Impractical Uses of Gridwall

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I recently pitched my first article proposal to Cracked.com. While preliminary feedback was positive, consensus was that my article was more of an editorial than an enumeration of particular facts. I did cite facts to support my opinions, but Cracked wants facts only without any personal commentary — at least from me, as established writers seem to have free license on that site.

I wouldn’t even bother with Cracked except for the potential to receive some money if any of my articles are accepted for publication. Rather than box away this original draft into storage, I hereby present it in unedited form:

Four Failed Uses of Gridwall

Gridwall, oh gridwall — your purposes are manifold: merchandise display rack; holiday light holder; makeshift pallet. Ubiquity in retail outlets underscores your social status as an all-around useful item. You’re so popular that people call you “Griddy.”

Yet, everyone has their limitations; some uses just aren’t what you’re cut out for! Surpassing mere goofiness and delving into impracticality, here are four objects for which gridwall simply is an unsuitable substitute:

Fence

Although easily linked together with tie wraps to create folding displays, gridwall panels are notoriously difficult to keep aligned when a determined person is smashing through. Even the most tightly packed layers of Griddy will flip over if subjected to adequate momentum. Imagine a stampede mowing through a gridwall fence, and you have the primary reason why none exist outside highly controlled environments.

But what if you were to weld gridwall together so you have one large, continuous panel? For one, it would not provide enough flexibility to bend with the curves of the landscape; rodents would scrunch under in a heartbeat. For another, small animals would be able to hop through the square holes!

Finally, gridwall just doesn’t hold up well to the elements. Left outside and shaken by windstorms, the panels shall rub together such that their zinc coating will erode away, thereby exposing the underlying iron to moisture. Rust ensues; hilarity does not.

So take it easy on your pal Griddy. Say no to gridwall if your fence salesperson suggests it!

Traffic Median

Perhaps gridwall would make an acceptable frame for curing concrete, but Griddy by itself would make an unsuitable and unsafe traffic median. No matter how tightly packed, sections of gridwall would fly apart if hit by a careening vehicle — and that would be worse than a car hitting concrete! How, you wonder?

The airborne panels would be launched into traffic, effectively becoming projectiles ripe for smashing into windshields of vehicles that would otherwise be clear of the accident. Even the relatively modest stopping power of a cable barrier has a more elastic form of resistance than gridwall and would therefore more slowly absorb impact, reduce momentary force, and provide for a gentler stop.

Long-term outdoor use would again present the problem of corrosion: The resulting rust would not only threaten structural integrity but also poison the soil with heavy metals. Griddy ain’t green!

Construction Scaffolding

Construction industry standards require scaffolding to be somewhat stronger per inch than the upper tier of step ladders. An industrial-rated aluminum ladder can support up to 300 pounds across a given 16” X 4” step, or about 4.68 psi, after accounting for a 30-lb. bucket of paint, nails, etc. on the foldout platform a step or two beneath the top. Even if the step bends, the supporting frame is structured, bolted, and heat-cured to maintain its shape and load distribution.

By contrast, there is no industrial strength Griddy– only commercial grade — such that a 60” X 24” zinc-coated iron gridwall panel could sustain only around 237 psi, or 79 percent of peak ladder / minimal scaffolding intensity. While you could upgrade to a 96” X 24” panel, the pressure over an area cannot exceed 261 psi before shearing force tears the gridwall in two at 86 percent of scaffolding capacity.

Even if the edges do not come free from constraints, the middle will fold downward, thereby releasing tension that would spring the attached segments outward like a trap door! Cue the falling of workers and tools alike, likely to be followed with a wrongful death suit.

And that’s not considering the need to cover the holes between crossbars so that supplies such as fasteners, safety glasses, and small tools do not fall through. A dedicated scaffolding structure definitely beats gridwall hands-down when it comes to safety and reliability in an elevated construction project. Until we have Griddy on steroids, don’t trust him to bear your weight!

Dungeons & Dragons Battle Grid

Both a D&D battle grid and a gridwall panel are planar sets of interlocked lines creating fairly uniform segments large enough to encompass a tabletop figure in each. So they must be comparable in ability to accommodate the mapping of roleplaying characters — right?

Dead wrong! First off, the dimensions of gridwall do not fit the typical table. You would need to abut several tables to span and safely hold the length of an eight-foot gridwall panel. Next, you’d need to be extremely careful in setting down the gridwall — any lateral movement will scratch the table finish. Then, players would need to hop their figures around instead of sliding them, lest the crossbars get in the way!

Some of the issues presented by the use of rigid metal wires as figurine guides include, but are not limited to: getting appendages of miniatures stuck between crossbars; scratches on one’s hands from reaching between the squares; and noticeable glare from the highly reflective surface, especially if the gridwall has a chrome coating rather than a zinc finish.

Besides all that, a careless moment of resting one’s elbows on the gridwall can make it pivot and catapult your miniatures all over the place! We understand Dungeons & Dragons requires imagination to play, but these real-world obstacles — provided by our good friend Griddy — prove to be an unreasonable intrusion into enjoyment.

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