Give me a lever long enough and I can move the garage
December 29, 2017 10:49 PM   Subscribe

Nice trick, but what's with that truck? The Tool Tank!
posted by Chuckles (56 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nice trick but a lot of work. Just use a single 2x4 of the desired length and hit it at the top until it is vertical.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:53 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


Seems like a C Clamp would hold it just fine without having to waste nails and having to pull them.
posted by CheapB at 12:06 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just use a single 2x4 of the desired length and hit it at the top until it is vertical.

I think that might leave a mark on the upper surface.

But the other simpler solution is, as the guy in the video mentions, to just use a 4x4 and a jack. It’s simpler, quicker, and you don’t ruin the wood you used that way. Still not sure why he didn’t do that, except to showcase a particular leverage application.

On a work site, I think he’d still be midway through measuring his 2x4 cuts while someone else would have already jacked the thing up.
posted by darkstar at 12:08 AM on December 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


An artefact from a world where people still fix things properly.

Me, I would just try to delicately nudge it back into place directly with a convenient device known as a "car". If I was feeling particularly clever , I might even put something in place to spread the impact across the displaced wall. Nah, who am I kidding? I'd just hit it with the car, then, on hearing something break, would back up gingerly, check the car bumper first, then look with some dismay at the splintered pile of wood around the base of the still misaligned wall. Then I would swear a bit, and probably go online shopping to make myself feel better.
posted by senor biggles at 12:39 AM on December 30, 2017 [16 favorites]


I like this a lot. I think it's a lot more stable than a 4x4 on a jack, which might fall over when you moved the supported load. Not all jobs require moving the load though. Securing with a nail seems strange though - I'd worry about collapsing the support while trying to secure it. A clamp seems more sensible. Or even a tie.

I've used the "hitting the top method" before but friction under that sort of load is formidable and there's much risk of breaking the support or damaging the load. Excessive force is to be avoided generally.
posted by merlynkline at 1:40 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't think he really needed an 84 foot 3/4 inch long 2x4.
posted by ardgedee at 4:09 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


I suspect it's probably a waste of lumber and time if you only use it once, as shown in this application, but it makes sense if you have to prop a series of points that have a pretty consistent offset to correct. (It's analogous to writing a script to automate a keyboarding task: A waste of time if you're automating something done rarely or inconsistently, but potentially beneficial for things you do often and consistently.) I don't know how often that's going to happen, though; the real world doesn't provide a lot of opportunities to correct a series of 1/4 inch offsets across seven foot gaps.
posted by ardgedee at 4:22 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I watched the second clip, and greatly enjoyed seeing someone with a legitimate need for a pickup truck.
posted by bouvin at 4:22 AM on December 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


I don't know why, but I expected the garage to fall down. I guess I misread/misunderstood the title? oh well.

But yes, that is a very cool trick.
posted by james33 at 4:48 AM on December 30, 2017


Just use a single 2x4 of the desired length and hit it at the top until it is vertical.

Kicking it at the bottom is easier and won't mark the top plate.
posted by flabdablet at 4:50 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also, you don't need to measure the thing all that accurately. If it's not quite tall enough, just lay another 2x4 flat on the ground under its foot, and kick the bottom along that.
posted by flabdablet at 4:52 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Neat and simple.

Tom Silva would have brought in an entire crew, demolished the garage, re-set the foundation, and rebuilt the entire thing (adding a bump-out because reasons) using hand-milled, reclaimed old-growth redwood for the siding.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 AM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]


He overdid it for a simple repair like this one, but I can definitely see the advantage of a small amount of leverage. I work a bit on old houses and I can think of at least two times where this approach would have been helpful. The bottle jack/2x4 works too but I could see setting a few of these along a span would be helpful - like when I had to raise a beam about an inch.
posted by disclaimer at 5:48 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I wonder what mileage that truck gets. All that steel.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:21 AM on December 30, 2017


C-clamps big enough to handle the job are more likely to be a snag hazard. So, if you are moving around the post as you work, nails may be safer.
posted by oddman at 6:35 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


This channel is brilliant, he's like builder Monty Don. There's not much as satisfying as seeing the meta-craftwork that craftspeople build into their workshops.
posted by lucidium at 6:39 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was preparing to do a FPP on The Essential Craftsman. As lucidium says, the whole channel is terrific-- his language is as precise as his work.
posted by gwint at 6:57 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


The older I get, the more I appreciate clever uses of leverage.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 7:04 AM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]


My son is a journeyman carpenter who works commercial construction. He subscribes to the Essential Craftsman's channel and watched this video a while ago. A situation came up on the job site a couple of weeks ago and the foreman thought it would take hours for the situation to be resolved. My son said, "Nah. I can do that in about 5 minutes." He applied this trick and got it done in 5 minutes. That saved a lot of time/money on the site. He's used it again a few times.
posted by angiep at 7:23 AM on December 30, 2017 [15 favorites]


Expert carpenter performs task quickly, easily, and cheaply using a couple 2x4s, a nail gun, and physics.

Metafilter: he did it wrong
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:31 AM on December 30, 2017 [31 favorites]


Just use a single 2x4 of the desired length and hit it at the top until it is vertical.

Another comment mentioned the fact that it would mess up the surface, and such it would be better to do that on the bottom, but I think this also drastically misses the scope of the mechanical advantage this lever gives. The wall isn't load-bearing, but it's likely heavy enough that it would have been surprisingly difficult to kick/hit the 2x4 into position even to get the wall raised a mere 1/4 inch. Using the lever makes it far easier, and you're unlikely to damage the 2x4 as you would had you been hitting it into place, which you generally don't want with things you're using even to only temporarily bear significant loads. It's also much easier to get the top/bottom properly aligned in the proper position this way, ensuring that you get enough lift and (more importantly) that it is genuinely secure and thus safer to work on things being held by it.
posted by mystyk at 7:41 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Instead of using $20 of wood and fixings to create a fucking death trap, I'd have hired a four-ton steel prop at $17 for a week. Except, in his business, I'd own the props already.

His whole approach is slapdash, dangerous and negligent. Freestylin' with a circular saw will get you fired from any building site. Using untested gashwood to take a load, then working underneath the load is another firing. Using a nailgun without PPE - fired again.

He's going to cripple himself. If we're lucky, he will only harm objects, not people.

Yes, he did do it wrong. Now let's talk about his health insurance.
posted by Combat Wombat at 7:47 AM on December 30, 2017 [14 favorites]


The older I get, the more I appreciate clever uses of leverage.

I read that in Travolta's voice from Battlefield Earth...
posted by mystyk at 7:49 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


What would the maximum lift be for this technique, do you suppose? A two by four at the top to distribute the weight may have made sense to avoid an indentation.
posted by sammyo at 7:53 AM on December 30, 2017


Freestylin' with a circular saw will get you fired from any building site.

If you want to be amazed check him out on this video on tricks with the skilsaw.
posted by 445supermag at 7:56 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


The difference between a pro carpenter and an amateur isn't knowing the tricks, it's knowing when not to use them.
posted by Admiral Viceroy at 8:15 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


Freestylin' with a circular saw will get you fired from any building site.

I know right? everyone knows you're supposed to support the wood on the top of your boot when cutting with the skillsaw. It's like he's never even BEEN on a real construction site before. Also he looks WAY too sober.
posted by some loser at 8:21 AM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


If you want to be amazed check him out on this video on tricks with the skilsaw.

I made it to the "Polish Plane" and had to nope out of there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:23 AM on December 30, 2017


I think this also drastically misses the scope of the mechanical advantage this lever gives

It's a really good lever, there's no doubt of that. It's essentially the same mechanism as the one that makes vice-grip pliers grab so insanely tight.

But at the end of his video, we see him knock the prop out with a mallet when he's done. That means that the bottom of it was not pressed into the driveway so hard as to be jammed immobile under full load (and the repair he did pulls the wall, and therefore the doorway lintel, downward onto the foundation rather than lifting it further; this adds load to the prop, it doesn't remove any).

The task at hand was to get ¼" of lift using an 84¾" prop. Before being kicked into place, the bottom of a plain rigid prop of that length would be 84¾" × sin(cos-1(84½ / 84¾)) = 6½" away from its final position. So it needs to be moved that far to generate the ¼" of lift, a mechanical advantage of 26 times.

The resistance to sideways movement at the bottom of the prop is going to be the the coefficient of friction for wood against concrete (somewhere near 0.6) times the load force, plus another 1/26 of the load force due to the lever action of the tilt.

The frictional component completely dominates that expression. Which means that if that prop can be knocked out with a mallet, it could have been knocked in the same way. And I reckon my feet in their steel capped boots are heavier than that mallet.

You can argue with me, but you can't argue with Physics.
posted by flabdablet at 9:14 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


What would the maximum lift be for this technique, do you suppose?

Depends on the load, and on the strength of the materials you use to make the prop.

To a good first approximation, the mechanical advantage of this arrangement is the distance the part you push on has to move, divided by the amount of lift you get by moving it. In the video, you can see that he's moving the free end of his lever about six inches to get his quarter inch of lift, meaning that he only needs to push about 4% as hard as the lifting force the prop is applying to the lintel.

Most of the push is required, and most of the lift is delivered, in the initial stage where the prop is as bent as it ever gets. As it straightens, both the pushing force required and the amount of lift delivered per inch of lever movement diminish rapidly. Once it's completely straight, the backlash force on the lever is theoretically zero and in practice very close to that; this is why holding it in place with a few nails is completely safe. Certainly safer than a clamp, which could get accidentally knocked off.

If you wanted to lift through greater distances you could use a pair of these props, one ¼" longer than the other, and a stack of ½" boards or plates. Use the shorter prop to get the first ¼" of lift; use the longer one to get another ¼", taking the load off the shorter prop; put a ½" plate underneath the shorter prop, and so on. This also works for the kick-it-in method. But at this point an actual jack is probably the Right Thing.
posted by flabdablet at 9:44 AM on December 30, 2017




Lifting and transporting ten ton blocks by hand
posted by flabdablet at 10:54 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Some more casually extreme lever action with even less regard for OH&S

My expectations for crazy Russian videos has reached a place where I would only have been impressed if there'd been a guy in the car holding his breath the whole time and then at the end he drives away.
posted by gwint at 11:23 AM on December 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


gwint, with you on that. I think they'd be an invincible army, but their dash cam footage suggests they'd have a hard time actually making it to the front.
posted by maxwelton at 11:29 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


In my workshop, there are a number of things which always amaze me when they're demonstrated:
  • The amount of extra force extending the length of a lever (like a wrench, which is all that it is, really) adds to a job. I have a couple of cast iron pipes which can slip over the ends of my larger wrenches for really stuck items. I'm sure flabdablet could tell me how much extra force is available by pushing on the end of a 4' wrench rather than a 1' wrench, but it must be an astonishing amount.
  • The sheer strength of a tapered joint.
  • The amount of force even a lightly-rusted fastener can require to come apart.
  • Hydraulics force is not to be taken lightly.
  • That said, your brakes work due to a tiny circle of rubber.
posted by maxwelton at 11:37 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm sure flabdablet could tell me how much extra force is available by pushing on the end of a 4' wrench rather than a 1' wrench

Just about exactly four times as much.

Makes it so much easier to round off nuts, strip threads and snap bolts without so much as a skinned knuckle :-)
posted by flabdablet at 11:40 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


Well, sure...but OSHA is happy because you're four times further from the violence than you otherwise would be.
posted by maxwelton at 11:46 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


for really stuck items

I'm a huge fan of the rattle gun. Borrowing one from my neighbour got all the screwbolts for my pool fence installed in double quick time after my socket wrench had proved hopelessly inadequate.
posted by flabdablet at 11:54 AM on December 30, 2017


Also, you don't need to measure the thing all that accurately. If it's not quite tall enough, just lay another 2x4 flat on the ground under its foot, and kick the bottom along that.

Ideally, I think you put the spacer at the top, and it spreads the load / provides extra protection to the door frame. But...

I think this also drastically misses the scope of the mechanical advantage this lever gives. The wall isn't load-bearing, but it's likely heavy enough that it would have been surprisingly difficult to kick/hit the 2x4 into position even to get the wall raised a mere 1/4 inch.

This sounds right to me. But maybe just as importantly, impossible to push it too far this way. With the hammering you could easily over do it, and damage something else. As AvE would say, "torque it till you hear the snap, then back a quarter turn."

I watched the second clip, and greatly enjoyed seeing someone with a legitimate need for a pickup truck.

But it isn't a pickup truck! I think the guy is very interesting, but I wouldn't have posted if it wasn't for that awesome truck.

As an engineer who has walked away from the profession, I sometimes say I'm only interested in Human Scale projects. If I can't move the stuff on my bicycle trailer, it is too much for me, kind of thing. The Tool Tank is very interesting from that perspective, for a couple of reasons.

In the small.. I'm constantly astonished that people would even buy a car that isn't a hatch back--like from my perspective, whatever size vehicle you get, bicycle, car, van, pickup (maybe?), you absolutely have to maximize its utility! You are getting the thing to do stuff. In that sense, pickup trucks are often the most extreme example of that. Maybe if you actually "need" a pickup, most of the time what you actually "need" might be a Tool Tank?

In the large.. Sure, big shit still impresses me, but a lot of what's wrong in the world comes from the childish "boys and their toys" instinct to "go big or go home". Essential Craftsman is doing something different.. That truck is like Human Scale on steroids. Is that just the thin edge of the wedge? I find it fascinating.

His whole approach is slapdash, dangerous and negligent. Freestylin' with a circular saw will get you fired from any building site. Using untested gashwood to take a load, then working underneath the load is another firing. Using a nailgun without PPE - fired again.

I'm tempted to just respond to this with "MetaFilter being MetaFilter", but.. Well, it is actually another aspect of my Human Scale philosophy above. If you stick with a Human Scale, its pretty hard to create outsized risk, and freestyling is generally fine. As you amplify effect, you start to amplify consequence, and eventually it gets scary. So, you need safety protocols, obviously. Thing is, It is actually incredibly hard to do safety right--should we have the bicycle helmet debate again, for example?
posted by Chuckles at 11:59 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ideally, I think you put the spacer at the top, and it spreads the load / provides extra protection to the door frame.

Putting a spacer board at the bottom (perhaps as well as one at the top) means you're kicking the bottom of the prop along a wooden surface rather than a concrete one, substantially reducing friction and therefore the required kicking force. Wet the bottom board first and the kicking gets even easier.

maybe just as importantly, impossible to push it too far this way. With the hammering you could easily over do it, and damage something else.

Kicking the bottom a bit too far just makes the prop start lowering the load again. No biggie. Just kick it back a bit more gently until it's nicely vertical.

Or you could put the top of the prop right in the corner of the doorway, and just kick the bottom until the prop is flush with the upright.
posted by flabdablet at 12:07 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Kicking the bottom a bit too far just makes the prop start lowering the load again. No biggie. Just kick it back a bit more gently until it's nicely vertical.

Only if you've measured everything precisely. The person just hammering in a board is probably not worrying much about cutting the board off to a precise length and/or the time saving of just hammering in a board is mostly lost, compared to this technique, once you are mitigating in all the ways we've been talking about.

And.. This totally isn't the interesting part AT ALL, so why are we all still stuck on it!?!? :)
posted by Chuckles at 12:16 PM on December 30, 2017


The older I get, the more I appreciate clever uses of leverage.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 9:04 AM on December 30


Eponysterical
posted by Reverend John at 12:26 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you want to be amazed check him out on this video on tricks with the skilsaw.

I have used most of those tricks, but the first thing our crew would do with a new worm drive saw is a cut a small wedge of wood off the end of a 2x4 and use it jam the saw guard full up out of the way. Makes working a whole lot easier and more accurate and frees up your left hand if you don't have to monkey with the guard. You learn to always set the saw down on its side. Professionals only. Definitely not OSHA approved.
posted by JackFlash at 1:27 PM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed the truck video a great deal. I love how thought out everything is.
posted by 4ster at 2:20 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I have an uncle who built a camping/touring pop-up mobile home on the back of a similar flatbed, and it's similarly well put together. Every single door (and it has many compartments with doors, as well as the one into the living space) is so well built that not even the shaking of Northern Territory corrugated roads can manage to allow bulldust to leak past the seals. Northern Territory bulldust is about as fine as baby powder, so that's quite some achievement.
posted by flabdablet at 3:52 PM on December 30, 2017


The advantage of something like this over the jack and 4x4 approach, when working alone, is that you are never doing that thing of crouching down holding up a heavy 4x4 with one hand while getting the jack started with the other, hoping you don't screw up and drop the wood on your head. These days the only construction work I do is DIY, and pretty much always alone, so I'm more and more a fan of options that are safer and calmer, even if they are slower. So much of standard construction assumes that you have another person or three to help out (which is of course the norm on a real job site), but working alone you can easily put yourself in a bad position.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:09 AM on December 31, 2017 [4 favorites]


Freestylin' with a circular saw will get you fired from any building site.

On the 0.001% of building sites that aren’t two dudes and a pickup truck.
posted by zippy at 9:29 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


On the 0.001% of building sites that aren’t two dudes and a pickup truck.

I walk past a big commercial construction project every day. The other day they had a crew up on the roof, using no fall protection or PPE at all, and free-cutting with a circular saw. Unless people think there is a real chance of the inspector coming by, that stuff is mostly ignored.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:22 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


Unless people think there is a real chance of the inspector coming by, that stuff is mostly ignored.

Maybe on a non-union job site, but most union job sites are quite meticulous about safety gear and safety procedures. One of the great things about unions is they literally save life and limb.
posted by JackFlash at 1:01 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


While I like this guy’s gumption I was a bit worried about the nails keeping that lever arm from popping out while it looked like he had his hand between the wall and the base plate. Probably one of those things where you realize it’s solid after the tenth or twentieth time.
posted by zippy at 3:49 PM on December 31, 2017


Hi, I'm on metafilter and I could overthink a weight on beams?
posted by lucidium at 5:29 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


(Not that there's actually any overthinking happening, it just popped into my head.)
posted by lucidium at 5:31 PM on December 31, 2017


I was a bit worried about the nails keeping that lever arm from popping out

One of the really beautiful things about that lever's geometry is that at the point where full lift is achieved and the lever arm is all the way parallel to the rest of the prop, the outward force on the lever arm is tiny. Like, really tiny. You could just about retain it in that position with chewing gum.

He's used four nailgun nails, which is about three more than the joint actually needs. The only way it would come apart is if the lifting load was more than a 2x4 could cope with without bowing, which the lever action would already have caused it to do during the lift; you'd notice it before getting as far as nailing the lever closed in the first place.

You can actually see how small the outward force is if you watch the lift being done. See how the lever wants to snap into place at the end? That snap action will be completely familiar to anybody who has ever worked with a set of vise grip pliers, which take advantage of the same geometry.

Also note how easily he's able to hold the joint closed with the grip of one hand while operating the nailgun with the other, and how it doesn't spring open again before he can get those nails fully set with his hammer.

Not that there's actually any overthinking happening

Got yer overthinking right here.
posted by flabdablet at 5:43 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


One of the great things about unions is they literally save life and limb.

It's political correctness gone mad

posted by flabdablet at 11:49 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why Bulldust? Anyway, this was quite something!
posted by Chuckles at 1:22 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Dunno. It's been bulldust since before I was alive.

Quite something on two wheels as well :-)
posted by flabdablet at 10:01 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


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