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What Are the Best Tips for DIY Scaffolding?

When building scaffolding the ideal fastener is the lag bolt, which have coarse threading and hexagonal heads and can be used to secure wooden planks and other materials.
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  • Written By: Rebecca Mecomber
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2014
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Safer than a teetering ladder, DIY scaffolding is a convenient, sturdy platform for reaching high areas for the project. Whether building a set from scratch or installing a ready-made kit, the best tip for DIY scaffolding is safety. The unit must be able to adequately and securely hold the weight of the workers and the tools. Rails at the top and cleats on the sides provide added security for workers and stability to the unit. For best results, pre-drilled holes and removable lag bolts ensure that the scaffolding will provide years of stable use.

The most common premade scaffolding is pipe scaffolding, constructed of hollow metal tubes that fit together into a portable unit of varying heights. While easy to assemble and readily available at tool rental centers, this type of scaffolding can be costly to rent and prohibitively expensive for the average do-it-yourself homeowner to purchase. One of the easiest DIY projects is a wooden scaffolding unit, which is the same type of scaffolding used by builders for thousands of years before pipe scaffolding. Wooden scaffolding is very heavy and not as portable as the lighter weight pipe scaffolding, so the design will need to be dismantled and reassembled for each use.

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The best DIY scaffolding design includes a solid, immovable base. Thick, kiln-dried lumber should be secured with lag bolts and washers to form a square-shaped frame. Cross-bracing along each side of the square strengthens the frame. Holes should be pre-drilled to prevent the wood from splitting and to allow for easy disassembly as well as for reassembly later.

Additional squares are built upon the foundational squares. The pattern is repeated with wooden timbers forming the base of a square and smaller boards for cross-bracing to keep each platform level straight and stiff. Pre-drilled holes and lag bolts with washers secure the pieces together.

Safety rails must be secured at the highest platform level. For best stability, the posts for the final square frame should be taller than usual, sticking up from the square like candles on the four corners of a birthday cake. Narrow wooden rails can be attached horizontally to each post, creating a fenced-in platform at the very top of the DIY scaffolding. One of the rails can serve as a rough dumbwaiter. A bucket can be tied to one end of a rope slung around one of the rails, creating a convenient lift for DIY tools and materials.

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