Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why it pays to LOOK busy...

Before we completely move on from the foundation and talking about framing for the next several months, I want to talk about MY role in the creation of the foundation (aside from making lemonade for the real workers). One day, when I had successfully managed to get the girls up to the site before noon. I was standing around, considering pictures to take and apparently NOT looking industrious when Matt Saar, the concrete guy, said “Are you looking for something to do?” Well, I really wasn’t, but I was intrigued with the possibility. What was he going to suggest? What he DID suggest was that I cut and bend some rebar, which are the iron bars that go into the foundation. So the job was to turn this

Into this

Using this

Very simple machinery that simply requires the proper force on the handle to bend or cut the metal. Matt showed me how to do it. It didn’t look easy, but it didn’t look TOO hard, and after all...Matt and I weigh about the same, so I have as much force to throw on the handle, right? I’m sure anyone who has done this job is laughing at this point, but let me just say...I did figure out how to do it! It wasn’t pretty, and I fell on my keester plenty of times. In fact, Matt saw me do that once, and he had the good grace not to laugh outright. What he DID do was holler out “Hey, why are you sitting down on the job?” Funny man.

My mom, who is a tremendous sport and loves to get into the action, came up to the site and wanted to help. So now the two of us are throwing our weight on the handle, and we beat that rebar into submission! But I did make one observation on the mechanics of the whole process. When we were bending the rebar, some bars were much harder to bend than others. Was something wrong with some of the bars? No...what I eventually concluded, through experimentation, was that the orientation of the bar made the difference. See this little seam on the bar?

If we were bending the bar and the seam was on the top and bottom of the bend (12 and 6 o’clock if we were bending about a line from 3 to 9 o’clock, it was much harder than if the seam was on the bending line. I've created some GRAPHICS to illustrate my point:

This confirms what years of schooling have taught me...that material further away from the bending axis makes a bar more stiff. You wouldn’t think that little seam makes a difference, but it does. See how that PhD comes in handy?

I’m going to have to tell that smarty-pants Matt about this.


  1. FOR ALL YOU NON-PHD'S OUT THERE: Kinda like the perforation marks on a piece of notebook paper. Thanks my translation services are free.

  2. I hear a song..."I am woman hear me roar...if I have to I can do anything. I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman."