Toothpicks and Pole Barns

When I was in grade school, I had a history book which featured drawings of World War I airplanes. My friends and I grew up in relatively modest neighborhoods and could not afford fancy treats such as model airplanes, however we did have the resources of toothpicks, typewriter paper and Elmer’s ® Glue.

We combined the two and built for ourselves scale model aircraft – using the toothpicks for the framework and typewriter paper for the skins. It certainly kept us entertained and out of trouble for hours, so our mothers had to have been quite pleased.

Hansen-Powder-Coated-EPDM-Screw-138x150One of our clients recent had some challenges with screws “backing out” of the roof steel of his about ten year-old post frame building. I went on a hunt for solutions and ran across an interesting possibility, which I have never tried personally, but which may very well have some merit – the toothpick.

Of course once I get onto a subject, I have a hard time just letting it go and not reading and researching more about it.

It turns out toothpicks were not made like the cartoon from my childhood (those of you from my generation will recognize this 18 second video clip): https://www.pond5.com/stock-footage/11346465/cartoon-toothpick-factory.html.

And I did run across a fairly interesting article about the origins of the mass produced toothpick, where by 1870 a factory could produce a million toothpicks per day! (read more at: https://www.slate.com/articles/business_and_tech/design/2007/10/stick_figure.html).

Anyhow, getting back on track, the proposed solution to the withdrawing screw (of which the reason they are withdrawing is a mystery to me), was to remove any screw which was not firmly seated. The next step was to take a round toothpick, cover one end with wood glue, then insert the glue covered end of the toothpick through the hole in the steel, into the underlying roof purlin.

Any portion of the toothpick remaining above the plane of the steel would then be broken off. Once the toothpick had hardened into place, the screw could then be run into place through its original hole in the steel.

I haven’t tried it, but you can bet if I can find a screw which has encountered the same experience, I will be giving this one a try!

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