How to Build with Grid Beam: A Fast, Easy and Affordable System for Constructing Almost Anything

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William Stanwix. Stafford Holmes. In a group of us moved to Earthlab I, a 25, square foot warehouse in Berkeley, California. Twelve of us — artists, designers and builders — lived and worked under one roof. Phil did the most to standardize grid beam and make it fully modular. They introduced Wilma to the system in Since box beam was already used in the construction industry as a term for something else, we decided to rename the system.

We call it grid beam because the holes form a grid pattern. He bolted it together using hex bolts with washers.

These sticks had holes along their length to make seat and shelf adjustment easy. Although able to make tri-joints only at the corners, these sticks were more interchangeable than previous designs. To minimize drilling, the holes repeat on the vertical frame members only where needed to adjust desk and shelf height.

How to Build with Grid Beam by Phil Jergenson, Richard Jergenson, and Wilma Keppel - Read Online

Tom was the first person to drill a repeating tri-joint hole pattern along the entire length of the sticks. These were the first universal sticks that could be used in any project, or cut to shorter lengths without requiring additional holes. Then Tom discovered two-inch Telespar, a commercial square steel tube with holes every inch on all four sides. This double-hole beam it has twice as many holes as grid beam needs can make a tri-joint anywhere.

Phil used it to build his Portable House right inside the Earthlab warehouse. Once finished, he disassembled it, moved it to his land in the country, then reassembled it on-site. It was also the first project built using sticks with the hole pattern we use today. Building with double-hole sticks convinced me of the advantages of pre-drilling every hole so we could put a tri-joint anywhere, Phil remembers. Here students install a steel-framed windmill and stand, which they designed and built, on a floating platform in San Francisco Bay. Design by Reinhold Ziegler. A group of seventh and eighth graders built the Panther Electric, shown here and in Figure In , Richard discovered a nearly ideal fastening system for wood-framed projects.

Joint connector bolts and weld nuts make a joint that is flat on both sides.

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The parts are standardized and fully interchangeable. Improved fasteners and better hole placement make the system more versatile and easier to use. A wide variety of projects have been built, tested and used in the real world. And today, grid beam continues to evolve and improve. The three of us combined have built and used a wide variety of grid beam projects — everything from bookshelves to portable shelters to garden tractors and a solar-electric mini-van.

We have demonstrated grid beam at trade shows and alternative energy fairs, and taken it into the classroom to teach students building and design. Grid beam has helped us build hundreds of projects, and saved us thousands of dollars and untold hours of construction time. We have proved that grid beam is a working, practical building system for the real world.

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Drill with a counterbore bit or spade hit. The head if fairly flat, but the nut end projects. Hex nuts and bolts without washers concentrate a lot of force on a small area, which can damage your sticks. The minimalism of his matrix idea spoke to my design and building sense. The simplicity and ease of using bolts and nuts rather than hammer and nails was liberating. It was also faster, cleaner and safer. We needed both furniture and shop benchwork.

Several of us tried grid beam, exploring it together and sharing in the learning process. He drilled the modern hole pattern later. My studio space needed furnishing, and I needed to get organized. We were minutes ahead of the bulldozers razing the building to rubble.

How to Build with Grid Beam : A Fast, Easy and Affordable System for Constructing Almost Anything

I used one of the table tops, and added storage shelves underneath — a great combination. What to do with my clothes? Build a closet, of course. The book also included grid beam, which at that time was still pretty crude. Cross-members could only attach in certain places. Tri-joints only happened at the ends of sticks.


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With their custom dimensions and hole patterns, sticks and panels were not interchangeable between projects, and could not be cut into smaller standard pieces. The hole pattern became regular. The distance between hole pairs decreased. The system was getting more usable. When Tom Conlon scaled it up to 2-inch steel tubes in , I bought feet of galvanized double-hole and used it to frame my Portable House.

Built of salvaged 1-inch steel tubing, the EVTB started as an electric motorcycle, then morphed into a trike to give me more cargo space. Steel grid beam made tables, drill press and conveyor belt stands, even the frames for custom pieces of manufacturing machinery.

how to build modular wood shelving (using diy grid beam) - diy 2018-10-10

We used grid beam scaffolds to repair and improve the buildings that housed our business. The steep terrain soon convinced me that I needed a vehicle with a transmission.

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