[Strawbale] standard bales

Duncan Lithgow duncan at lithgow-schmidt...
Fri Mar 31 12:02:12 CEST 2006

I want to check the different bale sizes in the wikibook, but I've never
built anything personally, so i need some help.

Is the current information correct?

"Straw-bales can be made from a range of plant fibers, not only
grass-family species like wheat, rye, barley, blue-grass and rice, but
also flax, hemp, etc. (Bales of recycled materials like paper,
pasteboard, waxed cardboard, crushed plastics, whole tires and used
carpeting have also all been used or are currently being explored for

Basic straw-bales are produced on farms and referred to as
"field-bales". These come in a range of sizes, from small "two-string"
ones 18 in (460 mm) wide, by either 14 or 16 in (350 to 400 mm) high,
and 32 to 48 in (0.8 to 1.2 m) long, to three-string "commercial bales"
21 in wide, by 16 in high, by 3 to 4 ft long. These sizes range from 40
to as much as 100 pounds (18 to 45 kg).

Even larger "bulk" bales are now becoming common, 3 by 3 ft (1 by 1 m),
or 3 x 4 ft (1 m by 1.2 m) by 6 ft (2 m) long and even 4 x 4 x 8 ft (1.2
by 1.2 by 2.4 m) long, weighing up to a ton, plus rolled round bales 4
to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m) in diameter. All of these "economy-size" units
also offer unique potential for imaginative designers.

A newer trend is the use of high-density recompressed bales, sometimes
called strawblocks, offering far higher compression strength. These
bales, "remade" from field bales, in massive stationary presses
producing up to 1 million pounds of force (4 MN), were originally
developed for cargo-container transport to over-seas markets.

But innovators soon discovered that where a wall of "conventional field
bales" is able to support a roof load of 600 pounds per foot (900 kg/m),
the high-density bales can support up to 3,000 to 4,500 pounds per foot
(4,500 to 7,000 kg/m). This makes them particularly suited to
load-bearing multi-storey or "living-roofed" designs, and they may be
faced with siding, gyp-board or paneling and have cabinetry hung
directly from them with long sheet-rock screws.

They are available in a range of sizes from different companies' presses
but 2' long by 2' high by 18" wide might be considered "typical";
because they are bound with horizontally ties or straps, at 3" or 4"
intervals vertically, they may be recut with a chain-saw at a range of
heights. And they usually used in "stacked bond", with the straws
running vertically for greatest strength and tied with "re-mesh" both
sides, before stuccoing."

More information about the Strawbale mailing list