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  The Joints Made and Used by Builders by Wyvill J. Christy, 1882    


A joint is the place where two different portions or pieces of a structure meet or unite, and it consequently forms the division or union between them, as well as a constituent factor of the structure it helps to consolidate.

A joint is either simple or compound, fixed or movable, and however perfect it may be it is almost invariably a source of weakness.

In this light the monolithic description of concrete is superior to masonry; but, as an opposite instance, the superiority of a beam sawn asunder down the middle, reversed, and bolted together again, over a jointless one, is worthy of note.

As a general rule all parts of a joint should be equally strong, the strength of the entire joint equal if possible to that of the parts joined, and its form, when used in framing or other analogous combination, such as to direct the pressures, as far as skill will allow, along the axes of the component pieces.


Moreover, a joint should never be of a complicated nature, but its parts, reduced to the smallest practicable number, ought to be so devised as to resist in the most scientific manner the particular kind of stress that each will be tried by.

By a simple joint is meant one consisting of nothing beyond the contact of meeting surfaces, such as an abutting joint in carpentry, without fastenings of any kind - though it may otherwise ill-devisedly be of an elaborate and intricate character.

By a compound joint is meant one which a cementing medium, or some kind of attachment, in used to assist weight or pressure in keeping the contiguous parts from moving or racking—the first step towards separation and ruin.

A mortar joint forms a common illustration of the latter class, for the mortar not only binds the bricks together, but before setting affords a conveniently yielding bed to enable each brick to take its bearing, so to speak, and thus to be in its best position to resist external forces.

Such a joint is necessarily a compound one, since the mortar joint proper between any two bricks is compounded of the two joints formed by the adhesion of the intervening mortar to the surface of both bricks. Either a compound or a simple joint may be fixed or movable, the sliding joint in joinery affording a familiar instance of the simple movable variety.





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