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Strawbale Pallet hybrid

 
Christian McMahon
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I am working on an idea I had. It's an open source Strawbale/Pallet house. There are eight billion pallets in the world so why not use them? I have not built anything with strawbale yet. Can you get strawbales to fit a standard pallet size? I am having to use one and a half bales per pallet. If I were able to use a single bale per pallet in real life I can adjust the bale size in google sketchup and continue one with the build.





 
Christian McMahon
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I did some searching today. I found there are 48" strawbales used for making strawbale houses. They are called a three stringer. They will work with a standard pallet that is 48 x 40 in the U.S. I am going to fix the 3D object in the program and continue on with the design.
 
evan l pierce
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Open-source, you say? Nice! Keep up the good work.
 
Gail Moore
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Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
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Go for it, building with straw bales and pallets combined is a wonderfully diverse idea, which can spark many other ideas for designs and such.

In addition to square and rectangular, there could be hexagonal and octagonal shapes, similar to Earth Lodge.
 
Brian Knight
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Location: Asheville NC
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Love the rendering! Ive found that pallets are rarely of uniform size and strength so be sure you have a consistent source for that. We just recently salvaged some beautiful tropical wood from pallets we hope to use as trim material.
 
Brad Vietje
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Location: Newbury, VT (Zone 4)
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Hey Christian,

You've got a great idea here -- hope you continue to research this!

I suspect you'd be better off if the bale sizes did NOT match the pallet size, or, at least, that the edges of them did not line up. Bales are stacked a lot like bricks in building a wall, and they are intentionally offset by about 1/2 a bale length, so a seam in one level won't match up with a seam in the course above or below it. This adds strength and stability to the wall structure as they key into one another -- you can duplicate this by stacking up wood blocks, milk crates or Lego's.

Bales are also trimmed quite a bit to fit around framing, or when the wall size needs another 17", and not a full bale length. The good news is, they're pretty big bricks, so they stack up quite fast! There's also no convincing argument that the bales need to be laid flat to create a thicker wall, and some builders prefer to use them on edge.

Good luck, and have fun!
 
Brad Vietje
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@Christian: Another thought is to use some insulating material to stuff into all the air spaces in the pallet interior.

While it is true that dead air spaces can add insulation, in practice that means that the air spaces have to not only be sealed, but tiny (like bubbles in foam, or all the little air spaces in a compressed bale wall), or entirely sealed on all sides. For an air space within a wall cavity to be effective as insulation, it has to be trapped between two sealed layers, and ideally they would be reflective, as in foil-faced foam boards.

If a vertical air cavity is left open, and there are different temperatures on opposite sides, such as inside the wall cavity vs inside and/or outside air, there will almost certainly be convective loops that act to pump heat to cold, which is usually exactly the opposite of what you want -- staying warm in winter or cool in summer. That's why fiberglass batts are such awful insulation -- the air moves easily through it, so air currents are set up within the fiberglass batts themselves, with warm air rising and cool air falling, which creates a fairly effective heat pump to draw heat out of a hoe and deliver it outside (or the opposite on hot summer days).

Just another concept to design around...

 
Jason Matthews
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Christian McMahon wrote:There are eight billion pallets in the world so why not use them?


I am doing some research, similar to what you are doing. I am keen though to know what the availability is of pallets for free, or low cost, particularly in the UK.
Do you have any data or references regarding this? Who has these pallets and will the be readily given away?

thanks
 
S Carreg
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Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Looks like a fantastic idea with a lot of potential, I'm looking forward to updates. In my limited experience though, there's no such thing as a 'standard pallet' - in the past few months I've used around 20 pallets in various sizes and literally no two of them were exactly the same, and many of them were drastically different in terms of quality of wood, thickness and width of the individual planks, as well as overall pallet dimensions. I think if you want to do a big project like this you would need to guarantee to source all your pallets from the same supplier. In my case i get them from my local village shop, they save all the ones from their deliveries and give them away. So even though they are getting many things from the same suppliers (such as bags of coal), the pallets are not standardised. It's relatively easy to find bigger suppliers though, I think - just try talking to building supply places near you, they usually have stacks of them.
 
S Carreg
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Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Jason Matthews wrote:
Christian McMahon wrote:There are eight billion pallets in the world so why not use them?


I am doing some research, similar to what you are doing. I am keen though to know what the availability is of pallets for free, or low cost, particularly in the UK.
Do you have any data or references regarding this? Who has these pallets and will the be readily given away?

thanks


I just noticed that you mentioned you are in the UK - so am I. Talk to your local builder's merchants, tile suppliers, even wickes, B&Q type places (although independent places are more likely to help) - they usually have tons of pallets and are often happy to give them away.
 
Jason Matthews
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S Carreg wrote:

I just noticed that you mentioned you are in the UK - so am I. Talk to your local builder's merchants, tile suppliers, even wickes, B&Q type places (although independent places are more likely to help) - they usually have tons of pallets and are often happy to give them away.


thanks man. anyone else in the UK got any pallet freebie experiences?
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Three string bales are roughly 36" long, however, the bale length is the dimension that changes the most. The width and height are the most consistent.

Generally, you will only have one size bale in your area - either two string or three. It is rare you have a choice. Find out what is available in your area and design to that.

I think Owen Geiger did some small houses in Mexico with similar methods. Do a search on his name and you will find some articles.

It would probably be best to choose pallets from a single source to get uniform dimension and construction. Pallets from cement block or bag cement tend to be heavier duty with slats that don't overlap the rails. This would make construction a lot easier.
 
leila hamaya
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hey this is cool =)

i've done a lot of building and salvaging with pallets.
car dealerships are excellent places to get free pallets, they have some hard wood and large sized pallets and boxes, shipping crates too.

i knew of a great car dealership place that gave away tons of them all the time a close drive from where i was living, so i was building lots of stuff with them.

 
Sean Rauch
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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
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I'm not sure why you would want the pallets in this design? If it is straybale then why not just be Strawbale? The pallets seems like extra work for no gain?
 
Scott Doane
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I'm planning to build a straw and pallet hybrid shed. I'll use the pallets to build the structure, much like your design. Then I'll close them with wire mesh and fill them with straw, and render in lime and clay. I'll buy the pallets second hand from a place I know that has hundreds, and in fact I'll use the American style as they have solid sides. They cost £3 per pallet
 
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