Scaf 101: Build 6, Taller A-frame

(Part 11 of 13 in Scaf 101)

There are some non-obvious ways to use clamps to build unusual things. Early on, in the first “cube” build, I mentioned you could do pullups and work climb-ups. But this build is way better for building a stable, nearly 7-foot high bar.

There’s no layout shot per se, but here’s a pair of assembled 45° apex A-frames. (Note that the unused outlets in the middle both face up.)

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There are two 90° two outlet tees in the middle of the photo, 45° tees on the left and right and 3-foot brace pipes. This looks totally asymmetric, right? Here’s a close up of the tops of the A-frames:

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(I know, right? Does this work?)

Here’s a detail of how you put the top cross bar into the clamps; do not over-insert the ends because we need the width to be correct.

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Wait, this is a thing? It totally is…

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Very tall, very stable for climbing/hanging and you can swing a bit (if you like sketchy swing sets).

We have 5-foot pipes and tees left, so let’s add some more side pipes:

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I love how the outlets on those tees we used early on, suddenly are just perfect for a cross bar. Obviously, that lower one could go anywhere on the set. If you have extra 45°s, you can add some 1-foot diagonals on any (not the top – won’t work up there) of the cross pipes. I’d put two diagonal doing down from the mid-height cross-pipe; that would give a huge stability gain without being in your way.

There are other variations to this build: You could have used 5-foot pipes for the cross-bars when you laid out the A-frames. They’d be much lower down on the sides. You’d still have the fourth 5-foot pipe to make that mid-height cross-bar. And of course in both variations you have 3-foot pipes that can be added as diagonals if you have the extra 45°s. Remember the rail precisions build, with the diagonals that were “off” but still sort-of fit? You could get a 3-foot diagonal up on the top most cross-pipe.

I really like this build. It’s a sort of “sleeper” build where you start feeling like your wasting clamps at the apex of the A-frames and then it turns into this very unusual geometry. Most scaf (except of course Blake’s scaf in Boston) ends up being all 90° and 45° systems.

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Scaf 101: Epilogue

(Part 12 of 13 in Scaf 101)

Closing thoughts, other random clamps and ideas.

A fist full of clamps

Here are three more clamps. The first two you will certainly end up with, eventually. The third one is just a fun, sort of, “what would you ever do with that?”

Split cross

This is your new best friend, the “split cross”. This is better than sliced bread. This clamp can be opened (by tapping one of the pins out), and then placed onto an existing pipe in a structure. Note that the pins are slightly tapered. You’ll see they stick out on one side (that’s the thick end) and they are flush on the other (that’s the thin end, the end you tap).

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With these clamps, you can add another pipe, like this, when someone says the top one is too high…

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Or you can just throw a precision (or balance etc.) rail right into the middle of a build. I keep one, 10-foot-plus pipe laying around for this purpose. You can even strap on extra bars angled across the build if you bolt to the vertical poles. You can strap to two different horizontal poles, at different heights and make odd-angle slopes. There’s tons you can do with this clamp.

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90° single outlet

There’s a 90° single outlet tee which is handy for making really clean builds:

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Swivel mount

I have a few of these that I use as feet on my ground rails. Makes the pipes sit neatly on just about anything. But you could also attach these to big wooden blocks, and then use them as feet on the bottom of your scaf corners to keep it from sinking into your lawn. (Because of the set screw, these feet would move easily with the scaf when you pick it up.)

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The simple wooden feet are great, but in the lawn, they tend to flip over and come away when you move the scaf. So using feet that are attached to the legs would be slick.

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A few clamps more

Clamps are easy; point, click, ship. (Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a place that stocks them.) But as you accumulate more steel pipe, you’re going to want to start cutting it yourself.

…well, ok maybe you never end up cutting a single pipe yourself. If you buy your steel pipe from a supply house, you can just list all the lengths you want. But if you’re just going to buy a couple sticks at a time, then one day, you’re going to want to make a few cuts.

Ye ‘ol hacksaw is tedious, and the ends are never perfectly square. The gonzo method is to buy a chop saw and fit it with a metal-cutting blade. But the middle-of-the-road method is to buy a heavy duty “tubing cutter”. A steel pipe cutter will make short work of schedule 40, 1-1/4″ steel pipe. (But you will need to clamp the pipe down somehow to resist the cutter’s rotation.) For example, a “Ridgid 32820”.

The good, the bad and the clampy

I think I’ve done a reasonable job of capturing, and organizing everything (and more) that I’d wish I’d been able to find on the first day I started thinking about buying some scaf. Along the way, I had a lot of fun indulging my scaf habit and I hope you (fellow pragmatist) enjoyed reading this far.

Where to go from here? …to the clamp web sites, to the scaf supply depot, to your first scaf build party with friends!

On the other hand, if you’re in the mood to stare at your screen more, I have a #scaf tag for all the scaf posts on my site. They are mostly photos of built scaf, so perhaps you’ll find some ideas/inspiration.

Finally, a big shout out to Blake up in the Boston area for being a huge scaf-addict and spreading the scaf love. They don’t have anything scaf-specific on the web, but if you hunt them down on your favorite social medium or in real life, there’s pretty much scaf everywhere: Parkour Generations Americas Boston on DuckDuckGo

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Scaf 101: A source for swivel clamps

Eventually, you will want to purchase swivel clamps. They can be quite expensive. But, I found this place, which sold them to me for an unpublishably, insane, low price: https://www.associated-scaffolding.com ɕ