Simple Engineering/Design Help/Advice Wanted…

I will be building a small custom deck soon — this is my simple design.
The Frame sub-assemblies will be held with kreg pocket screws and construction adhesive.
Then, Solo Initial construction should be no big deal — some clamps to hold frame sub-assemblies together while I carefully tap, level, and align. Then, Once aligned, I would normally zip some 5/6" Hot-dripped lag screws in. The End.

But this time, it will 𝑵𝑶𝑻 be a permanent installation, but portable instead. It will likely be at location for at least a season, but may need be knocked down, transported, and reassembled 8 to 12 times total.

I haven’t created a simple marking/numbering system to assure correct pieces realign properly for reassembly, nor decided the best hardware / fastener for repeated use at reassembly.

Will a Sharpie permanent marker fade away outdoors?

Suggestions ???Deck-Stairs1.skp (3.9 MB)

First, because this is an easy question to answer, yes, Sharpie marker will fade in time. You could use stamps to label parts with numbers and letters. Or you might use numbered tacks to drive in to the parts. Or even spray paint and stencils.

As for making it easy for solo assembly, you could use some locating pins orient parts together or even have blocks of wood you clamp in place to for ledges. Then, instead of lag screws, use bolts and Tee-nuts so you have machine threads that are durable. In some places you might use embedded hex nuts or for areas where you need more strength, you could create steel nut plates. They might be two inches square, inlet flush into the wood and screwed in place instead of Tee nuts.

I would also look at design ideas that allow the weight of the sub-assemblies to be carried by timbers to the ground instead of hanging on bolts.

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Thank You Dave.
I’ve never tried the sharpie, but you confirmed my fear that it would be gone when I needed it. I like the idea of the numbered tacks (wasn’t aware they even existed), as I’m afraid the stamp would fade too, in softwood that is out in the weather. And they are cheaper than a set of stamps, too. but with shipping, it would still be nearly 30.00. I may try the sharpie with a dab of urethane finish on top. (nearly free, and on hand) Bolts and tee-nuts was my plan, but I was hoping someone had inspiration I overlooked. With a countersunk space for the head and nut, and and some mineral oil applied (also on-hand @0), corrosion may be minimal. (fingers crossed if I live long enough to care)

I will already have blocks (& clamps) for assembly anyway, so I may consider using screws & construction adhesive on those blocks to make them permanent and carry weight as the bolts sag…

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Don’t use the metric numbered ones!

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No Problem. I never learned to read those ‘metric’ numbers anyway… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Ages ago carpenters used a chisel and Roman numerals to mark things such as rafters.

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Why not just use a Dremel tool and engrave the numbers/letters into the wood?

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:exclamation::exclamation::exclamation: 𝕋𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕜𝕤. This is why I posted ━ I have a Dremel buried in the tool room somewhere. So, 0$ expense. And As Quick and easy as anything else. 𝑨𝒏𝒅 it hadn’t occurred to me…

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image image image


@MikeWayzovski LOL. My “ages ago” was more like the 1800s. What are those numerals Sumerian?

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These were marks used for the construction of roofs churches in the 13th century (like the one from the Notre Dame)

It turns out, they were not just counting marks, but actualy some sort of graphical language to put all the fabricated beams in place .

Links ( Dutch)

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Here in Finland logs were the preferred building method of wooden houses way into the 20th century and they are still used. Log frames were often made off-site and reassembled, and old log buildings were often moved and reused. The builders used similar markings to what Mike illustrated.


If you coat your Sharpie with clear-urethane, it won’t fade so fast.

Get a sheet-metal shop to bend 14 (or 12) gage corner brackets for inside and outside corners, full height of the under-frame. Then re-design the elements so you can duplicate for all connections that hold together the storable components.

You will need less wood as the steel adds integrity, steel lasts longer and is recyclable.

To assemble your simplified components, clamp in place and drill through outside brackets, the wood members, and the inner bracket; using hex bolts, nuts, washers, and lock washers to tighten the assembly. The resulting joints and connections will far outlast wooden types that are subject to change in unexpected ways (wood members will twist, bow, splinter, etc.)

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And can decay rapid when in contact with metal…:smiley:

Certain combinations of different metals and/or wood are devastating…

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