Scaffolding is, as you’ll know by now if you’ve read many of our blogs, a very useful process. It’s got an interesting history, and it can be used in a number of ways for a variety of different projects.
How, though, does scaffolding actually work? How do all of those metal poles and wooden boards stay together, and not simple collapse? To answer that, we’ve put together a basic guide to some of the principles of scaffolding. Hopefully, we can go some way to explaining the process in our latest blog.
As a quick disclaimer, this is not a blog intended to inspire any old person to go home and erect a scaffold. You’ve got to be trained if you’re actually going to apply these principles; we’re only intending to shed some light on the matter purely for your interest!
Surprise, surprise. It isn’t really possible to explain how scaffolding works without talking about physics (well, not if you’re going to do it properly, anyway).
Pretty much the whole concept is tied up intrinsically with science, so for those of you who didn’t pay much attention in your physics GCSE classes, we’ll try and keep it pretty basic and explain everything as thoroughly as possible.
Leonhard Euler is the first notable theorist we need to mention when it comes to the principles of scaffolding. Effectively, he worked out that there was a “critical load”, under which the scaffold would begin to buckle. Keep the load, or weight being supported, lower than that amount, and you’d be absolutely fine.
To work out the critical load, a number of factors need to be considered:
- The material of the supports
- Shape of the supports
- The length of the supports
- Distance between the supports
It is important to remember that the critical load will vary, depending on the type of scaffold in question. Depending on the type of scaffolding you’re assembling, different support points will be required.
For example, a traditional tube scaffold will require support points to be assembled 6’ 6” apart, while system scaffold take support points at intervals of 6’ 6” – 7’ 0”.
We’ve tried to give you a brief introduction into the world of scaffolding physics here. As we’ve said already, though, when it comes to your own scaffolding you need to use a professional.
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