Timber Surface Treatments

By: Bruce Gardner, Co-Owner of Homestead Timber Frames

The first decision to make regarding the look of your finished timber frame is the texture of the timber surfaces.  Here are some of your choices:

Smoothly Planed – This most common choice is the result of a portable planer, sharp blades, and patient technique.  The timber framer sets the planer blade height to a minimum setting to minimize grain tear – out and planes each visible timber surface while advancing slowly.  Areas around knots may require additional attention from a belt sander.

Sand Blasted – Timber frame timbers can be sand blasted to mimic weathered timber surfaces without the graying.  A steady stream of an abrasive agent such as sand or baking soda is directed under pressure against the timber surfaces.  The abrasive agent removes the softer ‘early wood’ leaving the ‘late wood’.  The result is a timber surface that looks and feels like corduroy with the ‘late wood’ grain raised.

Hand Hewn – Best described under the heading, “How to make a timber framer wince”, this surface treatment is achieved by using an adze.  The adze wielder chops along the length of the timber taking small divots of wood.  The aim here is to replicate a timber that was produced by hand from the log.

Rough Sawn –  Timbers are joined straight from the saw mill, saw marks and rough grain intact.  Barns and sheds often display timbers that are rough sawn.