Before going to buy DIY materials, I take my measurements, do my research and make sure I know the correct French vocabulary.
Then I find myself at the builders’ table with a queue of professional roofing workers who are impatient behind me and discover that what I want is too expensive, not sold anymore, or only available in sizes that force me to recalculate everything.
I have to translate the new information in my head and make some quick choices.
This mainly happens when I buy manufactured wood chipboard (Banu Bu), which is often a staple in crafts.
For example, I recently wanted to make a piece of removable flooring to fit a wine press at the end of our barn. I wanted to do this in solid pine planks but settled on sturdy board to save money.
The lady at the desk ran over the numbers and couldn’t help but sigh. It was a lot more than I expected to pay.
“Is there an alternative?” I asked. “Okay, you can try…”
The bishop’s workers got angry at this foreigner who didn’t know what he wanted, so I jotted down some prices and went down to the wooden courtyard to see what it was.
There I stopped the forklift driver and asked him to talk about the various alternatives.
Thick is not always stronger
In general, the thicker the board, the stronger it is – but also the more expensive.
However, things are not always so simple. Some materials are stronger in their thin forms than others in their thick forms.
The question is, how many millimeters of the cheapest material can be used in the current job?
There are other decisions to be made at the same time. Do the boards need to be bonded together with the tongues and grooves (for strength), for example? these dalles de plancher More expensive than flat edges.
Will the painting be exposed to moisture? Wood planks are notorious for wet ink if they get too wet and when you put your foot through them after a ceiling leak, you’ll wish you had bought something else.
Finally, there is transportation. Will a stack of 2.4m panels fit snugly over the top of a vehicle or is it better to buy pre-made pieces?
I’ve been stumped for a long time about what materials to use in a wine press. The forklift driver spoke to me in that slow and exaggerated way some people use to communicate with foreigners, but I got the information and made my decision.
The cheapest option I could get away with was the 13mm OSB (Oriented Strand Board).
I bought two sheets of paper, took them home on a roof rack, cut them to size with a circular saw and installed them around the press. Good enough for my purposes.
Get to know your stuff
1. Plank (Freemasonry for Americans) is panneau de fibers de bois. Its thickness is 3 mm and is not for structural purposes.
2. OSB, which looks like mashed wood, is a good alternative to wood chips. The name is the same in French but is pronounced with the appropriate mouth accent: oh-ese-be. Typical sizes are 9-18 mm.
3. The board he is agglomeré (abbreviated to aggloIt usually comes in sizes starting at 10mm, but it must be at least 19mm to hold a human’s weight.
4. MDF (Same name, but say the letters in French: em day ef) Usually available in 3-18mm size.
5. plywood (contreplaquéMore expensive than chipboard or OSB but you get a better trade-off between thickness and strength – and it looks good.
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