Spaghetti Building Part 1
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Spaghetti Building Part 1

              I know that this is going to sound kind of way out there but I am building one of these at this writing and it works, it works very well.  Please do take this idea and run with it.  Talk it over with some of your school kid’s teachers.  Do it as a father son or father daughter project.  However I would not recommend doing this with your wife because then she will know who took her spaghetti.  Here it is.           


This is for the pre-engineering school building projects like bridge building, that are tested later on after they are built to scale models.   I know that materials like balsa wood are being used which could be kind of expensive in large quantities, enough to outfit a big class or even groups of youngsters in the same class.   I have done some experimentation and a feasibility study which led me to use Spaghetti and Elmer’s Wood Glue diluted to 50% strength so it runs into the joints needing to become permanent.  This “Spaghetti Building” technique as I call it is much cheaper than balsa wood.  I am construction a bridge now using two main base supports and proper bridging to hopefully support a one pound weight in its middle section.  Here is how I am doing it.             


First I produce a 2Dimensional design (computer or sketched by hand) using TurboCAD Pro 11 or equivalent for designing of the bridge and its component parts and then print it out at full scale which can still be done on normal typing paper for individual sub-assemblies of the bridge.  I then tape that 2D print out, down onto a flat piece of plywood or other flat surface so I can assemble the individual pieces on top of the taped down printed design.  Using a small pair of wire cutters or toenail clippers, I size them up by cutting the pieces that are going to be superimposed on top of the printed out design.  Small pieces of tape can be used to hold the pieces down in place until all the parts are glued together using very small drops of the diluted glue.  I am using tooth picks to pick up a drop of glue and then place it where I want it to be.  I also use a large commercial finger nail emery board to sand down lengths that might have been cut too long or have un-squared ends and need just a little shortening or smoothing.  The glue as I stated before is diluted by 50% with water so it runs into the joints better.  Gluing only one side with a very small drop of glue is best at this stage. .  You don’t want it to glue itself down to the paper below it, so use very small drops of glue at first.  In about one hour or less you can cut the tape off and peel it back from the immobilized taped pieces and carefully flip it over to glue the other side.  In tests that I have done by over stressing the parts, rarely have any of the jointed members broken at those joints.  With proper bridging techniques and reinforcement of these structures it can become amazingly strong.  2D designs become 3Dimensional after they are glued together using exact mirror images of itself to form solids instead of just flat surfaces.                


This method of building is much cheaper and I’m not going to add the comment that “you can eat it too.”   Let’s just say that it is cheaper and more flexible in its abilities than balsa wood.  It can also be bent to the proper shapes by soaking it in hot water for a few minutes until it becomes (yes you guessed it,  Al Dente) and then formed and let dry and finally glued in place to whatever assembly you are working on.  As we all know, there are many different shapes and sizes to this excellent model building material.  For instance Lasagna can be made into a road driving surface or siding on a house or perhaps a roofing   material.  This method can be instrumental in teaching patience and hand, eye, finger dexterity and proper bracing methods for building a strong structure.  I have no data on the engineering characteristics of my spaghetti building material use so I will have to leave that up to people that can generate that data to this very easy obtainable building material.  Those engineering characteristics for a computer analysis can be used to do the testing on the design instead of putting a physical stress test on it.   After the many hours of building it, some people might not fancy destroying the model during the engineering testing phase.  For an even stronger structure, yes you guessed it, one can use spinach pasta.  My bridge is gaining in stature and strength all the time and it is getting impressive looking.  Even my wife stopped shaking her head at me and has come closer to look at it.  Perhaps she is sizing it up for whatever pot to use on it.  I don’t know.  I remember many years ago putting together a balsa wood top wing piper cub with similar materials but of course that utilized very thin balsa wood.  A flying spaghetti plane would be a first here.  Who ever got hurt on one built with spaghetti?  I know you are laughing while you read this but there it is sitting on my work bench standing up on its own, ready to be mated to the other component structures.   I know as long as my roof doesn’t leak it should stand up on its own and support that one pound weight.  You don’t have to be crazy to think outside of the box with what is considered to be the normal way of doing things but it sure helps at times.  If you don’t believe me then you have to try it.  I think you will be amazed at what can be created with some imagination and time.  If you are not successful then what have you lost, maybe some lunch or dinner?  My Italian “Spaghetti Bridge” will share a great spot in my wife’s large kitchen.  Bringing out the possibilities of some creative cooking.  Look at the handiwork that those with imagination and creativity can come up with in arts and crafts when they use an idea others haven’t as of yet.  The finishing on this would be to use some food coloring or non-toxic paint (in case you are made to eat what you stole from your wife’s food cabinet to do this project ) and maybe to spray the whole thing with a liquid plastic to help it stay nice.  This is pretty way out I will admit but it works very well, really.  Bon appetite, or er I mean, Good Building, your choice.   A more definitive look into how this is coming along and my procedures is down below.  Enjoy. 

This picture shows the two bottom bridge supports.  I’m still bracing things in between the two halves.  Here I have four halves that were the same and that makes two pairs of three dimensional parts.


In this picture on the bottom you can see another angle of the two supports with a ruler placed at the bottom edge that will be glued down to something most likely wood so it can be moved as a completed assembly after finishing. 

 Yet another angle of the “Spaghetti Building Project” along with my work board.  This could be mentioned as a parallel to the graphics area of an MCAD application.  I will explain the use of  these tools down below in the next picture to come under this one. 


Starting from the top left of the board you will see the glue that I am using.  I’m diluting it to 50% of its consistency so it runs into the tiny interspaces of the noodle joints.  This works out good but not perfect.  If you are not careful it will run onto the paper printout that is used for a template.  Then comes the box of spaghetti.  Keep in mind that this is a very thin type of pasta and it can be considered to be an extra level of difficulty.  This could be good practice for surgeons.   Next we come to the two pill containers.  Great news here.  The glue does not make a mess inside of it by coating the inside.  For some reason the glue due to cohesion or adhesion drains back nicely even after a rough shaking of the contents to keep it mixed well with the water.  The second bottle contains those small leftover pieces that can be used somewhere I’m sure.  The round black magnets add weight to hold down parts that are springy.  They also are easily added to and don’t slip off of each other.  Only problem I had with them is that you have to get the polarities right or you will push the one off that is there already and cause a compound fracture of a part.  Luckily the parts are cheap and easily procured.   The tape is used to hold parts down to the paper template so you can get things glued together.  Since this building material is very light in Mass, it doesn’t take much to move it away with another part you are bringing into the assembly.  Afterwards, the box cutter (which could be substituted for something else in the schools is used for cutting the tape and peeling it off from holding down the part.  You could also not even use the box cutter by using the tooth picks to pull up the tape so you can get an edge to pull it back off of the part.  Toothpicks are also used for the preferred gluing choice.  Small droplets that do not fall off from the tip when you are holding it up vertical seem to be the idea amount.  In the paper plate are my wet paper towels to rid the fingers of glue   

and wipe up any mishaps.   They also keep the toothpick points clean from any residue of glue.  Keeping the fingers cleaned of glue is very important in this because these pieces are like magnets to anything that will glue them together including fingers and perspiration.  I found one small piece on my eyeglasses after I adjusted them.  I looked for quite awhile and never found it until I took a break.  You get the idea.  I tried a scissor to cut the spaghetti and although it did work okay it was awkward to use a normal pair to do this with.  This small pair of toenail clippers works very well for this project.  The only problem I found with the cutting of the spaghetti is that the piece you cut usually goes flying across the floor if you don’t stop it by using the wet paper towels to stop it.  Like a backstop.  I tried a shear cut method using the box cutter but it creates more of a problem then it solved.  Plus these things should not be used by students.  I’ve had to keep students in mind at all times during this creation and it is all about them anyway.  Now we move over clockwise to the emery board used by women mostly to do their fingernails.  By the way, fingernails can be very useful in doing this adding to the dexterity to pick these parts up from a flat surface area.  Girls might have a decided advantage with them.  I keep mine short so I can type which works out fine for me, but not for this act.  Oh yes, the emery board  is used to sand down a part that might be a millimeter or so too big.  Just rubbing it on the medium rough surface can quickly shorten the part.  No biting off the extra is allowed.  This emery board was donated by my Umbrella Cockatoo who does not like it at all.  She doesn’t even want it back.  It also pays to have a very smooth flat surface to work on.  Any deformation of the surface (my plywood work surface has a small curve in the side I am working with) can be detrimental to producing continuity of parts that are meant to be alike.  I don’t think I missed anything but you know how to get in touch with me to ask.  One last point.  Enjoyable music playing in the background lends a more pleasurable assembly of these parts.  Angel hair spaghetti is even thinner than this.  I would not advise it unless your mental health insurance is paid up.  I purposely picked this size figuring that larger sizes would be even easier.  I know I am right about that without even using it.  Bigger is easier but smaller is more impressive.  Enjoy.  One more picture down below this one.


 Just another angle to view my folding table that is set up in our computer lab where this project is taking place. 
                Well that’s all Folks.  Have I given any ideas to you?  I hope so.  Please get this to anyone that is doing these jobs in the schools or even arts and crafts departments.  Believe it or not the Supermarkets carry all of the supplied you need.  That was one of the parameters for doing this feasibility study.  Materials had to be easily obtained from supermarkets.  I’ll keep you posted on the finishing of this project just as soon as my wife lets me back into our house.  Enjoy the 4th of July.  Bye.   Richie Williams, Entertaining with engineering science humor. Email Contact 


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