beams from bamboo that are then light enough for a crew of folks to hoist into place? Can’t you grow bamboo quickly? Isn’t it well suited to grow in areas of the world where another industry would be helpful? And, lamination doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment. A home built press will do. We saw one in New Hampshire using hydraulic jacks and some crude but effective welding. What might it take to put a bamboo farm/laminate box beam construction company together, say, in Nicaraugua?

So, imagine. A small strong timber frame house, open inside, made from sustainable materials that many people could afford. And why wouldn’t you call the operation wop-bop-a-loo-bop-balop-BAMBOOM!


  1. I think this is GREAT! You’ll have to elaborate more this weekend…I’d love to see them too.

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