9/03/2011

09-03-11 - Bullshit

WTF is up with "flat feet" ? It's very strange that back in the early 20th century, when half the world went to war, and every able bodied young man was sent out to die, you could avoid all that just by having a low arch. It seems like a scam, like maybe Bush the First had flat feet and it was a way to get out of WWI, or perhaps it was some voodoo animist belief that the flat-footed were bad luck, I dunno, it's very strange. Could I get out of war service because of a deviated septum? it does make it hard to breathe. What about bunions? WTF, why flat feet?

Nails are fucking bullshit. When you build something with nails you're basically saying "I expect this to pull apart in 1-5 years". Screws are slightly better, but still just a friction bond that can easily wiggle free. If you actually are building shit to stay together, you use bolts or proper wood fittings (dovetails or dowels or such like).

Of course nails do have their place - as temporary non-load-bearing tacks to hold together a structure so that the major pieces can bear the load. When a house is framed, for example, nails are used to hold the boards together, but the nails are not expected to bear the loads, they just put the boards in the right place and then the loads are tensile and compressive through the boards. It's similar to the role of rivets in an iron bridge - they should not be load bearing, they just ensure that two I-beams meet up correctly, and the load is all in the beams.

Anyway, the problem with nails is that people don't understand them (and/or get lazy) and use them incorrectly. This goes not just for DIY'ers but also contractors and expensive home builders, who wind up doing things like building railings and fences that are held together by nails such that when you lean on them the force acts to push the nail out.

Shitty nail-built bullshit.

All the shopping at Lowes / Home Depot / etc. really has illuminated my understanding of the depressing shitty quality of modern American construction. All your contractors shop at these places, when you go to your average shitty tract home, most of the home is this stuff. There just isn't a single good quality piece in the place. It's all asian-made super cheapo crap. The light switch covers are bendy plastic. The yard tables are wobbly thin metal. All the pieces are just shitty. Even if you're a contractor who wants to do better work - where do you get your supplies? There is no better choice. It's not like there's the cheap shit and then some more expensive actually well made choices, no, it's just not there at all, there is no well-made choice, you only get shit.

Drills are fucking bullshit. You take this long proboscis and of course you can't possibly line it up straight. WTF , there should be a flat metal plate around the bit which is attached by pistons to the drill body, so that you can set the plate flush and get a good perpendicular hole.

But maybe it doesn't matter because wood is fucking bullshit. You might think if you buy a 2x4 you get a piece of wood which is 2x4. Nope. It's actually probably something like 1.75 x 3.75 , because they measure the size before planing. But it's worse than that, if you buy a bunch of 2x4's, they will all be slightly different sizes, so if you try to make a flat tray from them or something it will be all uneven. But even worse than the variation in sizes, they will be warped and twisted and all out of whack in ways that make clean building seem absolutely impossible to me. I suppose higher grades of wood are probably milled more uniformly.

12 comments:

Viktor said...

Haha, building stuff with wood and nails has been retarded for quite some time. Also everyone related in any way to war/the army is either a complete idiot or is desperate for something.

billyzelsnack said...

Half the problem with the quality of wood at home improvement stores is that the people working there don't know how to care for their stock. Wood, in general, is an amazing material, but it does need a bit of love.

Foxyloxy said...

Interesting time for you to say this, I'm just building a little motion control rig for an experiment and have been sat all day tapping nails into plywood for rigging purposes. I don't think I've ever used nails for anything other than holding a part while the glue dried.

As for the size of wood stock, you're meant to deal with that yourself, it's woodwork, not lego :p

cbloom said...

"Half the problem with the quality of wood at home improvement stores is that the people working there don't know how to care for their stock. Wood, in general, is an amazing material, but it does need a bit of love."

Yeah, and I don't really know how either. I gather that I should let the wood rest a while in the target humidity before assembling. Maybe I should take a class.

"As for the size of wood stock, you're meant to deal with that yourself, it's woodwork, not lego :p"

Yeah I guess I just don't understand how that works. I mean, home shops and even your average contractor is not bringing a planer on the job to fix the lumber. So how in the hell do you build a square box out of stock that's all different sizes and has twists and warps?

Aaron said...

For outlet covers, the Lutron stuff (you can get it at HD) is good. It's beefier and a slightly different style, but totally worth it. Requires buying different style outlets and switches, but it's worth it. For the light switches, the dimmer ones with a tiny tab down the side for the dimmer are the best. They have nice look and feel and the action is good in them. They're the big paddle style ones so you can just bang on the wall to turn the switch on and off.

No one would really do any precision woodworking with a fixed dimension like 2x4" anyway, they'd be doing something custom, so they'd be planing. There are fucking incredible wood stores in seattle (one down in your neck of the woods is cross cut hardwoods).

Not sure what this square box is, but yes, if they were going to make it square, they would run it through the jointer or planer, or you should be able to find surface finished wood that's had that done to it for you, for a price :) Jointing and planing is a fucking *bitch* though and totally worth the cost to pay someone else to do it.

You can take my brother's Woodworking I class at Seattle Central if you want. Woodworking is a cruel mistress, though. Basically you can't do anything with wood without access to a shitload of shop machines and tools.

cbloom said...

"For the light switches, the dimmer ones with a tiny tab down the side for the dimmer are the best."

Yeah, I like those pretty well, but in my experience they get flakey faster than any other type of light switch. One of my minor projects is replacing a few of those.

cbloom said...

Also, modern bulbs like halogens and CFL's can't (or shouldn't) be dimmed. You also can't use CFL's on those glow-when-off switches that are so cool.

Aaron said...

Yeah CFL's can't dim (without a specialized dimmer/cfl) but my house is full of Halogens that dim fine.

My experience with reliability has been fine for the ones I installed 6 years ago so far (havn't had a problem with even one... they're practically like new).

Also you don't *have* to use the dimmer feature. You're buying the switch with the dimmer to get the good quality feel of the switch itself.

brian said...

Flat feet are one of those silly lies that makes me feel like a crazy person, because there's such a massive industry built up around "pronation" and "supination" (the entire running shoe industry, e.g., the SuperFeet pre-built orthotics industry - there are machines at CVS now that you stand on and it shows you the pressure map of your feet and recommends a premolded orthotic.)

It may have taken me eight years of yoga, bicycling, and for the past year wearing "minimalist" / "barefoot" shoes, but now that I get it I want to strangle every medical professional in the country:

You can lift your own goddamned arches. And you can flatten them. Yes, it's a complicated musculoskeletal action in the sense that it's tied to lower-leg rotation, but that's kind of how the body works - muscles on long limbs tend to wrap and work as rotators & flexors or extensors simultaneously. So lots of actions have related, unintuitive actions (like "lifting your arch means rotating your lower leg and pressing through the ball of the big toe".)

It absolutely baffles me that the medical profession treats "flat feet" or its opposite as some kind of permanent flaw in the way you're built. It's not. Your feet are flat? Use your fucking muscles and raise your arches. And then strengthen those muscles so it doesn't feel like work and becomes natural.

Having "flat feet" is like having "limp arm," like, "I can't pick up that mug because I have limparm. My right arm just hangs here, limply. My doctor says it's just how I am. What? No, of course I haven't tried engaging muscles to cause my arm to move. Don't be ridiculous."

brian said...

Also: I recently built several tables out of beautiful black walnut I got from Crosscut Hardwoods and the only joinery I did was edge-gluing. So THERE. HA.

Actually I also used a drill to mount the insert nuts that I used to then bolt the steel legs to them.

CARPENTRY.

Aaron said...

@brian: stop that, it makes me want to edge glue something!

The last (and first) thing I glued. Bench in jatoba and ash.

Robin Green said...

Going to a real lumbar yard they had hardware, wood and supplies there that beat the snot out of Home Despot for not much more. You just needed to learn a little of their lingo, know what you want, ask for suggestions, put up with a certain level of blue jokes and you'd get good service too.

old rants