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32 votes
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Why did they hammer nails in half way and bent them over to secure supports?

The nail heads aren't big enough for the holes. At that time carpenters didn't enjoy the vast array of fasteners and installation tools that we do today, so they may have used what was available at ...
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29 votes
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Is it safe to remove old rusty nails from a wooden beam?

Nails can be removed, even lots of them. Why? Wood fiber Driving a nail into lumber is different from drilling holes of the same diameter: a nail will "squeeze" in, pushing the wood fibers ...
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  • 10.3k
27 votes

Is it safe to screw into a single support beam holding up an entire house?

First that post is not carrying the load of the whole house. The beam is and the beam is attached on both sides. The post's job is to keep the beam from sagging and act as a point load. I would ...
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  • 46.2k
25 votes

Contractor cut joist hangers to make them fit

No, it’s not acceptable to cut the joist hangers. In order to determine if they are acceptable anyway, there are several issues to review: 1) hangers are notched, 2) incomplete nailing, 3) wrong ...
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  • 22.5k
17 votes
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Do ceiling joists need to rest on cross beams?

This is fine. It's a wooden open web truss system. The weight is transferred to the column at the one top point. The lower bar and diagonal bracing are to prevent the top bar from sagging over a ...
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17 votes

Is it safe to remove old rusty nails from a wooden beam?

It's the first thing I do when I buy a new place--remove the zillions of nails, screws, hooks, picture wire, and other random crap that the previous owner stuck everywhere throughout the garage and ...
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  • 106k
13 votes
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Why mate two boards instead of using one thicker board?

It has to do more with the quality of the the 2x6s vs the 4x6. A 4x6 x 12 board would have to be clear all the way through, with no cracks or knots. Most softwood logs won't produce this board, and ...
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  • 4,233
12 votes

Contractor cut joist hangers to make them fit

Cutting a hanger is never a good idea and should never be accepted. It's shoddy workmanship by the contractor and there were numerous solutions that could have avoided this (starting with properly ...
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11 votes

Is it safe to screw into a single support beam holding up an entire house?

At least in the area where I live, that type of support post is used when a house is modified (wall was removed, to prop up a sagging beam, etc). If the house was designed to have a support post ...
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  • 1,112
10 votes

What size beam do I need, and can I build one from lumber and steel?

You need an engineer's advice on what the load is and what is required to support it. And no, you really can't make a mixed materials i-beam.
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  • 16k
10 votes

code approved way to cut 5"x30" out of a 8" x 10" support beam

If you really have an 8"x10" beam in your basement it is probably supporting a huge amount of weight. Please do not even consider cutting into it without getting an engineer to determine what kind of ...
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  • 13.7k
9 votes

Contractor cut joist hangers to make them fit

You never cut hangers unless they are made for cutting. Call in a inspector who will advise you or the engineer who done the design but don't under any circumstances let this go without it being ...
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9 votes

Is it safe to screw into a single support beam holding up an entire house?

Notice the post is not just supporting the beam, it’s holding up ends of the boards that make up the beam! Would strongly recommend consulting an engineer ASAP and having the beam supported correctly. ...
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  • 271
8 votes
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Support Beam Splitting

This is not meant to be an authoritative answer, but I have worked in many homes and buildings of similar age and you almost always see some cracks in the beams, they are usually there for decades, in ...
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8 votes

Why did they hammer nails in half way and bent them over to secure supports?

Because it is easy to remove the nails if required to move the post. The nails mostly hold the post in position until the overall weight of the building bears down a lot of pressure on the post. At ...
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  • 61.5k
8 votes
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Hurricane ties installed using joist hanger nails top AND bottom. Should I yank them out?

Nah - most of the strength is in shear, and joist hanger nails are nice and fat so they have good shear strength. also, yanking them is likely to be harder than you think. The actual nailing ...
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  • 136k
8 votes
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How big of a beam for a load bearing wall

When modifying load bearing walls and betting your house on the results, you are well served to hire a civil engineer to analyze the situation and tell you what will work, rather than guessing. It ...
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  • 136k
7 votes

Why mate two boards instead of using one thicker board?

Boards that are laminated in some fashion get an overall durability increase (not necessarily net strength increase) because they no longer suffer from a single grain dimension through the thickness. ...
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7 votes
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Where can I find information on making footbridges with a long span?

The Scout Pioneering website contains information on how to build several bridges. I am guessing that most of these are more complicated than what you had in mind, so if you want something simpler, ...
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7 votes

Can I move the posts under the beam in my basement?

Possibly, but you should consult a structural engineer. For the cost of less than a day's work for an engineer you will get an answer that you can rely on. I know, it's unfortunate that you'd have ...
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7 votes

Elegant way to jack two materials apart, applying spreading pressure to pin them in place?

Power Wedge with Wing Nut Build a power wedge from some wooden wedges, a bolt and a wing nut. It will be strong, simple to tighten, and seismically safe when the bottom wedge is fastened to the top of ...
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  • 10.3k
7 votes

Is this wall removal safe?

No one here can tell you it's safe. That has to be done by a structural engineer doing a site visit and examining the building plans. If you're terrified, go to your home store and rent a few ceiling ...
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  • 54.9k
6 votes
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How to Fill Gap Between Steel Beam and Concrete Pillar?

mortar is not really structural, I would go with steel, perhaps half-inch plate and some washers
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  • 13.5k
6 votes
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Is it safe for my house's main carrying beam to be two separate beams?

We’ve learned a lot about construction in the last 115 years since your house was built. We use to just worry about holding everything “up”. Now we design for vertical loads and horizontal loads (...
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  • 22.5k
6 votes

I want to remove a wall dividing my living room from my porch

You want to remove an exterior wall that is integral to the structure of the building so you will need to know how to provide a suitable, to code, way to support the load that the wall is carrying. ...
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  • 13.3k
5 votes
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Is a sandwiched beam made out of 2x4s laid flat a suitable for a 15' span that doesn't carry a load?

If you put a beam across the room you'll feel bad every time you look at it. if you have a flat ceiling, you'll feel proud. Use joist hangers to put some 2x4s between the ceiling joists so that they ...
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  • 13.5k
5 votes
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How can I attach angled beams to a post?

There are lots of ways to attach beams to posts, and you don't necessarily need purpose-built brackets. Miter your beams so that they come together at an appropriate bisection of the post top, and use ...
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  • 106k
5 votes

Can I move the posts under the beam in my basement?

Very unlikely. The floor concrete may be anywhere from 1/4 inch to 4+ inches thick . The existing posts should be on footings ; depending where you are, like 18" deep. I tiled a basement in Joilet IL ...
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  • 7,716
5 votes

how much bearing surface is required to support a beam

The answer for bearing length is a little more complicated than most people would assume it would be. I'm going to assume it is supporting uniform loads and no point loads. 1.5" of bearing length is ...
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  • 4,661
5 votes

how much bearing surface is required to support a beam

You’re smarter than you know. Most people don’t check for “end bearing “. Beams can fail by1) bending (extreme fiber in bending), 2) shear (horizontal and vertical), and 3) deflection. But seldom ...
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  • 22.5k

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