Friday, January 16, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

I've been doing further research on geodesic chicken coops, and ran across this story.

First, they painstakingly built a dome out of 2x2 lumber and pvc pipe. Then they devised a clever covering out of tarps. And then a big windstorm came through and blew it away, smashing it into pieces in the process. I felt a little bit sick, reading that last post. So much work, destroyed so quickly, and they didn't even get to use it.

I don't think I would ever have tried to build a dome out of wood. I don't much like working with wood, and I thought of geodesic domes when I was trying to figure out how to build a structure out of electrical conduit. I don't know if the plans that they bought specifically called for those 2x2s, but if it did the plan's creators should be ashamed of themselves. I've worked with pine 2x2s before, and they are very flimsy. There is a huge difference between buying 2x2s and ripping a 2x4 down to the proper size, I've found. I will always do the latter if I need that size for anything that needs to be sturdy.

I know I didn't mention it in the previous post, but I certainly intend to stake my dome down, if I build it. Being made of metal, it would probably be heavier than the wooden version above, but I wouldn't take any chances. Since it will be a permanent installation, there are several options. I could pound 3 or 4 foot lengths of rebar into the ground, and secure the dome to them. I could set posts, like for a pole barn, and attach it, or I could pour concrete footers and attach the dome to those. I'll probably go with the first choice, because it would be the least difficult to undo if I need to move the dome to a new location.

Although, even if it had been staked down, I don't know if the wooden dome would have survived that windstorm. It's kind of hard to tell from just the photos, but the connection points don't look like they would flex much, and they would probably have split apart from the force.

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