I will be fastening Unistrut vertically along studs to facilitate garage storage, and want some guidance on choosing the "best" lag bolts to use.
I want them large enough to handle hundreds of pounds of shear and tensile load, but small enough that I don't significantly weaken the 2x4 itself.
2x4's are only 1.5 inches wide. And mine are hidden behind drywall on both sides, so I'm not confident that I can hit them exactly centered. I could be off a bit if the wood has knots or the 2x4's are less than perfect.
e.g. If I was a half inch inch off from center, and drive a half inch bolt, it probably would pop out the side of the stud, right?
What's the maximum percent of a structural member's profile you'd want to drill out to install a bolt before you'd worry about reducing the strength of the member? For instance, I'm sure it would be self defeating to install a 1.25 inch diameter lag bolt in a 1.5 inch wide stud, even dead center, because the remaining wood would be so weak you could sneeze it in half.
UPDATE: I went on to test four options:
- 4" 'Traditional' lag bolts hex head
- 4" SPAX Lag bolts hex head
- 4" SPAX Pan-head Torx drive
- 4" GRK RSS Pan-head Torx drive
I made four test jigs out of 2x4's. I assembled them perpendicularly to form a t-beam, but with a 5/8 inch spacer between to create a gap in which I could measure deflection. I pre-drilled the 1.5 inch thick top beam so that it woud not grep any of the threads. I also used the same 5/8" washers with all bolts. The perpendicular 3.5 inch beam was only pre-drilled for the traditional lag bolt, as the other three did not require it. This perpendicular bean gives the threads the full thickness of a stud to screw into as it would in a residential wall.
My results were as follows:
- Traditional lag bolt easily stripped out the stud and lost traction. I was not impressed and it at no point felt "tight".
- SPAX Lag got tighter, but still stripped out the wood it was drilling into quickly.
- SPAX Lag drove itself in SO tight, that it sunk that 5/8" washer 3/4 inch deep into the top stud before I backed off.
- GRK RSS sunk into the top stud about 1/4 inch before starting to strip, but it was starting to strip the base stud with enough "notice" for me to stop.
I chose the SPAX Lag as hands down the best choice. I will be using 7 along each piece of unistrut to firmly anchor each to the vertical studs, and also to the sole plates and double plates. I am confident that because of the relatively small diameter of the shaft of the SPAX Lags they will not meaningfully degrade the strength of the studs. And between their strength and the strength of the unistrut, the entire wall will be reinforced.
At this point my greatest concern is that I don't tighten them down so much that it pile drives the unistrut right through the drywall like its playdough. The SPAX lags have enough pulling force I wouldn't put it past them at this point to just crush the drywall in their way.
The GRK RSS were very stout feeling as well. I got the impression they would be better served in harder woods, or into concrete. GRK RSS felt substantially beefier than SPAX panheads. But the SPAX Panhead lags just worked out better in pine framing 2x4's.