Rules of Thumb for Steel Design


In earlier times when computers were neither available nor essential, one objective of the structural design process was to discover a computational method, which was elegant, simple and appropriately accurate. When such a process was identified it was recorded as an expedient approach to solving a recurring structural design problem. Thus, quick “Rules of Thumb” became essential resources for the structural engineer. As computer software has proliferated, become very comprehensive, and been made very user friendly, the importance of “Rules of Thumb” and approximate methods has been diminished. It has been argued that, with the computational speed and ease of application of computer methods, the need for approximations and “Rules of Thumb” no longer exists. However, equally imposing arguments can be made for the value of these quick approaches such as:

• The structural engineer should have tools to make on-the-spot intelligent decisions,

• A reasonable solution is often required as computer input,

• The validity of the computer output should be verified with rational approximations.

So, with the objective of fostering continued development, use and enthusiasm for “Rules of Thumb” and approximate methods, several steel framing “Rules of Thumb” are presented in this paper. In general, these rules of thumb are serviceload based, which simplifies their application. Formal checks can then be made with factored loads and LRFD or service loads and ASD in the final design.



Rules of Thumb for Steel Design
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