Timber Framers Guild

historic hewing questionnaire

Posted By: northern hewer

historic hewing questionnaire - 10/14/07 12:41 AM

this topic deals with my favorite topic "HEWING".

To that end I am asking those that can square timber by hand the "old" way drop by for a chat.

I welcome those that might like to learn to join in

Please sign in and tell everyone some of your experiences, and if you like ask a question and I will try and answer it to the best of my ability. If I can't I am sure that someone will jump in to help out.

It would be interesting to hear from people on other continents and in other countries that may be tuned in, don't worry about your English or spelling.



NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/15/07 12:25 AM

Hi all would be hewers and those with the calloused hands:

Due to no posts yet I have a question concerning the type of broadaxe that was used in the UK prior to British North America's colonization, I always wondered if the North American hewing axe was similar in shape and style to the British axe or did it develop along its own line? anyone out there like to comment.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/15/07 07:10 AM

Hi NH,
Probably the best person on our side of the pond to answer this question is Joe Thompson but until he happens along I will do my best to get the ball rolling.

One of the major differences between the UK / mainland Europe / USA and Scandinavia is that traditionally most framing in the UK was done using hardwoods (oak, elm) as opposed to softwoods (pine, larch) and this has a significant effect on the design of the axe blade employed. The cast steel softwood axes employed in North America have large wide blades (12") whereas UK blades were forged and would appear to have been much smaller (6 - 8") but this might not allways have been the case. The Bayeux tapestry shows hewing axes being used by the Normans to build ships for the invasion of England in 1066 and these axes were "Tee" shaped. One of these axe heads can be seen in the Winchester city museum with the blade being about 1.5 - 2" wide and 8 - 10" long with a curve in the blade at both ends presumably to prevent "digging in". Care needs to be exercised with drawing wide spread conclusions about the use of this type of axe throught England. Despite its name The Bayeux tapestry was thought to have been made in England and not France as one might expect. If the tapestry had been made in France then the axe illustrated would be more likely French in design than English.

Examination of hewing signatures left on older timber frame buildings (1300 - 1500's) seems to show that fairly narrow scoops are removed 2 - 4" wide and so axe heads are likley to be narrower than the old "Norman" or Saxon style. Some of the early hewing work examined is done so finely that it can be very difficult to see how this was done using the naked eye alone and so one has to resort to making crayon rubbings to pick up signatures. The idea that hewing produces deep score marks and quite obvious scoops as can be seen in North America is not particularly evident here in England though occasionally "accidents" happen.

If you check out :- http://www.kfhume.freeserve.co.uk/pages/publicationspages/finland2001pages/finland2001frame.htm you will see a picture of a Finnish hewer proudly displaying his favorite axe that he used to square the logs for building a church.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/15/07 11:54 AM

The last time I did any amount of hewing was at the International Plowing match in 2006. I had a lot of fun and managed to attract a lot of attention there. Did my best to explain the process and talk about timberframing and log building in general. I am an oddball in that I hew with the log at hip hieght, not on the ground as was done in early ontario, so I had to explain that as well.
I think the broadaxe is an awesome tool, and I think that the broadaxe finish suits timber better than any other.
Posted By: Bruce Chrustie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/15/07 07:04 PM

you know I started out hewing on the ground and my back told me it did not make any sense to do it that way. Just finished reading "Lumber Kings and Shantymen: Logging and Lumbering in the Ottawa Valley" and it had some pics of old timers hewing at the hip level simply because the trees where so big!
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/15/07 11:54 PM

Hi everyone
Thanks Ken for your very knowledgeable insite into hewing techniques in your neck of the woods, and also the lovely picture of a Swedish Hewer, the axe is very different--from the picture it is hard to see if there is much sweep in the handle. I would really like to take it in my hands and experience the feel and balance of that type of tool, and maybe (try) and use it

Hello to you Mark I remember the pictures that you posted awhile back, and they were great, I know from experience that however you portray an historic subject or object to the general public it is wise to really do your homework otherwise you can really get sidwinded by someone that has some knowledge on the subject. If you can feel confident that what you are doing or portraying is as correct as possible, then you can feel more at ease and maybe learn from a good exchange of information. The International plowing match is visited by many from all over the world and probably posed a formidable stumbling block that you probably encountered manytimes. I would have loved to have been with you at that time.

You are correct the trees then were quite large, and that is why I have said many times before that it was impossible to elevate even logs that could square say 12" in 60 feet, these were pretty large trees.
Please be careful hewingwith a elevated log, in my opinion the ark of the axe could continue down towards your legs or feet. Mark above I know hews with the log elevated but I believe he uses a short handle to keep control, please correct me if I am wrong Mark

Well thanks for the interesting info guys

NH

Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/16/07 12:25 AM

OMG, I don't portray much... I hew at hip level with a short handle(and knee pads!!), for fun and rarely even for wages, but I don't know much about historic re-creation, just about squaring logs.
And yes, it would have been sweet to have you at the plowing match, maybe another time???
By the way, try a goosewing sometime, if you get the chance (-:
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/17/07 01:45 AM

Hello all;

I have little experience hewing so I have some questions.

1. Were adzs actually used to smooth timbers? I occasionally read books which refer to how timbers were converted using a broad ax and then smoothed with an adz. However, all hewing marks I have ever looked at have an arc to the signature. I do not know how to swing an adz with a sideways arc so I presume all smoothing of the timbers was done with an axe. Here is a nice example from about 200 years ago in Maine.

http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o223/jimderby/IMG_2967.jpg

2. What are large bladed broad axes used for. In most of the signatures I have seen the cutting edge of the axe was around six inches long. I have seen much larger axes.

3. Hewing marks are always scalloped telling me the cutting edge was beveled. What are the axes with one flat side used for?

I reciently learned that just one axe company in the early 20th century was producing 300 different types of axe heads. There were certainly a large number of very specialized uses of axes.

Just for fun, below is a a photo of an elegant square rule joint. In my thinking the post was hewn with an axe and the joint relieved with an adz. The girt was cut out decades ago.

http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o223/jimderby/IMG_2838.jpg

Just one more photo. Here is a double gunstock post. I cheated by starting with a 10 x 14 and hewed the lower gunstock just to carry the girt in a barn repair. I am not aware of double gunstock posts being used in barns but there is precident in house frames in Connecticut.

http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o223/jimderby/IMG_2985.jpg

Thanks;
Jim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/18/07 12:38 AM

HI JIm:

thanks for joining the conversation, and the series of pictures that you took time to add to your post.

I will give it my best shot--
Q#1--By all means timbers were hewn by hand to a square dimension, that is close to what was needed, for most purposes that is the way they were used, but in some cases for example exposed timbers in a home, or in many old country dutch barns the special beams like the anchors and their posts were adze finished. the surfaces will show the unmistaken marks of the adze blade, and should if done properly be undulating in appearance, and no hewing marks will remain.

In exposed ceiling timbers, say in a early log, or timberframe home, after the adze has did its job, the lower edges would be beaded by hand to round out the appearance, when good workmanship was the name of the game.

In some swing beam barns the swing beams only were adze finished because I suppose they were the main focus of attention.

As far as your photo I would say that the timber was a bit off square, and with the timber laying on the ground and standing on top of it, an adze was employed to remove the excess wood on the lower corner. You will notice that not much was removed on the upper corner, and the tell tale rough scoring marks (2) remain slightly visible, and some of the regular scoring marks. The tradesman who did the adzing used an overlapping type of repititious swings and created an unusual appearance, in my opinion it is definitely an adze that did the final work, what do others think?

Q#2--In my opinion axes with less than 9 or 10" in width would not qualify to be called hewing axes but rather hatchets, what you may have seen was timbers squared with a regular felling axe.
All the hewing axes in this area would have been 10 to 14" wide on the cutting edge and have only one bevel, the side towards the timber would have been flat, now just a minute--nearly flat, and I think that this may answer another of your questions, the flat side of a hewing axe is not flat but slightly rounded and will be only noticeable if placed on a flat surface, this is for a reason the centre if the blade will take wood nicely, and not bite in at the edge. A broadaxe in an experienced hand will produce a surface very near an adzed surface, and will have an undulating surface texture, and be hard to tell the difference. I have pondered over many timber finishes to try and acertain what historic tool in fact created the final finish, not an easy call sometimes. this type of scrutiny only comes into play when doing an exact restoration and having to put on new timbers an original finish.
Q#3--the company that produced so many axes no doubt was shipping internationally, and knew what type of axe the population was using in that country, so it required a great variety of styles to be welcomed as an import.

#4--You are right on the money I would say the joint was formed by all means using and adze, if I was doing that joint it would have appeared very similar, and I would have used an adze rather than chisels and slicks

#5--I am not familiar with gunstock joints so I will leave this up to others to comment on but nice pictures

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and if there are other examples out there that need to be commented on please lets see them.

Please don't be afraid to comment on my best shot at an explanation it is by friendly chatter that we can learn, and I am always willing to learn, and I want others to also.

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/19/07 12:35 AM

Hi Ken

I would be interested in passing a few words with Joe Thompson, and comparing notes on his hewing technique, and in particular what type of axe he uses, and how he props up, and what height his log is, prior to hewing. Does he have an Email address?.

It is interesting what you said about axe size compared to type of wood specie being used. Over here the wider hewing axes were also used for hardwood hewing, I had never thought or heard of smaller axes specifically for oak or elm.

One thing that I have noticed though is that the heavy head will bite into and split hard wood quite easily.

I will admit though that white pine was used where it was plentiful, but on farms that had no pine, then ash or elm was used to produce the frameworks.

One other thing that is interesting is that Britain was the main supplier of axes (and axe styles) to the New World prior to industry here in North America catching up. Even well after and into the late 1800's Sheffield Steel produced some of the finest chisels, axes, augers and many other products, and was ranked equal to the Swedish manufacturers in this regard.



It would be nice to hear from historic tradesmen in other areas that have also researched the craft of hewing timber, and the type and design of the tools.

I wonder Ken if during your training, you had access to any old hardware catalogues that date to the early 1800's that would show the various axe styles exported from Britain during that period?

I expect that the forgeries in this country as they became established, copied styles of the imported axe heads, but from what I can make out never really were able to copy the quality of the inset toolsteel cutting edge

anyway thanks for the input

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/23/07 12:05 AM

hi Ken
I had a good chance to look closely at your report on Finland and area as well as the pictures of each stop.

The finish on the surface of the logs were interesting, and as you mention probably from the double bevel broadaxe and the angle of the blade to the wood as it is being used. It would be neat to try on out
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/23/07 12:13 AM

Your comment ken about the original surfaces seem to having been produced with a single bevel blade is interesting, I wonder just what percentage of the antiques in their museums are single bladed types versus the double bladed ones. They seemed to think that the use of the doble blade type was okay for the reconstruction of the church.

anyway a very good article and nicely presented

NH
Posted By: Kevin M

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/24/07 02:03 PM

I would classify as "those that might like to learn". I fall into the owner-builder group although I have no timber framing experience yet.

I am looking to build at least one small timber frame barn on my property in the near future and was hoping that I could get some guidance and/or direction from the experienced crafts people on this forum.

What would all of you recommend be my first course of action for learning the basics? What are some good resources that I can use to get myself started; workshops, books, trial and error?

I would like to build using the trees that I have on the property already so my first specific question regards felling/drying. What sort of timeline and order of operations am I looking at in terms of felling a tree, rough hewing it, and drying it?

Sorry for the barrage of questions!
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/25/07 01:01 AM

Hi Kevin:

I am quite willing to work with you and to that end I will send you some information

NH
Posted By: Bruce Chrustie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/25/07 05:17 PM

Kevin,


I think hewing and then using such timbers for a TF structure will leave you very frustrated. I would suggest you start with something like the Sobon shed with sawn timbers and then consider a log structure for hewn timbers first.

B.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/07 01:01 AM

Hi Kevin

good comment Bruce, and one that I strongly endorse. the rough texture of hewn material would be a challenge even for some experienced framers to use.

Having said that though I believe that there are those out there that have accomplished some very high goals, it just depends on the individual and their desire to produce something with their signature.

Over the years I have experienced couples that would come to me and say that they were going to build a log home, I would look them over and to myself say well maybe--then after 2 or 3 years thy would reurn and say that they had completed their home and were living in it, I must say it sure surprised me to say the least.

I think that anyone with enough desire can attain their goal taken step by step with help from those around that can be of assistance.

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/07 01:02 AM

Hi Kevin

good comment Bruce, and one that I strongly endorse. the rough texture of hewn material would be a challenge even for some experienced framers to use.

Having said that though I believe that there are those out there that have accomplished some very high goals, it just depends on the individual and their desire to produce something with their signature.

Over the years I have experienced couples that would come to me and say that they were going to build a log home, I would look them over and to myself say well maybe--then after 2 or 3 years thy would reurn and say that they had completed their home and were living in it, I must say it sure surprised me to say the least.

I think that anyone with enough desire can attain their goal taken step by step with help from those around that can be of assistance.

NH

Posted By: Kevin M

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/07 03:15 PM

Bruce,

Thank you for your input. This is a long term project/goal for me, I am not in a rush to get the building built and would rather learn the craft the long/traditional/correct way.

I would classify myself as someone who does not frustrate very easily and has a lot of patience. With that said, I plan on learning in small, incremental steps. Due to the fact that such work is skill and labor intensive I am looking to learn the hewing and the framing simultaneously rather then sequentially; so I am planning on doing some TF work on cut timbers just to get the technique down first while I actually cut and hew the timbers.

I saw on the Whipple Tree site several of the workshop projects were small assemblies just to get the basics of the joinery.

I appreciate the recommendation of the Sobon shed. I will look into that.
Posted By: Kevin M

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/07 03:22 PM

Is it significantly different planing out the faces of the joint surfaces on hand hewn timber then squaring the faces on cut lumber? Or is there something else that makes the roughness of the hand hewn timbers more of a challenge to work with?

My wife and I do have some lofty goals, and I am not above admitting that my ambitions are beyond my (current) reach. But, again, we are looking to do exactly what you say; small step by step achievements while taping the resources we have available to us and taking the time to learn how to do what we need to.

Kevin

Edit: Edited for clarity.
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/07 08:03 PM

When using square rule layout on hewn timbers, the framing square becomes more like a transit, you have to sight down the timber to be sure that you are square to the edge you're working with, rather than feel the edge as in sawn material.
I prefer to use lines on hewn material(and sawn material for that matter). I place level and plumb lines on the timber ends, then snap chaulk lines on the faces. If you don't want to see chalk lines on your timbers, you would need to either plane off the chalk after layout, or use a regular piece of string that is stretched over the face during layout.
Cutting is also different. In sawn material, you can more or less use the surface of the timber for the circular saw base/mortiser base, but in hewn stuff you will have to be more careful and sometimes use a shim with the mortiser.
I would be able to teach you what I know about hewing at one of the whippletree framing courses, if you'd like to visit Canada sometime....
http://www.wpltree.ca/workshopindex.htm
Posted By: timberwrestler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/07 09:24 PM

Kevin,

One the people I learned to hew from is in Maine. Here's his website:
http://www.mudpond.net/
He's a great guy, good teacher, and his book is good as well. He does lessons, and he's also at the common ground fair. I met him at a Guild event, and having hewed only in the summer now, I don't recommend it. At all.

Brad


Posted By: Kevin M

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/27/07 12:29 AM

Hello Brad,

Thanks for the reference! I will definitely have to look into his book.

So, you don't recommend hewing at all? What difficulties in particular have you experienced or what haven't you liked about it? I notice that you are in Mass, where did you get your tools for hewing?

Kevin M.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/27/07 01:29 AM

Hi Kevin:

Mark gave you some very good information concerning the difference between the two types of timber surfaces.
The hewn surface is definitely alot more challenging to work with, and it will separate the men from the boys.

Having taught traditional timberframing courses using hewn material that as a group we prepared as part of the course, I have seen good tradesmen walk away from the layout work on the rough surfaces, saying that it took too much concentration.

To me I enjoy working with the hewn timbers, and in nearly every case the students would tell me that each time they now look at an old barn, home, or outbuilding that was created in years gone by, how they appreciate the work that must have went into its construction.

and Brad I also am really interested in your comment about not recommending hewing, especially when you took the time to attend a course and learn the skill. Could you broaden out your comment alittle I am sure for those that are viewing this thread.

thanks to everyone for joining in

NH

Posted By: mo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/27/07 02:54 AM

"The hewn surface is definitely alot more challenging to work with, and it will separate the men from the boys."

With all due respect, I think that finding the purlin clip angle for a 8/12 pitch meeting a 12/12 pitch at a hip with 105 degree plates in plan separates.......

by the way I like hewn timbers, very rustic. How long does it take to hew an 8x8x10 timber (if you are efficient and precise) assuming that the diameter of the log is just big enough to accommodate the 8x8?
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/07 12:29 AM

hmmmm
one hour or less in pine, two hours or more in oak.
provided i've had my wheaties, of course.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/07 12:46 AM

Hi Mo and others:

I am sure Mo that you are referring to using sawn surface timbers, try to do the same complicated layout using rough hewn surfaces, I am sure that there will be heard some muttering under their breath.

\NH
Posted By: jim haslip

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/07 12:51 AM

Quote:
provided i've had my wheaties, of course.


or Brador??
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/07 03:24 AM


I actually prefer oatmeal porridge.
hewing is a lot of fun for me. particularily hewing a long straight log in the forest where the tree falls.
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/07 04:13 AM


thought i should put a pic in for the adze as well
(-:
Posted By: timberwrestler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/07 04:15 PM

I meant I don't recommend hewing in the summer. It's hot.

And for axes, I've used the new Gransfors axes, and several antique axes. I much prefer the finish of a single bevel, but I'm still looking for my perfect axe (certainly not as big as NH's). There are some pretty good antique stores in Maine.

I've also veneer hewed (I call it that) a lot of timbers. I cut the square rule joinery first, then skimmed about 1/8" off with a broad axe. Still sucks real bad in the summer with no shade.
Posted By: Bruce Chrustie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/07 06:54 PM

Yo TW....

I started out with a gransfors and felt it a bit light weight for the butt end of logs so I emailed them and they forged a custom axe for me!

It looks awesome and is heavier, bigger face, etc and I have yet to try it out!

I do have some nice pine logs in the yard at the moment but no project needing a hewn log.
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/07 10:27 PM

Bruce,

you have got to post some photos of the custom Gransfors!

If you would like me to, you can email them to me and I'll put them up.

I love my gransfors, but I wish it had about another pound to it.

gabel
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/07 12:46 AM

Hi Mo and others:

"time it takes to hew an 8" by 8" timber from scratch"

It would take me longer to hand hew the above log than what Mark says he can do it in, but then he might be using a chain saw to cut vertically to the line prior to hewing, that I don't know.

For me using the scoring axe to rough score the log prior to hewing will take more time, also I make two passes on each side a rough hewing pass to within 3/4" of the line, and then the finishing pass scoring at 3" to 4" intervals, then removing the scored material right down to the line. Done properly it will leave a surface that shows the bite of the axe at the closer intervals, and once in a while you might see the rough scoring mark at a wider intervals. A good hewer will produce a surface with very few of the scoring marks visible, and to produce an authentic hewn surface you have to follow each step faithfully without skipping any of the above steps. I estimate it would take me 2 hours or about 30 minutes per side to produce an 8" by 8" timber.

I realize that many of you will likely turn to the chainsaw to help speed up the process, or "veneer" skim a sawn surface as suggested above but it is unlikely that you will produce the kind of surface that passes a close inspection by a knowledgeable person. If you are satisfied so be it it is your call, but in closing I will only say that you should at least know the feeling of having completely produced a surface using the basic tools available at that time, that way you can compare the differences in the finishes of the two produced surfaces, using different methods.

Also there is something about a hewn timber that makes it unique, the variations in squareness, the slightly larger or smaller measurements all along its length, and sometimes slight windings,a few axe marks here and there, little chunks of wood that were dislodged by the strike of the axe(s), these are the things that make a hewn timber beautiful to look at and contain your signature.

Thanks for all your great comments, and those beautiful pictures of your axe collection Mark, thanks for putting them on!!

NH
Posted By: Bruce Chrustie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/07 02:15 AM

Gabel,

See if I can post this smile It is a smaller image than what would show much detail but you get an idea of the size compared to a standard broadaxe from them.

I can try and find you a high res pic over the weekend if needed.

And yes....I ordered two! One for Timberframin' Norm who lives locally and teaches me alot smile



I just found the original pic they emailed me.....it was 2080 SEK per axe, they are 5 lb heads and 9" face! Or about $320 USD now.
Posted By: Bruce Chrustie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/07 02:20 AM

NH:

I spent a year 'training' getting into top notch (parden the pun) shape when I knew I was going to hew the second story logs for my house.

I could hew 24' logs both sides of pine with an 18" butt in 2 hours but that included scoring with a chainsaw.

The limiting factor of hewing is not strength, sharp tools take care of that, but cardio capacity!

I could hew 2.5 logs a day before I could not lift my hands again and then proceeded to eat everything I could find to replenish lost energy.
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/07 02:31 AM

on hewing time:
my reply was based on the phrase
" the diameter of the log is just big enough to accommodate the 8x8? "
and based on using only a scoring axe and a broadaxe.
(-:
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/07 07:12 AM

Hi Bruce,

I am interested in your custom hewing axe order with Gransfors and would like to get one of these axes myself.

Can you provide us with a contact name and email for Gransfors plus also maybe an order reference or model number so that we can place orders for the identical custom made axe.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Bruce Chrustie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/07 12:34 PM

Ken,

Most certainly!

Anna-Karin@gransfors.com was my contact and here is what I wrote: "I have a model 1900 axe, right handled and with standard scissor sharpening. Would you be able to forge a similar axe to that with a 9" face and 2 lbs heavier head with a 2" longer handle?"

As you know the fine folks at gransfors initial their work so I can see who the blacksmith was who made them. Maybe Anna-Karin will remember my order but this was all I sent them and you see what they sent me back!

B.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/07 03:13 PM

Hi Bruce,

My enquiry is now with them and I will post a note here when they advise me the price and delivery to ship to England.

Thank you for that advice and happy hewing !

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: timber brained

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/01/07 09:17 PM

This is my kind of thread. I am addicted to hewing and the axe in general is my favorite tool to use. I try to stay safe and traditional and hew the log low to the ground but sometimes I feel the need to change my body position and the subsequent stress by hewing at hip level with a shorter handled, lighter broad axe. I also prefer single bevel as it is like a large chisel. I am with NH as I like to make a score with a heavy standard axe , then a rough hew to about 3/4" of the score line and finish with a more accurate hew to the line. NH is totally correct about the little character "defects" that make a timber unique and beautiful. I am much slower than you guys as I do it for fun and spend a lot of time making little adjustments as I go along based on the shape of the log, at the same time I do try to get a log at least rough hewed on all four sides in the same day, which brings me to a question of mine, but I will start a new post as it is more specific and this thread is already quite lengthy. tb
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/01/07 11:45 PM

Hello Hewers;

I have yet to see edge marks left on a historic hewn timber which look like it was made by an adz. All of the marks I have looked at have an arc to the swing, as shown by the nicks in the blade, and if the blade did not exit the cut you can see that the cutting edge is rarely perpindicular to direction of the swing. Below is a photo of an ax mark from about 150 years ago which shows what I am saying.
http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o223/jimderby/IMG_3188.jpg

My question is were adzs ever used to dress timbers?

Another photo I will include is one with two axs laid on two collar beams from the same carrage house in the position the marks show that the axs stopped during hewing. (the third beam in the photo is under the handles to keep the axs in position).

http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o223/jimderby/IMG_3179.jpg

Am I correct to think that one beam was hewn close to the ground and the other was elevated?

Thanks
Jim

Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/02/07 03:36 PM

Jim,

As to your second question, you can get both of those angles to your stop marks if you are hewing somewhere around knee height.

Much higher or lower and it's one or the other.

And I've never seen adzed timber either, so I would be interested to hear and see conclusive evidence of it.

cheers,

gabel
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/06/07 01:05 AM

Hi everyone on this slant to the hewing topic,

Well I personally have seen many examples of adze finished timbers, especially those that were exposed on the ceilings of homes. These timbers are usually very smooth, with an undulating surface texture, and in many cases were beaded on the lower 2 corners with a hand plane.

I have studied your photos closely, and I personally came to the conclusion that what you think are axe marks are really overlapping adzing marks. This type of finish can be the product of using the adze with a slight tip to the blade, and working at an angle to the surface.

Also what you believe are marks on the edge of the axe blade are really the divisions between the overlapping marks of the adze.

Now this is just my observations, and I respect your comments, it would be nice to hear from other knowledgeable professionals who might have an opinion in this area of expertise.

It is just this type of observations that are very important in historic restoration and reconstruction, if you are trying to do exact reproduction of surfaces.

NH


Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/06/07 07:09 AM

Hi Northern Hewer,

You may well be correct in your observations.

A few years back during building the TFG pavillion at Keene I recall watching Paul Russell using an adze to remove the excess above and below the the faces of a tenon and he even finished the tenon faces with the same tool. The part being worked on was placed on the ground and held down by the foot. During the examination of any old buildings this practice would not immediately be obvious since the tenon faces are concealed from view.

If I were applying a chamfer to the lower edges of a floor joist I would more likley use a hand axe to make discrete cuts and then use a draw knife to clean between the cuts down to the required profile. The stops at either end would be done using a chisel.

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/11/07 01:48 AM

Hi Ken
It is always nice to hear from you, and I enjoy your input as I suspect others also do.

I also have created traditional chamfered corners on vertical exposed posts, and I in turn did the end cuts which were not a 45% but rather a rounded fancy ending to the chamfered edge, this I created with a small draw knife. I used the draw knife pretty well to do the whole operation.

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/11/07 02:03 AM


To everyone on this thread:

Just to pursue the adzing topic a bit more. I have had access to many examples of adzed finished surfaces that were hand hewn, the reason for the special finish on the surfaces seemed to be linked with the special position of the timbers in the structures, and the tremendous amount of work put into their fabrication.

The 2 examples that come to my mind are the anchor beams in the Dutch Barns at UCV which are 14" by 24" by 30feet, and the large 20" sq. by 30 foot beams spanning above the wooden guides supporting the upper end of 1846 Muley vertical saw blade also at UCV. In both these cases the beams were the only ones nicely adzed and finished in the individual timberframes.

Other than that the exposed undersides of the second storey floor joists usually small rectangular timber would be adzed and then hand planed and beaded on the lower corners.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/11/07 02:12 AM

To go along with this thread and one that I have had to deal with in the past was the actual hewing of large diameter timbers.

The large timbers that I refer to in the forgoing posts were very large round timbers, I suspect the logs that they were produced from would have to have been somewhere between 40 and 50 inches in diameter to square out perfectly square the final timbers required.

these timbers would be placed on a work bed of 6" square to begin the process of squaring and if I were to stand there and look at these huge logs their tops would have been close to level with my eyes.

I ask for comment now on how you would proceed if you were given the task of hewing these timbers, and the only tools that you had to use were historic tools of that time.

NH
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/11/07 03:21 AM

I would split(rive) as much material as possible, in the longest lengths possible. To do this I would score in maybe ten feet from the base and see how well the sides would split off from the timber....
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/12/07 01:44 AM

Hi Mark:





Thanks for responding with your solution, I suspect for the first step in the hewing process of these large logs.

Splitting large sections off the outside circumference of the logs, in my books sounds like a reasonable way to move forward quickly.

I know in one barn that I examined that had a swing beam, (which for those that are not familiar with the term is a very large beam that spans one side of a barn floor, and is usually 9 or 10 inches square on the ends but at the centre is maybe 9" or 10" by 24" in height), now this barn had very large floor planks that were split out on one side, and the upper sides were flattened and smoothed off with an adze. These could very well have came off the large timber that was procured for the swing beam. These planks were very thick and uneven in thickness along their lengths, and were over 3o" in width. I could also be wrong though in my assumption, and these planks could have been split specially for the flooring sequence of the construction of this very early barn. One thing that I am basing this assumption on is that the length of the planks were 10 feet shorter than the swing beam.

Now I ask the question Mark, say that this large log was procured for you and you only had one log no spares, would you feel confident enough to continue on with your action plan? and if so what type of tools would be needed and used, given that you only had the historic variety of that period.

Mark thanks again for your input and your solution as it unfolds.


I ask other knowledgeable people on this thread to jump in with their solution given that they were chosen to head up the construction of one of these buildings, and were also given the raw material, manpower and capital to prepare this structure in a historic correct fashion, (no cheating) complete with these large timbers for their respective places in the timberframes.


Nh

Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/12/07 01:21 PM

Sure, riving can be controlled, it doesn't have to be a big pop. Especially in pine, which is probably the species. The split needs to be directed from the top to the bottom of the tree. In other words, score in 8 or 10 feet from the bottom and begin the split here, not at the bottom. Start with a couple of steel wedges and a nice long strong froe or flat iron bar of some kind. If there is lots of wood to come off, make multiple splits, or at least two splits so that you can see how the grain is going to run before you get close to your timber. Once the split is begun with iron wedges, have some wooden ones on hand and leapfrog the wedges along the split. If the split gets moving in the wrong direction, it's time to bring out the scoring axe and stop the rive by scoring in to the problem spot and restarting the split a bit further from the timber.
Are you actually doing this at UCV? I might be tempted to make a trip down and volunteer some help. Would be fun to chop a big one.....
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/13/07 01:28 AM

That is a great response Mark, I sure enjoyed your plan, and given the opportunity to lead a group I am sure that it would be a great display and one that many would enjoy immensely.

I have been retired now for a few years, but when I was active in my restoration and reconstruction role at UCV I took on many challenging projects over the years that necessitated a great deal of research and I might add head scratching. Not everything dealing with historic restoration is straight forward, solutions are found not only using research but I often called on other professionals in the field who might have knowledge or who could offer help.

I never handled or worked with logs larger than 36" in diameter so this exercise in talking about hewing logs larger than that I hope is helpful to those coming behind me.

One thing that I have found out though is that there is not much help out there when the going gets rough, Many for instance can say that they have hewn, but as you increase thesize and length of the logs then that is where the helpful information starts to dwindle.

My group at UCV put together many handson demonstrations and reconstructions, and I believe the most enjoyable ones were when we were hewing on the large 45' hemlocks and pine that ended up squaring 12" full length. Even the Amish folks would come with their families to watch, many saying that the tradition of hewing was disappearing gradually in their area.

Anyway thanks again for your reply, and I will leave you with one question:

Do you think that it would be possible to split off large planks in the order of 24 feet, and about 6" in thickness?

Maybe others could join in this chat as well

NH
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/14/07 02:45 AM

Hi NH

I have no experience riving anything longer than four feet long or ten inches diameter. Now I am curious about large riving.

Speaking of riving, I am disassembling a federal period cape and the studs used for the second floor walls were two inch planks split to 4" to 6" widths, who cares if the sides are uneven.

Back to the adzing questions. How do you stand to adz diagonally across a beam? I have never seen a skewed adz, is there such a thing? I still do not understand how to consistantly swing an adz with a sideways arc.

I look forward to visiting UCV sometime!

Thanks;
Jim

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/14/07 06:33 PM

Hi Jim

Thanks for jumping in with your remarks about now being interesting in riving large planks or pieces of lumber.
Maybe we can come up with some responses that will fill that need.

It is very hard to explain how adzing is done it is alot easier to show the technique at least for me. It is also a very dangerous job, (adzing) when tried by someone that has no prior experience. One of the reasons is that you are working in between your feet. I do have some good footage of adzing that I put together for a lad out in Utah a while back and Personally I think that to see is worth a thousand words.

It was neet that you ran across the rough studs manufactured from rived material, those old timers were able to do alot of things with rough material weren't they!, and they didn't need a architect or an engineer to lead them along, just common sense and the need, and help from those gone before them.

NH



Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/16/07 02:07 AM





At this time I would like to suggest my approach to riving or splitting large planks from the sides of a large tree like that above, destined to become a squared hewn timber.

I would roll this log up on good stout bed pieces at least 4-- 6"by6"'s placed about 8 feet apart, making sure that they are level, and parallel to one another.

After layout of the timber on the ends of the log, I would extend the lines to the top and after removing some bark I would snap a chalk line full length on both sides. I then would take the hewing axe and flatten as much of a surface as possible without scoring on both outside faces. After this was completed I would measure in at least 6" on both sides, and snap another line this would be the splitting line. Like Ken above I would work along this line with steel and wood oak wedges to open up a preliminary riving line.

I would then turn the log over and repeat the process on the under side. If you place the wedges carefully you should be able to turn the log easily, but the bed pieces need to be long enough.

Carful observation of the splitting lines would have to be part of the process.

Using consistently wider wedges should eventually split off the a large plank on both sides.

This completed smaller planks then could be rived on the other 2 sides.

traditional hewing would finish out the surfaces, in the end producing some lovely wide heavy planks, some narrower ones, and 1 lovely hand hewn timber.

I would welcome and invite comments on my suggestion

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/17/07 09:30 PM

Hi everyone on this thread:

The suggestions above that refer to spliting large planks for various needs in the early times was necessitated by the need for flooring in barns and other areas that required stout carrying capabilities. These large planks can be seen as surviving examples and no doubt were split out at that time.

One idea that I do have pertaining to the splitting of large planks was that the tree was split right through the centre giving you (2) halves to work with, and then quartered or split in different ways, much as the splitting of rails for fencing. this would result inno hewn timber, and the tree in question would be for splitting only. Splitting would be carried out with smaller dimension timber, and would no doubt be easier to work with.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/19/07 01:06 AM

To get back to my original subject of historic or traditional hewing, many times over the last few years of chatting with various individuals, it seems that many admantly lay claim to the doctrin of hewing timber in an elevated position, or higher up than bed pieces on the ground.

I would like to pursue this line of thought for the next little while. I personally was taught to hew at or near ground level, and over the years I never was challenged by anyone that came by where I was working, and many thousands did.

As the years rolled by I was compelled to do extensive research on everything that I did, and proper hewing technique fell into this category. Many of the old texts that I had access to, described and in many cases were accompanied by descriptive plates on groups as they worked at their trades. From these various sources I could set up displays in woodworking as close to being historically accurate as I could make them.

Some of the older texts were of British origin,and \or of very early American settlement. I was portraying 1860, and I realize that techniques change in relation to the year, and the nationality of the peoples who arrived in waves of immigration from various countries. these founding people influenced these changes damatically but they in turn would adapt new ideas quickly.

Does anyone have portraits, or other knowledge of the techniques of historic hewing when it comes to the height that was used if not in this country then in other countries?. I believe that this one topic would be very interesting to those that wish to pursue hewing in their lives for whatever purpose.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/21/07 02:33 AM

Well I guess it is time to shut down this thread for now thanks to everyone that joined in and chatted, and I hope that some good ideas were put forward to help those that dropped by silently for alook

Happy hewing

NH
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/29/07 01:48 AM


NH –

I’d been meaning to plug into your thread for some while now, and hope you don’t mind my doing so, despite your having officially called it done.

This particular call for action caught my eye in a quick fly by, when you posted it and I wanted to speak to it despite the delay.

I know of a few historic images of folks hewing high, both are Continental, one medieval, one early Twentieth Century. The latter is a photo of two men engaged in the two man scoring technique I often use and which I believe I’d alluded to in an earlier hewing thread, it can be found in - The Craft of Log Building - A Handbook of Craftsmanship in Wood - by Hermann Phelps – The former is an image represented in a stained glass window in Chartres Cathredral, it also shows two men hewing, one on either side of the same waist high log. I do have a post card of this panel stowed somewhere too safe to find.

I hew high, and couldn’t do otherwise if I wanted to, my back would object too loudly to ignore. I suspect, then as now, pain and the need to avoid it, would have driven some people to do the same, perhaps even counter to what were considered the norms to their locale.

I also hew left handed, though with the ax on my left, what most consider rightie, though in my case my left hand is forward. My earliest hewing experiences were solo self teaching exercises, like hewing high, I simply did what felt natural. In everything I do my workpiece is on my left, adjacent to my dominant hand. I also suspect doing what felt natural was as common in the past. As supposed left handed axes are found in numbers far greater than the percentage of the population which is lefthanded, this is especially evident in axes with offset polls such as Goosewings.

Anyway, thanks for the thread, and for the opportunity to pipe in.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/29/07 03:21 AM

Hi Will

Thanks for dropping by, and all that great information.

I am a thorough believer in good research and especially photos, and old drawings, wherever you find them. As I stated before I had to be able to prove the authenticity of every move and be able to back it up with historical materials both to my superiors, and the general public when they stopped by my site. I also was a good listener like the "wise old owl in the tree", and one can learn a great deal if one wants to. I for one have enjoyed the feedback and comments since this thread started, I am sure many more have too!.

I do believe that to arrive at the same point, one can take many different roads, and hewing timber is just one of those points.

People did things in many different ways, sometimes from necessity, but like in your case your back made you hew in an elevated position, as well you hewed in a fashion that you felt at ease with and that seemed to come naturally--good for you!!

At this time I welcome more visits and questions since things seem to be moving ahead once again on this thread.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/01/07 01:57 AM

Hi everyone once again:

this question is related to the style of broadaxes that seemed to be used in various areas.

Through my career I used my family heriloom axe which was referred to as a "North American" style broadaxe. this term as I see it is one that can be hung from both sides of the head depending on whether you are right or left handed, and that is what my research seemed to show up in books,papers and photos that I have looked at or found at the research facilities at my disposal.

Our museum's collection at UCV also backs up this research, but I am also aware that other types were used but none seemed to be present when our collection was put together in the 1950's. What I am asking here is there anyone out there that has had access to any information on just how wide spread the use of earlier styles of hewing axes was in the earlier years of colonization (the colonies) and just when they seemed to disappear and for what reason?.

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/02/07 01:32 AM

Hi again:

Just to add a few more remarks I was wondering if any of the visitors to this thread who may have visited any of the many museums especially in the New York State or adjacent states had noticed unusual axe styles in their collections?

Thanks for dropping by and hoping to get some feed back for everyones benefit,

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/30/07 01:10 AM

Hi everyone again:

This is a question that I see coming up once in a while, and that is sharpening your broadaxe if it is just wood dull or preparing the damaged edge of on that for one reason or another has become nicked.

Lets hear some of your solutions

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/08 02:03 AM

Hello everyone on this thread:

I was hoping to get more response to the above queries, but manbe the topic is buried too far, but then maybe not I am going to move it forward once again in the main stream to see if anyone has any additional comments.

Many have asked me about tightening up a loose handle I personally use very thin hardwood wedges and gently insurt them in the eye from the outside end. Alittle bit of glue will hold them tight in place.

this will eventually weaken the handle, and it will be necessary to rehang the axe head with a new handle. I have a very good dvd out that explains how to hand carve a new offset handle, and explain what kind of wood to use and where to get it.

Hot dry weather will contribute to the shrinkage of the wood in the head and the problem will intensify during these periods.
Once in a while dipping the head in water for a few minutes will retighten up things , but is only a stop gap measure.

I am open to other comments, and maybe alittle discussion on handles in general

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/08 11:12 AM

How about soaking the head in a can of oil, the wood absorbs the oil and doesn't evaporate. I have used a spruce root for a off set handle before, the grain all running in the proper direction, no glue, clamping, forms etc. It has serviced well. Tim
Posted By: timber brained

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/08 07:59 PM

I have an old broad axe that I picked up on ebay that turns out to not be useable. If looking straight into the blade edge it has a large bow directly in the center of it. I dont know why it is like this but it definitely makes it not a good working axe. It should be flat like a chisel edge , but it is more like a gouge shape as it is now.. Anyone know why this would happen and if there is a way to correct it. I thought about trying to even it out but this would be way too much material to work off. Perhaps it is just one to hang on the wall? tb
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/08 09:20 PM

Actually, TB, the axe should not be flat like a chisel. Looking directly into the cutting edge, it should have a slight belly of 1/8th or so, like a gouge.

In my experience, there's no way to hew cleanly with a perfectly straight edge -- the corners dig no matter what you do.

I've also seen evidence of this in old frames. If you look closely at old hand hewn timbers, you can see that the axes were only cutting a swath a few inches wide with each stroke -- not the full length of the cutting edge.

gabel
Posted By: timber brained

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/08 09:42 PM

That is really interesting to know Gabel. I always thought of the broad axe as a large chisel. This might explain why I have had difficulty with traditional technique. I have had great results straddling the log and riving back with hatchet but I have not been able to hew very well with the traditional technique. Why would the face be so wide if they were only cutting with a few inches of the cutting edge? For weight? If for weight why not just put the weight more towards the poll and have the weight vertically on top of the cutting face? many questions? too bad it is a forgotton craft, but then that might be a reason I am so drawn to it. tb
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/08 01:54 AM

Hi TB and others

thanks for once again for adding to the reference material

TB: The wide cutting edge is very necessary in order to hew and cut away wide chunks of material.

Also remember that the wide axe's weight adds to the momentum of the stroke, and will increase the work accomplished, something like a fly wheel on a motor.

The curvature of the blade doesn't mean that you only use the centre part of the blade, this is only noticeable on the final pass along the log's face, and it is at this time that you really need that curvature to do a good job and leave a nice texture to the surface.

As you are hewing, the wide cutting edge is being used to its fullest, for instance if you rough score 12" apart you can clean away easily the 12" width, and you really move along.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/08 01:59 AM

Hi Tim:

Nice post about the oil treatment, I have had no experience using oil, it would be nice to hear from anyone that might have used this process though.

The other comment about using a spruce root is a novel idea, one that I have never heard of before, but then you are never too old to learn!!
It certainly would create a tough handle, and no doubt as you say would last well

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/08 10:34 AM

I have tried the bigger axes and find them to much to handle, I prefer a 7" blade, single bevel, with a off set handle. I converted it from a "kent" style head with a flat blade I put a curve in it, a compound curve. It had a tapered screw wedge that I reused. NH have you seen one of those before? Its the only one I have seen and works great, just a slotted screwdriver to remove the screw/wedge. Tim
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/08 01:29 PM

timbeal,

can you post a picture of your axe? In fact, I think we should all post pictures of our axes.

I'm with you timbeal on the big axes -- I use a Gransfors right-handed axe, but it's a little light. I am always on the lookout for an axe that might become my #1.

gabel
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/08 10:01 PM

I will try, any tips on posting a picture, and make it simple. I will look around and see if it makes sense. Computers are not my thing. Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/20/08 01:53 AM

Hi Timbeal

Can't say that I have, but one can always learn in this world.
My old dad always said that there was always more ways than one to fix any problem, and yours sounds like a good one in this modern world.

I unfortunately had to stick with historic solutions throughout my working life, and I enjoy hearing about modern solutions that others might pick up on.

Thanks again for taking part in this thread, and offering one of your solutions.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/21/08 01:34 AM

Gabel and Timbel

I have a good view of one of my family hewing axe on the "TOOLS FOR SALE", You will have to scroll back a month or two in the archives of that thread

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/21/08 01:47 PM

NH, that is a nice ax, curious if you still have it. I think you should keep it, being a family heirloom and all. I have a few tools my grand father used in boat building here on the coast of Maine. There were many more that were lost after he passed on, and it would of been nice to have access to them now. I think Mo posted a process for pictures I might try, but it is a stretch, for me. Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/08 01:43 AM

thanks timbeal for the kind words,

I have reconsidered selling and took the advice of many of you guys, although I know that someday when I am not here it will no doubt move along, but until then here it stays!!!

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/02/08 01:41 AM

This is alittle off subject but during my working career, one of my jobs was to maintain an 1857 water powered muley sawmill, and its equipment.

One of the high maintenance items that needed continuous attention was a large wooden mallet called the "commander". It was used to tap in the the large wrought iron dogs that secured the ends of the logs during sawing.

What I am getting at is that during my years there I used every conceivable type of wood to manufacture the wooden heads from, they in turn were banded with iron rings to keep the ends from splitting,

Nothing ever seemed to work well or last long eventhough I enlisted the blacksmith to shrink on the rings, eventually the rings would work loose and fall away from the ends, and if the heads had developed a split the whole thing would fall apart.

The old photographs never seemed to show much detail to work from, I am asking now for you guys\gals out there given this task what would you do to try and overcome this problem?

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/02/08 02:36 PM

I've been making commander heads since 2000, and there doesn't seem to be any solution other than keeping a stack of timber drop offs on hand to make more. And taking several extra heads ready for use to a raising.
My commander heads have been made out of eastern white pine, spruce, and hemlock. Some have split more than others.
I took one set of commanders to at guild raising where they told me that they were glad to see me as they had split and broken four commanders the day before I got there assembling the bents.
My job that day was to work with Dave Carlon and his crew adjusting and plumbing the post of this barn. Each post was 12"x12"x20' and they had to be moved to the correct distance from the outside gable was as well as the correct distance from the side wall.
I swung that commander all day long moving 4 post per bent in a seven bent barn. And never broke the head on it.
The very next weekend I took that same commander to a well know timber framing school to be used to raise the class frame and a student broke the head of the handle with the first three swings.
I believe it was due to operator error. He didn't understand that the end face of the commander has to strike the object timber flat. I think he hit it on a corner of the head.
I make my commander handles out of red oak, and have had the same handle for 8 years......
I have never suggested that anyone use a ring as I feel it will eventually fall off during use and that it could damage the timbers being assembled during a raising.... But that's just my opinion about rings....

Jim Rogers
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/05/08 01:12 AM

Thanks Jim:

That is very interesting, and it is nice to know that others are experiencing the similar problem that I seemed to experienced in the muley mill.

I also kept spare commander heads ready to be employed as the need arose.

The one wood that I had the best luck with was wild apple wood that was well dried and cured, and that had grown in a thicket where it had to fight for its life.

The old timers told me that Rock elm was a favorite if it could be had. Around here the specae disappeared with the dutch elm disease about 40 years ago.

anyway thanks for the info maybe someone will make use of our experiences,

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/11/08 12:59 AM

Hi to those on this thread:

Once again just alittle off topic but a very interesting question I believe, and one that i would like help with:

I have a well seasoned red oak timber 12" square that I would like to cut up in 1.25" boards, without any more bowing than can possibly be tolerated. I would like to not cut boards any less than 4" in width due to the project at hand.

I do not profess to be an expert in this regard, but I know that there is many out there that are.

what would a proper proceedure of cutting be to work around any internal stresses in this regard?

thanks in advance


NH

What
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/11/08 10:54 AM

I guess sawing is a form of hewing. Stud mills take small trees and put them through a 4 sided chipper head, than that cant goes through a gangsaw and out comes 3 or so 2x4's. As for the 12x oak, does it have some large checks, if so you will have to saw around those. Just saw it through and through to yield 12"x5/4 boards, look at your grade and resaw those on a table saw as needed. Here is another gamble, place it on the sawmill with one corner down on the track, in a diamond shape, saw a 4"ish triangle off the top, maybe 5", save it to resaw later. Flip the cant 180 degrees, saw that through and through to yield wider 1/4 sawn stock. Tim
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/11/08 11:17 PM

To relieve stress equally saw one board off of one side and then flip 180° and saw one board, then flip and repeat.....
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/12/08 02:28 AM

Thanks for jumping in both of you guys!!

Jim That is what I would expect your advice would be but I needed to hear it from an expert in the field.
I expect then as you saw it down in size when it reaches the heart area of the log then that part would be put to some other good use.

Is quarter sawing similar as far as getting the best out of the log?

The old Muley mill that I am familiar with could produce generally just straight sawn lumber, and then you would sort through the sawn boards for the better quality ones, and then cut out areas from them that held the good quality material.
Good logs without knots (usually the butt logs) we would saw for the cabinet maker,without squaring, in this way we would come up with some pretty nice wide boards that contained more of the outer quality lumber which would have been lost in the squaring process, these boards then would be stored and air dried for 2 to 3 years under cover.

I realize that with the modern sawn rigs flipping the logs during the sawing process is not a big problem, just a pain in the neck.

I was wondering Jim though about quartering the log, and then sawing the quarters, is there any advantage in doing this extra work quality wise?

Also what about Timbeals solution of diamond cutting, I never heard of it before, would you like to comment on it

thanks again I am sure from everyone looking in

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/12/08 03:21 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
Is quarter sawing similar as far as getting the best out of the log?


Quarter sawing is a method to produce lumber that has the annual rings going from face to face instead of from edge to edge. Quarter sawn wood is more stable than flat sawn.

Quote:
Good logs without knots (usually the butt logs) we would saw for the cabinet maker,without squaring, in this way we would come up with some pretty nice wide boards that contained more of the outer quality lumber which would have been lost in the squaring process, these boards then would be stored and air dried for 2 to 3 years under cover.

Sawing a log with the blade traveling parallel to the outer surface of the log is called grade sawing. You would saw the best face of a log first then rotate to the next best face, and saw that until the face goes bad. Then rotate again to the next best face and finish on the last face, (as there are usually four faces to a log). The piece left over in the middle of the log maybe wedge shaped, if so then it would be cut rectangular. And this is a very low grade piece of lumber that would be used as a railroad tie or some other type of blocking.

Quote:
I was wondering Jim though about quartering the log, and then sawing the quarters, is there any advantage in doing this extra work quality wise?

This is one method of quarter sawing for achieving high quality quarter sawn lumber. And depending on the size of the log when you start easier to handle, if large.

Quote:
Also what about Timbeals solution of diamond cutting, I never heard of it before, would you like to comment on it?

I've heard of it before, but I don't know if I'd go that way. It really depends on the target lumber and the stock you have to work with.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/08 12:53 AM

Hi everyone:Thanks Jim for the information, I know that sawing logs properly is an art, and comes with many years of standing behind the saw and being the one making the decisions.when I was a teen ager I took a load of basswood logs to the local mill.  These logs were if I remember straight 2 to 3 feet in diameter, but had large holes in their centres.  I really didn't know what the sawyer could do with them but I was amazed at that time to see how he cut around  the outside of the logs, and threw the hole out the window.  I took home a nice wagon load of beautiful boards and planks, that he was able to saw from them, I never forgot that day.

Is quarter sawing worth the effort if you have a really nice log, and are paying to have the sawing done by the hour? From my calculations you would not obtain many boards of any width, but rather narrower boards of good quality. There would though be no way to avoid some poorer quality boards in the process, am I not right?

thanks again

NH 
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/08 11:23 AM

The reason for the diamond was only to gain a wider quarter sawn board. Your log was already squared up. I don't do a lot of grade sawing, mostly timber and long stock at that. The longest to date is 53', lots in the 40's. You can achive the same results as the diamond cut by cutting through and through with live edges, getting the widest flitches possible than resaw those to the grade you desire. Jims method of flipping would be a good idea as will, or else you will end up with a thick-thin board at the end, this is mostly true in your hardwoods not so much with pine. There was a local cabinet maker here who had lots of 2"-4" hardwood stock on hand, whenever he moved he took it with him. He passed on before he could use it all. Tim
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/08 02:10 PM

Quarter sawn is needed most if you are gluing up a larger suface, and do not want too much seasonal movement. Otherwise, I would just mill the timber plainsawn and select the best pieces.
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/08 07:30 PM

Hi All-

I'm realatively new to timberframing (I have one raising under my belt but little joinery work) but I've spent a lot of time with axes as a lumberjack competitor.

I'm looking to get my first broadaxe and I have a pretty basic question. I swing an axe right handed with my left hand at the butt of the handle.

I've seen guys on the log holding the axe the way I do with a left bent handle and I've seen guys standing on the ground with a right bent handle. Any advice would be appreciated before I make the investment.

Thanks-

-Kevin
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/14/08 10:26 AM

Find some place where you can try some different types and set ups. Most folks have thier prefered method, it's something one must just do. Tim
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/14/08 01:11 PM

I agree with Tim, try to find someone with some axes and wood.(you're welcome to try mine...) I've gone through the process of setting up a tool before and did not like the result in the end, then had to start over. If you can find something that feels good, at least you have something to start with that you can work with.
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/14/08 02:16 PM

Thanks Tim- It does seem like people have a few different takes on getting the job done. In the competitions I'm in I have to cut footholds to stand on for the underhand chop. I end up making a small scoring V on the top of the block with my axe and then slab the piece off. I've seen some pictures of people working down the the top of a log in a similar fashion. In that case I would want the log on my right, up off the ground a bit (to save my back) and use a left bent broad axe?
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/14/08 02:49 PM

Hey Mark-

Thanks for the input, you guys have been very helpful. If you're serious about letting my try some gear, I'd love to. Are you going to the TTRAG conference? I'm waiting to hear about a job for that weekend but if it falls through I'd like to go. It's kind of a catch-22. I need the money from the job to fund the barn project but I need the knowledge from the conference to work on the barn project.

I'll have to post some pictures of some of my axes. They aren't anything you guys would find useful, but they are pretty cool pieces of craftsmanship.
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/14/08 04:40 PM

no, I'm not going to the conference. please post some pics of your axes! I'll show you mine if you show me yours.....
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/14/08 11:41 PM

Mark, I like the straight handles. The last one I made broke before I had chance to use it, I was just tapping the head on. It had a curved handle the grain was all wrong, my bad. A straighter handle and rived next. As for TTRAG, go. It only comes once a year, work is every day. See you all there. Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 02:24 AM

Hi Kevin and everyone --back to my favorite topic!

Kevin--if you grasp (any) axe with your right hand the closest to the head of the axe, then it is official that you are right handed. You will feel comfortable using a Broadaxe with its handle gently swinging in towards your body, (this swing is away from the cutting edge or the flat of the axe.), also the log will be on your left hand side as you work along.

If in the above senario your left hand is the closest to the axe head then you are a left handed chopper, and everything is in reverse, for starters you will be hanging the handle from the opposite side of the head of the axe, but will swing out away from the flat of the blade. the log will always be on your right hand side as you work along.

The above instructions are for broadaxes that have their heads placed in the centre of the blades. The European heads generally would have to be either right or left handed models, so you would have to select one that suits you as an individual.

Some people can chop right or left handed and feel quite comfortable. My grandfather Michael who worked extensively in the lumber camps, could chop right or left handed but not many could.

Thanks for bringing this topic up it seems that from time to time it needs to be reviewed, and as noted above it may take a few tries before you actually have a properly curved handle that feels like it will be a keeper.

I personally like the feel of the antique handles for the chooping axes rather than just a straight handle. To me the swing in the body of the axe handle and the sharp bend at the end gives you more control, and you can place the cutting edge of the axe head to the exact angle of the cut, taking your height into account.

The only case of a straight handle being proper in my books is for a double bitted axe head, where you can flip it over and work with both cutting edges. These were used extensively in the lumber camps to help keep the choppers working steadier between sharpenings.

NH
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 02:30 AM

Hey Mark-

Nice collection! I thought I could post my pictures in this reply but I guess I need to get them up on my website to link them. I'll have to get after that.

I have a great (tragic) picture of one of the axes that I damaged in Australia last year. I was staying with a family there and training in the back yard on some snappy gum. The axe was ground at 14 degrees and the edge of the axe broke off in the block. I actually pulled the little foil edge out of the block and took a picture of the wreck. I had to build a jig and file the axe back up (to 17ish degrees this time) Some very hard wood over there. Stay tuned for some pics.

-Kevin
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 02:33 AM

Hey Tim-

I am going to do my best to get down to the conference. I should know by the end of next week. Hopefully I'll see you there.
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 03:36 PM

Hey Mark-

Here are the only picutres I have handy right now. I left them kind of big so you could see the little foil edge that broke off of the axe. I'll have to snap some pictures of the rest of the collection when I get back in town and get them up on the web.
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 08:03 PM

Thanks for the response NH-

What are your thoughts on the pictures I've seen of the log elevated with people scoring and hewing the top of the log? It's similar to the technique that I use to cut the footholds in my underhand blocks (you can see a bit of one in a pic I posted earlier). I thought that it might be an option for me since it would be like putting in a series of footholds.

A friend heard about the project and claims to have an old broad axe I can use. I'm going to check it out and see if I can breath some life back into it.

On the double bit axe... More than once when I've had one out at a demo or competition I've had somebody ask "You know why they had double bit axes back then dontcha?" I've gotten the explaination that you shared, jokes about guys cutting down two trees at once, etc. More than one person has told me that one side was sharper for felling/chopping and the other side was kept more blunt and durable for knocking spruce limbs off (and other abusive work). It seems plausible... any thoughts?

Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 10:27 PM

NH, I will once again disagree and say that I prefer a straight handle on my scoring axe, the curvey stuff just messes me up.
( - :
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 10:29 PM

I had a double bladed axe once. And at that time, I kept both blades equally sharp. While limbing out a pine tree of dead or green branches, I would swing down and chop and follow through to raise the axe up over the other shoulder and then chop down again using the other head with this swing. As I did this I would take a step and it didn't take long to limb out a trunk.
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/15/08 11:28 PM

I have found the double bit axe usefull for clean chopping and grubbing. The clean edge is for where there is no risk of rocks or dirt, the other for the wire brush and stuff close to the ground. If the straight handle works on the double bit, why not on the single. I haven't actually tried a straight handle but I am and I will like it! If for no other reason than the ease of making it, so it won't break this time. Unless I find some crazy grain than I may try the traditional looking handle.

Kevin, that is a bad nick. Is the steal extra hard? I am just curious if it passes the file test, will a file cut it or do you need a stone? Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/17/08 02:16 AM

HI Kevin and others:

Kevin as I look at your pictures of the damged edge on the axe, it is my gut feeling that you have put too fine and edge on the axe, and did not leave enough support for the edge. Also the steel might be really brittle and hard on the tool steel inset, and fractured when it came up against a knot or other obstruction. Some knots are quite hard and can easily damage or take out a respectfully sized chunk of the blade edge. one type of wood that is really bad and that one should watch out for is Hemlock especially in a frozen state.

I personally like the edge on my broadaxe to be very sharp naturally, but as you leave the area of the cutting edge you should gain thickness gradually and be back to the full thickness of the tool steel inset at about 1.25".

Now all tool steel insets vary in thickness, The better ones are not real thick, and flow back nicely into the body steel of the axe head, and in many cases you can see the residual marks of the forging hammers as they folded and shaped the red hot steel creating the eye of the axe.

holding the axe loosely in your hands and striking it gently will create a ringing tone, and the sweeter the tone the better the steel and tempering.

I also use a good file to shape the edge if the steel tempering will accept filing, but as a note of caution if you can't file it then you have a really hard tool steel inset and it will be prone to chipping easily, now mind you it will cut great but you will need to use caution when using it around hard knots, especially dry hard wood like oak, or as I mentioned earlier hemlock
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/17/08 02:28 AM

Hi Mark;

I respect your perogative to disagree about the handle's shape that you feel comfortable with, i am just commenting on my experiences over the years. I started out with my father in the bush when I was about 12 years old, and being in the 40's the handles were boughten and their curves were straighter usually due to the machines that manufactured them.

As I began my historic role in my work life I had to get back to the original lines that had evolved as far as the axe handles themselves were concerned.

It was amazing to me how much nicer they felt and how the control seemed to be more accurate. I always suspected that the curature in the old hand made handles evolved through time mostly for the good. Remember that the old timers used an axe extensively, and was devistated if the handle happened to break accidently

Nice pics and just do your own thing I believe you are all on the right path..NH
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/18/08 02:22 AM

Hi Tim-

It was a pretty nasty dig. I'm not sure if you saw the wire edge that I fished out of the block and positioned next to the axe for the photo-op. That is my "hardest" axe. It was stoutest axe at 14 degrees. I used that axe in competitions in the US and Canada when the wood seemed a bit tough. It held up in some of the gum species in Australia. The damage occured when I was practicing a springboard pocket. You end up coming into the block heavy on the heel and fairly straight in. I was able to rough in a new edge with a file but a guy over there finished it out with a Makita 1" belt sander with a zircon belt. My other axes (pictures on the way) are lower in carbon and tend to bend before they break.
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/18/08 02:34 AM

Hi NH-

The angle was too thin for sure, even though the it was the stoutest competition axe I own. These competition axes are a lot like a race car. We experiment and test to cut better and better. Eventually you push the envelope too far and "blow a gasket."

Thanks for the tips on the broad axe. I'm going to try to pick up that axe from my friend this week. I'll refer back as I work it back into shape. Looking forward to getting started!
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/23/08 02:17 AM

To get back to traditional Hewing and using the broadaxe, I think that it is appropriate to discuss somewhat the offset in the handle.

I personally use one that has a 3" offset, an a slight rise to the handle as it exits the head of the axe.

Does anyone have anything to add to this subject, and if so lets hear about your experiences

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/24/08 02:19 AM

Hello everyone looking in and taking part in this topic, welcome aboard, and join in!

BROADAXE HANDLES

My preference is a rectangular handle that one can nicely close your fingers over, and at the very end I carve in a cove for my little finger to lay nicely in.

The antique handles that I have all had this feature and I must say it really feels niceand comfortable especially if you are using the axe extensively like I used to at UCV

I really hate the feel of a boughten handle, maybe I am too picky, I don't know but wow what a great feeling to pick up one that has been carved out of naturally bowed stock. Making your own is worth every minute of your time many times over.

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/24/08 02:31 AM

Hello again, and further to this same topic:

"I put on a glass finish after the shaping and sanding and whatever it takes to get things close to what you feel you need.

If you never have tried to apply one of these finishes it is quite simple, you will be surprised at the unusual feel it imparts to the smooth surface of the handle


NH
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/25/08 01:01 PM

I am 100% with you on the rectangular handles. I have worked my competition handles into a rectangular shape and I find it helps a ton with control and fatigue. I still have to get those picture up for you guys. Stay tuned!

-Kevin
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/26/08 01:33 AM

Hi Kevin:

Nice reply about the shape of the handle, I hope that those looking in will take heed.

Spoke Shaves, and a small draw knife, and a shingling hatchet, are tools that work real nice when working on the carving of a new curved handle taking heed to the direction of the grain in the wood.

I never use any power tools when I am producing an historic handle, it just seems not right for some reason.

NH
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/26/08 01:36 AM

I use a double bit often, an old 4lb Plumb, it's my scoring ax, plus I use if for roughing joinery, it's sort of my daily driver.

It is not my primary felling ax in my hewing, that would be a 5lb Jersey pattern.

To in some way speak to your question, I long ago custom ground the double bit, the cheeks of one bit being much thinner, for when the piece at hand will accept a deep aggressive bite, and still eject a chip with every blow - The other side is left fat for when grabby work wants me stuck.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/27/08 12:58 AM

HI everyone looking in:

Will: I like your reply, It is weird how one comment can bring back details that you haven't thought of in a while. Your observation on the thickness of one blade of the double bitted axe versus the other blade.

Well that comment made me remember how my fater's double bitted axe had one blade for chopping with a thinner edge while on the reverse blade the cutting edge was sharpened for splitting with a more acute angle which would split and not lodge in the wood (easily).

By the way he always used "Rock elm" for the straight handle in his double bitted axe. For those that are not familiar with wood specaes "Rock Elm" (now extinct in this area) grew unlike its other cousins very straight with a lovely small crown on top. A mature tree would yield 4 or 5-- 10 foot logs to the first limb. The wood had a lovely salmon colour to it, and by the way don't try and split it, or try and break a board or plank, they would bend to the highest heaven before that would happen.

Thank you for jumping in I appreciate it.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/27/08 01:03 AM

Hi again everyone:

Before I sign off for tonight I am going to leave you with a question-----

Just for a conversation piece how many out there is familiar with "Rock Elm", and does it grow in other areas of North America?

Around here The Dutch Elm Disease eradicated about 90% of the Elm in the 50's, there is a few still trying to gain a foothold and in my opinion I believe a resistant specae will return but will take probably 100 years to do so.

NH
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/28/08 01:38 AM

NH,

Rock Elm. Will look that one up when I get home. I have a collection of old forestry/taxonomy books. You sometimes have to look in the really old books to find out that a common name disappears over time. I got into an arguement with my sawyer over some logs I brought to him. They were black gum. He insisted that they were pepperige. He told me that the really old timers used them for tongues on their wagons because they were cross grained and would bend but not break. We were both right and I had to show him a 1914 book to prove it.

I was reading your thread. My son and I are working on a project that includes looking at old barns. We looked at one last weekend from 1860's. Had four 62' hand hewns running the length of the barn holding up the floor.

Question for you. What is the longest beam you have seen/heard of? I am almost certain that these are tulip poplar because of bark that is still showing.

Another question. Elm is cross grained and will not split easily without threading. Would think that it would be a last resort for timber framing, although that might be true in Europe.
We still have quite a few american elms in my neck of the woods(northwest PA). They are almost always out there on their own. In a sense isolated from the disease. I taught my sons to identify them by profile, and before you knew it, they had found them everywhere. Penn State University has a real live collection of american elms. Old ones that line the walkways on the older parts of campus. They spent lots of time/money to keep them alive.

Enjoyed the thread and look forward to your answers.

gregk
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/28/08 02:45 PM

I consider myself a "tree guy" and in my time in the field (primarily in western and central NY) I haven't come across such a species.

Thanks to everyone for jumping in on the double bit axe question. The "two edges for two purposes" story is one that I have used in the past and I'm gald to see that it was true for at least some folks out there. I'm putting on a demonstration in March and now I'll be able to cite references!

-Kevin
Posted By: Kevin Holtz

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/28/08 02:56 PM

Hi NH-

I know I've been promising a while, but I will try to get some more pictures of my competition axes up this weekend. I'll try to get some shots of the handles too.

I've been buying handles and reworking them for the competition axes, but I spend a tremendous amount of time squaring them up (typically with a small plane and farrier's rasp).

I'm toying with the idea of starting with good straight-grained dimensional lumber, cutting out a pattern, rounding the edges slightly, and laminating on a "doe's foot" at the end. The core of the handle would be straight and true and I think it would take far less time to knock the edges off as opposed to squaring and truing a shotty factory handle.

Back to work for now, pictures to come soon!

-Kevin
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/08 01:50 AM

hi GREGK:QUESTION--LENGTH OF HAND HEWN TIMBERS--Well greg I have never seen them but I have heard that the pioneering UEL's that landed here in Ontario in 1784, and who had access to virgin timber, hewed plate material for buildings up to 100 feet in length.That would put the trees before hewing in excess of 120 feet standing height. No doubt many of the virgin pine would easily go the distance.

The second part of your question referred to the usage of elm for hewn material--well I did examine one barn that did have elm upper plates but that was the only time that I personally ran across elm used in this sense.

I do believe that like mice if you see one there no doubt are more, so in that sense I am sure that elm was used from time to time especially if you had no other specaes on your tract of land to use. Elm would have been hard to work with especially for plates due to all the mortising that would be necessary.

I am looking forward to what you find in those old forestry books. I have old hand books that date to 1850, that list "rock elm" in their strength tests.

Thanks everyone for the replys

NH
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/08 02:52 AM

Rock or Cork elm is a distinct species that has a very limited range in North America. Does not grow here in Pennsyvania. It is mostly north and around the great lakes. Sounds alot like American Elm in size but grows one straight trunk with horizontal branches. I see sycamore and elm listed in UK websites. Not sure if everyone knows this, but the glaciers retreated slowly out of Europe after the last ice age. Europe with left with far less diversification of species than we see here in the America's. I think they make do with what they have. Most of the good wood that is harvested in Pennsylvania is being shipped to China.

Gregk
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/08 09:09 AM

Hi Greg,

English and Wytch Elm (Ulmus Procera & Glabra) are just two of the elms to be commonly found in England. These are difficult trees to work with due to spiral and interlocked grain and does not split easily (firewood pile experience). Under the old manorial land system elm along with ash was not classed as "timber" and hence was not reserved to the Lord of the Manor, as was Oak, and so people were free to take these trees and use them for their own purposes. Elm does have traditional use in mills and cart building but it can also be found as building material in clusters of old buildings where either availability of same drove the population to build with this material or the quality of the elm on offer was sufficently good to substitute as building timber.

Some of the oldest buildings that I have surveyed and recorded have been made out of elm and these have now been standing in excess of 600 years.

Our 17th century granary is lined internally with hand ripped elm planks and barns frequently are found to have waney edged elm weather boarding. I doubt that sycamore would have been used extensively for building purposes as it is highly perishable but it was used for kitchen treen, draining boards, spoons because of its taint free qualities. When fully seasoned and planed to a nice finish sycamore has a beautiful luster or sheen.

Elm has to be used sensibly in buildings since it lacks the durability (fungal and insect resistance) compared with oak but I have observed from my own tests that the external perfomance of elm seems to improve as it dries and hardens so if you choose to use this material use it where it is almost always kept dry e.g. in the roof or alternatively 100% wet as in coffin boards and hand bored pipes.

Elm would not be my material of choice since it is hard to work, stringy and prone to sloping grain failures.

I hope that this helps.

Regards

Ken Hume P.Eng.
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/08 06:36 PM

Very interesting Ken. We live on a 200yo farm with granary, lined with oak. Kids use it for a fort. We have some English Walnut. They are not native but someone planted them for a reason. Can you help with that one?

Greg
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/08 02:15 AM

Hi greg:

I know that the early pioneers would have planted a few walnut trees not just because of the nut but my mother harvested the walnuts from a black walnut tree for dyeing purposes, she hand spun and dyed wool from various animals using the liquor from the walnut husks.

I am not sure if the English walnut trees would produce the same type of dye, but I suspect they would.

If you looked back into the deeds that go with your property, you will probably find out that the early pioneers were no doubt of English heritage, and might have brought along a young seedling to their new home site.

Around here I know for a fact that they did bring in apple tree seedlings, as well as fruit root stock such as rhubarb, raspberries, goose berries.

Even right now if you want a good rooting of rhubarb just visit an old abondoned homestead site, you will find growing wild many of the old original strains. On our farm and by the original homestead site grew 4 very large crab apple trees. These trees were thirty feet high, and the trunks were aprrox 30" + in diameter.

a few years ago they started to die, and had to be removed, what I did was take graftings and started new trees to stay on the property. From One of the healthier trees I took a slice from the stump to examine the growth rings, I was shocked to find out that they had been planted very close to the arrival of the first owners of the property.

Another oddity was that prior to haaving the grafting done I thought that I could reproduce seedlings from the seed of the mature crabapples, but even with the help of a good horticulturalist, the seeds would not germinate. In the end it was determined that the seedlings themselves were brought here as graftings, and therefore would not produced fertile seeds.

So thanks for your question it spawned a good topic I think, and one that I like to retell to those that want to listen.

Just before I leave it is surprising that the English oak survived our Canadian winters, At UCV they planted some and the unusual seasonal weather played some funny tricks on the genetics of the trees, they finally did not survive after about 20 years. (they would hold on to their leaves right though the winter) and stand right out among the other bare trunks around them.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/08 09:12 AM

Hi Greg & Northern Hewer,

Greg,

Re English walnut (juglans regia) this really originally comes from Persia. I used to live in Persia and can recall getting very black from the sticky walnut husks when attempting to gather same to eat. I have done the reverse in my own woodlot planting black walnut (juglans nigra) in the hope that this will provide a valuable harvest of timber in 100 years time. I have found that it is not easy to extract the mature nuts from black walnut and this is quite the opposite from the relative ease with which an English walnut can be cracked and eaten. The nut remains in good condition for a long time and so it is quite conceivable that a colonist took a pocketfull to the new world.

NH,

I love your story and do not be too disheartened at the lack of germination of crab apple. This tree is found in isolated spots in English woodlands and these trees must have germinated from seed probably from fruit eaten by an annimal which was subsequently deposited with a load of fertilser. Some seeds need to be treated before they will germinate to break down their hard seed coatings. Try sandpaper.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/08 09:42 AM

Hi NH,

I forgot to add that juvenille English Oaks (quercus robur) tend to hang on their dry brown leaves all through winter but eventually this habit will decline and total leaf loss will occur.

When I lived in Canada I was told that the reason that oaks did not survive on the prairies was that it could not tolerate false springs i.e. a retreat back to winter following the bud break resulting in frost damage. We planted acorns from oak trees growing in my Olde Hampshire garden at Tom Musco's place in Royalston, Mass. to celebrate the raising of Pembroke Cottage a few years back. It would be interesting to discover if these trees survived and flourished.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/08 11:39 AM

Ken, The tap root of a White Oak is sent out in the fall. It is killed by frost. While the Red Oak sends it's root out in the spring. White Oak is not naturally found in my section of Maine for this reason. Red Oak is. Mass should not have a problen with White Oak.

The Beech trees here also keep the golden, crisp leaves into the winter. Tim



Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/08 02:50 PM

Ken and NH,

Sounds like we are talking about forensic ecology. A favotite topic of mine. My wife tells me the original owner/builder of our house was Dutch. The house is an Adams colonial. Thats John Adams, one of the founding fathers of the American revolution. She says that by the time this house was built, many of the european tradions had become Americanized. The original owner was an agent for several land companies that were selling land along the soon coming Erie canal. I often wonder why he picked this site(remote) and up on a knob, to build. We have remnants of all kinds of things. Two apricot trees. Apple trees in the woodlot. Lots of them. And of course grapes. We have the wild variety but the boys noticed that some of them were full-sized concords. Thats when I did some research on old self-sustaining farms. The house is surounded by sugar maples, some as old as the house. We are boiling that sap down as I type. There are several springs near the house and that may be the reason we are here. He also built the house way off the road, but near the fields/orchard/springs. That is unfortunate for us right now because we just got over 20 inches of snow! The original barn is gone, not sure of the story behind that. As I mentioned in another posting, my boys and I are rebuilding and that is why I found the guild.
I learned in school that immature and sick trees will hold their leaves. Also trees that are sick or old will put all of their energy into fruit/seeds before they die.
Of interest to us is the fact that an elephant is buiried here. Once the Erie canal was put through, this area of Pennsylvania, near Lake Erie, became a wintering site for circus performers. Two of them owned this farm at different times. One of them was the world famous clown, Dan Rice, who dressed up as Uncle Sam around the time of the Americam civil war. He eventually moved into town and married the mayors teenage daughter. What a scandal. Forgot to mention the rhubarb. Got it beside the granary.

Greg
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/08 12:44 AM

Hi everyone

Thanks for all the information reference the crabtree germination, and greg great for you and your son trying tosave a part of your local history. Try and find a photo of the original building and use it as a model rather than something completely different.
Ken: I did many different things trying to get germination to happen one thing was to freeze for x no of weeks but I didnt try sandpaper.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/08 12:51 AM

Hello again

Greg--we got that 20 inches of snow also, or up here 49 cms, (some clown decided that Canada should go metric) well now eventho I have lived here all my life I canèt figure out how may miles I get to the gallon without a computer!!, Im sure someone will jump in here and say its the greatest thing that ever was but not for me. One thing that it did accomplish was that everything now comes in smaller containers that cost just as much as the imperial ones did
NH
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/08 01:44 AM

Most everything that I do at work is metric. Science and medicine. We did get rescued by a front-end loader earlier so I took the boys to the slopes in Western NY. They can snowboard for free after March 1st. It was the best. Saw lots of Pennsylvania style barns on the Drive. The oldest boy stayed home to watch the sap. He did a perfect job. No burned evaporater. Now trying to convince myself that it is late. WE changed clocks ahead today. Do you do this craziness in Canada or in Europe?

Greg
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/08 08:54 AM

gregk, by "craziness" do you mean the time change, sap season, of the metric system? All through grade school the teachers said the metric system is coming so learn this. We are sort of half way between, I am thinking mostly of nuts and bolts on the cars/trucks. Sap season, I don't go there but really enjoy the sweet syrup, friends of ours make gallons of it, its our source. Good old local sugar. And the time change, Hugo Chaveze changed his contry to a single time, Why can't we have a compromise, say move it a 1/2 hour to the middle and leave it. I just got comfortable, and now here we go agin. Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/11/08 01:40 AM

Timbeal:

Well said--half way between that just about says it all
I have a farming background so I always think in acres, feet, inches, bushels, pecks, gallons, quarts, pints the list goes on and on, then when I was about fifty they wanted me to learn to speak french, and listen to this pay me! well in 2 years I did learn to say hello!

One thing that is great they couldn't change the old historic buildings footprints, they still come in feet and inches. The old farms are still layed out using the old survey stakes, but they are nibbling away at them with their metric whatever.., nothing quite fits though. they tried but the metric plywood just wouldnt fit the stud layout of 90% of the homes so voila we still have 4 by 8 sheets of plywood around, 8foot studs, and the list goes on.

By the way we still have the new 4foot round balers, It does get confusing for me HUMMM--cubic centimeters,hmmm---millimeters now lets see---------the 1 inch manila rope--oh yes we went head great strides got rid of the 1 and 2 dollar bills that fit so neaty into our pocket book now we got looneys and toonies that make our pockets bulge out, and our wives purses weigh a ton or is it a tonne well who knows....

hope I didnt confuse anyone with my canadian talk it is a great country, beside another great country.

NH


Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/11/08 09:51 AM

We now need a passport to cross the border. I can almost bat a rock to Canada from my house. Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/08 01:02 AM

HI everyone:

Well got the snow moved finally and was able to get out of my house, they say that the world is warming up, but you sure wouldn't know it looking out my window, a record snow fall up here yup broke a record that has been around since the 70's., and still lots of time to break more the end of march is still a ways off.

well back to some serious questions,

--I always liked to use tamrack in damp conditions if it was available what is everyone's views on this,
--and another one that I have wrestled with over the years old growth pine versus new growth pine, the old growth seems to resist rotting a whole lot better why is that, anyone got any ideas?
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/08 01:58 AM

NH, I use tamrack for sill instead of PT. I belive it holds up well, saw off the sapwood, sapwood is the rotty part. Same goes for pine, I use pine for exterior stuff just don't use the sappy parts on the exterior. As for old growth versus new growth perhaps we should view the sap wood as new growth and the heart as old growth, with the exception of growth ring count what is the difference? And besides there is nothing we can do about it. We are working on 3rd, 4th or 5th cuttings. It may be we have a bad opinion of pine because the mills send the nice clear sapwood to the building supply stores we buy it and than it rotts so therefore pine is crummy and don't use it outside. As I repeat myself I use my sawn pine out side and have no problems, no paint, stain or preservitives. Pine is the king of woods in my opinion, I enjoy working pine over any other. It is like butter, cream of the crop. Tim
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/08 02:30 PM

NH,

My old timer sawyer likes pine when he can get it. Keeps it all to himself. I think the wood that is bought for construction in my area is all doug fir. Rots very fast. Sawyer says that pine is also his favorite wood to cut. Stays true.

He did give me a stack of Tamarack that he had cut for someone 15 years ago. Guy never came to pick it up. The stickers were rotten but the boards were for the most part like new, just brittle. So we took it to our place and restacked it. So I think that speaks for itself. Just not much Tamarack in this area unless it was planted by conservation minded folks. See alot of that this way, an arce here, an acre there, dense stands of pines or tamarack that someone planted from seedlings.

Sawyer likes aspen, he calls it quake. He rough cuts it then planes it to dimension lumber. Likes it better than doug fir. We have lots of big aspen waiting to get blown over in this area so he takes it in trade.

Gregk
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/13/08 01:45 AM

greg and timbeal:

Thanks for the well worded replies, it sure is interesting to hear different slants on things.. Oh yes the comment about pine being the king of woods, it is in my books too, works wonderful, smells great (no complaints from the wife when you get home). Keep the replies coming
NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/13/08 02:14 AM

It is weird how people adapt to differing woods depending on where they live and what is available. Around here the predominant wood for a historic building covering was sawn white pine, it will just last for better than 100+ years never rot just wear away in the weather.

I am sure that in many areas pine was not available, I have noticed hemlock used, and believe it or not elm for building cladding. The odd time cedar boards seemed to show up, I never could figure out why cedar was not used more frequently, its characteristics being a softer wood like pine, and its resistance to weathering.

One thing that surprised me in my research over the years was the widespread use of pine for shingles, it came up in old newspaper advertisements around 1860 in this area. We did in fact produce shingles from pine shingle bolts at UCV as a test project which stemmed form this research, and applied the shingles to some roofs in order to monitor their durability. This is still ongoing as far as I know.

I still am a firm believer that the close examination of historic structures and the continuing use of the species of timber that the old buildings constructors used is the right way to go in a majority of cases.

Hewing Photo:


I have run across a lovely early picture of a team of hewers flatenning a white pine somewhere in the Ottawa valley timber country. It is a very large pine, and they had prepared a spot to fell it in the forest by clearing the fall path, and laying the tree tops across the open space to cushion the landing.

The one gentleman was using what appears to be about a 10" hewing axe of the North American style, the handle in particular is about 30 inches long, with rectangular in cross section and with a nice sweep up and out, and is hung right handed as it leaves the axe head. The surface that they have just finished seems to be devoid of any tell tale scoring marks, and near the one end a bit of the final pass is still clinging on to the beautiful hewn finish, what a picture!!

The timber is up to the hewers waist, and a gentleman is standing with the scoring axe but I am unable to see details of the handle or the axe head --too bad..

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/15/08 12:25 AM

Hi everyone:

One thing that I did notice in the photograph was that the log was directly on the ground not up on anything in particular other than the branches and other smaller trees.

NH
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/15/08 12:47 AM

NH,

I did not see a picture. Is it in the post or somewhere else?

gregk
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/16/08 12:45 AM

Hi Greg
No it is not on line I run across it in an old historic booklet that I have. One other picture that was with it was one of an early steam powered sawmill, what I was interested in was the large pile of saw logs all with chopped ends.

It is the first picture I have ever run across that shows how the saw logs were harvested in the early lumber camps. The stories that I was always told about my granfather who worked in the lumber camps in the upper Ottawa valley was that they chopped the logs down, not saw them down, it was faster to chop I guess

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/16/08 12:48 AM

If there is good interest I will try and scan and post them, this will be a truggle for me

NH
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/17/08 03:14 PM

Richard,

I am certainly interested in the photo. But if it is too much trouble, I understand. What is the name of the booklet it is in?

Gabeld
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/08 02:03 AM

Hi everyone looking in:

Well I have scanned, resized and saved the hewing picture we discussed above, into my photobucket album but I am unable to export it into this thread for everyone to see.

If anyone out there can coach me on the proceedure to move the image to this submit box I would appreciate it.

NH
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/08 12:24 PM



NH,

On photobucket, click on the words "IMG Code" that appear below the image. That automatically copies the img code to your clipboard. then open a reply to this thread and right click your mouse on the text box and hit "paste". that should insert a long string of gibberish into the reply box and when you preview it or post it, it will turn into the picture. that is what i did here.

thanks for taking the time
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 12:01 AM



This is a hewing picture for everyone to look at. Hope you like it.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 12:04 AM




Here is a picture of yours truly hewing, at Upper Canada Village.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 12:25 AM



Hello everyone, here is a example of a timberframe joint failure, one that I run across a number of years ago.

NH
Posted By: jim haslip

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 12:31 AM

Any idea what the specific cause was?

Those pegs look like they might be "too close" to the post face? Did the other end pull out also?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 12:37 AM



Here is an example of dovetailing timber work that was necessary during the reconstruction of the fort at Upper Canada Village during the 90's. The timbers were Northern White Pine and were 12" square, with hewn faces.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 12:58 AM


First off --thanks Gabel for the directions reference the uploading of the images from Photobucket, it worked great, and I am a little smarter now I printed out the directions and have them hanging right by my side on the filing cabinet.

Jim:

A few years ago now when I helped host the TTRAG conference here in Morrisburg,I was examining an old collection of timberframe structures to obtain interesting construction details to fill in my lecture that I was asked to deliver.

This photo is of a 3 bay driveshed built about 186o. The age I derived from the saw marks, and type of nails used in its construction.

It emphasizes the pressure exerted on the tie joint, and a joint failure happening. The problem seems to be not in the placement of the wood pins from the face of the joint, but rather the height from the tie beam to the upper main plate. The building would have collapsed years ago but one of the previous owners had taken the initiative to stretch cable in a couple of places from one side of the building at the upper plate level to the other side. Unfortunately not enough support was given at this point.

I am very careful in my remarks to say that all the old time timberframers made no mistakes because they certainly did, and this is one of the classic examples of trying to obtain additional headroom in the upper part of a driveshed by raising the height of the upper plate above the tie beam.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 01:06 AM


First off --thanks Gabel for the directions reference the uploading of the images from Photobucket, it worked great, and I am a little smarter now I printed out the directions and have them hanging right by my side on the filing cabinet.

Jim:

A few years ago now when I helped host the TTRAG conference here in Morrisburg,I was examining an old collection of timberframe structures to obtain interesting construction details to fill in my lecture that I was asked to deliver.

This photo is of a 3 bay driveshed built about 186o. The age I derived from the saw marks, and type of nails used in its construction.

It emphasizes the pressure exerted on the tie joint, and a joint failure happening. The problem seems to be not in the placement of the wood pins from the face of the joint, but rather the height from the tie beam to the upper main plate. The building would have collapsed years ago but one of the previous owners had taken the initiative to stretch cable in a couple of places from one side of the building at the upper plate level to the other side. Unfortunately not enough support was given at this point.

I am very careful in my remarks to say that all the old time timberframers made no mistakes because they certainly did, and this is one of the classic examples of trying to obtain additional headroom in the upper part of a driveshed by raising the height of the upper plate above the tie beam.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 01:07 AM

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 01:19 AM

Hi everyone:

This is my last post tonight and shows The Ross Barn being raised at UCV with the help of about 35 men and pikes. The lad at the base of the post with the white shirt on looking away was my head timberframer a great fellow by the name of Gerry St. Pierre. Unfortunately he just passed away, we worked together for many of these historic reconstructions.

Preparations for this event took 3 summers, from start to finish, all the timbers were hewn from scratch, some of them from 45 foot hemlocks and white pine, that squared 12" at that point.

You will notice the network of timbers just for the foundation, the hewing just for that layer took one season's hard work for 2 hewers, as well as the work of mortising and tenoning by 2 other full time workers. At the same timewe had to put in place the large stone abutments for the framework to bear on, this all took place without the intervention of any modern equipment, just horses and manpower using taditional hand tools.

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 10:52 AM

NH, the photo with the compromised post is a good example of why not to drop the tie more than 3'. I often have clients that want 5 and 6' of drop. No, can't do it. I try to stay within 18"-30" of the top plate. One can have issues with the top plate too close to the plate as well. I have a barn dismantled and in my yard, where the tie is only 6" from the top plate and no problens, though. With out seeing the rest of the building I am guessing it is common rafters and no purlin, let alone any other roof supporting members. It is also hard to tell what other joints come into the post in the break area, due to the angle of the photo. Any rot on the exterior of the post? Thanks for the photos. I need to print out some directions and post them next to my file cabinet as well, and than use them. Tim
Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/08 12:54 PM

Richard: Thank you so much for the awesome photos. These are really cool. Regarding the frame that failed, was that joint taking all the rafter thrust, or were there some other members helping support the roof at the ridge or mid-rafter? CB.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/08 12:40 AM

Hi Clark, and Timbeal:

No-- this was a typical 3 bay driveshed with no purlins to rest some of the weight of the roof structure on and to also alleviate some of the outward thrust of the rafters, and the many snowloads that must have come to bear on this joint over its lifetime. By the way this shed is still standing, and you would never know that this problem is hidden away up in the attic area.

One of the construction features though that this driveshed has that may have added to the joint failure is the width of the bays. The first 2 bays closest to the home were wide enough for two wagons to be parked side by side in each bay. If my memory is right I believe these 2 bays were 2o feet in width, and the last one was 16 feet and contained a small shop with a floor. This made for a 56 foot outbuilding and was longer in length than the 3 bay barn that I reconstructed in UCV, and the one that shows us in the process of raising in the above post.

The centre bay was framed in with a lovely set of swinging doors on the opposite side, so that wagons could pass right through rather than back out after unloading say firewood or other items.

When I look at these old structures I can truly visualize the work that went into each one having reconstructed a number of them over the years.

I believe that the hewing of the long plates and mud sills contributed a great deal of the total effort, and of course the tie beams and plates being in the neighbourhood of 24 feet contributed a sizeable share too.

As a last thought and is just a bit of a history lesson I guess This home contained a secret passage way to the basement and was used to shelter soldiers during the battle of Crysler Farm in 1813.

Thanks for your replies

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/08 12:53 AM

Hi Gabel:

I am sorry that I missed your question further back in the postings ---No the other end did not fail, and it was the only joint that did fail. Remember though that in a 3 bay structure only 8 wooden pins really and truly take the lions share of the roof thrust, it always amazed me how well these wood pins stood up to the task at hand. You very seldom see joint failures like the one that I stumbled across in this structure. In swing beam barns though at least the ones that I have examined the framers added one extra pin in each end of the tie beams, I do believe that for the extra effort of putting in one more pin per mortise it was well worth it.

Hope you enjoy, and I welcome others aboard

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/08 10:56 AM

northern hewer, I'm not sure how my post on planks got into the tool forum, but I am still interested in that document you mentioned about construction of a plank house. Is it possible to get a copy of it, or more info? Tim
Posted By: Zach LaPerriere

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/08 10:17 PM

Tim-

Could you move your plank house discussion out of the tool forum? I'm sure interested.

Everyone-

This is a great thread. Thanks.

Zach
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/23/08 01:10 AM

Hi Timbeal,

Welcome on board Zack, its been a while since we have heard from you,

Timbeal I examined a plank clad timberframe building dating to 1876 that was originally a 1 room school house, but being that it was now a home it was impossible to obtain pictures.

I was able though to get underneath it in a crwal area and see the ends of the vertical planks, as well as the supporting timbers and sills.

My department wanted to reconstruct an early school house this one turned out to be just abit too young for our site which dates to 1860, so it never went anywhere.

I was luicky enough though to run across a family near the school that had a past connection with the original trustees who had the building built at that time. When I paid them a visit Mr Wells came out from the livingroom with an original 3 page hand written document that was drawn up for the builder to work from. It is a wonderful document you could reconstruct this building exactly from the information supplied. Nothing was left out even the price at that time.

I am sure that someone will eventually want to build this type of building and I have the means to that end.

Timbeal or anyone else, if you are interested contact me directly for further discussion on this subject.

NH
Posted By: jim haslip

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/23/08 07:25 PM

Ah!, I see... so the rafters placed the spreading force on the top plate, the post extended above the tie-beam too far, and the weak link was the tie-beam connection at the post...
Did I get it right?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/24/08 01:17 AM

Hello evryone

I am not up to it tonight but I will be posting some of the highlights from the document for everyone to enjoy so just tune in for further discussion. It would be good to know just what part of the information contained would be a starting point.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/25/08 01:13 AM

Hi everyone looking in, As promised--- here is a few tidbits of information from this 130 yr old construction document drew up for the direction of work to be carried out in the construction of a one room school in Williamsburg Township --Ontario Canada.
This document is dated March the 6th 1877.

item#1

The building is to be 22 by 30 feet clear inside, plus a porch 18 feet long and 5 feet wide with hip corners on the roof, 2 doors in front of the main doors, with 1 window between the doors. (I suspect a boys and girls separate entrance.)


Item #2:

The timeframe for the construction completion is for Aug 1st 1877, (I suspect in time for the fall classes to begin.)

If the work began by the end of March it only gives the constructor approx. 120 days to complete the work.

For discussion

I realize that at this point not much information has been given out but as a contractor would you be willing to put a bid in yet and if not here is a little more info:

Item #3.

there is no basement but hand dug walls are the order "20 inches wide and 1.5 feet deep on the lowest corner, walls to be of good field stone, laid with a good lime and sand mortar, and the wall is to be 36" high,"

Item #4>

Wall Drains to be as follows: "of good sound cedar, tube to be not less than 6" square, covering top and bottom to be not less than 2" thick of good hemlock"

DISCUSSION:

Could someone comment on just what they want, a square tube of cedar again covered with hemlock?

(One more item tonight)

ITEM #5

Painting outside: "Painting 2 coats of paint and good paint oil, Cornice 2 coats of white lead and best of oil, Roof to be tarred with good coal tar."

DISCUSSION

( I suspect that they want the shingles tarred, but I am not sure).
Tarring shingles is not something that I have seen but it maybe was done to prolong the life of the wood shingles, anyone got any ideas?


NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/25/08 11:13 AM

With the right size crew, 120 should be right on schedule, but not with my crew. I would be off by my typical 2 months.

#4 sch.40 PVC and crushed rock? I understand the cedar pipe, maybe the Hemlock is a extra layer to help direct water to the pipe? Filter matt? Is it hemlock bark? I wonder what is left underground? Am I in the wrong ball park in assuming this is a drainage system.

#5 I will have to google coal tar. That doesn't sound like a fire retardant either. Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/26/08 12:22 AM

Hi Timbeal:

Thanks for the feed back, and comments on my first post.

Item #4:

The wood pipe is for drainage around the stone walls, I sort of believe that what they want is for the square cedar pipe to be sitting on, and covered over by 2 inch hemlock planks. These wooden pipes will last a very long time underground as long as the air is excluded from the wood.

This is typical historical construction directions, they usually leave out some important details, just taking for granted that you know or are familiar with small details.

Item #5:

Coal tar is very flammable but then again cedar shingles are also, as I mentioned above I believe that the coating was meant to prolong the roofs life, but then we will wait for further comments

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/26/08 12:36 AM

Hi everyone:

Here is another entry that is sort of a brain twister:

"RAFTERS TO BE RAISED 20 INCHES ABOVE THE THIRD"

This phrase is up for discussion, please jump in and let me know how you would cut these rafters using this information,--I have an idea myself but for the time being I am going to let you guys and gals give me some feed back before we proceed to another item.

Thanks in advance

NH
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/26/08 02:10 AM

Hi Hewer, my guess on the roof is that the builder was instructed to increase the rise 20 inches above 1/3 pitch. So using 22 feet as building width one third is 7'4" rise plus 20" inches yields 9 feet rise, so slope is 9/11. Pitch in archaic carpenter speak is total rise over building width.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/27/08 01:14 AM

Hi Roger:

Bingo--nicely put

The only thing that I could add to your fine explanation is that your comment of the slope being 9\11.

If you were using the square to layout the cuts bottom and top of the rafter you would use 9.81 (plus a little bit more) inches in 12 to arrive at the 108 inches rise in 11 feet of run.

Thanks again for the quick response.

You would wonder how or why they asked for this particular roof slope, rather than one that would have been an even number say 10 inches rise in 1 foot of run, it would have only raised the peak approx 2 additional inches.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/27/08 01:29 AM

At this point I am going to throw out a question on what you might think your work would have been worth if you were the constructor in 1877. Now mind you all the requisites of finishing would have to be done including the windows, doors, hardware, chimney, benches, blackboards, flooring, materials of all kinds including paint, planks, timber, spikes, glass, brick, plastering, table, shelving, etc.

So what do you all think, just take a stab at it don't be shy, and we will see how close we can come to he figure quoted.

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/27/08 09:43 AM

$857.29 Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/28/08 12:30 AM

Thanks Tim:

We will give this a few days before I reveal what the exact cost was at that time. I like that .29Cents, but then again I am sure that 1 cent bought a fair amount, probably a half litre of kerosine,

Maybe a few more would like to risk a guess.

What about the pitch of the roof why do you think that particular pitch was asked for?

here is a few more information tidbits to base your guess on or to just read about--

-There were 6 windows with 12 lights each
-the floor was 2 thicknesses of g&t lumber hemlock and pine
-Planking was 2" Hemlock planks 12 feet long and all over 8" in width and each nailed with 3-- 6" wrought iron spikes.
-one roof ventilator
-Hemlock roof boarding
-roofing good sound cedar shingles #1, laid at 5" to the weather
-10 feet between floor and ceiling

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/28/08 01:07 AM



hee is a photo of the Schwerdfeger driveshed discussed above

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/28/08 01:11 AM

I just thought that I would try and download a picture to keep my skills going, I actually amazed myself that I was able to do it.

Enjoy

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/28/08 10:36 AM

OK, maybe I am a bit high on the quote. Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 12:19 AM

Hi Tim:

I am not giving you any hints, the next time I am on I will reveal the true price in 1877 dollars,

NH
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 12:21 AM

Canadian dollars?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 12:37 AM

Hi Gabel


Thanks for coming on stream, looking forward to your response-

"in Canadian Dollars"

I expect so because the construction was here in Ontario.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 12:43 AM

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 01:03 AM


Hi everyone:


This is the outcome of a surprise find in the attic of an 1865 church that I happened to visit to film the timber trusses that suspended the ceiling.

This truss did not have the metal repairs on it when I first viewed it. The timber as found was nearly rotted through, and had started to drop about 1.5 inches.

This timber by the way was in length, a 12" by 14" by 45' bottom chord that not only suspended the ceiling , but supported about 50% of the weight of the spire of the church.

You can see if you look closely where there had been a chimney at one time right beside the end of the truss, and I suspect leakage from the flashing had allowed the rot to happen.

The repairs as you see them were ordered by an engineer, and have pressure rings next to the steel to help with the tension on the timber. Also there is a new piece of timber that replaces the rotted section, which was about 6 feet long. Most of the rot happened where the brace from the vertical post (out of sight) met the horizontal chord.

This is just another of the many things that I have run across during my forays to gain information on the many facets of timberframing.

This truss by the way was a bridge truss, very strong construction all the parts other than the horizontal chord was hard wood (oak), and the vertical oak posts were mortised into the 45 foot horizontals with a half dovetail and wedges driven from underneath.

the other trusses seemed like new and were amazing to see and photograph.

enjoy

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 10:54 AM

NH, do you recall if the half dovetails had pull apart some or were they still tight?

In 1877 the US had just come out of the Civil War by a few years and Canada/England may of had a better economy? My price is in US dollars so you will need the exchange rate for that time. I did factor that all in, didn't I. Tim
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 07:01 PM

Hewer you wrote:
Quote:
The only thing that I could add to your fine explanation is that your comment of the slope being 9\11.

If you were using the square to layout the cuts bottom and top of the rafter you would use 9.81 (plus a little bit more) inches in 12 to arrive at the 108 inches rise in 11 feet of run.


I hope the quote comes out well.

Anyhow, I think the simplest or least derived slope ratio is the way to go when at work. In this case, 9 ft. rise over 11 ft run. Hold 9 in. over 11 in. on the framing square and step twelve times for rafter cut length. Take a minute and examine the outside back face scales of the traditional framing square, inches divided by twelths. In a time when roof pitch or total gain was specified the simplest modeling and calculation can be accomplished on the square directly. Lets say a building is 28-4 wide with the roof rise of 11-5. Using the back face of the square hold 14 2/12 and 11 5/12 and step twelve times for rafter layout. For layout with the best accuracy use the square for setting trammels or large dividers. Precise length or slope in base 12 is not necessary.

On the cost I bid $1,235 with no factual underpinning. Old builders manuals such as Trautwine and Audels have costs at their time of publication, it would be interesting to find a close contemperary to 1875.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/08 11:48 PM

Hi Timbeal

Yes the dovetails had pulled apart some, I suspected from the shrinkage of the wooden dovetails, and probably the shrinkage of the wooden chord timber. I noticed that the shoulder of the vertical posts had lifted up out of their mortises approx. 1\2", nothing really to get excited about, but there was movement.



Well as promised here is the agreed cost between the school trustees and Elias Snyder the builder.

as stated "I bind myself to build said school house according to plan, and specifications, for the sum of $450 dollars to be paid in May and the rest when the building is completed".

At the bottom of the document there was a final entry--

"received sum of $485 of the trustees lot #6 Being the full amount in full dues 1877 Dec 26"

Elias Snyder


PS I notice that he also needed a few extra months like the contractors of today usually do

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/30/08 12:13 AM

Hi Roger

Well your reply to the rafter cutting is very interesting and I take my hat off to you!!, and may those looking in take heed of your comments.

The square is sure an interesting tool, and if well mastered one can do just about anything with it. I have in my possession an old text book that deals only with the "Steel square", may times I have read it.

Thanks for quoting on the cost of the school building, I am at a loss to know what the comparison between US and Canadian currency was at that time. I do know that British pounds were still floating around right up until confederation in 1867.

My dad who was a pretty good carpenter said that during his career he met one fellow that amazed him in his ability to produce any number of complicated cuts with his square, hardly ever making an error. My dad used to set me down as a young man and explain to me as much as he could what he knew about using properly the inscriptions on both sides of a good framing square. After he passed away some time ago I inherited his tools and I cherish especially his square, which by the way I never was allowed to use

Once in a while he would clean it thoroughly, and rub white paint into the markings to freshen it up and make its use easier.


Anyway thanks for the reply and information, I believe that every one aspiring to do carpentry, or timberframing should have a course in the use of the framing square, real early in their career.

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/31/08 11:22 AM

Roger, thanks as well. I have a rafter book comming from Summer Beam Books and hope it shines more light. I have always used a 12 base for rafter layout. The 10th and 12th on the square have been a sore spot, I use the cheeper squares with 1/8's for general layout. I hope to find a better use for the traditional square. In some drawings of historical structures you will see a pitch in a base 12 with a rise of some odd fractioned number say 6-3/4", and I think you just explained it. Thanks

It seems I am more of a traditionalist than I thought. The builder of the school went over the time limit by a few months. That is where it comes from, it's a tradition. And I was a bit high on the quote. I have some prices of my Grandfathers boat work, where the numbers are very small in comparision to today. They almost worked for pennies a day. But the workmanship was much more. Tim
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/31/08 09:47 PM

Thanks guys, but I'm just passing along things that I have learned from others. So I salute all the fine carpenters I worked under as a young man.

Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/31/08 11:39 PM

wow, what a thread this has turned out to be.
thanks for a good one, NH!

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/06/08 12:59 AM

Hi Derek:

I said don't worry about the spelling and thanks for the words, my old grandfather Michael couldn't spell his name but he could sure hew timber, and by the way he liked to get the young fellows together and see who could out lift him. Not many could.

He held the record at that time for the number of logs chopped down and square butted in one day.

I will be back with some more good pics I am readying for posting in a few days.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/07/08 12:56 AM



Hi Everyone

For those interested in half dovetail timberwork, here is a good historical example of a halfdovetail used in heavy timberwork associated with the timberframework in the 1847 Muley Sawmill at UCV.

You will notice the 20" square 30 foot white ash timber being suspended in a shared dovetail mortise cut into sister posts, the dovetail is securely held in position by wedges driven in from the outside.

Just for your information there is an identical timber right below the floor that is also suspended in the same fashion. this mill was constructed by the Beach Brothers who were English millwrights that was sent to this area by the British Government to establish mills in strategic locations to encourage settlement.

I hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/07/08 12:59 AM

Hi Roger:

It looks like you swing a pretty mean broadaxe good photo.

Nh
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/12/08 01:13 AM



Hello everyone:

Here is a sideview of the same timber to just give you alittle better prespective of the the extremely heavy timberwork associated with the mill framing just above the vertical blade and its guides and many parts.

Notice also the very long sway braces that were used throughout the framework both on this level and on the lower level.

This long bracing was necessary to hold the mill as steady as possible while the machinery was in operation, due to the jerky forward motion of the sawframe that advanced with each stroke of the vertical saw .

NH
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/12/08 09:53 PM

Thank for learning the picture post. I really enjoy them.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/13/08 12:11 AM



Hi everyone, and thanks gregk for the encouragement, I enjoy sharing my life's adventures in the restoration\reconstruction field.

this will probably be my last post dealing with the 1846 Muley sawmill that in many ways was a great part of my life, not to only operate, but to maintain and understand the complicated early millwrighting that is necessary to successfully keep it in operation.

This mill was already 115 years old when it was removed from its original site, and reconstructed at UCV in 1961. It since has run for 47 more years, and in that time it has needed 3 complete reconstructions of the head race, and 2 complete reconstructions of the turbine box, shaft, crank and linkages

Its equipment looks crude to the average eye, but in reality to cut successfully with it it entails using very fine lines and settings that is awesome.

These long braces are an integral part of the framing and have to be maintained at times by tightening and wedging

Hope you enjoy NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/14/08 12:44 AM



Hi everyone looking in

This photo is of a reconstruction of the pressure box containing the 1840 30 hp water turbine that powers the woollen mill at UCV

This ring of timbers has to be strong enough to support approx 30 tons of water along with the weight of the turbine and the associated shafting

You will notice that the timbers are all held in place by dovetails, no wood pins are used as a securing medium.

The timbers are all white oak, and are 10" square, of #1 quality.

These timbers being mostly underwater will outlast the wooden box by a factor of 3 at least.

To be authentic the timbers were cut in our muley mill as a demonstration of sawing hard wood during the previous summer.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/14/08 01:07 AM




This seems alittle off our hewing topic, but we want to remember that historic mills even stone mills contained an internal structure consisting of many parts of hewn timber, which was an integral part of the structure, for instance the floor(s) of which there are 3 in this mill, the roof containing purlin posts, hewn rafters, and then the husking frame which contains and supports the milling stones, each pair weighing in at about 1 ton.

Please note the door frame that was removed from the mill walls during the teardown on its original site, and now being reinstalled in the reconstructed wall.

Just for those that are interested, enough stones were destroyed during the demolition that the purchase of 2 stone houses of similar stones was necessary to complete the reconstruction.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/16/08 01:31 AM



hi everyone tonight:

this is the final bent of a small horse barn that we reconstructed at UCV. It was a 1 year event meaning that we hewed, framed and raised the building in the space of one open season (May to September).

The barn was identical to one that was found in a painting owned by one of the Bellamy family members, as well the 3 bay driveshed noticeable in the background it also was reconstructed from the same painting, and was identical to the original building.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/16/08 01:41 AM

Hi again

I will post some more views of this raising but is there anything that any of you out there looking in, may want to know about the process of the reconstruction.

The stone mill that you noticed in a previous post was the grist mill reconstruction associated with the driveshed and small barn

The whole process was well over the million dollars at that time, the Grist mill waspowered by water as well as a steam engine each of 45 horsepower.

One of my roles as supervisor of restoration was to put in place the water wheel and its associated shaftings complete with babitted bearings, The stone grinding wheels, (which was a story in its self), the steam engine with its 8 foot flywheel, and the mill machinery.


NH
Posted By: mo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/16/08 05:56 AM

fantastic photo Northern Hewer! I like the one man's hand on the tie. Great thread, and with what you have learned what would you say about today?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/17/08 01:14 AM

Hi Mo:

Well that is a hard question to answer

I am very prejudice to the old work, to me it just seems to have character to it. I will be posting eventually the bare framework of a church being dismantled, it stands stark against the skyline, but as you study the hewn timbers closely like i had the chance to do you could plainly see the different workers that shaped different parts of the frame, but that is for another time.

I stand in awe at some of the wonderful modern frameworks that has been posted from time to time, They simply blow my mind away with their beauty, and yet there is something about the hewn surfaces and hand plane marks, and the complications that involve working with rough surfaces that make the old frames special.

I have worked with many excellent craftsmen that would walk away from my group (which they were a part of) saying that it took too much thought, or it was too complicated.

Looking at a reconstructed frame ready for cladding in the early morning light cannot be duplicated, its clean lines and yet rough surfaces quite a mixture it creates a special feeling in those that behold.

I do salute those out there that are working very hard to please their customers, I suspect that it is not easy because people have such high expectations now. I believe that it stems mostly from the very smooth finishes on the modern timberframes, natural flaws hidden on rough timbers become very apparent on smooth surfaces, and so on. I am a thorough believer that wooden frames built to serve the modern market are being pushed to the limit, and that in turn is pushing the constructors to the limit at the same time. It seems to me that even the architects are scratching their heads trying to meet code at times.

I don'tknow if I have answered the question but I have tried thanks for stopping by, I would like to hear from others so just barge in and say hello

NH

Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/17/08 02:05 AM

These are awesome photos, Richard. Keep 'em coming! CB.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/18/08 12:54 AM

Hi everyone in TTRAG Land

Well thanks Daiku for stopping in I intend to keep them coming they are doing no good lying around in my filing cabinet.

Each picture has a story to tell, and some that are in the story have passed on, but their memories,their enthusiasm and their image lingers on

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/18/08 01:14 AM



This is the unclad frame of the driveshed by the grist mill at UCV. We have just finished a weekend of raising the driveshed and are caught up in the upper level before we came down. That is yours truly on the left side.

You will also notice that there is no small barn yet, (previous posts) It will come in the next years planning.

NH
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/18/08 11:54 PM

NH,

Please tell me why there are two horizontal beams only 3 to 4 feet apart. The one your feet are on and the one you are leaning on. i have seen this in old barns and just don't understand why you would spend that much time/money for what seems like a small extension of height.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 12:41 AM

Hi Greg:

Thanks for opening up with a good question, shows you are careful observer.

I wondered if anyone would pick that feature out, When most people think of drivesheds, you might in your minds eye think of drivsheds similar to say those that appeared by churches their only role was to shelter the horses during a church service.

In reality there were many other types of drivesheds, we have 4 different kinds in different areas of the UCV's historic zone, 2 of which I helped reconstruct during my time there,

This driveshed was chosen for reproduction because of its unusual heavy framing members, and of course it exceptional framing details.

The inset horizontal tie beam in each end of the building that you are referring to, would seem to many to be unnecessary, but in reality it is on the same level as the other 2 centre tie beams, and was there to accept a complete floor covering stretching from one end of the building to the other. This area was sometimes used to store hay, and at times being that it was a driveshed associated with a grist mill, used to store grain in large bins, and maybe bags, barrels, or any other item necessary to keep the mill running.

These bents were exceptionally heavy to raise, and we enlisted the help of a gin pole and pulley blocks that had been used to move buildings with, and that were in storage.

We were able to hoist 3 bents from one setting of the gin pole, and then to hoist the 4th bent we had to reposition the gin to the opposite end and lift the last bent in reverse to the others.

I will be posting some good shots of the gin pole in the next short while.

Thanks again for posting the question I hope everyone enjoyed learning alittle something about drivesheds. I could describe further many other types but only if there is an interest.

Thanks again Greg(k)

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 12:57 AM



Hi everyone

Here is a good view of the gin pole in operation during the raising of the driveshed, hope you enjoy because I well remember each year the culmination of our full year's work right through some of the hottest days. This was labour day, and everything went as scheduled.

One thing that I din't mention was the 2 front centre posts were not on plates but rather just on large flat stones set as closely to the right elevation as possible. That made them longer than the 2 outside posts, and when framing them one had to remember the difference in length.

NH
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 01:02 AM

Thanks for the explaination. So if I was inside this structure, I would not see the two levels as I do on the outer wall? Only the lower level that is at your feet?
Posted By: gregk

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 01:13 AM

NH,

Lookin at this thing more closely now. So it is "floating" on the ground? No foundation? Great pictures by the way..So happy u figured that out. I am at Penn State University right now with my youngest. We are going to watch the spring football scrimmage in the morning. Paterno, and I quote " never sent an e-mail, never read one, never touched a computer. Does not have a cell phone". He finds it difficult to keep up with "recruiting".
Posted By: CarlosCabanas

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 01:14 AM

I would love to see more pics of the gin pole!! Do you need a crane to get the gin pole up!! haha Seriously how do you get the gin pole up? Looks like a feat in itself!!

Carlos
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 01:01 PM

One way to raise a gin pole is with a "raising" pole:



It depends on the size of the gin pole how it's raised.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: CarlosCabanas

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 02:19 PM





Northern Hewer

Did you set that bent up off the ground, on the timbers that are on the sawhorses?? And if so... why?

It looks like there are two ropes holding the bent down?? Are there lines from the top of the bents back towards the sawhorse??? And again... why??

Also how do you keep the bottom of the gin pole from kicking out? Is it dug in or tied to something?

Jim

Thanks for the picture of the gin pole raising. Makes sense.

Carlos
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/19/08 04:41 PM

When I made my gin pole, I made it with a large timber base, like an upside down T with braces:



This way the bottom is heavy and some what stable from left to right. And it provides a lot of surface area to bear on the ground/frame deck, if erected inside the frame.
I learned this from Jack Sobon, and also saw it in a book by Richard Babcock.

If you aren't going to make yours with a large base then yes, you have to secure the base so that it won't slide out on you when you raise it.

Some people do dig a hole.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/21/08 01:19 AM

Hi Carlos, and Jim,

Carlos I will try and answer your queries,

first off we always lift the bents up as high as we could with all hands on board. This usually is only sawhorse and a small timber off the ground. At this height when the main lift starts the short 8' pike poles can follow right away with varying lengths of pikes following in behind to cath the bent should something fail, like a broken sling, or whatever. We end up with 16 foot pikes that are secured well into the timber, and at the full height of the lift the handles of these pikes are driven into the ground to hold things until the all clear sounds and ropes are secured.
The ropes that you see going back to the saw horses will follow the lift up and will hold the bent securely at the top of the lift, also they are for security should the bent go too far. Ropes also follow from the opposite direction to also hold tightly in opposing directions.

The gin pole itself is set into a special shallow hole about 16" deep, this is sufficient to keepthe bottom of the gin from moving. once the weight of the lift starts no way will the gin move in any direction,

Lifting the gin pole up is a manouver in its self. This gin isn't real heavy but it is surprising the amount of effort it requires to get it in the air. What we did not being able to use modern machinery was to block up the gin as high as we could, and then with ropes and man power on lines and lifters and pikes at the top end we physically hoisted the top end upwards, once the pikes could be used with efficiency it was no contest, but up to that point it was difficult. You had to be careful though that it didn't hesitate and come back down once it raised above the lifters level. Everyone had to work together and be briefed on what to expect, and what is expected of them.

One of the dangers was that someone with a pike would stumble on the lift,and let the metal spiked end of the pike fall remembering that someone below not looking upwards could receive a serious blow to their head. We did have some close calls but no injuries. We also were required to work without any type of safety equipment.

I was continuously trying to visualize what dangers could happen and then do a safety lecture previous to the day's events. It sure wasn't easy, and if someone was seriously injured I really had no idea what might take place, other than first aid was usually very close at hand and instant communications with security and other personnel on tap.

Jim:

I like your gin pole I's sure that it would work well, My father used a gin of a different type when he was building the fort at UCV it was stationed in the centre and moved around to all four sides to hoist the timbers as the walls rose up

Well thanksfor jumping in I must go now

NH




Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/21/08 01:24 AM

Hiagain:

Before I leave if anyone else has additional questions or wants to post pictures of their gin poles I'm sure that everyone would enjoy it immensely

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/21/08 01:06 PM

I posted more pictures of mine in the thread about parbuckling:
http://www.tfguild.org/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=13562&page=0&fpart=1
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/22/08 10:30 PM

my gin pole set up uses a strap type comealong. it's handy for working by yourself, but i wouldn't want to stand under the load- i've had teeth shear off.

i use two ash poles secured at the top and three lines.

hewing season is almost over here- it's getting too warm! i'm planning on getting some video up on youtube and will post it soon.

one thing i found is that you can use your leg to advantage when hewing standing on the log. if you're right handed, the left hand holds in about the upper third of the handle, and the left knee pushes forward at the forearm. most of the swing then comes from the leg. push the axe forward with the knee, guide it in its fall with the hands.

i love the look of a hewn timber. it's sculptural. also makes it possible to leave parts of the log round if you know where its going in the building and where the joints will be.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/23/08 12:49 AM

Hi Toivo

There is nothing wrong with using the 2 pole system, I believe that it is a more permanent setup though and might be a little harder to move around.

A 2 pole system was widely used for stacking hay in the days gone by, it was ideal for that purpose.

I understand that you stand on the log for hewing, do you stand completely on the log? how do you keep your balance, and do you hew down beside your feet, or ahead of your feet?

I am also curious where you learned this technique,

Thanks again for coming on board, with the question and the information about your style of hewing.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/23/08 01:05 AM



before I leave this area here is a good picture of the completed driveshed and the small horse barn. Notice how the two roof lines really comlement one another, the small barn is being used presently as a coopering shop, but it has the horse stalls all built in along with the mangers,

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/23/08 01:20 AM





this next photo is a church frame that I happened across one day.

It seemed to stand out so bare against the skyline, and I had a good chance to examine it before it came down. I referred to it on a p;revious post, and said that I was sure that you would appreciate seeing it.

All the ceiling timbers are still in place and you could really get to see the structure and style of framing and hewing on the timbers

One thing that struck me was the absence of sway braces, or very few

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/23/08 02:06 AM

yes, i stand up entirely on the log which is pinned either to the notched stump and a notched sleeper in the bush or two notched sleepers in the log yard. balance is something to get a hang of, especially for the smaller joists and braces. i leave the bark on for traction on the first face, then stand on the one square face and work from there.

the axe handle (32inches) is offset slightly so that when you hold the handle knob at your waist the flat side of the blade balances right against your baby toe. i hew right beside my feet. it goes without saying that one must be very aware, but this seems to come about naturally. i feel safer doing this than with the swedish style (which is nice for finishing) with the log at waist level, where a glancing or too-hard blow can put the axe into your thigh. in what i've been told (by my grandfather) is the finnish style, it's just a matter of keeping your toes tucked in on the log and keep you eye on the chalked line. the weight of axe to plumb keeps the face of the timber square. you hold the axe on a relaxed right arm and let it pendulum with the weight doing the work.

from what i've been told this was the way that railroad ties were hewn in the bush. i have an old cnr axe that my grandfather gave me. the octagonal handle on it is elegant and i've used it as my pattern for others (none quite as nice as the original yet).

interesting to see that little finish broadaxe:

http://www.kfhume.freeserve.co.uk/pages/publicationspages/finland2001pages/finland2001frame.htm

that looks more like a surfacing tool than something you'd chop a tree square with. ????

thanks for the background on the 2 pole gin-pole! i think many of these techniques are often patterned more by habit, happenstance and imitation than by enlightened practice.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/24/08 05:06 PM





Hi everone:

Here is a good shot of the foot of the rafter associated with the church frame (previous post).

This maybe old hat to some of you, but to some the mystery of what type of notch or cog was used to secure the bottoms of the rafters to the upper plates lives on.

In this case the cog was fit snuggly down into a corresponding motise in the top plate, and then they used 6" wrought iron spikes to secure it there. I was surprised that no wood pins were used as a securing medium.

Also there was no overhang tail fashioned on the end of the rafter, They no doubt used another technique to apply the overhang.

I have seen angled blocks used, and on another church they mortised holes all along the plate and then inserted square support pegs to build the overhang out of.

Remember that the overhangs usually carried right around the building corners and identical returns were applied.

For those of you that never applied historically an eve return it is tricky to replicate, especially if there are multiple rounds of trim that needs also to be returned as well as carrying these multiple rounds up the gable ends.

One such project that I worked on had 5 rounds of different trim of varying sizes and shapes, one round being fashioned out of 4 by 4" pine.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/25/08 01:05 AM

Hi again

I have a question for someone out there

"why do you think that the cog is offset to one side of the base of the foot of the rafter rather than putting it right in the centre"

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/25/08 12:59 PM

Standard layout rule, 2" off layout side 2" wide.....
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/25/08 11:38 PM

I need a better picture. Is cog the same as tenon in this example? Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/26/08 01:11 AM

Hi everyone

thanks for the replies--Jim--yes standard layout rule 2" off the layout side-- right--but when you look at the rafter laying beside the one in question notice that the cog seems to be centered,

Timbeal--cog--I suppose does have the same function as a tenon but in a different way, for instance it is not pinned, but it does fit into a mortise cut into the plate, other than that I really don't know what to say.

Cogs do come in different forms, with smaller rafters the cogs will extend right across the whole base of the rafter, in the case of these fairly large rafters the cogs are situated as you see. One thing that struck me though was that for the job that they were doing these cogs seem fairly small, and being shaped on the face would have been harder to cut without an adze.

The thrust fase of the cog no matter where they are used are always are at a right angle to the foot of the base of the rafter, and are a little tricky to fashion. I used an adze as mentioned above predominantly to shape the cogs on the feet of the reconstructed buildings that i was involved with at UCV.

Whenever you are examining existing buildings for reconstruction it is almost impossible to know for sure just what the cog or tenon on a hidden joint truly looks like sometimes you have to make decision based on your experience or if you are lucky you may be able to come across it in research document or historic book written by an author dating to the period that you are working in.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/26/08 01:26 AM

Hi everyone:

before I leave this photo of the church frame one of the interesting framing features, that seemed unusual to me at that time, was the ceiling tie beams were on the same plane and in line with the upper plates and the vertical posts

It seemed a wonder to me that there was enough wood left at the point of intersection to make a secure mortise--maybe someone could comment. I did theorize that the tenon from the ceiling tie beams passed through the plates, and the tenon from the post coming up through the plate was short, that would be my own solution.

The only thing that I can say is that they seemed to hold securely for the lifetime of the structure, which was probably over 100 years.

It would be nice to hear an engineer's point of view on this topic and what he would do if asked to reconstruct this building.

I was not able to get up and take a look at that time, and when I went back the frame was demolished and gone.

As I stood there that day trying to visualize the raising that must have taken place, it seemed to me that each whole side of the building must have been raised and then the tie beams inserted in the air from scaffolding. Of course the ends would also have to have been raised first, and then both sides, and then the tie beams, in that order.

I must point out that the whole frame was white oak timbers which would make for strong connections but tough hewing.

I hope you enjoyed this trip with me back to a time when framer's did their own thing------

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/27/08 12:05 AM






Hi everyone dropping by

I think that it is about time to end this thread due mainly to a prompt from a good friend, besides that I truly was considering starting up fresh, so don't go away too far I thoroughly enjoyed having you on board.

For those of you that want feel free to continue to wander through these 23 pages of questions and answers, as well as personal photos, I have many more and I promise to bring more to your viewing pleasure as the days roll around.

I am ending this thread with a hewing photo of yours truly at UCV working on one of the many timbers used in the reconstruction of the Ross Barn.

I will drop by from time to time to answer any questions that you might want answered in regards to any of the posts, if I don't seem to respond just put the finger on me in the new thread so that I realize that there is additional interest to be taken care of here

The Northern Hewer

Richard
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/07/08 11:58 PM







It seems that many are still visitg this site so I will for the next short while post some additional interesting photos.

I can't seem to get the pics to load so I will try tomorrow night--sorry

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/12/08 12:06 AM



hi everyone: sorry for being so long delivering another photo.

This picture shows a corner layout of the mud sill of the Ross Barn just before the raising took place of the upper structure.

You will notice the sizing of the timber's seating in reddyness for the corner post

You can also see the tallow on the pins, we always kept the wood pins in a pail with tallow, it keeps the pins from drying out, and provides a slippery surface for driving them home with the commander.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask

Hope you enjoy

.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/13/08 12:08 AM

Hello everyone

Just a further note to this pic before moving on, the seating as you see it here was produced using an adze only and after the ring of sill timbers were slid into position and proper measurements were taken,

On the timber you will also notice the wooden rule that I always kept close by me as I worked. I was taught by my father to always use it along with measuring poles of varying lengths. We used metal tipped poles, these metal tips came out to a square knife like edge on both ends, and varied in lengths from 3' to 16'-- (3', 6', 8', 10' 12', 16' respectively). Metal rules were not used on site, and I will tell you once you became familiar with measuring poles you would not go back to a flexible tape for accurate measurements.

One exceptional use of measuring poles was to square up frameworks both standing and horizontaly while fitting up on the ground. You would measure up the post on the framing line say 6' place a fine nail, and then from the base of the post out 8' on the plate from the same framing line and place another fine nail.

The 10' measuring pole should when everything is square just touch both fine nails. It was at this time that you could check the contact point of the post to the seating on the plate and adjust as necessary, also at this time you could do layout work for the brace holes using the correct measuring pole for that particular building.

What pictures tell!!

I hope that you enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/13/08 04:47 AM

Hi Richard,

There have now been over 27,000 hits on this topic.

Is that a record for the forum ?

Congratulations

Ken Hume
Posted By: frwinks

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/13/08 06:32 PM

hats off to NH for posting all the awesome info and pics cool

keep 'em comin' mister
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/14/08 12:05 AM

Hi Ken and Frwinks

Ken nice to know that you are looking in from over THERE! I really am not trying to set any record but there seems to be quite a few that stop by each day for a look in, I compare it to a line up at a great restaurant.

Frwinks also thanks for plug and I take it that you are enjoying the posts, that really makes my day, and I hope that you are learning from your visits.

I welcome conversation please feel free to jump in with your experiences and comments.

Well all I can say is that I am glad many seem to be enjoying what I have to offer and I will try to continue to post general interest pics along with some commentary on this site as I get the time.

My other new site deals mostly with historic structures in particular Mills of the 1860's period, but I will be posting photos of other structures that include drivesheds, shops, bakeovens, smokehouses, and we may even talk about the outhouses that were a necessary evil back when.

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/15/08 12:46 AM



Hi everyone here is another view that I just ran across of the church frame as it is being dismantled in Dundas County.

It alway impressed me how the network of timbers spanning the whole width of the building seemed to say so true and straight without middle supports and what a problem it must have been during the raising many years ago to insert the timbers due to their unusual side connections and other members as they needed to be placed in their respective positions.

Hope you enjoy.

NH
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/15/08 11:09 AM

Hi NH

With regard to the earlier mud sill photo, I have not seen the top surface of a sill releived like that before in historic framing. Is that something common in youre experience? What is the purpose?

Jim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/16/08 12:28 AM

Hi JIm:

Good question:

Well for starters this system of framing requires one to refer to framing lines which represent the true outside diameter of the timber.

The sizing that you see in that photo is required because the timber was overhewn it appears about 3\4". Now the upright timber that will stand in this spot is exactly the same length as all the rest of the vertical timbers that make up each bent of the structure. This sizing of the mud sill or plate at the contact point of each upright timber along the mud sill ensures that the upper ends of all the posts are right in line and will accept the upper main plate and make the roof line straight.

The upper main plate will also have to be sized at the point that the vertical timber contact it.

Depending on the hewing at times the sizing is hard to notice because of the accuracy of the hewing. I have seen barns where there was very little sizing at connection points but that was unusual with hewn timber.

I hope this answers your question if not just come back with more questions and we will continue to discuss this point until you are satisfied with the outcome.

Thanks for coming on board

NH
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/17/08 10:28 PM

Hi

I cannot tell if this barn will have a wood floor which lands on the sill. If so, relieving the top of the sill will produce a level eave but an irregular floor. I can see using this method if it were a shed with a dirt floor.

Jim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/17/08 11:48 PM

Hi Jim:

Once again very observant a trait I really like in people, I hope many are looking in as we talk about this item of interest.

Being a 3 bay barn this is the #3 bay and is the section that hay is stored in, meaning that the hayloft decends to ground level. This would indicate then that the irregular variation of the top of the sill creates no problem,

Now as you move to the centre bay that did have a floor covering of 3", pine slip tongue planks this irregularity could cause you some distress.

Remember now that this sizing had to be done at each vertical post at its point of contact with the plate, to ensure that the whole frame would go together properly, no mistake about that. To overcome this slight iregularity you would just get out your adze and in about 30 minutes or less cut away the proud material.

That is exactly the way that these types of problems as they arose were handled.

It could be that in the centre bay section very little needed to be taken at the sizing points so there may not have been a problem at all.

This is what using rough hewn material is all about, you expect these types of problems from time to time, and you handle them.

By the way I would say that a level eve is visually quite important

I hope this answers your question and I thank you for it I hope everyone enjoyed us sharing this bit of historic timberframing information

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/18/08 09:43 AM

NH, was this sill a replacement or modeled from a older building which wasn't savable? In the recreations are/were you using or reclaiming some of the original pieces? In the sill situation it seems the tops could be placed flush and the odd bottom would be accommodated with the stone foundation, relieving the worker of the adze work. Have you seen this sill post housing in original structures? Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/18/08 11:59 PM

Hi Timbeal:

Once again good question

This was brand new historic reconstruction. The building was private property, and we had to get permission from the owner to gain admittance for detailed information.

The original barn is still being used and will probably survive for some time. The reason it was chosen was because it dated back to the 1860 period and had unusual early framing characteristics such as tie girts between the tops of the purlin posts, and very heavy handhewn timbers, which in itself meant that the timbers were chosen from the 1st generation forests.

The timbers also were rectangular rather than square which placed properly in the framework allowed good heavy relish at the seating points.

The braces were another story they also were handhewn from hardwood, rectangular rather than square, and the seatings of their feet did not follow the regular framing plan which would have been that they would have been laid out along the framing lines. They (the feet of the braces) rather followed a line about 15 degrees inside the framing lines.

This characteristic created a lot of hard work for the hewing team, and then the framers had to create a method for creating them from the hewn stock, and accurately placing them in their positions with a good tight fit. These braces I might say were tricky to make and install but once in place they were truly a strong bracing mechanism.

I think Timbeal that you need to consider what you are proposing in the later part of your reply above. In my opinion it was much easier and more accurate to place the timber sill level on the large load bearing stones, using the framing lines as a reference medium for this job, and then work from the framing lines upwards to the seatings.

Another aspect to consider is of course the rough hewn surface of the upper part of the timber sill being that they are hand hewn and rough and uneven, here again in my opinion it would be not good workmanship to just place the vertical timbers in their respective mortises giving no thought to what was going to happen further up the line.

I have to say though that the purlin posts's feet where they sat on and were mortised into the large cross girts were not gained into the the top surface. Under close examination it seemed to me that the original hewers were working under very close tolerances, and the need for anyseating at these points were unnecessary. We in turn paid cose attention to this detail and the reconstruction included this feature.

This barn's large doors also had very unusual door hinges being fashioned entirely from wood. Here again we were able to examine and copy the original hinges and install them to a very high accuracy rating.

This barn was a 3 bay English barn but exhibited traces of the German Dutch framing characteristics that seemed to have been included, such as no overhang on the eve, and the wooden doors hinges.

Thanks for the comments and questions Timbeal, and I am open to more questions if anyone wishes to put them forward.

During the TTRAG Conference in Morrisburg a few years back I took the group at that time to visit this barn and we had quite a discussion on the many points

Hope everyone enjoys

Nh

Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/19/08 10:36 AM

NH, as I reconsider my proposal I pulled out Timber Framing #81 and browsed on the article The English Barn in America, I found the last section The Foundation to be helpful in that it pointed out how the sills were laid. "the sills were placed, leveled and squared. Than the gaps in the wall were filled with thin shim stones" This does leave us to question what the level reference was, I am guessing it is the top of the sills. Sobons sills were sawn but that doesn't mean they were true. The difference was made up with the "shim stones". Still questioning if the original, and still standing structure had reduction/gains on the sills? Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/19/08 11:31 PM

Hi everyone--good evening --

Well before we leave this topic I have a couple of more unusual framing characteristics that I ran across as I was doing the documentation on this building, I am going to tell you what they were and Maybe you will give me your best guess at why the original framer did what he did:

a--The purling posts placement--

The building is 30 feet wide and as I measured the original mortise placement for the purling posts I noticed that instead of there being an equal 10 feet between the outside of the building to the centre of the mortise holes in each case the posts were 4" closer to the centre line of the building ie: 10'-4" from the outside to the centre of the purlin posts.

I replaced the posts in the same position during the reconstruction although I sort of wondered if it had been a mistake on the framer's part. In the end I discovered why this had been done.

What is your guess?

b--Ceiling timber placement--

In the east bay another irregularity showed up during the initial documentation of the building...

The east bay had a ceiling in it originally and was used mainly for horses and a few cattle. The ceiling timbers were framed in so that over the alley way they were 4" higher on that end than on the other end where they met and were mortised into the posts

Here again I thought a mistake had been made and I double checked to see if the posts had decayed on the bottom ends and created false readings. To my dismay though it was evident that this was not so and I really was torn between correcting this error during the reconstruction. It was decided though to not change things but keep the original measurements during the reconstruction.

The answer to this also became evident after the framing was complete and the floor in this section was installed--what do you guys think the irregular measurements were there for.


I hope you enjoy and don't be afraid to jump in with an answer I am sure everyone will enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/19/08 11:48 PM

Hi Timbeal:

I am a firm believer that things were done in many ways, and it sounds like the article which I am not familiar with states clearly that the ring of sill timbers were probably Hewn,
Mortised and Framed in the yard close to the construction site. I would expect that at this point the seatings were all completed.

At the same time or previously the stone walls were raised ready for the ring of sill timbers. Once in place on top of the stone walls the timbers were probably wedged and levelled up and then thin stones and mortar filled any gaps, which would be normal in that case.

In our case we did not have stone walls but individual large flat stones placed so that they were under the load bearing points.

We also levelled up the sill timbers as best we could without a transit to work with, the main thing being that no wind in the timber placement was allowed. We then filled in the gaps with an historic mortar mixture which was 3 sand and 1 of slacked lime.

Whether the original timbers were seated and how much is not an issue because we were using freshly hewn timbers which were as I mentioned oversize, I think that I mentioned 3\4" roughly.

I hope this answers your question I have did the best I can to make it clear for everyone.

You did mention that you wondered what the level reference was well for me it would have probably have been no doubt 3 different places 1--the seatings on top of the sill, 2--the framing line on the side of the timber sill there from the work of the framers), or 3--the half lap mortises on the corners. Any one of these spots could have been used as a levelling reference point

Thanks again for the additional dialogue I am sure that many are following this conversation along

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/23/08 12:47 AM

Hello everyone

I am still waiting for some feedback on the questions that I posted a couple of night ago that deal with the framing irregularities of the barn we are discussing. So jump in and take a stab I am sure that many would like to hear what you have to say.

NH
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/23/08 05:29 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer

The building is 30 feet wide and as I measured the original mortise placement for the purling posts I noticed that instead of there being an equal 10 feet between the outside of the building to the centre of the mortise holes in each case the posts were 4" closer to the centre line of the building ie: 10'-4" from the outside to the centre of the purlin posts.

I replaced the posts in the same position during the reconstruction although I sort of wondered if it had been a mistake on the framer's part. In the end I discovered why this had been done.

What is your guess?


NH



Was it an 8" post?

sounds like the framer was setting out from/to the edge of the post, not the center, so it was an even 10' to the edge?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/24/08 12:57 AM

Good evening everyone:

Well thanks Gabel and Derek for what I would call I believe very educated answers.

First part--
Gabel--pretty good response I would say--

The original framer when he laid out for the mortise to secure the bottom of the purlin posts had it in his mind that the exact centre of the rafter would bear directly on the outside corner of the purlin plate, and that necessitated moving the mortise over 4" closer to the centre of the building the posts being 8" square. In my book this was pretty good work and it certainly was not done by a green horn, but by a very experienced framer who was pretty particular I must say.

I had sort of forgot about it until we were doing an initial layout of a pair of rafters on the ground prior to the raising and discovered why the mortise ended up where it was.

Derek:--also a good guess I must say

The extra height over the walkway gave a little more clearance for the horses heads especially their ears as they entered on their way to their stalls.

Personaly I would have put the ceiling timbers in level if I had been the one in charge of the framing at that time.

I must say though that lighting was not a factor because of the small windows in this case.

Thanks again for coming on board

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/24/08 11:08 AM

How many hands high were these horses? Tim
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/24/08 12:33 PM

In the same article of TFing #81 Sobon mentions "The top side of the floor framing is, of course, the reference face, assumed to be flat and level". This being a series of articles on English barns in America and NH, you being in Canada? Could those folks of been applying a different approach to framing? NH, I believe you would find this series of articles very interesting.

In the last few post were you discussing a drive shed or the stable? Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/25/08 01:19 AM

Hi everyone

Timbeal well I have no way of knowing even what kind of horses was used approx 148 years ago I expect though that they were the "Canadian Breed" which is a small tough working type which I believe came out of Quebec, but then I am not a horseman by no stretch of the imagination.

Also Thanks for the push in the direction of future reading I am always open to new information when it comes to historical subjects.

I am sure that Sobon wrote some good articles which I am sure he can back up with personal experience or research no doubt, but there again we need to keep an open mind.

I did work under the direction of one of Canada's leading restoration arhitects during my life's work, and to that I have added experiences like looking closely at what was done by the common carpenters from long ago. I have also listen with interest to the experiences of others in my field including writers like Mr Sobon, and others that have come and went before him. I was also fortunate to have discussed with thousands of tourists woodworking topics, of which timberframing and hewing was right near the top. They came from all over the world England, Australia, France, USA, and the last few years from Russia many groups I hosted personally with translators. I learned from them and it made me humble and it made me realize that our history is so young compared to Europe, japan, England, Italy and the list goes on.

I marvel at what the younger generation is doing in the timberframing world today as they push the timberframe homes to their limit to please the builders.

I was discussing the 3 bay barn that I reconstructed using the original as my blueprint so to speak. My main objective was to preserve for future generations the fast disappearing barns and other outbuildings, that were constructed in my immediate area, realizing that there probably were changes due to the many ethnic groups that settled here in 1784 climate being another factor in a style change.

I am sure that I am boring some that are dropping in so I am signing off for tonight.

Thanks for the feedback

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/26/08 01:14 AM

Hi everyone

Just out of curiosity since I have never read one of Sobon's books, could you give some of his background

Thanks

Nh
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/26/08 10:15 AM

Jack does not use a computer so he cannot answer peresonally here. I do not know him too well but I will share what I know.

Jack is a liscensed architect who has been studying historic timber framing for over two decades. He is a hands on researcher: for example, one of his recient topics has been English barns. In studying English barns, he built one at his house using traditional methods and tools, even raising it by himself with a gin pole.

Jack and Tedd Benson, who reciently replied to the interupted plate thread on this forum, have come to represent two opposing philosophies of timber framing: study and reproduce traditional frames using old techniques to relearn some of the lost information verses Tedd's forward looking, modernistic approach.

Jack, sponsored by the National Park Service, put together the book Historic American Timber Joinery: A Graphic Guide. To me this book is a very important record of wooden building joints in North America. He has collected information on about 12 more joints which were not included in the first edition and there are probably more out there. Everyone should have this book and when an unrecorded joint is located, the information should be recorded and sent to Jack. Not to be critical, but this book does not (yet) include information on the use of wall planks such as plank-on-frame or true plank houses, the shapes of posts (gunstock, joweled, taipered, etc.), or some nailed joints (hip jack rafters are usually nailed onto the hip rafters).

Currently he is studying steeples. One big advantage Jack has in not using a computer is the steeple drawings he has been producing for Timber Framing are so complex they cannot be done with a CAD system, only by hand (so far!).

I am sure there is alot more to the story.

Jim

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/27/08 12:58 AM

Good evening everyone

It is always nice to have a message or reply waiting and yours was great Jim.

Thanks for the background information on Mr. Sobon, I have heard his name, book and workmanship passed back and forth as a reference medium many times, it seems to me that he possess a great deal of background information on true historical timberframing, and other topics, my hat is off to him.

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/27/08 01:39 PM

I have attended a Jack Sobon workshop taught at the Shaker Village in Hancock, MA. And I speak to him at least several times a year, on my travels to the western side of our state.

Part of his personal history is that he worked for Richard Babcock of Williamstown, MA for many years while going to college for architecture. Richard Babcock has written several books most of which are self published, so the only way you can get one is to buy it from him. I had the opportunity to listen to Richard Babcock speak at a guild conference once. At that time I bought a book from him.

His business was to take apart frame of barns and houses, repair and re-erect these frames. Sometimes for private clients, sometimes for historic associations and/or groups. Lots of these were done in MA and up and down the Hudson River valley of NY.

When you read Jack Sobon's book of Historic Joinery you'll see in the notes where the joint was found. That is what size and type the building it was used in, and it's geographical location in the States. It is possible that lots of these joints where found as he worked for Richard, as a young man.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: Joel McCarty

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/27/08 05:03 PM

It should be noted that Historic American Joinery and the pending steeple publication (as well as others) are Guild projects conceived, refined and run by the excellent Will Beemer.

He writes the grants to the National Park Service (every two years).

He assembles the team (Jack Sobon, Ed levin, Ken Rower and Jan Lewandoski), and begins the long process of publication, in cahoots with Ken Rower.

Finally shepherding the resulting articles into a monograph, usually with additional commentary not appearing in the original publications (in Timber Framing).

Guild members and TF Subscribers get to see this stuff long before the general public - just in case we got something terribly wrong.

Most of this material is now available for free download from the TFG website. Links are on the bottom of the homepage. Also for sale in analog format on the TFG webstore, and through the granting agency, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. (A cool bunch of folks who write training materials for NPS employees - the NPS is the nation's landlord of historic structures; we're proud to have been recognized by them as experts in our particular and peculiar field.)

So hats off to Will Beemer from bringing a great idea to life and keeping it going, to the team for doing all the work, and to the National Park Service for paying the bills.

-Joel McC

Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/27/08 11:23 PM

I'll second that.....
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/28/08 01:15 AM

Hi everyone tonite

thanks Jim and Joel for the replies and more background material on Jack Sobon, and Will Beemer--- you know the old saying behind every good man there is a great-----------

I'll also second that....

NH

Posted By: dave felshaw

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/30/08 01:32 PM

Question! My Great-great Grandfather was awarded a contract to "frame and counter hew" a grain mill for a $1.77 1/2 cents per 10 square. I understand frame, but what is counter hew?
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/30/08 03:38 PM

Originally Posted By: dave felshaw
Question! My Great-great Grandfather was awarded a contract to "frame and counter hew" a grain mill for a $1.77 1/2 cents per 10 square. I understand frame, but what is counter hew?


Dave,

I've seen the term "counter-hew" only once before -- in the book Light and Heavy Timber Framing Made Easy (FT Hodgson, 1909). Here is a link.

http://books.google.com/books?id=kkk1AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA172&lpg=PA172&dq=%22counter+hew%22&source=web&ots=c4wtiUOI6W&sig=HF_TvsK5J1eQp7aU0POr9DIho44&hl=en


This term means the process of "re" hewing timbers as part of the layout/cutting process to make the timbers closer to square and closer to dimension. It is done when laying out by the square rule on hewn material. When you snap your layout lines (at say 2" from the edge), there will be places that due to irregularities in the hewing will stick out more than 2" from the layout line. Counter hewing is the process of hewing off the places that are "proud" of the theoretical edge.

This can be done just at the joints or on the whole stick. If it is done just at the joints then at the tenons, it is basically reducing both sides of a tenon.

I think this would have been an important part of the process when a carpenter was using timbers that were supplied (or hewn) by the farmer/owner, which in my understanding, was fairly common.
(We all know what it is like to follow someone else's work.)

Now, you've got to tell us more about the contract! Where, when, what, how big, how much, did it include the raising or just framing/counterhewing?

Could you scan it and post a link? or pictures?

I would love to know more!


GH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/31/08 01:06 AM

Hi everyone:

Thanks for coming on board with a bit of your family history Dave.

The "Counter Hewing" question replied to by Gabel Is well answered. The reference that I have seen is in an 1865 book written by William E Bell entitled "Carpentry Made Easy"

In it he refers to Counter hewing a timber that has a heavy wind (twist), and he in particular mentions doing only 2 sides (the reference sides) ie; outside and upper side say of a plate.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/10/08 01:32 AM



Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/10/08 01:42 AM

Hi everyone I am sorry for being away but I had business to attend to.

This photo is of 2 of my best friends and co workers, they worked together as a pair on heavy hewing projects, we had altogether 3 pairs that worked and filled in on each other's days off.

Earl and Donny could work on very hot days for 6 to 7 hours, you will notice the historical heavy clothing that they wore, unbelievable as it may seem it seemed to shelter them from the heat of the day. I wore similar clothing and I can honestly say that I seemed to be cooler than the general public approaching the work areas with their modern attire. I used to feel sorry for them with their burnt areas.

Well anyway I hope you enjoy this scene it is as accurate as one could possibly make it.

You will notice that work progressed along with two men because one could rest and interpret while the other focused his attention ot the work at hand. It is almost impossible to work and talk and keep focused on what you are doing if you are alone, it becomes very unsafe also.

NH
Posted By: Waccabuc

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/10/08 02:52 AM

Can't see a picture, and I want to see these guys stylin' with axes and the gear!!
Steve
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/12/08 12:53 AM









Good evening everyone:

Waccabuc: The picture is in a previous post but I will resend it as per your request:
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/14/08 01:26 AM

Hi everyone

Waccabuc could you receive the photo OK

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/18/08 01:12 AM



Hi everyone:

Just a little change of pace and back to basics again

Here is a photo of a few of the large mud sills (12" by 12" by 30 feet) being prepared adjacent to the reconstruction area.

In the foreground you can see on of my favorite tools, I have just finished fashioning out a tenon with it and also in the background you will see the tenon guage that I use to make sure that the exterior size of the tenon is as accurate as possible. this is obtained by sliding the guage along as it is being created.

these timbers were created from large hemlocks that squared 12" at 30 feet, each timber took a tremendous amount of work considering that the large ends were over 36" in diameter.

the whole network of timbers making up the floor alone took us 1 full season to create (may 15 to sept 15), and contained the largest of the timbers that were hand hewn.

I hope you enjoy
NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/18/08 05:36 AM

Hi Richard,

Please add "Mud Sills" to the glossary together with a definition for same. Is this the same as ground sill ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/18/08 09:15 PM

NH / Ken:

I know "Mudsill" as a regional term here in the Nothern US. It's completely the same as sill, just refers to horizontal timbers that rest in the mud so to speak (ground contact). I find it often used by the elder generations. No offense NH!!

I guess it's one of those varriations, like "crow's foot" or "birds mouth"... same reference...


NH:

That tenon gauge reminds me of something I use to make canoe paddles with: a notched board. Mine is made of plywood w/ an 1 1/8" throat to measure shaft diameter on the paddles as I use a spoke shave.
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/18/08 10:05 PM

Mudsill, in my understanding, is a sill on a foundation bedded in mortar ie mud.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/20/08 05:19 PM

Hi everyone:

I sure enjoy the comraderie between you guys, and Don no offense on "the older generation thing" I am older and proud of it in lots of ways!

I always knew the lower sills to be called mud sills the term was picked up from my father's generation of craftsmen, and just carried forward.

We also used a false tenon guage for the mortise holes that fit exactly the tenon guage in the photo. If you used both of them as you created the various mortises and tenons, you could be fairly sure that everything was going to fit providing all other criteria was met, such as squareness, and the timbers being in plane.

We had a discussion a while back on seatings on the upper sides of the mud sills, you can see we have prepared the locations of the vertical posts of the upperframework as you look in the background at some of the other timbers lying around in the preparation area.

Some of the longer timbers were 36 feet in length (the barn being 3- 12 foot bays), and these timbers in the rough were about 38 feet long to allow for trimming and squaring the ends.

I believe you can see one of these adjacent to the foreground timber.

Thanks everyone for coming on board

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/20/08 10:24 PM

Glad no offense NH...

The tenon gauge makes perfect sense... where would we be w/out our little jigs and fixtures!?!?

I'm thinking Mudsill would be a good "member name" for a new forum member. I just checked the "M" user list. There's "Mudd" and "Mudman" but no Mudsill (yet)...
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/23/08 01:40 AM

Hi everyone:

further to this topic:

I beleive there are a few persons in our midst that would appreciate just what I am referring to when I am talking about these large hemlocks in the rough------

"squaring 12" at 36 feet"

I travelled this area for about 100 square miles to get my eyes on trees of the right specie, of the right size ( as best I could ascertain from ground level), and of course they had to be straight as well.

Cutting them for this project seemed to make it worth while, but I still hated to see them fall knowing full well they had escaped the saw many times to have attained their height and size.

7 hemlock trees of this size were required just for the floor structure, and then for the upper framework 9 more of the same length but slightly smaller, and then all the posts and girts that made up the framing.

Please remeber this is just a small 3 bay barn nothing really special other than of course the early age of the structure, the unusual framing details, the hand hewn braces, the wooden door hinges, and other details referred to in previous posts.

Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane



NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/28/08 01:33 AM



Hi everyone tonight:

Here is a good view of the mud sills, and timbers for the ross barn floor, being lifted and fitted in their positions.

You can see that it takes about 5 or 6 pairs of men to lift and carry the heavy timbers with comealong timber carriers.


I am open for questions if any comes to your mind(s)
about any details in the photo.

enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/28/08 01:42 AM

Hi everyone:

before I leave, and because I can't change my post (edit button does not work yet), you will notice in the background the long timbers waiting to be hewn.

We worked out right along the roadway so that we were quite visible, and accessible to the visiting public.

Many of the old Amish order and the Mennonite people especially would come and gather around with their families. The older folk would come and express their thanks for the display, and thought that it was great that the old trades and the historic structures were being reconstructed and saved by the Ontario Government's facility at UCV.

NH
Posted By: Waccabuc

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/28/08 02:16 PM

Yes, I see it now. Thanks for another good picture. Those boys look just right.
Good way you had - one hewing and one explaining to onlookers.
Steve
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/01/08 12:55 AM



Hello everyone tonight:

It sure is rainy here tonight, but when we were working on the timbers in the photo it was dry ande hot hot summer.

This photo is an event staged on the Labour Day celebrations and it was this time every year that we would have a timberframing event to coordinate and put together the project that was ongoing for that season.

You can see the timber network in the foreground that took us the full open season to hand hew and timberframe ready for this event.

hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/01/08 01:02 AM

Hello again tonight

It sure would be nice to be able to edit our posts but as yet no luck.

The network of timbers in the foreground are those that make up the barn floor structure between the first and third bays of the barn, and has a centre supporting beam that is noticeable in the photo.

You will also notice that the timbers are all left round on the sides and bottom, with just the tops being flattened. This technique makes the timbers about twice as strong as being squared, and with alot less work.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/12/08 01:20 AM



Hi everyone: sorry to have been away from you all but the summer is time to get a way from it all for a few days.


This photo is of a dovetail connection between one of the vertical timbers that make of a bridge truss in the attic of a 1865 church.

You will notice the end of the wedge that was driven in from underneath. This wedge forces the half dovetail sideways securely holding the horizontal bottom chord of the truss from dropping down. This bottom chord by the way is 45 feet long and is a hand hewn northern white pine.

Over the years the joint has opened up slightly probably due to shrinkage of the timber parts.

Hope you enjoy, and I appreciate any comments or questions that you might have.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/12/08 01:33 AM



Hi everyone again tonight:

Because I have been away for a few days here is another photo of the work as it was ongoing in the Ross Barn yard during the reconstruction.

You will notice in particular in the foreground one of our measuring poles that we used in all our layout work.


We had various lengths from 14 feet right down to 24" that was indispensible as we did identical layout work as we moved from timber to timber

If you have any questions feel free to comment and come on board

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/22/08 12:59 AM

Hi everyone:

I just would like to add as a comment to the last photo, the lad working with the mallet in the background, (was) my lead timberframer on many reconstruction projects.

Gerry St. Pierre was a very dependable person and could be relied on to carry through complicated reconstruction projects on tight schedules.

He is now in a better place but he will be and is remembered at every opportunity. I do wish that he could meet each and everyone of you, I am sure that you would enjoy reminiscing with him the good and bad and I might say scary parts of past events

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/22/08 01:26 AM





[IMG]

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o198/Hewer/TimberFramingandStaff171.jpg[/IMG]


Hi everyone tonight:

Well back to basics again.

Every once in a while I like to return to hand hewing something that I loved to do for many years.

In this photo I am putting on the "Finishing Pass" along a pine timber.

For some of you that might not be familiar with my hewing terms the finishing pass is removing the last 3/4" of material along the log you are working on. this will bring you or in this case me as I work right down to the blue chalk line that is the reference finished surface.

Now it will still be a rough surface but should exhibit the tell tale bite of the scoring axe-- just slightly--and these marks should be approx 3" to 4" inches apart.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/22/08 01:30 AM



sorry for the problem with the photo in the previous post-- we can't seem to edit yet for some reason

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/23/08 01:09 AM



Hi everyone tonight:

If anyone has any questions regarding last night's photo that shows me scoring the 3rd side of a pine timber please feel free to do so.

This next photo is one that shows me using the carpenter's adze.
I always paid close attention and kept focused on the area of work. It is impossible to visit and talk while adzing, you have to stop work and then respond to questions, at least that is what I have found out over the years.

One little slip is all that is needed to create a serious situation or injury.

hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/23/08 01:16 AM

Hi everyone

For those that might need instruction in the use of these tools visit the tools for sale section of this web site and I will be glad to help you in any way I can.

Thanks again for stopping by

NH
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/23/08 01:59 AM

kneepads, NH, kneepads
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/25/08 12:45 AM

Hi Mark:

Yes knee pads for sure especially for those that are learning, we weren't allowed to use safety clothing or accessories as we worked in the 1860's context. We had to work carefully and as safely as possible, but even then accidents can happen.

All the working historic mills contained many questionable safety areas, but we did try and work in safety as much as possible using training and other methods.

That is why as you travel around the country many of the historic sites have only static displays whereas UCV was a completely operational site from one end to the other with around 125 costumed interpreters.

Thanks for coming on board,

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/12/08 01:11 AM



Hi everyone:

It has been a while since I have posted something new from my collection of photos, this one is the attic of an 1865 lutheran church and shows quite plainly the truss system for the roof.

Near the centre of the picture you can see the 1.8th inch wrought iron rod that suspends the centre of the lower chord of the truss. This lower chord is 12 by 12 hewn pine and is 45 feet long

You can also notice how a purling plate sits on top of the trusses and about centre, and the rafters are positioned on top
The original roofing lumber visible from underneath is all muley sawn no doubt by a local mill and are quite wide but as usual not that long.

One thing that astounded me when I first visited this location was the excellent condition of the wooden parts after all the years.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/17/08 12:39 AM



Hi everyone,

I have been away for a while and I just noticed that many are still dropping by for a visit to my site. Here is a good view of an attachment point that emphasizes just how much wood is removed at times to accomodate a building's structure, and yet seems to continue to be very strong.

this building's original ancestor was well over 200 years of age and going strong

Here is a good view of one of the front vertical posts of the driveshed that we had just put up a few years ago.

I thought that it might be a conversation piece because of all the different horizontal tiebeam attachments, as well as the mortise for the brace from the upper main plate
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/08 01:07 AM

Hi everyone

To break the monotony, tonight I have a question for those that are looking in, and maybe we will learn alittle as we go along:

I would like to discuss and talk about the subject of pitch of roofs.

To start off would anyone like to suggest what the following term represents if you were asked to construct a roof containing:



a) 1\3 pitch

For the benefit of all looking in please state in your reply the inches per foot of rise, and the degree of corresponding inclination, and the length of the common rafter needed to make up the roof of a building 24 feet in width.

(The roof will have no ridge and the rafters will half lap at their peak and be pinned.)

This is a timberframed building with a heavy upper plate, that will be mortised to accept a cog on the bottom foot of the rafter, with no eve overhang.

I hope you will join in

NH
Posted By: Don P

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/08 10:01 PM

Well here's my guess,
1/3 of 24 is 8 so this is an 8/12 pitch. An 8/12 is about 33-3/4 degrees.

This is one way of figuring the length, just remember Pythagoras. A squared plus B squared equals C squared. The diagram shows how I found the lengths of each of the three sides. I then divided the length of the rafter side by the length of the run side. This gives me the ratio of the rafter to the run, the line length ratio.

For every foot (or inch, or whatever increment) of horizontal run, the rafter is 1.2017 units long for an 8/12 pitch. You are 12' of horizontal run so 144"x1.2017= measuring along the top, roughly 173-1/16".
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/08 10:55 PM

I think a 1/3 pitch is really a 4/12.

Given that, using the same equation I get a hypotenuse of ~12.65

12.65 X 12' of run = 151.8" for rafter length. (But it's been awhile. I'm not a math whiz...)

How we doing Northern Hewer?
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/08 11:39 PM

144" divided by .8321=173.0561, which is just a tad under 1/16. It is a 8/12 pitch and the degree, 33.69139. Source, A Timber Framer's Workshop, Steve Chappell. The tangent is .6667, anyone superstitious? How historically prevalent is this roof slope?

Tim
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/29/08 12:35 AM

This is my pet peeve, the term PITCH has to many uses and meanings. I was trained that PITCH is rise over span and SLOPE is rise over run. So the diverse meanings for pitch do lead to the confusion of usage of the previous posts.

Tim, I see old 8/12 roofs.
Posted By: Waccabuc

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/29/08 04:13 AM

I agree w you Roger. I learned it that way from the booklet that came w my 1st Stanley Steel Square. Then use slope (rise over run) analogously on the tongue and blade of the framing (Steel) square to step out the rafter Length (hypotenuese).

I see lots of old houses and barns w 8/12 roofs, some 9/12 too. But 8/12 is a noticeable break point, or break angle, for the human feet and balance not to slip or tumble easily. Working on a 9/12 slope roof demands much more attention and energy for balance and grip, and thus slows down the pace of the work significantly. "Time is money" also applied in the good old thrifty days. Gumshoes are good. 8/12 sheds rain and melting snow, taking along accumulated debris quite well. Lower pitch roofs hold more seeds, leaves, needles and dampness, giving moss, lichen, bacteria and fungus a good growing medium which can destroy roofing material faster than UV radiation.
Finding balance - that's a good life.
Seems the term pitch isn't used so much anymore.
Steve
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/08 01:01 AM

Hi everyone:

thanks for coming on board, I am sure everyone is enjoying this discussion.

I would ask what everyone thinks of this in relation to pitches of roofs:

This is a method to lay out a roof to a 1\3rd pitch, related in a 100 yr old text,

(remember this is to make it exactly a 1\3rd pitch)

a) draw AB AND BC at right angles
b) describe an arc from A
c) divide the arc in 3 equal parts as indicated by E and E1
d) draw lines from E and E1 connecting them to A
e) place a square with the blade on 12 on A and the tongue so that it disects the arc
f) Placing the square as shown we find that a third pitch (or hexagon mitre) is 7 inches to the foot instead of 8 as most workmen suppose

Using the same method we find:

The quarter pitch (or octagon mitre) is 5 inches to the foot,

The half pitch or (square mitre) is 12 inches to the foot

Hope you enjoy--please comment

NH


Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/08 02:06 PM

Hewer, your example matches "Practical Uses of the Steel Square" by Fred Hodgson. This method is unlike the common methods of defining PITCH, such as rise over run or rise over span, instead he uses a method of dividing the arc of the quadrant, a method of angular description which will not agree with the rise over span or the rise over run methods. It is an absurd idea that tells the world that it is wrong and Hodgson knows the exact way. Very strangely, everything that follow in the Hodgson text refutes this method.
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/08 05:38 PM

In Hodgson's Practical Uses of the Steel Square Volume 1, Mr. Hodgson quotes the instructions that came with a Sargent framing square as saying the following:

"The pitch is the proportion that the rise bears to the whole width of the building."

So a 1/3 pitch would be 8 inches of rise to a foot of run, as others have said.

Roger,

Where does Hodgson outline that screwed up version of pitch? I couldn't find it in my copy of PUOTSS.

Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/08 05:44 PM

Gabel, the middle of page 202 and read on.

http://books.google.com/books?id=8Uk1AAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=steel+square+hodgson#PPA202,M1
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/08 06:54 PM

Found it -- i was looking in my later edition and had to pull out the older version.

It's funny, he outlines that method and then immediately says not to use it, as no one else does and the commonly used way will be "near enough". what was he trying to do? why mention it?
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/30/08 07:54 PM

It is supposed to be a clarifying example, that claims theoretical correctness but on examination is a muddle. The whole example steams with attitude and lacks rigor. In a following paragraph our square savant does battle with learned quidnuncs.

All in all, Hodgson give me a headache. His various books seem like a cut and paste out of his other books. He needed a clear minded editor.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/31/08 12:08 AM

Hi again everyone:

Especially: Don, Our barns,Timbeal, Roger, Waccabuc, Gabel

I do agree his approach is hard understand at times, but all in all I do believe his heart was in the right spot.

He stresses that one should know and understand the various aspects of the use of the steel square, eventhough at times it seems to clash with reality.

Anyone studying his books will glean some new understanding of roof framing besides that which comes nicely bundled up from the factory with steel bands around the various sections nowadays.

Today I was talking with a vary good framer for a while, and the subject came around to framing in a complicated roof structure with valleys and hips. He really had never had to even think about such things as framing and cutting rafters to accomodate roof slopes because it was always there to be unbundled and most times fit where it was supposed to.

Fred Hodgson's works overall I salute because having been written before the modern trend started tries to waken up those that are aspiring into the realm of the carpentry world as it was known at that time with various descriptions that were around at that time and zeros in on the use of the steel square in paricular.

I have read various old texts written before Hodgson's works one was "carpentry made easy" by William E Bell (1858). It had sections that related to the construction of timberframe structures using hewn material, which I found very interesting but the terminology would sometimes slow you down.

Oh yes sorry about the headache Roger

NH



Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/01/08 03:40 PM

I checked Google Books and found 'Carpentry Made Easy' by William Bell, based on a quick scan I think this is worthwhile book to study. As in real estate the three most important factors are location, location and location, Bells opening chapter in building math suggests to me that the three most important factors in carpentry are proportion, proportion and proportion. Bell addresses the pitch problem as a dicotomy between building specification and true inclination.

http://books.google.com/books?id=WnwOAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=carpentry+made+easy+bell#PPA43,M1

I suppose pitch has long been a source of confusion.
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/01/08 03:51 PM

spelling typo dichotomy
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/01/08 11:40 PM

Hi Roger and others:

Thanks for going that extra mile Roger and finding William Bell's book on Google.

I tried to click on your location marker and was blocked for some reason, anyway thanks again this time for William Bell.

He was from what I understand an architect and builder in his time and seemed to know what he was talking about.

Was the book for sale on Google?, I was just wondering how you were able to review the book's content.

NH
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/02/08 12:14 AM

The link should work or at least it works for me. The book is public domain and is free to view and download through Google Books.

http://books.google.com/bkshp?hl=en&tab=wp

Type in the search window title and author.
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/02/08 07:31 PM

I believe that the content on google books may only be accesible in the States. I know that a forum user in the UK last year couldn't access a book I had linked to.

Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/02/08 08:04 PM

Gabel, that makes sense. Since copyright laws vary nation by nation it could be useful for UK or Canadian members to do a search from Google Books UK or a Canadian Google portal.

Hewer, the page from Bell that I linked to is 43 from the 1859 edition.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/09 08:54 PM


Hello everyone:


There are many good topics floating around on the many different chat subjects, I would like to talk a bit about raising frames.

I am a personal great believer in using man power to raise frames safely, I feel that you have much more control over things providing that you have sufficient bodies around to make it happen.

Mechanical power in an historic sense usually was a gin pole, i have had to utilize it when sufficient man power was not available, but found it less than OK when taking both options into account. I guess the chance of mechanical breakdown is always there to haunt one when the lift takes place and the ropes tighten and you can hear and see the strain as everything slowly settles into its lifting mode.

I always felt very confident when just ropes and pike poles were the main lifting factor.

Anyone have any comments?

NH
Posted By: Don P

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/25/09 02:16 PM

The main lifting factor is human effort, fine as long as its well planned and executed. On stick frame jobs I've been hurt when too few men tried to tackle more than they could, when one person loses heart in a pinch everyone else suffers. From something I read once it was common in communities of old to see men who were victims of a lift gone sour. If you are a good planner, communicator and excell at directing groups then it works fine. I prefer to let some form of machine do the heavy work and I control it. I'm more a creature of the deep woods and don't care for the frenzy of groups. Although I don't care for the time pressure it instills, if I need to a crane is my preference.

This shot is a windlass gin we rigged up to tip up a few bents. Using a simple machine my wife and I tipped these up, no hurry, no flurry, no liability. No one is in the path of a drop, a cable failure could still get us I suppose, we were at a fraction of the working load of the cable. A runaway windlass handle was probably my greatest concern. A round windlass wheel and ratchet catch would lessen that possibility greatly

Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/26/09 01:21 AM

Hi Don:

Thanks for stopping in with a great pic, and your approach to the lifting mode problems.

Boy, When you mentioned the round windlass wheel, it sure brought back old memories from days gone by.

At UCV we had in storage, house and barn moving equipment that included rollers, and the winch apparatus which was a simple wertical wooden shaft about 8 " in diameter set into a moveable skid with a bottom and top wooden bearing. tha vertical shaft had near the top slots to insert a long pole maybe 12 feet in
length.

You could literally move just about anything including a 3 bay barn or house by mooring the skid to a dead man or other permanent object, and then attaching a cable or heavy rope to the object to be moved and thence around the vetical shaft.

If the object was really heavy you could insert a set of pulley blocks between the winch and the object to be moved to increase the pulling power of the winch. This scheme could again be increased by increasing proportionatly the number of sheaves in the pulley blocks

I interviewed a gentleman who specialized in moving buildings with such an apparatus, and he said he often used only the power of one person walking around pushing the pole on the winch, he said it was sufficient to move a very large barn.

I also ran across a winch in a driveshed that was mounted above one of the bays, it consisted of just a round axle sitting in 2 wood bearings at the ends, and had smsll round poles that were inserted in the shaft near one end, that could be used to rotate the shaft to lift any number of different objects, a good alternative for today's stationary hydraulic\electric power units

This is alittle off subject but I also ran across water powered winches that were used to hoist bags of wheat and other forage grains to various levels of gristmills. These winches were very simply constructed using again horizontal wood shafts and friction pulleys their adaption can be explained more fully if anyone wishes just ask.

Thanks for coming on board everyone, I hope you enjoy this foray into the days of yesteryear and to peak into the uneducated minds of those that could really imagine solutions to countless numbers of seemingly unendless moving and hoisting problems, of course one being to raise the frames of large barns\houses outbuildings and mills in times of low manpower. This is not to mention tearing out tree stumps and moving large rocks in the land clearing early phase of the settlement of any area.

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/26/09 02:23 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
....the winch apparatus which was a simple vertical wooden shaft about 8 " in diameter set into a movable skid with a bottom and top wooden bearing. that vertical shaft had near the top slots to insert a long pole.......



Similar to what was described:




Windlass that we made from above picture:



Quote:

I also ran across a winch in a drive-shed that was mounted above one of the bays, it consisted of just a round axle sitting in 2 wood bearings at the ends, and had small round poles that were inserted in the shaft near one end, that could be used to rotate the shaft to lift any number of different objects..


Sometimes called a "beef roll" as it was used to lift livestock for butchering:



This one had a wagon wheel on the end to use so that the pull rope went over the wheel which increased the mechanical advantage.

I just thought I'd add some pictures to show what was described....
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/27/09 01:00 AM

HI Jim:

Thanks for coming on line and also with the wonderful pics of both types of lifting and pulling apparatuses

Both of the types that I described were quite a bit cruder in construction especially the overhead one that I stumbled across in the Schwerdfeger driveshed, it just had hand made poles stuck in holes at the end of the shaft.

The barn moving apparatus that I described was I believe (from the photos you posted) mounted on a heavier skid. You would have really enjoyed I am sure talking to Mr. Burchell the lad who I intervied and who had made moving buildings his main source of income for many years. He got out the fiddle and we had a great time for part of an afternoon.

I wonder if you had ever ran across early historical mill windlass equipment like I described. The ones that I examined were in mills close to Staten Island and in southern New York State, and Maine.

Thanks again for posting for everyone to see

NH
Posted By: mo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/27/09 06:24 AM

thanks for all the good info everyone, everyone starts at the peanut gallery. im a sponge.

p.s. cranes are too obtuse
trees for big machinery
driveways aren't too wide
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/27/09 11:46 AM

The last frame I raised went up with hands and two ginpoles. It was out of necessity, we had to walk into the remote site. It is just another tool in the box. I have added a snatch block to the bace of the pole this allows more hands on the rope without folks getting in others way, more ellbow room.

Tim
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/27/09 10:02 PM

Originally Posted By: mo
thanks for all the good info everyone, everyone starts at the peanut gallery. im a sponge.

p.s. cranes are too obtuse
trees for big machinery
driveways aren't too wide


nice one, Mo
maybe we need a haiku section of this forum?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/28/09 01:00 AM

Hi Timbeal and others:

Timbeal I always put a snatch block at the base of the Gin Pole in my raisings, and then from there I used a single horse to do the main pull with men following up with pikes across the face of the bent.

I made the use of safety ropes that followed up with the bent and could at a seconds notice secure and hold the lift.

Thanks again for coming on with your pesonal experiences.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/28/09 01:01 AM

Timbeal I am interested in the fact that you used 2 gin poles, was it because it was a heavy lift or was there another reason?

Just curious

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/28/09 12:22 PM

The second pole goes up easier than the first and moving one from one side of the building to the other for the top plates than back for some other task and back for another. Two was a temptation and that is the way it went. It was in the plan from the start. We stood the bents up by hand, they were planed to be raised with the gin poles, I was unsure of the number of hand available. The whole building could of gone up by hand but at more risk and grunt.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/29/09 01:18 AM

HI Timbeal


Thanks for the reply, putting up 2 gin poles certainly would advantageous if one was contemplating a busy day.

This thought never crossed my mind during our building raisings to have 2 already set up at the start of the day's proceedings it sure would have been an asset.

I found that during the taking down and putting up again of the gin pole in a new location there was a general lull in the interest factor and participants interest also

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/29/09 11:42 AM

NH, I also made up a couple metal caps for the top of the poles. A 6" pipe with a flat plate on top with four holes for the lines. This allows the pole to be twisted with out winding the guys around the top of the pole. A big relief I must say. Some day I would like to see a universal pivit for the bottom allowing the pole to be tilted in any direction and still be anchored down well.(a universal joint from a large trucks drive line). And maybe a boom atached as well, like on a ship, allowing timber to be lifted and swung into place so the pole wouldn't have to be moved, perhaps. For now I am really happy with my four-rope caps.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/30/09 12:32 AM

Hi Timbeal and others:

I also capped the gin with a metal cap I had the blacksmith fashion it with 4 wrought Iron rings to hook ropes and pulley blocks.

One thing that I did on the two securing lines was to use two sets of 1\2" rope double sheave pulley blocks, this really helped to fine tune and adjust the cant of the gin

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/30/09 12:35 AM

NH:
Got any pictures?

Timbeal:
Same for you.....
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/30/09 11:14 AM

I am having problems with the machine which houses my pictures, when this is fixed I will post some.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/31/09 01:10 AM

Hi JIm and tim

Jim if you look back on this site you will see some pics of a couple of the raisings that we did at UCV using a gin to assist in the raising.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/31/09 03:00 PM

Originally Posted By: TIMBEAL
I would like to see a universal pivit for the bottom allowing the pole to be tilted in any direction and still be anchored down well.(a universal joint from a large trucks drive line).

Tim


Tim:

Sounds like a universal pivot on the end of a pole is a great idea. A truck's u-joint, like you say, is one option. And I bet some sort of "ball and socket" configuration is possible too... maybe a large trailer hitch ball set into something, or a pintle hitch set-up.

Yankee ingenuity grin
Posted By: Emmett Greenleaf

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/31/09 07:59 PM

an articulated gin pole/derrick. already been done. used a lot by the VMI cadets on their annual project(s). see pictures from the Ferry Farm Project. Designed for quick up/down with line storage in galv garbage cans. Base is also a skid block. Maybe we could entice Grigg Mullen to publish some drawings.
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/31/09 11:02 PM


NH –

I too, am fond of manpower, though I‘m not much for pikes or lifts without an assist from some mechanical advantage. With even multipart tackle we’re still in simple machine territory, not much to break down.

Not only is it always big fun to raise this way, sometimes it is just the right tool for the job.

I’ve shared the same story as Tim, literally gotten work because the other framers the client called first weren’t interested in raising on some out of the way inaccessible site, without a crane.

And in this instance, a frame I raised (with the help of many – a workshop cut frame) back in ‘ 01 at the New Hampshire Farm Museum it really was the best tool in the box.

Necessarily a piece on piece raising, it took two full days to assemble.(a long time for a scribed frame) Though the use of the derrick was to add interest to the workshop, it also was a little cheaper than raising with a crane and safer and allowed for far greater control than swinging pieces with the telehandler.

One person to lift each stick, and somebody behind them to tail the rope, one person to turn the mast and luff the spar, and two monkeys on the frame to seat either end of each stick.



Here we are removing the spar, and about to swing the derrick mast out from the center of the frame, and then swing the cubidle up into place (Yes a tree service crane was there for fortyfive minutes – no half day rate though, they volunteered to the museum)



The heart of the derrick was a set of castings (a base plate and box to ride it and the guy line ring and swivel and the fittings to fit the end of the spar and mast) which used make their living at one of the states many granite quarries, and are part of the collection at the museum. The raised spar (raised to put it above the frames roof system) is not traditional, and called for a nontraditional mast, a forty foot length of schedule 80 6” thickwall pipe and a little welding and fab.

And is it just me ? Does this thread not drive everyone batty ? Can’t the offending oversized photograph be re-sized or deleted ?


Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/31/09 11:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Will Truax

Can’t the offending oversized photograph be re-sized or deleted ?


Only the moderator can do that.....
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/31/09 11:20 PM

Um ya, or the person who put it up.

Not wondering who can do it, just asking that it might be considered.
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/01/09 12:32 AM

Can you edit any of your previous posts?
I can't edit mine....

So again, only the moderator can do it....

It seems that the time for editing is very short.....again.....

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/01/09 01:23 AM

HI everyone:


thanks for all the input and pics, you never know what might come out of a subject but this has really been a good run, and I am sure educational for everyone stopping in.

One thing that I have always been pondering over the years was how the builders from old hoisted up into place the 45 foot stack on the steam engine at UCV, now we used a crane when we restored it in '84

There was a good 1870 photograph of the stack lying on an incline with its top resting on the roof of the steam engine house when it was being installed at that time it was from this photograph that we were able to reconstruct the stack faithfully to its original design

This stack was quite heavy I would say probably about 2000 lbs
It had to be lifted up in a vertical position, above the roof of the steam engine house and gently lowered down onto the top of the boiler,that was already installed and waiting for the stack to be positioned.

In my mind this is the proceedure that I believe they used:

-utilizing a 40 foot gin pole, and grasped the stack slightly above the centre line. The lift began with ropes and cables attached

The stack was hoisted to the approximate height of 35 feet from the ground level. At this time the stack was gently stood upright the bottom approx 15 feet from the ground using mooring ropes attached to the bottom.

The gin and the vertical stack was then slowly positined over the opening in the roof and lowered carefully down into its final resting position on top of the boiler.

Final tethering of the stack then took place to complete the installation

I invite comments on this proceedure as it is only my idea just how this might have been done at that time we had no information about the installation just the photograph of the new stack ready for installation.

As I said I have pondered many times how this was done I am now inviting comments from you guys and maybe a few engineers out there who might be looking in.

Thanks again for stopping by

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/02/09 01:07 AM

Hi everyone looking in tonight:

Just a a further note to my posting last night, we also had in our collection a lovely painting of the mill along with the steam engine shed\house and the stack in place, secured with its guy lines 2 to the peak of the mill, and 2 in opposing directions I suspect to individual mooring probably 2 deadmen strategically located for that purpose.


The mill was gutted by a fire a few years after the painting was done very likely set by an overheated bearing in the husking frame, by the way does anyone know what the husking frame is and what its purpose is in relation to the milling equipment.


There are a quite a few people stopping by the site please feel free to join in and don't be shy.


For another guessing question in relation to the mill what horsepower do you think would be needed to operate the mill, its many elevators, shellers, 3 runs of stones and the bolter.


NH

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/06/09 01:24 AM

HI everyone:

It looks like no one wants to take a stab at a definition for :

Husking Frame:

The Husking frame in a grist mill is a very sturdy framework of timbers that suspend and hold very true the bed stones and their runners along with the spindles and located directly underneath is the turbine or driving power.

IN our mill the 4" vertical shaft that rises from the pressure pit where the turbine is located, extends upwards for 3 stories right up to the attic area, where it is then directed horizontally using gearing meant for that purpose and which is aattached to the horizontal shafting that in turn powers all sorts of equipment.

As the 4" shaft passes through the husking frame wooden pulleys are attached to it which power each of the 3 runs of stones using 12" pure leather belting.

This husking frame is completely independant of the mill structure especially if it is has stone walls, the reason being that the vibration that is generated during the grinding process would eventually destroy the very rigid walls.

The husking frame usually stands on a foundation that is also independant of the mill wall foundation, and is usually constructed using white oak timbers

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/09/09 02:27 AM

Hi everyone tonight

further to our discussion of the husking frame and associated equipment

In our mill the power source is complemented by steam power, which is located adjacent to the the mill structure and on a level that allows the power to be transmitted to the husking frame from the steam engine's flywheel which is 8 feet in diameter. the power is tranmitted using again 12 inch pure leather belting which was made special in England for this purpose. The belt is endless and is approximately 120 feet long

Both the steam engine and the 42" water turbine puts out equal horsepower which is in this case 45 hp and answers the question that I posed above and which I received no takers.

When the steam engine is engaged it in turns not only runs the mill equipment but has to revolve the water turbine because it is hooked directly to the shafting and there is no way to disengage it. In this regard it (the turbine)requires some water to lubricate the lignum vitae wood bearing that it spins on at all times. It also supplies some latent power due to the spinning action and the weight of itself as it spins at about 100 rpm.

As you get everything up and running the steam engine's flywheel the turbine, the grinding stones you are tapping into alot of energy sources just due to to revolving of all the different parts. This acts also like a governor and helps move the equipment through some of the tough grinding sequences, or as you engage extra milling equipment.

hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/17/09 01:48 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Eventhough my background is mainly historic woodworking which involves hewing, timberframing, adzing, general historic carpentry, I also had to be able to produce authentic wall finishes which included not only wood finishes but plaster finishes using only historic mixtures.

As the years rolled by the operation and maintenance of the 1846 Mullay Saw mill became a part of my regular job description, which continued and ensued multiple repairs and restorations of the equipment and the mill itself.

When I talk about the Grist mill above you probably wonder how I became involved with that type of mill which seems to be so far removed from sawing lumber with a vertical blade. The task of installing the husking frame was suddenly part of my responsibility during the resoration process, then installing the steam engine which sits on a very heavy oak base which had to be custom made came up for me to fabricate and install, all this I enjoyed being a part of.

The mill itself needed some replacement sills and plates these were custom hewn to match the original ones, and had to be ready when the construction crew required them.

All in allit was a learning process, and working with various groups of tradesmen including and historic miller and his son I was introduced to and had to assist them in placing and setting the bed stones and runners, along with the pulleys and adjustments to the grinding stones.

One thing that I did learn was eventhough everything looks very crude to your eye, things like the stone adjustments were very accurate, and one could adjust the separation of the stones by the thousands of an inch increments due to the manner of the installation.

The same is true of the Mullay Saw milling equipment it looks very crude but in reality it's adjustments are like a fine watch

Well I guess I will sign off for tonight if there is anything dealing with the topics as I talk and explain day to day just leave me a note and I will be glad to expand on that particular topic for you

NH
Posted By: timberwrestler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/18/09 10:51 PM

This has nothing to do with historic hewing, but here are some shots of the rigging at a TFG raising--the Farm and Wilderness barn in VT. Three walls were raised from 2 ginpoles, guylines went to massive concrete blocks. Different sections of the camp raised the individual walls throughout one day. Roof framing was helped along by hydraulics.

You can sorta see the homemade pivot on the bottom of the poles, I believe it's part of the Guild's toolkit.





The smallest kids at the camp raised the center wall which was pretty cool to see:



And this is how the ginpoles went away...

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/25/09 01:37 AM

HI everyone tonight:
Thanks for the wonder pics timberwrestler I am sure that many will really enjoy them as well as myself. I wish that I could be a part of one of these wonderful get togethers, I know from experience that working with wood using any type of timbers hewn or otherwise can produce a wonderful, interesting, entertaining and educational event.

thanks for stopping in and sharing your experiences with everyone who seems to enjoy stoppoing by

NH




Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/03/09 01:57 AM

HI everyone tonight:

Well this next question is again a bit off the line from what we were talking about but I was just asked a question about supplying a bit of the history of square square nails for dating purposes.

From my research over the years square nails began being cut by newly patented machines about 1820 in Massechusets, and were improved upon year by year with new and better nail cutting machines. When you access the patent office records slight improvements and styles were to come forward as the patents and machines were put into service. This continued until the cutting of round nails was developed in the late 1800's and slowly edged out cut nails in the early 1900's at least around here.

These improvements usually came in the form of the nail heads, and the shank or body of the nails themselves.

One thing that I have wondered about though is did the square nail production in the States also run parallel with ahead of or behind say Britain or Europe.

Maybe Ken Hume could comment on this question I have always puzzled over this fact, realizing that Other countries also developed their own special patents to cover things such as cut nails for their own areas.

Thanks in advance

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/03/09 06:45 PM

Hi NH,

The person to answer this question is Chris How MSc. He is a Brit who now lives in Australia. Chris has studied and written much on nail development and especially in resepct of the development of patent nail cutting machines. I will forward your request on to Chris.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/03/09 10:24 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
HI everyone tonight:

One thing that I have wondered about though is did the square nail production in the States also run parallel with ahead of or behind say Britain or Europe.



NH:

Great subject...

The Audels "Carpenters and Builders Guide" (1923), states that at the end of the 18th century, American nail making machines were introduced to England where they were received w/ "great enthusiasm." (I assume the text is referring to cut nails).

And as far as Massachusetts goes, the text grants the first wire nail in America instead to a New Yorker in 1851.

It also states a German immigrant, a Catholic priest, who settled in Kentucky in 1876 formed the American Wire and Screw Nail Co. The priest learned the art of wire nails in his native Germany, so it sounds like some cross-continent stuff certainly went on.

The text does say Tauton, Massachusetts pretty much cornered the industry of "tack" making years ago.

Don't know how this info compares w/ what you've uncovered... anyway, looking forward to some more information from a scholar like Ken's contact.



Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/04/09 01:38 AM

Hi Ken


Thanks for stopping in with that contact person's name, I am really looking forward to hearing a response from him.

There is nothing like information from someone that has put a real effort into a particular subject and we all pretty well know that dating buildings makes a valuable use of nail types along with other factors to come to a knowledgeable conclusion.

I am sure that there are many others that are also waiting to hear his reply on this subject.

A few years ago there was a very good article on the "History of Nails Manufacturing" in one of the research magazines that came regularly to the library at UCV, the name of that magazine escapes me at the moment but I think that it came from a Washington source.

Thanks again for stopping in

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/04/09 01:46 AM

Hi again

This message is for Don:


Sorry for seeming to neglect your wonderful reply I didn't notice it when I opened up the site tonight and it wasn't until after I answered Ken's notes that I scrolled upwards and noticed your well stated and information filled reply.

Your mention that seems to imply that the tecnology flowed back towards Britain takes me by surprise, we will see what is forthcoming from Ken's friend in Australia.

Thanks again for coming on board

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/04/09 03:00 AM

Hi NH:

I do the same thing sometimes: miss peoples posts.

In reviewing your first post, I see you are focusing more on cut nails than the wire type, making some of my later comments less relevant. But the Audels book does state that American cut nail machines were brought to England first, not the other way around. Like yourself, I find this interesting and a bit counterintuitive. But thinking further, England was not awash in lumber like the Americas were at the time.

There must have been a great need for nails w/ all the forest resources (sawn lumber) from the many mills in the increasingly-industrial "New World." After all, England and Europe are home to no-nails-required systems like thatched roofs and wattle and daub, rather than shingles and board sheathing using many nails (just a hypothesis).

This book is a great study of New England historical methods of building. It covers cut nail manufacture and dates- pg. 24+25:

http://books.google.com/books?id=2W1Lq_nvlCQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=field+guide+new+england+barns#PPA24,M1

Again, nice topic. Looking forward to more discussion.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/05/09 01:40 AM

Hi Don:

thanks for being so understanding of an old TFer like me

It will be interesting to hear from Ken's contact in Australia I sure hope that he will stop by the site with his educated slant on this topic.


One has to be careful of articles that appear in magazines they sometimes are not backed up by accurate research.

When I had access to the UCV research library I could wander through publications like the canadian patent records which I did many times over the years to prove or disprove at times issues that were before me.

We also had issues of 1860 hardware catalogues that were filled with items that could be purchased by local stores for sale abroad and locally.

Circular saws in their primitive forms were there as well as cloth tape measures that could be rolled up much as our 50 foot tapes are today.

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/05/09 06:31 PM

No problem...

What do they say about old TFers?

"Old TFers never die, they just..."

Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/05/09 08:50 PM

Hi NH,

Chris How has come back to me and has asked me to post this on his behalf so over to Australia !! :-

You are much too kind in your description of my research. The bulk of the work has already been done in North America by Henry Mercer, Lee Nelson, Eric Sloane, Amos Loveday, Edwards & Wells, and very recently this year by Ryzewski & Gordon. I have only put the bits together and tried to fit in where we stand in Australia, and how the variations affect the UK.

To get a full appreciation I can forward my recent paper to Northern Hewer and others interested in this topic. NH is on the right track, and things that went on in USA were quickly noted in UK and vice-versa. Recent research has pushed back cut nails in America to around 1762 based on metalurgical finds. Barrel hoop was used and cut either by guillotine or by shears. The same thing happened over here in Australia when a party was sent from Sydney Cove, after the first landing in 1788, to Norfolk Island out in the Pacific to settle the island with some of the hard case convicts. They quickly ran out of shingle nails and cut more from barrel hoop; about 700 a day. So it's not surprising that the Yankees got onto this pretty early as nail shortages were critical from the 1650s or so. Their first machine was in 1790 and pretty crude, but did the job, using 2 levers and 2 foot pedals, by Jacob Perkins in Newburyport, Mass.

America struggled up until 1840 with changes in iron production and mechanisation. Thereafter they flew at great speed until around 1890 when steel wire nails came in to displace the cut nails. Over here in Australia we find the elegant US cut nail in the fine sizes used in softwood linings etc up until 1912. Australian carpenters seemed to like the finish or "fine" versions, easy to handle, to use, and to store. They were no use in Eucalypt woods, and broke easily.

To identify the changes, which were not uniform or linear, (depending on which State you are in), the neatest book is by Jay Edwards & Tom Wells, Historic Lousiana Nails; aids to dating of Old Buildings. This is beautifully illustrated and clear to follow. My only caution is that too much attention is given to the type of heads formed. Nelson's little pamphlet is also very concise and neat, but outdated now by more recent research.

Very roughly, cut shanks with hand formed facet heads are pre 1800. Those with struck heads and side pinched (across the shear of the cut) are pre 1830, though some say these were around in 1838. Neatly formed heads with face pinching, which slightly flattens the shank on the wider axis, will be after 1840. These are the ones we find here in Australia in thousands.
The Brits say they started importing simple US cut nail machines in 1811, but US sources say 1814!! Our MSc. colleague Adam Wilson found spur-head floor brads in a datable house of 1800 in Devon, England. Nelson & Mercer say they appear in the US in 1805-1810, so no one really knows who invented the cut spur-head brad. It may even be the Brits, using the American ideas, in order to develop the rising bed cutter needed to cut 2 nails at once, (because they interlock in pairs). In 1800, the Brits had machines capable of this, and Ryzewski suggests a shearing force of 300+ kilograms was needed, whereas in the US hand driven machines were being turned out by rival groups up until 1820 or so. America lagged in the introduction of steam power, & so relied on water mills up until 1818. The Brits started steam power for blast in 1698 with the Newcomen single acting engine, and in 1776 the canny Scot, James Watt, developed the double acting engine with seperate condenser to suit iron-works, which saved a fortune in fuel costs. The Cornishman, Trevithick, turned this into high pressure steam by 1801. Nail cutting and iron production followed these developments like a road map.

The true genius of the Americans was to challenge the long established pattern of hand made nails, each with its own function, and to develop a general nail shape, easily adaptable to needs and to timber, and CHEAP! That is until steel wire became available at a low price, then loading the machine was no longer a problem, and production costs were less than a quarter of hand loaded strip. Long established firms in Pennsylvania folded up in 6 years or so, or diversified to stay alive.

Ken, I hope that you will pass this on and please note that I will send a copy of my paper to NH and others who want same.

Regards to all the timber fraternity in the UK & USA.

Chris How MSc. C.Eng.

Hi NH et al,

Well you asked for it !!!!

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/06/09 12:52 PM

Originally Posted By: OurBarns1
No problem...

What do they say about old TFers?

"Old TFers never die, they just..."



they just let the chips fall where they may.....
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/06/09 08:09 PM

"fall where they may..."

good one.




Ken:

Chris' post is quite a slew of info and seems to suggest no real certainty in cut nail developments whether it be US or UK dominated. But he did say the Brits began importing US cut nail machines in 1811...only to cast some doubt on the info a bit later.

I'd love to see his latest paper. Please take him up on the offer to send it to those interested.

He mentioned one thing I'm not quite clear on: what are "softwood linings?"...is that like paneling / wainscoting?

And what are your thoughts on my earlier theory that it was natural for nail technology to have developed here in the US b/c of the abundance of lumber, thus the pressing need for nails. I don't have a clue about lumber availability in the UK/Europe at the same time (roughly 1700-1900). Surely it was shipped to England from America.

Anyway Europe does seem to be well versed in no-nails-required methods of building such as masonry, wattle and daub, thatched roofs, etc. Perhaps European builders continued to rely on such technology rather than start nailing up everything.

thanks--

Curious on your thoughts...

Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/06/09 09:21 PM

Originally Posted By: OurBarns1

And what are your thoughts on my earlier theory that it was natural for nail technology to have developed here in the US b/c of the abundance of lumber, thus the pressing need for nails. I don't have a clue about lumber availability in the UK/Europe at the same time (roughly 1700-1900). Surely it was shipped to England from America.


My guess is that the reason so many building and wood processing advances (such as nail technology, circular saws, boring machines, the Square rule, balloon framing) were made in North America in the 19th century is that we had one of the biggest, longest lasting, most widespread building booms ever. We were growing like crazy -- this is where all the building was happening.

Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/09 02:43 AM


Good point Gabel: it was a boom of wood-framed construction.


And living in Maine, us natives always remember that Bangor was the "Lumber Capital of the World" in the 19th century.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/09 10:52 PM

Hi Don & Gabel,

There is nothing new about nails. They were used to nail Jesus to the cross and must have existed a long time before that.

Its wrong to think that timber framing is a "no nails" method of building - its just the opposite. Please don't loose sight of the fact that lath has to be nailed inside and sometimes outside as well to accomodate plaster and the quantity required can run into to tens or even hundreds of thousands depending on the bulding concerned. I find myself perplexed sometimes when I see attempts made by some to make us believe that compound joinery employs wood joint solutions when historicaly the more widely adopted solution has usually been to employ simple butt joints and nails.

I am not as informed about the development of nail making machinery as Chris How but I am familiar with Yankee inventiveness and find no surprise that manufacturing techniques developed rapidly in the USA especially once the break with mother England took place when this would have become a necessity and we all know that necessity is the mother of invention.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/09 01:09 AM

Hi Ken and others

good point Ken and all that I can add is that what may factor into this whole equation was probably the following:

-accessibility to the purchase of nails eventho they may have been available ie no close retail stores
-the wealth of the individual in individual areas ie pioneering\new settlements, no capital to buy with
-trade barriers that interfeered with a purchase
-knowledge of the availability of certain items.

Technology spread in some areas very slowly due to many factors such as the seemingly huge distances to major distribution areas of hardware items. IN this regard I immediately think of the distance of Britain from Upper Canada the main supplier of trade goods with its fledgling colony.

For instance it took approx 60 years for circular blade sawing technology to reach Upper Canada and be put to use.

Trade with the major mills along the Eastern US Sea board eventually was to supplement and supply the mill parts and hardware items needed by areas like Upper Canada and other points further north and west.

Just as a matter of interest my father who undertook to construct a new Barn about 1946 right after the end of ww#2 could not purchase round steel nails due to a shortage of raw material here in Canada, at that time he travelled to New York state and was able to by a quantity of square cut nails in wooden kegs to work with. Also at that time they tried to introduce aluminum nails but I can remember as a young fellow, seeing the bent over nails that just couldn't be driven into the boards.

Thanks all for coming on board I hope everyone enjoys this thread

NH

Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/09 10:11 AM

Eli Whitney (1765-1825) was a great American inventer. He created a system of standardization in machinery and production. The British and French made fun of him and his ideas, saying it denied the craftsman's individuality, which it did. Immigrants to the U.S. were able to purchase land quickly, in a mater of a few years. They could not do this working in the manufactruing industry, they had to work the land. Whitney saw this and in turn developed machinery to make stuff more efficiently, by reducing man hours. His system was called the "American System", he used it first in his firearms factory.

I am reading A History of the American People, and just came across Eli Whitney and thought of this thread and the manufacturing of nails question. The author, I believe, was suggesting American industry was a leading force in manufacturing and capitalism. And leading the way in making nails and many other items.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/09 12:07 AM

Hi Timbeal and others:

Thanks for that bit of history I am sure that we will put together a fascinating story that deals with the manufacturing industry that will come from many different places.

Ken: if you are looking in I am sure that you must have some knowledge of nails in your neck of the woods, by this I mean when square (cut) nails appeared, and then when round nail manufacturing commenced. There appears to be some overlapping of the two types but then that happened with many different hardware items didn't it?.

From your research and your examination of historic structures in Britain what time period would you place on the appearance of the two types over there.

I also wonder sometimes if nail cutting machines were wide spread in Europe and even Asia and appeared roughly at the same time in all locations. We sometimes become very narrow in our idea concerning who invented what and close our minds to the idea that at least some of the world's great minds did not come from North America or Britain but very well came from Japan, China, Italy, Spain, France or some other area that had a great civilization at one time or another.

Any way I hope that more information is forthcoming I will drop in tomorrow night to see some of your replies.

NH

Posted By: Don P

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/09 02:44 AM

This is a good read on nails;
http://www.pasttools.org/nails.htm
Roland Robbins mentioned in one of the articles was known by my dad who built the little replica cabin that used to be there. He was apparently quite a character and probably worth googling for anyone interested in that project.

This is a link to Eric Sloane's article on colonial nail making;
Sorry for the length of that, I was googling by a nail I remembered mention of in the article. You maybe need to cut and paste into your browser?
http://books.google.com/books?id=NWE3f0IEiMQC&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92&dq=plancher+nail&source=bl&ots=aMxfkF9vRE&sig=r-RQS1fIEWsOwLRMXAAt7p0cH-I&hl=en&ei=GMW1ScSKM42INeLJgNkK&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result#PPA92,M1

This is a nail from a saddlebag cabin I tore down some time ago. I'm thinking they were in panelling but oldtimers has apparently set in. Not positive anymore.


Not sure if or whether it pertains in any way, I live on the edge of the igneous blue ridge where it meets the metamorphic valley and ridge. The old beach road about 300 million years ago. On a restoration on the blue ridge side I was dealing with nails from the first furnace in our area,Point Hope Furnace. The ore was from our side. The furnace shut down when better ore was found on Iron Ridge on the valley and ridge side. The nails are noticeably more brittle from our ore than from the later ore.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/13/09 01:06 AM

Hi Don


Thanks for coming on board and being part of this thread

That is quite interesting and thanks for the view of what appears to be a very old example of a hand made type of nail

From the photograph it is hard to estimate the actual size of the nail could you maybe come back with that information for everyone that is dropping by lately.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/13/09 07:55 AM

Hi NH & Don et al,

I have now received Chris How's paper "The American Cut Nail” which was presented last month at Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia and I have been duly authorised by Chris to distribute this further to those who would like a *.pdf copy of same. Please send me a PM to receive a copy.

Chris will make a further presentation on the “Ewbank Nail” to the Construction History Society conference in Cottbus on 21st May 2009 and shortly thereafter this paper will also be available to all discerning timber framers and industrial historians. The Ewbank nail was widely used in England and the empire but apparently not in USA or Canada and so he would be very interested to hear from those people who encounter this type of nail in house construction in those countries.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/14/09 12:40 AM

Hi Ken:

Thanks for getting back to us in reference to "HIstorical Nail Research"--Chris How's paper, you will be receiving a PM from me shortly.

Could you provide a slightly broadened explanation just what the Ewbank Nail was and why it seems to be the focus of such and important presentation.

This information is important for identification if you and Mr Chris How would like feedback it.

Thanks again for taking the time to be with us.

How is your water mill restoration project coming along? I hope fine. Maybe you could post a photo or two from time to time.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/14/09 07:52 AM

Hi Richard,

I have now sent you Chris's first article on "The American cut nail".

The Ewbank nail is similar to the American cut nail and I guess any differences would lie mainly in the development and patenting of the machinery that produced these nails. I cannot yet say too much about this topic since the paper has still to be presented (i.e. published) in May at the Cottbus conference.

I was experimenting yesterday with posting pictures on Windows Live where I have been told by Microsoft that I now have 25GB worth of free picture storage space and so I will shortly be experimenting with making picture posts.

I am somewhat limited as to what I can say on line about live "private client" projects and so hopefully in due course I will keep it in mind to keep you appraised "off line" on major progress.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Don P

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/15/09 09:40 PM

NH, I've put a quarter beside the nail above for scale, thanks I wasn't thinking of that.

Ken, That is a great article thanks to you and Chris How.

I had never understood why those old cut nails split so often, I couldn't understand why they would be laminated or folded, they weren't. Page 8 contained the answer. The rolling of the plate caused differential cooling and set up a shear plane within the plate stock. The 8d nail in this shot is on its side and shows the split. The others were some neat old nails I had laid on a shelf in the barn.


The old furnaces here have captured my attention for some time. I don't claim to know much about them, but for those who know less here's what I've gleaned, always interested in more. These produced the pig iron that then went to the puddling furnaces mentioned in the article. We had those forges but I don't know of any remaining. There is a farmer near here who recovered the trip hammer from one out of the creek. That would have hammered the pig into bar stock.

This is what the furnaces did to smelt the ore; Iron appears in nature as an oxide, rust, FeO. If heated in the presence of carbon, the O combines with the C and is driven off through the stack as CO2 and CO. The relatively pure iron, Fe, drops through the floating molten slag that has been collected by the flux and collects in the hearth protected from the O in the air blast by the slag. It collected there until tapped out periodically.

The whistle blew, contractors manned their molds The clay plug was knocked out and the stream of iron flowed down the trench in front of the tapping arch. Or the furnace would simply mold pigs off the trench, or the furnace would mold pigs at the end after the end of the contractors molding. It was reminiscent of piglets nursing off the stream. Our furnaces made pots, pans, stoveplate, the salt kettles used in Saltville and pig iron.


I've crawled in through the tapping arch and am standing on the hearth. This is looking up past the collapsing firebrick in the bosh at the top of the stack from where the furnace was charged with skips of ore, charcoal and limestone. The bosh is the widest area of the furnace where the reaction occured. It is the wear area. The inside is coated with glassy slag. The air belt surrounded the outside of the furnace and admitted air pressurized by the stream outside. The air came in about waist level on each side directed into a horizontal swirl by kneewalls.

Kicking around outside I found what I think is an interesting chunk of clinker that I suspect was part of the charge just above the melt when the interior collapsed. I think we are looking at whitish limestone, yellowish limonite, black charcoal and red rust that was iron forming that has since returned to rust.

I think the Swedish ore mentioned in the article that was prized by the British was what they called "oldgrounds ore" from a town who's name sounded similar to that. I believe it was a much cleaner ore of magnetite or hematite compared to ours.

I googled the Ewbanks nail, I didn't know the name. This is a good article with photos that came up;
http://www.abp.unimelb.edu.au/staff/milesbl/pdf/19th-century-nail-technology.pdf
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/16/09 04:46 PM

Nice link on the Ewbank nail, Don.


I liked Chris How's paper too. It's a peek into an obscure area of study, just like timber framing. I guess there's really quite a bit about old "nayles" to uncover. This is a great example of using the forum as an exchange. Much thanks to Chris How for allowing us a peek at his work, which must have taken no small effort: over 100 footnotes in a 15-page paper.

What I found interesting was not only did the US invent the cut nail (pg. 12), but in the 1790s, America found it necessary to import nails from Brittan in order to keep up w/ demand (pg. 10). Seems one had the innovation, the other the means to supply.

And like our "Great Chicago Fire" of 1871 that necessitated building innovations (for better or worse), London also burned in 1666 that saw significant softwood exportation to England (pg. 5), all effecting building tech. / methods including nails.

And to have been on hand for the iron vs. steel nail competition in Boston in 1892 (pg. 11)... must have been a moment for sure. The iron nail won the battle, but ultimately lost the war.

Great stuff. Big thanks to Chris How for sharing his work. And thank you Ken for contacting him.

Neat stuff. I hope Northern Hewer is getting closer to his earlier question of when cut nails went out of use first, be it US or UK. Though we are getting insights, it seems like a less than definitive answer eludes us. Seems to be the case in many TF-related topics!!

May the education continue...







Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/17/09 12:08 AM

Hi everyone looking in on this topic:

I can't express my appreciation greatly enough to thank each and everyone of you that have submitted and joined in on this topic.

Over the years of assessing historic structures one of the first things that I would pry out in some obscure spot was a nail and if it proved to be a cut or blacksmith produced example then my glance would wander on, the nail type would be of first importance. This nail and others would be saved and examined at a later time and place.

My glance then would be up to the undisturbed roof boards, to note the saw marks, I would then look at the braces to see if they were sawn or hewn, the size and cross section examination of the vertical timbers, and if any unusual framing characteristics were immediately observable.

You are never too old to learn, and this week I have certainly added to my knowledge of nails mainly through your efforts, and I thank all of you.

I may refer verbally to Chris How's paper if I now am asked for a more knowledgeable reply-- I hope that is OK Ken?--.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/17/09 02:52 PM

Hi NH & Don x 2,

As far as I know the cut nail is still in use today.

Chris how works in cooperation with Miles Lewis at Melbourne university in Australia. Miles is originally from the UK as is Chris.

Its just fine to make reference to Chris's paper - that's the whole point of doing research. What isn't right I suppose is for a person to write about something and make it appear as if they have done the research (and havn't) when really the credit lies elsewhere.

I agree your comments about the value of this forum and its rewarding to discover that sometimes what we, or people that we know, have to say is of interest to others. I sent a copy of Chris's paper to Kenneth Rower (editor of Timber Framing) - didn't even get an acknowledgement, thank you or reply - dead as a door nail !

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/17/09 03:42 PM

Ken,

The cut nail is still being manufactured, more as on oddity I suppose. We've discussed Tremont Nail (longtime manufacturer in Massachusetts) here on the forum before. And cut "flooring nails" are readily available here in the US in most lumber centers, but they're not mainstream. I can only speak for this side of the Atlantic.

Tremont states it makes "steel cut nails for restoration projects and remodeling." I think Northern Hewer is seeking when the practice of using cut nails became secondary to wire nails (common nails).

NH, I think you still have questions remaining about time periods, usage of one nail type over the other, correct?
Nice comment by the way: "you're never too old to learn."



And I would think Chris How's paper would fit nicely in an issue of Timber Framing. Not your run of the mill feature.





Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/18/09 12:44 AM

Hi everyone looking in--

I hope that everyone is learning a little something from this exchange of very important research information especially those that will carry the torch on.

Talking about expanding one's knowledge this forum has to be one of the best available, no library can provide the exchange of ideas both historical and of a more modern nature as well as what you will find exchanged right here on this TFG chat room. A subject or muliple subjects are right here take your pick.

Take this nail thread, for many years I always felt that there was much more to the story than what I was able squeeze out from my research, and due to this medium the story of nails to me has become to a great extent more fully explained but there still are some gaps to fill in there always are.

I will admit it is coming a little late for me to put into general use but from time to time I am asked as a senior knowledgeable person to comment on as I was just lately the dating of nails in a structure that was being dismantled by a private owner.

More than ever now as I gazed on that structure I can honestly say that my reply will be as accurate as just about any one else in this area of expertise, so as I said above you are never too old to learn, and if asked to I will share openly with those that truly are in need of advice.

Thanks to all that have participated and to the TFG for providing the chat medium.

This does not mean I am closing this ongoing chat about nails I certainly am not and I am looking forward to additiional information.

I still do find it a tad bit confusing as I read through Chris's paper but as time goes along I want to study it thoroughly and try and digest all the information it contains, and I ask that others also do the same. A nice discussion of its content would I suspect broaden everyone's knowledge base, and as I sit here contemplating things wouldn't it be nice if its contents could be made available to aspiring historical restoration experts in the field of preservation technology. As well it would be very useful to those that have a close contact with interested public visitors, and supervisors of historic trades persons that need this knowledge base to perform their role properly.

I for one feel an excitement as I visit this medium every night mainly because of everyone's seemingly anxiety to share experiences with just plain interested people or hard core TFG building professionals providing the many varied approaches to this trade called "Timberframing" of yesterday, today and those that will be coming on board tomorrow and the years to follow.

Well enough said for tonight I welcome any additional thoughts on this subject

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/18/09 03:13 PM

Well said Northern Hewer.

I look forward to checking in with this forum each day too. You're right, there is value and great potential here in the forum. Hopefully it will be seen as a more mainstream way guild members can interact. When forums began, I think many relegated them to "fringe" mediums. Kind of like e-mail in its infancy: it was a neat thing, but people didn't really take it seriously, or instinctively shunned it. Now, e-mail is the preferred way of communication for just about everybody.

I have been enjoying this nail topic, and it seems naturally to lead to other areas of study. One of these is lumber. How's article talks about the early nails (which were blunt) having a hard time piercing hardwood, thus they were more suited to softwood applications. We take it for granted nails come pointed today, but pointing them was obviously a time-consuming or involved process until more modern times. Ironically, softwood is the lion’s share of lumber today and 99% of nails are pointed.

I guess we can say stud framing is considered modern in terms of our outlook on wood frame construction. Balloon framing appears to have been developed in Chicago / Midwest in the early to mid-19th century. I suppose early iron cut nails were used to nail the softwood frames together. Most of what I've uncovered through reading suggests pointed wire nails (what we refer to as "common nails") became mainstream in United States around 1900. Therefore, can we assume older house frames were fashioned with cut nails? Anyone out there who can verify?

I wonder what the situation was like in England and Europe. Did stud framing gain ground there in the 19th century? And what kind of nails were used there around 1900?

I know regional variations abound. Here in New England they say the area held on to timber framing longer than many areas of the United States simply because we love tradition and there was a plentiful supply of good-sized timber.

What was the situation like in your neck of the woods there in Canada, Northern Hewer? Was stud framing a late bloomer? Maybe too, it depends on whether you're talking about houses or barns.
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/18/09 07:04 PM

Originally Posted By: OurBarns1

I guess we can say stud framing is considered modern in terms of our outlook on wood frame construction. Balloon framing appears to have been developed in Chicago / Midwest in the early to mid-19th century. I suppose early iron cut nails were used to nail the softwood frames together. Most of what I've uncovered through reading suggests pointed wire nails (what we refer to as "common nails") became mainstream in United States around 1900. Therefore, can we assume older house frames were fashioned with cut nails? Anyone out there who can verify?



Don,

Houses around here that were built ca 1880-1910 were balloon framed and used cut nails. These dates are a general rule of thumb with the usual exceptions and local variations. My house was built in the late 20's and it used wire nails.
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/18/09 08:52 PM


The earliest stick built house hereabouts is this one framed in ’46 if memory serves.

http://www.tupelohall.com/TourTupelo.html

A presenter at the Rindge conference had been given the ledger books of the carpenter who framed it. Interestingly he kept the timberesque raising bee in play and framed walls ahead and stood up both the house and barn in one day when the extra manpower was available. All this is known through his highly detailed ledgers.

It stuck in my mind because the same carpenter continued to timberframe barns churches and townhalls and framed the town hall in my home town, after the above house was built.

It is pictured here scroll down to the last picture - http://www.greatnhhomes4sale.com/Litchfield

The next town over from where the stickbuilt house stands. If any of you have read Thoreau’s, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers you may have seen a photo of the church which shares the same parking lot, though formerly sat across the road and had to be moved when the Merrimack changed its course (it used to be a commonly told ghost story when I was a boy that the empty graveyard was haunted by those whose bodies had been allowed to wash down the river as the riverbank was washed away) I grew up in the woods on Watt’s Brook about a half mile from its confluence with the river, the town encompasses the finest bottom land in the state and still has farms aplenty despite its population expanding multi-thousand fold since my boyhood – 400 souls then 8,000+ now.

All these buildings are I’m sure, plumb full of cut nails, as was the 1821 timberframed Parsonage we restored this past year, everything from teeny 5d’s attaching the clapboards to 5” spikes in the framing holding butt cogs in their housings
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/09 12:08 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Reading over the many remarks in the above posts especially the post concerning the blunt cut nails the following comes to my mind.

I of course received a great deal of my carpentry education from my father who in his own right was a great, and I say this with no reservation "all around good carpenter".

One thing that he taught me along with many other tricks, was the following:

"son if you are under the impression that the nail will split the 2 by 4 or what ever you are nailing just take the nail and
blunt the end by giving it a few whacks on the pointed end with the hammer"

You know it worked every time it would go right through and not split the stud or what ever you were using.

I suspect that the blunt square nails were better to prevent splitting on account of their blunt ends than the pointed modern nails. This is of course if you drove them into the wood with their thickness parallel with the grain.

one of their bad features though was that as the blunt cut nail emerged on the opposite side it usually came through with a good chunk of the surface wood.

Thanks everyone for the remarks in the above posts

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/09 07:50 AM

Hi Will & NH,

I think that Will has made the case rather nicely for making more folks aware that nails are employed aplenty in timber frame construction and thoughts that timber frames only employ wooden pegs is a misguided fallacy.

I am no nail expert but a thought that often passes through my mind is that generally the grain direction of one piece being nailed to another is at 90 degrees e.g. in the case of floor boards being nailed to joists. That being the case the nail has to be able to perform both with and across the grain so what would be the preferred nail orientation when nailing down floor boards ?

Is the primary difference between round pointed and square blunt that the former penetrates through the wood forcing it apart i.e. splitting it whereas the blunt square nail shears the wood effectively making its own "pre drilled" path as per NH's observations?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/09 02:10 PM

Thanks Gabel

Seems your "southern" observations support general New England timelines, which is interesting.
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/09 02:20 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
Hi everyone tonight:

One thing that he taught me along with many other tricks, was the following:

"son if you are under the impression that the nail will split the 2 by 4 or what ever you are nailing just take the nail and
blunt the end by giving it a few whacks on the pointed end with the hammer"

NH



My Grandfather taught me the same trick. I blunt more nails than not when driving them, it seems.
They cut through rather than split the wood.

Another thought along this line... I have burned hardwood pallets from time to time. When cleaning out the woodstove the nails left behind are often pointless, totally blunt. This must be so they don't split the top boards at the ends.

Nailed by machine, the age old problem of cut nails not piercing hardwood is a moot point.
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/09 02:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Will Truax


All these buildings are I’m sure, plumb full of cut nails, as was the 1821 timberframed Parsonage we restored this past year, everything from teeny 5d’s attaching the clapboards to 5” spikes in the framing holding butt cogs in their housings



Will, what is a "butt cog?"


This 1911 barn here in Maine is an interesting specimen in terms of nails. All the bracing is nailed w/ common wire nails. The braces are not even mortised, just butted to the timbers. There are also nails at prominent joint locations. Bolts / threaded rod, too. This barn is in sad condition, not quite even 100 years old. They built it over a very wet area and the foundation has cracked and heaved considerably.

I have found wire nails in barn joinery here in these 1900-era buildings. It always leaves me a bit disappointed as it heralded the end of tradition in timber framing technique...













Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/09 04:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Ken Hume


I am no nail expert but a thought that often passes through my mind is that generally the grain direction of one piece being nailed to another is at 90 degrees e.g. in the case of floor boards being nailed to joists. That being the case the nail has to be able to perform both with and across the grain so what would be the preferred nail orientation when nailing down floor boards ?



I would say preferred nail orientation would go with the floor board's grain. The joist is the more substantial timber and could resist cross-grain interference better than the thinner floor board... I'd say orient a cut nail parallel with the floor board.

(There. I think I'm done posting on this topic for the day!!)
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/09 12:32 AM

Hi everyone tonight

Don , Ken:

by all means the proper way to orient a cut nail is with the grain of in this case flooring. The same is true no matter what medium that you are nailing to one another usually it is the surface cladding that the nail stays oriented with the grain.

To answer your question about what the term-- "Butt Cog" refers to well here is my explanation.

In Traditional timberframing the "Butt" or the lower end of the rafter that sits on the Upper plate usually stays in its place due to a "cog" fashioned on the end of the rafter. This "cog" has a 90 degree leading edge that sits down in a mortise usually about 2.5" from the exterior edge of the plate. This cog sometimes extends across the full width of the bottom of the rafter but not always.

after the rafter has been set in its place it was usual to use 4 or 5" spikes or a wooden peg to hold it in its positon.

Thanks for coming on board with those pics of the barn, one thing that struck me was the resemblance of the barn to a Schoharie Dutch barn with its main entrance doors in the end of the structure.


NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/09 12:39 AM

Hello all

Just before I leave that barn sure is finished off nicely with return on the eves, and the lights over the main doors. It almost has the look of the exterior of a large home.

NH
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/09 01:48 AM


Cut nails do sever the grain nicely as they punch their way through the wood, and are much less likely to split the wood, far superior to wire nails IMO.

It is however, a little recognized aspect of the diamond point on wire nails that there is a direction to place them. The diamond is asymmetrical and there are cut edges, they are though less recognizable than they were in years past and not as sharp, and not recognizable without a visual inspection necessarily longer than most would give them even if they knew they were there.

I thought the term butt cog was in more common usage than it apparently is. It is essentially the end of a drop in joist or purlin fully housed width wise though often the drop in is reduced in height with a relief cut.

See the Wiki - http://tfwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Encyclopedia#B

Don, neglect aside, that barn was always better from without than within.

Ken, I do see nailed joinery with some frequency, typically but not always limited to simple butt cogs.
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/09 02:50 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
Hello all

Just before I leave that barn sure is finished off nicely with return on the eves, and the lights over the main doors. It almost has the look of the exterior of a large home.

NH



Here in my neck of the woods large barns from this era are typically adorned w/ such trim work. It's one way I can date a building just by driving by. Seems it's always 1880-1910 range...

Victorian influences finally made it to farm architecture. A quote from an old publication speaks to this:

"[i]Among the many and recent improvements in farming matters, none is more conspicuous than the improvement in the construction of barns. The gables, doors and windows of the barn are frequently ornamented with pediments; and the eaves, or cornices with wide, handsome moldings."[/i]

--New England Farmer, 1855


I like that barn too... too bad it's in such disrepair. the roof leaks badly. Weeds grow on the wet floor... but the owner loves it and remembers his family farming there. His father had it built in 1911 and he really wants to restore it. There are numerous bottle jacks in place as temporary fixes. But it will take many thousands of dollars. I think it's too late for this one, sadly. He's a school teacher... I had to wonder if it made it through this past winter, given the heavy snows we had. But she still stands. I went by a couple weeks ago.

Nice subject to photograph. Kind of gothic all run down like it is.



Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/09 02:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Will Truax

Cut nails do sever the grain nicely as they punch their way through the wood, and are much less likely to split the wood, far superior to wire nails IMO.



I often wish they sold pre-blunted wire nails.

thanks for the clarification on Butt Cog
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/24/09 12:57 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Here I go again but there was an article in the local newspaper that pertains to a specific type of roof structure that is associated with one of the oldest Anglican Churches in Upper Canada-

This church now stands at Riverside Heights just a short distance from where I live near Morrisburg Ontario Canada, and was removed from its original location at the time of the St. Lawrence Seaway Cconstruction in the late 50's. It was one of only 2 churches that was relocated at that time stone by stone and moved to a higher location.

So I am throwing this term out to everyone, maybe we can put it in the TFG glossary if it warrants storing after we have kicked it around a while.

The term is a "Lynchgate Roof"

It is English in origin but it does have a special meaning.

This type of roof structure was built about 1903 by Robert M. Cox of Liverpool England for anyone that is interested in the builder's name.

Could anyone describe just what a "Lynchgate Roof" is and why such a name?

NH
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/24/09 01:35 AM


Wow Richard, 100,000 hits on your thread, a fantastic first for the forum.

Like I explained in my last post on your thread, I came up in a town named Litchfield, it shares the same rootword derivation as the roof you're asking after. Essentially I climbed up out of a boneyard...

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lichgate

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/26372
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/24/09 01:50 AM

Yes, all hail: 100,000 hits!!

AP newswire: Historic forum reaches historic 100,000 hit marker...obscure thread starter says he's as shocked as anybody. "I still have many more posts to go," the Canadian carpenter announced, boldly...


Bravo Northern Hewer! You should get a plaque (hand hewn, of course) to mark this historic achievement.

As to your "Lynchgate" question, I had a friend w/ the last name of Lynch. The family was very Irish. Perhaps this word is Irish rather than English, per se?


[And I just passed my 300th post!]
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/24/09 09:12 AM

Hi Richard,

The name has most likely has been corrupted just a little. The word is Lytchgate and this is the small covered structure present at the entrance to most church grounds. Its like a little open timber framed building but don't confuse this with a church porch which is attached to the church.

The word Lytch means "corpse" and thus this gated structure was used to obviate the need for a vicar to allow the body of a plague victim or other excummunicado individuals being brought onto hallowed ground for a burial blessing.

A village close to where I live in North Hampshire is called Lytchpit and it doesn't take too much imagination to figure out that this is where all of the thousands of plague victims were unceremoniously damped into a huge open grave with some shovels of lime then being thrown over the lytch to help the body quickly break down. The other close equivalent as mentioned by Will is Litchfield and this means the same thing only maybe the Lytches weren't buried or cast into a pit.

Nice topic that you have chosen for your 100K post !

I will try and get a picture and post this for your delectation.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/25/09 01:25 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Ken: you hit the nail right on the head, I must confess that I misspelled the name the article in the paper used "Lych" gate not the way I spelled it. It is amusing because the plaque that was mounted on the gateway to that Anglian church spells it in this way, your spelling seems to need a "t", but what ever is right I expect yours is the right spelling though.

the article does go on to say that other spellings are "lychgate", "lichgate", "lycugate" or "lychgate"

I stopped and examined it a couple of days ago up close, to see what damage had been done to it due to the frost tipping the stone pollars that supported it last winter. What I found was that one of the supporting timbers had split where it sat in a notched housing on the top of the stone pillar so the whole unit had to be lifted off for safety reasons and moved to a location behind the church for the time being.

For 106 years of age the condition of the lytchgate roof seemed to be exceptionally good but the stone pier has tipped badly.

Their estimate of repair according to the news article was $225,000 which seems a bit high in my books.

I think that the pier could be excavated around its base and with some manouevering with cables could be straigtened up and below the frost line form and pour supporting concrete, then just repair the timber and replace it back in its original position, what do you all think?

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/25/09 01:26 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Ken: you hit the nail right on the head, I must confess that I misspelled the name the article in the paper used "Lych" gate not the way I spelled it. It is amusing because the plaque that was mounted on the gateway to that Anglian church spells it in this way, your spelling seems to need a "t", but what ever is right I expect yours is the right spelling though.

the article does go on to say that other spellings are "lychgate", "lichgate", "lycugate" or "lychgate"

I stopped and examined it a couple of days ago up close, to see what damage had been done to it due to the frost tipping the stone pollars that supported it last winter. What I found was that one of the supporting timbers had split where it sat in a notched housing on the top of the stone pillar so the whole unit had to be lifted off for safety reasons and moved to a location behind the church for the time being.

For 106 years of age the condition of the lytchgate roof seemed to be exceptionally good but the stone pier has tipped badly.

Their estimate of repair according to the news article was $225,000 which seems a bit high in my books.

I think that the pier could be excavated around its base and with some manouevering with cables could be straigtened up and below the frost line form and pour supporting concrete, then just repair the timber and replace it back in its original position, what do you all think?

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/25/09 09:36 AM

Hi Richard,

Now it my turn to apologise - I just checked the Oxford Dictionary and find that there is no "t" in lychgate though it is pronounced as if there was one present.

A digi pic of this upset would be good. I think that you could probably build a couple of these for the sum mentioned.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/26/09 01:56 AM

Hi Ken and others looking in:

sorry I don't have any pics of this problem presently but I agree the price seems to be a bit out of line,

I think that we have the correct spelling now maybe someone who knows how to file it should put it in the TFG Glossary for those thatmay want to refer to it.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/30/09 12:25 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Before I move away from this subject I would like to ask Don in his post above dealing with the "AP wire" that dealt with the 100,000th post. I have tried to find it but I have been unsuccessful, I would like to read the article. Is there anyway you can direct me to the article, I would sure apreciate it.

Also thanks for the nice remarks dealing with that milestone, it sure wasn't all my doing without you guys coming on board nothing would have happened --period.

I am glad that you all enjoyed the posts ,and joined in from time to time, my main object was that everyone learns alittle i really didn't expect such a loyal group.

As I look back just a few years-- helping to hosting the TTRAG when they met here in Morrisburg was real treat, right now with the economy faltering it sure is straining people's resources from what i can make out from some of your comments, and will probably hurt attendance at some of the future meetings.

Your new president is making good progress at least in my opinion I hope that he can pull off some of the things that he is hoping to do. I guess we have no choice but wait and see.

This is alittle off topic but you guys should be getting used to me by now, my son is restoring a home he owns that has a turn of the century tin ceiling in it, some sections need repair, is there anyone out there that knows of a supplier?

thanks in advance

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/30/09 01:43 AM

Hi Richard,

My little "AP neswire" line was a parody, a joke. It was all meant in good taste.

I write for some local papers and kind of "went with it" here on hearing the news of the forum's 100,000th. I just fell into my writing persona and acted like your 100,000th viewing was a front-page thing.

It was just meant for our core of regulars to get a kick out of, etc. I didn't post it anywhere else. (I probably should have said it was a joke... gottcha!)


Anyway, here's to the 200,000th!!


(I still think you've earned that hand hewn plaque, however!!)


best--
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/30/09 06:26 PM

NH:
I thought I posted a link a while ago about where you can find "tin ceiling" reproduction panels; but that could have been on another forum.

There are companies out there that make them, and sell them fairly reasonable, I believe.

You should be able to find one, with a google search....
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/30/09 06:32 PM

Yes, it was on another forum, but I found the link I was looking for.
Here it is:
http://www.americantinceilings.com/patterns.html?gclid=CLDptbqCtZgCFQsMGgod62pHTA

And here is a second one:

http://www.thetinman.com/default.htm
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/01/09 01:18 AM

Hello tonight

To Don and Jim

Thanks for the clarification Don on the "AP Wire" You had me fooled for sure, I always enjoy a little fooling around it breaks the monotony

And Jim thanks for the leads on the tin ceiling repro Companies I will pass it along to my son.

I haven't been able to post any pictures lately from my album in Photobucet I really don't know what is happening but I am trying to figure it out.

Would anyone like to do alittle reminising on The Seaway\power project development shared between the USA and Canada on the St Lawrence river it happened here in the early 60's.

For starters they moved over 500 homes using two house movers, one that could lift 100 tons and one that could lift 200 tons, the tires were 10 feet in height, and 3 feet across their faces.

to be cont'd

NH

Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/01/09 12:33 PM

I'd like to see pictures of that....
Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/01/09 01:53 PM

I've seen some of Richard's pictures of that, and they're really cool. Hope you can post them. CB.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/03/09 12:55 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Hi Jim and Daiku thanks for coming on board and also those nice remarks, sorry I can't post anything presently so guess I will just have to talk for the time being.

It was exciting times around here then, I was just a teen ager lots of work, construction went 24 hrs a day non stop, for about 4 years, crushing stone, pouring concrete, moving houses, cutting right of ways, there was a new railway line built, a new 4 lane highway, as well a scenic 2 lane highway just to name a few.

All the foundations for the moved homes were readied, one of the major tasks facing the engineering dept. was the construction of a coffer dam to divert the St. Lawrence river and dry up the river bed to allow the construction of the Hydro generation station.

Eventually it created a lake 21 miles long, and took the complete capacity input of the St Lawrence river flowing into it 4 days to fill to its highest point.


Hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane
NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/03/09 11:42 PM

Hi everyone tonight:

Cont'd from last night---


It was at this time that the historic homes and outbuildings that are contained at Upper Canada Village were rescued from the inundation and moved to their new locations.

There were many more that were just tore down and in some cases burned to clear the land. As well many very old trees some 200 years or more were cut down, as well as old apple orchards.

It seems a shame that in the name of progress this sort of thing comes to pass, I should have said "in the name of power production" to have been truthfull, well I have to go now

NH



Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/04/09 05:59 PM

Hello everyone tonight:

Just to correct my post above the tree that I said was 200 years old, when I reviewed my notes the entry should have read as follows-- "it was estimated to be 500 years old"-- this tree stood in Moulinette one of the small towns that was inundated due to the flooding. A slice of this tree was preserved at UCV and it was 6 feet across the section.

There were 22 graveyards affected most of the remains were left except those that the families wished removed, the stones were all removed and the site was cemented over to contain everything.

22 churches were situated in the way of the project only 2 churches were removed to higher ground.

5 villages were erased from the map of Ontario, 2 other town lost most or a greater portion of their locality.

The new rail line was 40 miles long, and the new scenic road was 30 miles in length.

Some interesting information on the St. Lawrence river was noted as follows:

There was a drop of 92 feet from Lake Ontario to Cornwall about 80 feet was contained in the 21 miles directly in front of the new power house at Cornwall

The river itself is considered to be one of the most dependable rivers in the world and by this I mean the following: its maximum flow is only twice its minimum, by comparison its close neighbour the Ottawa river is 12 times.

The land expropriated to make way for the flooding was 225 farms, most of which had been in the same family names since the 1784 settlement, 22000 acres of land on the Canadian side, and 18000 acres on th US side. 500 summer cottages, 3,600 acres of trees from forests to fruit farms, fences, and yards

The project started in August of 1954 and the head pond flooding started on July 1 1958, power generation began immediately there were 32 huge generators, producing 1, 880,000 kilowats of power, each turbine producing approx 75,000 horsepower

I hope that I am not boring you TFer's but this is just I thought a nice bit of forgotten history something like those that fought and lost their lives in the many wars of our world~!


According to the many scuba divers that probe the depths of the St Lawrence it is an erie spectacle to see the streets and house basements still preserved underwater at those ghostly locations.

Hope you you enjoy this slice of history

NH



Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/04/09 07:15 PM

When I was a young boy in the 60's my family vacationed up there and had a tour of one of the power plants.
And we watched some ships go through the locks.....
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/04/09 07:23 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
Hello everyone tonight:

Hope you you enjoy this slice of history

NH




NH:

I'm enjoying this immensely as history is one of my favorite subjects.

Here in Maine, the town of Flagstaff was lost to a hydroelectric project about the same time as your account. Flagstaff was legally dis-incorporated in 1950. The Dead River (aptly named as far as Flagstaff folks were concerned) was dammed.

These two videos tell the story:

http://www.windowsonmaine.org/view.aspx?objectId=9-30&currentfile=0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ATIVa7WbHs


I'd like to see some pics/video of the St. Lawrence project if you can manage.

I guess the ultimate example of this kind of displacement would be the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze in China.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/05/09 12:04 AM

Hi everyone again tonight:

Well sorry to say I can't post right now but if I can get things up and running again in the near future I will post some.

Hi Don--you are like me I really enjoy everything about woodworking especially the old style, but you know I really enjoy a cut out of the history books especially in my leisure time.

Also your inputon the damming of the river at Flagstaff, Maine. I really didn't realize that there was a town named flagstaff in maine I thought it was in Arizona. I really sounds like tose folks went through the same agony that the folks around here did about the same time maybe a bit earlier.

Just a few more items from my file on the seaway project:

The Robert Saunders Powerhouse in 3,300 feet long and 162 feet high.

The dam that holds back the 21 mile head pond with its axis curved upstream is 2,250 feet long and 124 feet wide

There was a loss of 25 canadian's lives and 17 americans during the construction phase

Two massive locks raise and lower ocean going vessels one lifts and lowers 45 feet, and the other 38 feet.

The seaway took 50 years of planning between the US and candian governments. Talks started in 1913 and then the study began.

hope you enjoy

NH

Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/05/09 09:51 PM

NH:

History, especially local history, is always interesting to me.

I always liked carpentry ever since I could remember, but history is something I've warmed to in the last decade or so. It helps round out my identity: in order to know who we are, we must know where (and what) we came from.

And Flagstaff lives on somewhat here in Maine. That dammed section of the Dead River was named Flagstaff Lake. Though nothing like the St. Lawrence, it's a good chunk of water: about 22,000 acres.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/06/09 01:03 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well I think the majority of visitors have enjoyed this trip down memory lane eventhough it really strays from timberframing or hewing, I will say though that many of the structures razed by this so called progress for power production were the very earliest hand crafted structures that were built by the early settlers, thank god that someone had the foresight to rescue some examples at UCV.

tonight I will give the last bit of info on this massive seaway venture I hope that you forgive me for chatting on so but I have really enjoyed it.

Total excavation 95 million cu yds
concrete used 3.2 million cu yds
sand and stone 5.2 million cu yds

headpond capacity 100 sq
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/06/09 01:12 AM

sorry I hit the submit button-----------


headpond capacity-- 100 sq miles contains approx 23 billion cubic ft of water

Cost-----600 million dollars!!

note:

I still have feelings of sadness after nearly 50 years for those that had their holdings ripped away from them by expropriation eventho everyone for many years were good citizens, paid their taxes, and get this "thought they owned their land", no one really owns their land-- RIGHT--

until another night and another topic


NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/07/09 12:25 AM

Hi Derek and others looking in:

Thanks for the kind words of encouragement, I just threw this topic in for the enjoyment of those that like history.

You Know There are alot of wonderful people in the world and I feel humbled to have had the opportunity to talk and visit with many thousands of them. I always studied my history and researched my subjects as well as I could so that I could consider my responses as accurate as possible.

Talking with all of you here on this forum , I realize many are just passing by. It reminds me of days gone now, as I worked and paused to visit with those that took the time to stop, and as I glanced up from time to time I would see many just glance my way and then pass on, they would be pointing towards me and instructing their children probably putting in their version of what they are seeing.

I just want to say right now it would be nice to talk to everyone of you, but I know that is not possible, I hope that you look back through my posts and posts of others over the last 7 or 8 months and really enjoy the trip I have really had a wonderful time

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/07/09 03:41 PM

Likewise, NH

May the journey continue...
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/11/09 12:51 AM

Hi everyone tonight

you know as I look and listen to everyone's responses and see the wonderful structures that you all are building from timbers I wonder sometimes how you please the customers, I don't think that I would like to go there, I will leave that up to you guys so carry on and I will really enjoy seeing the finished
product(s)

I am used to reconstructing period structures with all their little imperfections, that is what gives the old buildings their magical looks--

somehow I think that the modern clients expect too much from you guys!!--wood will shrink,check, split,twist, have funny little stains (in the wrong spots) is there anyting else that I have missed--please jump in and let us know what other weird properties that wood has

Anyway happy Easter to everyone- that is if you celebrate Easter if not happy whatever--I am just an old TFER and a Canadian one at that, or should I say a North American one at that since my father in his great wisdom about 90 years ago decided to go to San Francisco to help rebuild that great city after the earth quake at that time.

He met my mother and brought her all the way back to Morrisburg. She will soon celebrate her 97th, I asked her a while ago "mother what did you think of Dundas county when you arrived here" (about 1930).

Her reply was "it sure was pretty rough but I would have followed your father to the ends of the earth"


With that thought I will retire for the night

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/11/09 11:06 AM

Hi Richard, I am not sure I would call them imperfections, for that suggest something is incorrect or wrong and there for should be corrected and removed form the process, in effect, changing the product of that particular individual. These "imperfections" cannot be added artificially, they appear fake when done. That slip of the axe, as an example, landing in the wrong place; how many of these should we strategically place and where, most likely if this is tried there will be to many and in the wrong places. This, the axe mark, can only happen if the original intent of the axe is true to its cause. Another "oops" that can happen is the miscut piece and the fix needed to correct the process so it can continue to flow. I have visited numerous old structures and pondered what caused this or that to happen, it is always reassuring when I come across such mishaps, for they leave me smiling and knowing I am on the right path, human nature has not changed and dyslexia lives on. A most appropriate topic for Easter and the sins of man. In the end maybe they are imperfections.

Tim
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/11/09 04:20 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
Hi everyone tonight

I am used to reconstructing period structures with all their little imperfections, that is what gives the old buildings their magical looks--

somehow I think that the modern clients expect too much from you guys!!--wood will shrink,check, split,twist, have funny little stains (in the wrong spots) is there anyting else that I have missed--please jump in and let us know what other weird properties that wood has


NH


As Tim suggests, perhaps "imperfections" doesn't quite define it… Idiosyncrasies, signatures, details, traits, etc. might be more apt.

Wood's flammability is only an imperfection in the eyes of the fire chief and insurance man. But in the woodstove, flammability is very much appreciated. Perfection is an honorable goal, but it's important to preserve the idiosyncrasies, signatures, details and traits of wood and those who work it.

Wood is a wonderful medium. The colors are like moods; the grain patterns become signatures; knots are like fingerprints: you could look at a thousand and not find its twin.

Other weird properties are sounds, smells—even dust, I suppose. A piece of hardwood has a distinct resonance when dropped on the shop's cement floor. Nailing softwood two-by lumber makes its own reverberation. Freshly-cut birch smells like peppermint; oak is almost ammonia-like; pine--well, that makes for a nice scented pillow customers like.

And those "magical looks." I would like to see some of those period structures with all their little "imperfections" you appreciate and speak off, NH... Like Tim said, a slip of the axe is its own beautiful signature.

I think wood is like language in a way. Different languages help define cultures, help record their idiosyncrasies. I'm glad there are different species of wood to choose from. The world would be a dull place if we all spoke the same tongue.


Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/12/09 12:40 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Well--good responses, I know now that my term "imperfections" doesn't quite cut it in the big picture, I suppose in my small world "imperfections" was a big part of my life.

For example in the selection of 6 by 12 white oak timbers that would make up the barrel wheel of our water powered saw mill during its reconstruction, I did in fact try and select timber without imperfections, such as ingrown bark, cross grain, knots, rot, worm holes,--I call these imperfections that I personally would not consider suitable for this expensive reconstruction.

AS I walked the pine bushes looking for trees that would fall in the "OK" category for purchasing I would look again for imperfections that were not suitable such as crook, black knots, woodpecker holes,--realizing full well that trees have limbs like meat has bones.

Thanks again for the broader terminology I am sure those looking in will scratch their heads alittle trying to figure out just what exactly we are saying, but to summ it all up I believe that for sure we want wood to retain its natural characteristics to a certain degree, I am with you a 100%, and for sure that gnarled old tree certainly has really tough fibres in it, and when you cut it and work up the resulting wood maybe apply alittle stain it will look far better than that plain old straight grained board (that we pay lots for)-- now I can just hear the sound of someone muttering--"now that is character"---

A good night to everyone

Hope you enjoy this chatter and thanks for all your comments--

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/12/09 01:38 AM

Thank you Richard, I hope all is well.

Derek, I just heard OSHA has a fix for splinters, gloves, you could get a substantial fine.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 12:53 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well sorry for having been away so long but I had to attend to some business.

Talking about wood in the last post and wanting to retain its characteristics, I began to think about broadaxe handles and the types of wood that I use to manufacture them.

I personally lean towards wild cherry as my first choice, it has the greatest patina after you use it for a bit of time. The sweat from your hands impart a glow to the surface of the wood that gives it a distinctive look and feel, like the rubbed surface of an historical piece of furniture.

I was just wondering if any of you woodworkers that stop by might have any preferences as far as types of wood to use, and maybe a reason to go along with the choice.

I also use a glass finish once I have attained the proper shape and offset. Is there any secrets you would like to share here with everyone, please feel free to jump in.

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 01:59 AM


I like handle patina, too: has a certain authenticity you can't rush.

Cherry is one of my favorite woods for woodworking (for furniture), but I'm surprized to hear you like it for an axe handle. Cherry is certainly a smooth wood, good on the hands...

I've held some beautiful canoe paddles made of cherry. They look great, but it's not the most decay-resistant stuff, so I would not expect them to last, nor would i expect them to fare well in a stretch of rapids jamming off rocks.

Wild cherry in your area is probably a bit different that the Appalachian stuff I've worked with (and love). I like to finish cherry w/ tung or linseed oil thinned w/ a bit of mineral spirits so it can penetrate deeply.

I've seen some wild cherry in Maine where I live. It doesn't get very big and has a "crooked" nature. Is that why you like it for broad axe handles?
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 02:48 AM

Heartwood cherry is actually on the high end of the rot resistant range. Certainly not like black locust, however. I've always used ash for tool handles, straight grain, rives easily. I've got to make a broad axe handle, maybe I'll look into cherry, it certainly has a crooked growth habit.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 09:27 AM

Hi NH et all,

A wood that is rarely mentioned on this forum is Holly. This was oft times used by blacksmiths to rehandle their hammers because it produced a wonderfully smooth surface which is further polished up by the hand when used at the forge.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 10:18 AM

Holly, Holly is a magical wood, even our entertainment derives from Hollywood, can I say "it has deep roots". It does not grow in my neck of the woods.

I do have a couple of handles made from black cherry, on my slick and a small hewing axe. The axe split clean off one day and my knot tying brother took it home and with a bit of glue and some string made it serviceable once more, needless to say I don't use it for heavy wood removal, but it still works.

Tim
Posted By: Don P

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 11:13 AM

Dogwood is another good one, happens to be in full bloom here right now. NH you said "glass finish"... scraped with a broken piece of glass?
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 02:14 PM

Yes, more on the "glass finish" please.
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/09 03:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Shepard
I've got to make a broad axe handle, maybe I'll look into cherry, it certainly has a crooked growth habit.


Speaking of handles, crooked handles, has anyone ever made a laminated broadaxe handle?

Brings me back to canoe paddles. "Bent shaft" paddles are popular w/ modern canoeists and are often laminated (glued-up) on a form.

The paddle shape seems well suited to some unique broadaxe handle possibilities...







Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/01/09 12:15 AM

Yes, the racing days, 'tis the season and the water is cold and high.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/02/09 12:27 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well those were wonderful responses, and I certainly increased my knowledge about types of wood that grow in other regions and other parts of the world, especially Holly, it doesn't grow here but it sure sounds like a very interesting wood type for handles.

One thing that I have certainly learned over the years is that handles , buildings of all types, etc. were usually built/constructed with what type of wood grew in that particular region, and some regions were blessed with better varieties than others.

I also use black walnut for tool handles, choosing naturally bent limbs for the offset broadaxe handles. I have a favorite tree that once in a while gets trimmed up a bit.

White ash is also a great wood, and for broadaxe handles you have to select a naturally bent section like a tree that has grew up out of the side of a deep ditch, or by some stroke of nature grew in an unatural fashion such as being bent like the trees were during the last ice storm here.

Dogwood is one type of wood that I have no idea what its possibilies would be but thanks for bringing that to our attention.

Yes the glass finish I put on my handles is created with a broken piece of glass, it does a wonderful job of applying a final finish. I do show it being applied in my broadaxe handle carving video.

Well thanks for coming on line everyone, maybe we will get additional suggestions from other parts of the USA or abroad.

NH



Posted By: Don P

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/03/09 03:39 PM

Hi Richard,
I hope not to drag us afield but I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of Dogwood and a story that goes along with it.
This is one of our multi-stemmed ones in the front yard, they tend to be forest edge trees, this is old overgrown pasture, you can see several others in the background. Even single stemmed ones are typically not straight.

This is the blossom


The story is that this tree was used for the cross. The tree blooms around Easter and the blossom is shaped like the cross and shows the scars of the nails on the tips of the petal to remind us. The story goes on to say that this was once a tall stately tree that was banished to always be a gnarled small thing afterwards so that it could never be used in that way again. I was told not to cut one unneccesarily. It is not my intention to sermonize but it does make a nice story and I like the lore that accompanies different trees.

The wood itself is typically white, sometimes dries with a pink cast that I believe is an enzyme reaction although there is a reddish cast to the heartwood which it often does not contain much or any of. It is dense and quite strong, imparts no flavors and was used for tools, small parts and cooking implements.
This is the tech sheet, it looks like the last 3 sentences under "the tree" are a mix up but the rest is accurate.
http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/HardwoodNA/htmlDocs/cornus.html

If you look at the mechanical properties and have a feel for them, this is a tough,stiff,hard,dense wood

Many of ours are succumbing to anthracnose, it burns well and I try to lay up a few good looking chunks. There is much loss in drying so it may take a few pieces in the woodstove before you get a keeper. It self polishes like beech and is a nice handle wood, turns well also.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/04/09 01:02 AM

Hi Don

Thanks for the wonderful response and you certianly did not lead us astray by no stretch of the imagination.

I believe we all are beginning to become a little bit wiser when it comes to selecting a type of wood strong enough to be used for an offset broadaxe handle.

I believe that another of the main properties that is required is the natural bend at the point where the handle curves into the head of the axe. Without this natural strength in the grain of the wood it will not stand up to the forces directed to the handle when it is brought into hard blows during the hewing sequence, especially when trying to cut through a knot in the log.

It would be nice to hear from someone who has had the privilege to exchange information on handle carving say from the tropical regions.

I know some of the hardest wood is mined such as lignum vitae (used for turbine bearings), and I am sure that there are some surprises when it comes to handle carving as well.

Around my region some of the dense hardwoods such as ironwood just does not seem to have been used eventhough it is very tough and durable.

White elm moves around too much as the moisture conditions change, and white oak does not finish well and stays too abraisive on the surface

White ash is a good choice, as well hickory is another.

As I close for tonight please come on board with other suggestions for everyone to ponder and maybe expand their knowledge base on this interesting topic.

I still like the first observation "holly" from Ken in England maybe he has a few more examples up his sleeve to share with everyone.

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/04/09 09:16 PM

That was a nice post on dogwood.

I enjoy learning from Don P about different woods. It's clear he knows his medium...The Dogwood tale is a great example of folklore, which is one of my literary interests (but folklore really comes from an oral tradition rather than a written one; like poetry and song).

I'm curious to hear opinions on a laminated version of a broadaxe handle. Maybe it would be more work than a one-piece traditional design: the sawing of strips, making a form, etc. But it might produce a stronger product and a unique one at that.

I have made some canoe paddles, straight ones, w/ laminated shafts. Mahogany and spruce made for a neat (and strong)combination...people always comment on it (I can post some pictures later).

But for a broadaxe, envision alternating srips of ash and some tropical hardwood like NH mentioned... 1/4 ~ 3/8" strips glued up around a form would produce a nice handle, I'd think. A stronger one, too. Solid wood is prone to weak spots and fracture lines. A lamination is usually stronger as it is a combination of grain working together. Plus, a lamination resolves drying and checking concerns that are inherent when harvesting solid material for handles.

Curious to hear some thoughts.
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/05/09 10:22 AM

Don, I would favor a simple naturally curved handle. The heart of the matter, for me, rests in the simplicity of constructing a single piece handle. As mentioned earlier, I have one which broke and was repaired, it was constructed from straighter grain and is fragile, I did not take a little more time to find the right piece of wood. I am now stocking, meaning, looking for and saving handle wood. A laminated handle verges on mass production, something I want to stay away from, next thing you know they are available to the masses and the mass will not know the roots from which the handle arose. To learn how to use a tool, one should make the handle as the first steps, just as a philosophy.

Historically, how many laminated handles were made?

Tim
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/05/09 12:41 PM

There was an article in the Timber Framing magazine a while ago about making a laminated offset handle. I don't know the issue number but it was interesting to see.
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/05/09 02:55 PM


Hey Tim & Jim:

Thanks for your comments. I see your point about tradition, Tim. I posses the same philosophy on many levels. I'm guessing laminated handles were not made way back when because of adhesive technology. Wood was manipulated historically, however (steam bending, etc).

If anyone knows that particular TF issue Jim refers to, I'd be interested to see the article.

Here's a few pics of my homemade laminated canoe paddles, the shafts of which I've found are considerably stronger than solid varieties-- see the repaired solid shaft paddle on the right.

The one on the left is mahogany and spruce. The other is maple, cherry and spruce, w/ a walnut tip...















Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/05/09 04:07 PM


I’m with Tim, even though I know and have split off juggles with a hewer who lams up his own handles and know them to have served him well…

I’ve had equally long service with solid handles and natural curves. And my style of lefthanded hewing, log to my left, left hand forward, requires an especially heavy and immediate curve. My power / lifting / control hand is my forward hand, my forward hand, is to the log, not the fingers of my opposite hand, so my southpaw requires a couple inches of clearance, just south of the poll.

Service life on any handle, but especially ax handles hinges on how well they are hung more than any other factor. An extra fifteen at the shaving horse fitting it just so, has proved to be what adds years to a handles service for me.

But then, I’ve never found the logic in sawing or laminating curves into wood, it grows crooked everyday !

Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/06/09 12:51 AM

Nice to have you back on the forum, Will.

Wood grows crooked everyday. Now if it would only grow to the shape we need...

Training a small tree or a branch to grow a certain way might facilitate a nice handle.

I'd like to try my hand at making both solid and laminated handles one day.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/07/09 01:31 AM

Hi everyone tonight

Well this is a rather interesting thread one that I certainly am enjoying immensely all the great responses.

Talking about growing curves for specific purposed, it is an old technology, for instance, trees for canes were nurtured from their infancy in different forms by just tying them when they were young and tender shoots.

I just have to throw this in here as I read all your posts, the old people would just take a piece of straight grained green wood alittle heavier than what would be required and secure it in some strong wood cleavage such as the rung of a ladder in the barn floor, with rope pull it and secure with stout rope, so that it had the bend in the proper place and leave it until well cured

This is a time consuming method but produces a good straight grained bent offset wood blank for the subsequent reduction into a handle or other object needed. I might also add that you really need green wood for this type of bending not kiln dried.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/07/09 01:33 AM

Hi again tonight

Just before I leave I wonder if any of you guys out there are familiar with the offset reversible broadaxe handle?

Any comments

NH
Posted By: Joel McCarty

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/07/09 01:58 PM

Free-Range, Cordless, Y2K Compliant? Do you have picture or a drawing?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/08/09 01:21 AM

hello again everyone tonight:

Hi Joel nice to have our administrator visit our thread but I cannot understand the connection of what you are asking for in relation to what we are chatting about, so unless I get a little bit more info I cannot respond unfortunately

Getting back to the various comments above I am quite interested in Will's remark's about his style of left handed hewing. Part of it I am comfortable with like "left hand forward"--this is normal practice--but then--"log to my left"--this last part I am not familiar with. Most left handed hewers that I have seen or been around work as follows--"left hand forward, and log to the right"--

I realize that everyone works in different ways, but this is certainly an unusual style and one that I have never seen.

Over the years of pairing up hewers on large timbers during the hewing process a right hand hewer and a left hand hewer could work facing one another on the same side of the log simply because of the opposite way they stand, working from the ends of the log towards the centre point.

Many large hewn timber display the remaining telltale bites of the scoring axes as they were driven into the finished surfaces from different angles usually by a right and left handed hewer working on the same log and on the same surface.

I am sure that you do work as you describe Will and I assume that you are adaptable to swinging an axe right or left handed easily, as many old timers could as the situation warranted.

I wonder for the sake of everyone looking in on this thread if you could explain a little further on your unusual style of hewing, and maybe a picture or two.

Thanks again this is interesting information and I (we) are waiting for your reply

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/08/09 10:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Joel McCarty
Free-Range, Cordless, Y2K Compliant?


I would say Joel is saying axe handles are found in the outdoors and need a little work as any chicken does, cordless means just that, no cord to chop off, and the axe is Y2K compliant, no computer to malfunction, unless the operator goes nuts, then you could make a movie out of it.

There is many ways to skin a cat, or hew a log.

Tim
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/08/09 09:09 PM

I have some video footage of Will hewing as he describes while working with us a couple years back. Perhaps he wouldn't mind if I made it available for viewing?

I can affirm that he hews as he describes. And it is quite odd-looking until you get used to it. But you can't argue with his technique once you've seen his results...
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/09/09 12:45 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well thanks for clearing up Joel's message I guess I am just getting too old to see through the meaning of modern English language

The last part though he asked if I had any pictures of the handle--yes I do in fact it is the focus part of my handle carving video on the tool forum for anyone that is interested.


The handle is quite unusual and was part of the tool collection at UCV. I was given special permission at that time to photograph it for a presentation on timberframing,hewing, broadaxes and broadaxe handles along with other topics to a group of restoration and museum personnel from Russia, that was touring NA at that time. It seems that under the old regime they had lost some background information on restoration techniques and were doing catch up.

Anyway I have to shut down for the night due to bad thunderstorms going overhead so see you tomorrow

Maybe we could continue the conversation about this handle for those that are interested.

To those that just stop by each night maybe we could hear from some of you on this topic

NH
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/09/09 11:17 AM


NH - I know and have worked with one righty who hews mirror image opposite of the way I do. There's as many ways as there is skinless cats.

For me it just makes sense, I work to the right of everything, no matter what tool I am using, so the workpiece is convenient to my dominant hand. I can't fathom why anyone would do otherwise.

I have one Axe hung the opposite way, what I would call righty and you would call lefty. A Goosewing, paid more for it and use it less than any other ax. I use it when contrary grain demands I hew backwards.

Interestingly, as mentioned recently in another thread, I bought my only Gränsfors used from another lefty, when she bought it she ordered what the catalog described as a left handed Ax, she opened the box to find a wrong handed ax. They were good about exchanging it for what they see as right handed, and she and I see as left handed.

Gabel - Post away, unless my landing pad is too shiny or too much of my belly is falling over my belt.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/10/09 12:28 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Thanks for getting back and explaining further your unusual hewing proceedure.

What you say makes sense in my books and I am looking forward to seeing alittle of that footage when Gabel is able to post it.

I realize there is many different ways to do everything, and no one way is the only way, I would say though that The majority of the left handed people hew as I explained above.

Over the years I have chatted with people that stood on top of the log and hewed alongside of their feet --they came from Sweden.

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/10/09 02:05 AM

Hello NH,

Speaking of different hewing styles like Sweden, perhaps you saw this clip when we were discussing hewing in the TTRAG '09 thread.

This Japanese fellow is a breed all his own. Shoes are optional:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueIB0h4SzHc
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/11/09 02:14 PM

i like his attitude towards trees (i also covet his scoring axe)

that's how we do it too, except more aggressively juggling to begin with (aggressive juggling- hehe). that japanese way though would mean less tear out behind knots- which that axeman is apparently quite careful about. (our shortcut is to chainsaw score the heck out of the knots.)

it's nice to have a bunch of axes, just because, and to change gears through the process.

here's something that's helped my back this year- warming up with a medicine ball. axe calisthenics- the new aerobics? get out your spandex boys and girls
Posted By: Tom Cundiff

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/11/09 03:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Will Truax

NH - I know and have worked with one righty who hews mirror image opposite of the way I do.


Hey Will, I hew this way too, I think we talked about this at TTRAG two years ago. I learned form Dave Dauerty at a Guild workshop. I got to try hewing with both right and left Gransfors Axes. It just felt more natural not to swing across my self in a compound arc but to keep it on one side of me. I had more control to hew this way and I could work longer before I had to take a break. I have found that I like wearing Motocross gloves with padded knuckles when hewing.
I got to work with Dave again last year and have some pictures of him face hewing a 48 ft. 10 x 16 Red Oak tie beam. Timber to his right and right hand forward. Gransfors Axe, Handle bent to the left.
[img][IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r177/Edgeworks/DaveHewing1.jpg[/img][/img]
[img][IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r177/Edgeworks/DaveHewing2.jpg[/img][/img]
[img][IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r177/Edgeworks/DaveHewing3.jpg[/img][/img]
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/12/09 12:46 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well great pics Tom, and no mistake Dave is doing a great job on that lovely red oak working in the style that you describe.

This shot reminds me of the 45 foot white oak that we did as a replacement under the 1846 Muley Mill at UCV, and I can vouch that it was after the hewing was completed that I continued to build my respect for those who originaly hewed out all the timber for that structure including the 2--20 inch square by 30 foot white ash timbers that span over and under the muley blade guides.

You know as we chat about hewing styles it is a fact thatnot many people really know if they chop right or left. Many students that I taught over the years would present themselves and one of the first questions I would throw at them is "Are you right or left handed" They might reply right handed and then as I hand them an ordinary chopping axe I would ask them to grasp it like they were going to cut down a tree. A few of the righties would lead with teir left hand and a few of the lefties lefties would lead with their right hand.

They would be surprised to find out that eventho they maybe write right or left in fact they chop left and right or reverse.

I was just wondering in many of you guys are in this category?

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/12/09 01:04 AM

NH:

When I pick up an axe to chop something, my right hand is always higher up on the handle, always.

Does this make me a "right handed chopper?"
(I write left handed, actually).
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/12/09 03:21 AM


Tom --

It was David that I was speaking of, he and I have known and worked with each other off and on for fifteen years now, including teaming up to hew the ties for the Malabarn. But we both hewed the way we do before knowing each other. I think it's fair to say, while we might be a distinct minority, there is no way that we are a minority of just three counting yourself. And I feel confident in guessing that people who hewed in this manner in the past, were found in numbers.

NH --

I assure you I chop left handed, I'm as lefty as they come, I write, eat, swing a ball bat, and both golf and shoot as a lefty, there is no way that swinging an ax, something I do well and almost daily, is an exception to my almost hopeless lefthandedness. If I'm felling or limbing or scoring, my left hand is is my high hand. If we are two man scoring, I can and will and even want to switch sides of the notch, and so my high hand. I am capable of doing so, but never entirely comfortable in the doing.

To return to the gist of this conversation, why would I swing a broad ax any different than a felling ax ?

Don --

Don't know what it means, except it reenforces what we've been saying all through this thread. There is no right way, except for the way that each of us perceives that to be, as we try to determine what is both most comfortable and efficient for ourselves. There is no left way, any more than there is a wrong way.
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/12/09 07:31 PM

axes--> the way as tao. invariably. i chop left handed, with the left hand up front. it seems natural to have the timber on the right. though i can understand how it might feel proper to have that guiding hand go in a smooth arc. that gransfor axe curves on its own, describing a forward arc down the face of the timber. this arc then smooths out and falls to plumb.

boy that axe looks small in his hands.

and a pretty timber getting all chaotic and sculptural.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/17/09 12:17 AM

H everyone tonight:

Great responses, it is only through discussion that one can feel comfortable with answers to questions like we are discussing.

One's body and one's mind are sometimes very hard to understand.
My daughter who is left handed at first wrote her name backwards when she first went to school, and it took sometime for this to reverse and spell her name in the correct format, at least to us.

I am in complete agreement that everyone should hew in what ever style that they seem the most comfortable with, but only after being shown what appears to be correct first for them. As I perceived students working at first with the hewing and scoring axes if I seen what appeared to me to be a safety problem I would interveen and work with them until I felt comfortable with their style because the most acceptable and safe style is the one that you have the most control of the axes with.

Would any of you care to expand on this theory?

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/17/09 02:49 AM

controlling the axe so as to get to know the wood is definitely the focus. the neat thing about axes is that they are quite aggressive tools, wasting large amounts of wood quickly, but only where the wood wants to. so it is both aggressive and inherently sensitive at once.

just to carry on with that thought, there is a rhythm to working the axe over the log. a kind of tempo. wind up just slowly enough and one stays focused, then to keep the body working at that rate along the length of the log. days measured in trips back and forth. how many tree lengths are in your back today? you stand as tall as the trees you can cut.

shifting gears- from splitting off juggles to bouncing the edge against the timber face. hewing goes by degrees. what i'm working on is patience. the desire to get it done. to get beyond that desire would be progress and a process improvement at this end. i think there is a direct connection between the desire to bring things to an end and the fact of having a body. every desire is mortal.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/18/09 12:10 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well great remarks Toivo: butI am slightly confused, do you mean that you hew standing on top of the log and glancing the axe on the vertical surface working along your feet? This I am sure is not for everyone to try, and if they do extreme care is needed and I think that you will agree.

The old manuscript(s) that I have studied show clearly the hewer working alongside the timber and hewing downward across the grain, this does not mean that this is for sure the only way but I was trained to accept what history has recorded to be factual.

The far East methods of squaring timber is another thing of course, with different tools, and different historical training.
As we are trained in our historical ways they also were and proudly so!!

The Historic structures that I reconstructed over 30 years were studied pretty closely for scoring and hewing marks for as close a reproducton as was possible. Of course these buildings did originate and were built by German, Dutch, English, Irish, Swedish, and maybe a few other nationalities thrown in. To create the same telltale marks on the surfaces for future generations to study we had to hew in this methodical way.

In most cases The permanent homes and churches were constructed with the most precision work, while the barns and outbuildings along with other types of outstructures were more crudely done, but none the less at times a temendous amount of finish was applied to the surfaces of these timbers. The large anchor beams of the Dutch Barns exhibit extraordinary smooth finishes no doubt an adze finish in many cases.

I always hewed with the timber about 6" off the ground on good solid sills partly buried in the ground. This created a base that could easily be passed over as the hewing progressed along the timber, and would disappear as the chips accumulated.


Keep the chat rolling in I am sure that there is more to tell

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/18/09 06:42 AM

Hi NH,

So that means that you are right and everyone else is wrong ?

You have described a back breaking practice that I simply could not follow and it also sounds to me like a recipe for burying the axe head in the ground.

Regards

Ken Hume

Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/18/09 12:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Ken Hume
.......it also sounds to me like a recipe for burying the axe head in the ground.


Recently, I viewed several hewing videos on YouTube. One fellow did mention that his axe did get into the ground sometimes....

I would assume that once a good chip pile was present that this would prevent the axe from entering the ground again.

I saw one fellow scoring to his chalk line along the top of the log while standing on the side. He then rolled the log to have this scored side on the side. Then he hewed off the side.

I've noticed new comers to hewing have difficulty standing on top of the log to score the side, and wondered if this method would be an advantage to a newcomer? Although it may not be historically correct, it could be easier to some.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: Gabel

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/18/09 02:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Ken Hume

You have described a back breaking practice that I simply could not follow...



I assure you there is no easy way to hew.

I've found that few people have the combination of determination, strength, precision and stamina to keep at it long enough for it to hurt less and for them to become proficient at it.

Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/18/09 02:59 PM

I have a new appreciation of hewing after doing a bit @ the TTRAG event. To look at a big barn that's all hewn will be evermore humbling now.

How many hundreds of feet were hewn to make a plain old barn???

Maybe the farmer had strong motivations that kept his axe a swinging. It was his livelihood, his survival.

Then again, slaves might have done a majority of the hewing in some areas. Accounts read that pit-sawing of boards was done by slaves.

Maybe hewing should be regular training at boot camp! TF barracks?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/19/09 01:31 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Thanks for all the viewpoints as far as the correct hewing position is concerned, and you all have and put forward good viewpoints.

I am sorry Ken that you seem to take my remarks in that context, I thought that I had made myself clear that depending where you live hewing probably was done in many different ways.

The old manuscripts that I had access to were Britsh in origin
and correct me if I am not right were you not taught to respect what is presented as a true representation of facts by unknown artists, and in many cases before photography paintings and artist sketches were the only way that scenes of work could be recorded.

For everyone looking in on this subject under discussion, what would be your preference, and how would you present proper subject material to those that want to learn a true safe method to work by?

I would much rather bury my axe head in the dirt than have it glance and be a danger to ones leg or foot.

I have always said that after the teaching is done then one can stray away from proven methods if one wishes but that person has to accept what may happen when using irregular methods, and I am sure that in many cases not only with hewing disasterous results were imminent and did happen.

Thanks all for the discussion which I am sure is not finished yet--

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/19/09 10:12 AM

It sound like the "don't whittle toward your self you could cut yourself". This is a false statement cutting toward your own body is the safest and most controlled, this is a bit of a stretch in comparing to the axe but the basic principal applies. The same goes for the adze. In using a certain motion your body creates a break stopping the further motion of the tool.

As for the old pictures, I have always seen them as misrepresentations of the truth, this done on purpose to keep the secrets secret, allowing some truth to leak out but not all of it.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/22/09 01:35 AM

Hi everyone tonight:Hi Timbeal,well I have did alot of wittling in my day and I always wittled away from myself if possible, but then as I have said many times before people do work in many different ways.Working on a shaving horse is one instance that it is necessary to work pulling the drawknife towards your body.  I always wore a leater apron to protect myself incase of a slip.

Talking about adzing, well I have did  a pile in my day, and here again you are working between your feet aned ankles.  If you have the proper rhythm and are not tired then you have a fairly good control of the adze.  The problem with the adze is that it can glance sideways if you loose control.I have did alotof trough adzing and it is quite dangerous if you do not pay strict attention to what you are doing because at times you literally are working beside,infront of , and below your feet, and as the work progresses it gets increasingly dangerous.anyway good remarks and do it as you will NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/22/09 09:29 AM

Anyone else whittle toward themselves?

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/23/09 01:03 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

WE have certainly given this subject a good going over I hope that those that are stopping by will benefit from our discussions especially if they are trying to grasp or maybe getting up the courage to try and hew a timber for the first time.

I prefer a 28 inch--3" offset handle for my broadaxe, and it does correspond to handles that we have in our tool collection at UCV.

Whether this is the correct length for everyone is not for me to say but maybe you mightlike to throw in a few remarks on the subject

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/25/09 09:07 PM

Hi Everybody,

Richard O Byrne sent me a link to a short on line video that shows the manufacture of Tremont nails. This video is important because it demonstrates a cut nail making machine in action.

http://video.bobvila.com/m/21320111/manufacturing-antique-cut-nails.htm

Watch, listen & learn.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/27/09 08:01 PM

Hi,

The hewing method employed by Mourad Manesse in France to hew mainly European larch can be seen on his website photo gallery at :-

http://www.charpenteur.fr/phocagallery/galerie.html

Standing on top of the log and taking a good swing just like log building proponent Charles McCraven seems to be the l'ordre du jour. There is some sitting down astride the log to put a good quality finish on the surface.

Those are some mean looking axes !

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/28/09 12:31 AM

Nice pictures. That's the long-handled axe you need. Looks like he's taking quite the swing.

"Off with his head..."

p.s. enjoyed the nail video
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/28/09 12:55 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Thanks Ken for the wonderful group of historic restoration photos employed in France by what appears to be a very skilled group of artisans.

they sure employ some mean techniques of hewing and certainly broadens my knowledge on that subject somewhat.

Standing on top of the log hewing seems to be a method employed by tradesmen in a broad spectrum of the area from Frsnce eastward to Sweden and that whole general area.

It would be interesting to know if there is any indication that hewing was accomplished standing beside the log like here in North America --at least by a good share of the early pioneers.

What puzzles me somewhat is the UEL"s that came here in Ontario about 1784 generally were from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and England used the beside the log technique seemingly contadictory to what was done in the olde country of origin.

Any comments?


NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/30/09 01:58 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well as I reflect on "Historic Hewing" in general, and maybe how these past conversations have added at least to my knowledge on the subject, it is reasonable that to lead someone as an instructor some of the historic background should be presented so that the student or students could select a style by which they might want to be instructed in. If the instructor can not provide the training in that style then he or she should at that time entertain a moton that they try and find another source for the traning that they require.

Otherwise the course then should go ahead using the training method that the trainer is well versed in and feels comfortable with.

any comments?

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/30/09 07:51 AM

Hi Richard,

I would not punish yourself over this issue. I won't be swinging an axe like Mourad any time soon. What I do think needs to be taken into account is a persons physical condition. Apart from teen and twenty year olds we are all most likely in differing stages of "decomposition" and so the method employed will of necessity need to take into account those physical limitions.

Safety must be the key consideration as an axe can do an awfull lot of damage.

Rest easy !

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/01/09 12:42 AM

HI everyone tonight:

Well spoken words Ken

I realize that not many person(s) in general will hew at any great rate but What I am interested in is to preserve the technique as best I can for future generations of interpreters, and those that wish to master the use of this great historic tool.

I did hew daily up into my fifties mainly because I was hardened to it, and one day led to another and so on. Another factor was at least in my case, we interpreted historic reconstruction of period buildings, and this was done from may to October, right through the hottest months. Some days when the temp reached into the 90's you knew that this surely was not a job that would have been historically done at that time.


One thing that I am almost certain of and as you reflect on it, is that the hewing or broadaxing even by the veterans of years gone by was a seasonal chore being done in the cooler weather like fall, winter or spring, not during the cropping season, or real hot days, I believe they were too smart for that.

The hot weather also played foul with the freshly hewn surfaces and special care had to be exercised to shield them from the hot sun's rays.

There is quite an interest in learning the technique of hewing across the land, and as I look back on the students that I had over the years middle aged men were the main grist of the pack.
No young men as I recall it.

Now when it came to hewing and really meaning business like meetng a deadline I had to recruit and train younger men that could sweat and din't mind getting a few callouses on their paws. Once you passed a certain point with them there was no turning back, and I got to say that at the end of a busy season they began to look like a seasoned pro, which as far as I was concerned they were. These boys were hewing under harsher conditons that I am sure their fore fathers did.

Now before I leave for tonight I do know for certain that in the logging camps especially on the west coast hewing did carry on year around, hewing railway ties especially was year around, so here again in my area hewing no doubt was seasonal whereas in other areas is was strictly a job with a dollr figure attached.

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/02/09 12:55 AM

NH:

Do you have any accounts to post (internet articles, books that may be refered to) regarding the hewing of railroad ties?

Must have been no-nonsense work. Not the gratification of hewing a project, pegging a joint, raising a wall, etc.


Maybe there's an old blues song somewhere:

I 'aint broke, but I'm badly bent
Swingin' this axe to pay the rent.

The rich folk from New York gonna ride this rail
No future's mine, jus' 'dis cross-tie jail.


Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/02/09 01:44 AM

HI everyone tonight

To answer your question about hewing railwauy ties I do have an article written by a person that experienced the last years of the lumber and tie hewing era.

It is not available to the general public though but I may be able to post some exerts from it--I will see--no promises

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/02/09 10:30 AM

I have a book on axes, it might have been called, The Boys Book of Axes. I can not put my hand on it right away, in it cedar is mentioned as a tie material from the Maine woods. The axe used was called the Cedar Axe, it was used for felling and hewing. A picture in the book depicts a tree felled and still attached to the stump while it was hewn in place.

Tim
Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/03/09 02:23 PM

I think Richard is referring to a manuscript I sent him a while back that was written by a man who lives in the retirement community where my wife works. He worked on the rivers floating the hewn ties from the woods to the tracks in the 30's. I have a photocopy, and it's about 75 pages.

"From the broadax to the railroad tracks" by Mark Goodman in cooperation with the Wind River Historical Center, Dubois, WY.

I have no idea how you could get a copy, but it's a fascianting read. Millions (really) of railroad ties were hand-hewn in the woods, and floated and flumed to the railroad tracks. CB.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/04/09 01:04 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Hi Clark, and thanks for jumping in with that information and clarification.

From what I can make out railway ties were manufactured from many different types of trees, depending on the area that the hewing Companies had control over.

In the extreme west the giant redwoods were cut up in short lengths with very long cross cut saws and then the ties were split out and using the hewing axes they were straightened up somewhat into regular shapes and sizes.

Whole landscapes were cut off to produce railway ties during the era of railway construction that happened about 1840's to 1900, and one of the methods of producing the ties were to fell the trees still attached at the stump, and then walking up along the length of the tree it was flattened and then cut up into ties.

NH
Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/04/09 01:25 PM

My wife talked to the author yesterday, and he's recently had a stroke. Perhaps we can arrange to get the manuscript scanned and converted to pdf. I'd be willing to host in on my site. Would there be much interest in that? I think it would make his day to hear that folks were clamoring to read his research/personal history. CB.
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/04/09 02:15 PM

That's a great idea; it's got my vote. Sounds like an interesting read.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/07/09 08:20 PM

Hi Guys,

Here is the site that you have been seeking for hewing action :-

http://www.en.charpentiers.culture.fr/treesintohouses/fromtheforesttotheworksite/squaringoff

Check out the whole site. Its sets an example that the TFG should mimic or better.

The gauntlet is thrown down. En guarde !

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/07/09 08:32 PM

This is a great find.
The Guild should try and do a similar set up... only better.

So far, I've just watched the "Croatian squaring-off method" (Filmed in 1982 it says). What I noticed is the hewer is using the same axe throughout the entire process. And what a beautiful tree- no limbs for 100 feet!

Posted By: Joel McCarty

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/07/09 08:47 PM

Very nice.

Thanks Ken.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/09/09 12:21 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Thanks also Ken for providing such a educational peek into the historical subject of hewing. I can access the site but I cannot play the video just a few frames and then it quits on me. Can anyone help me out--thanks in advance

I hope that everyone is enjoying your find.

Also Daiku thanks for jumping in and just maybe providing hard copies for those that might want to broaden out their knowledge on Tie hewing here in North America.

NH

Posted By: timberwrestler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/09/09 12:10 PM

Clark,

I'll clamor for the reading material.

Thanks,
TW
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/19/09 01:32 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well I have been away for a while but life has to go on in other areas although this is one of my favorite ones, with your guys and gals in historic "wood working world".

You know as I look at the information that Ken sent on hewing it seems to me that our North American style of hewing adapted some of the best features of other countries that is represented, while retaining the safety features of our type of hewing.

It is just like the styles of timberframing it appeared to change about every 150 to 200 years.

For instance the Pennsylvania "people" that immigrated up into Upper Canada about 1784 seemed to switch quite quickly to the 3 bay style of barn construction, and at least around here only a sprinkling of the "large Anchor Beam" central isle barns were built and then things seemed to change about 1800.

Does anyone have any thoughts on why this old established style of construction faded away so quickly?

Anxious to hear your thoughts---------

NH
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/19/09 02:01 AM

Hi NH,

Good question. I can only speculate why immigrants often dropped certian styles of barn after settling into their new territories.

Perhaps a combination of tehnological advances and environmental factors are behind barn evolution. Here in New England, in the early days, the "English Barn" soon gave way to the gable-entry "New England Barn."

As many know, expansion and serviceability were problamatic with the side-entry English barns. A center isle w/ a door at each end allowed a wagon to reach all areas of a New England barn even if it was expanded (wich was done by simply adding bents to the rear). And w/ two doors, no need to turn the wagon around to exit.

America expanded too and farms grew. Sheep farming gave way to dairy here in Maine, which required ever-bigger barns w/ larger haylofts, etc. Steeper roofs, longer buildings... Doors no longer swung open, but slid on tracks because you didn't need to shovel as much in order to slide a door open in winter.

The introduction of sawn stock may have also played a role in barn design. Those mammoth anchor beams come to mind. Ease of construction w/ sawn stock maybe got rid of the anchor??... Why hew a anchor beam if you didn't really need to...

The open "post-free" space the anchor beam afforded might have become less important as well. I don't know much about why the Dutch built this way.
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/19/09 03:08 PM

Recently, I was at a site where some volunteers were hewing some logs for a small house that would hopefully represent a settlement house of their area.

One volunteer was using a board axe that he owned and claimed was fitted with a handle that was "field reversible". That is he could just pull the wedge in the handle end and reverse the head so that it could hang the other way. That way he could hew either left handed or right handed as he felt the need.

Him seemed to think that this was a standard "feature" that this head and handle were made this way on purpose.

Being new to broad axes and handles, I had never seen or heard of such a thing.

I was wondering if anyone else out there in hewing world has heard of such a thing?

Signed inquiring mind....

Jim Rogers

Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/20/09 02:03 PM

i've seen but not used an axe like this. laurie's hardware store in thunder bay ontario had one - though apparently, as i was told by the old finn in the armchair who minded the shop- it was not for sale because he liked it so much just to look at it. as i recall it had a removable wedge as you describe Jim to make it left or right handed. i wonder how that would be handy. maybe to accommodate changing grain, but one would need to be ambidextrous or chop cross handed?
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/20/09 03:26 PM

Thanks for your reply.
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/20/09 03:38 PM

thinking about how it would be useful, i was reminded of that japanese hewing video on youtube, where the craftsman comes against a tough knot, stops, then comes at it from the other side. but would you switch around the axe head just for that? or maybe to move from standing on the log, chopping on the right hand side of the timber say, and then getting down beside it for close work with the timber on the right. ???
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/23/09 01:46 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well we seem to have gotten back to the subject of broad axe handles.

Reversible broadaxe handles are pretty neat, in fact I have made a few of them myself from an antique specimen that I happened to come by in a collection of tools.

They are not easy to make but real handy especially if say the broadaxe was handled down from generation to generation and the new person's hand orientation changed say from right to left.

Another senario would be that the axe would find its way to a new home and the new owner's hand orientation was opposite of the original owner.

Thanks for coming on board both of you

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/28/09 01:05 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

I would like to go back a few entries to "Our barns's" comment about the evolution of "English barns" to "New England Barns".

The descripton of each type seems to put the "New England Barns" having the same characteristics as The olde Dutch style barns with the central Isle, and the large anchor beams with exits at each end, while the "English barns" use a side entrance with a barn floor that also exits each side of the structure.

Up here in Upper Canada the English barn seems to have caught on after the advent of the "Dutch style or New England barn" mainly because of the ease of filling ie; the mows are located on one side of the barn floor, extending right up to the peak.

I guess that I am taken back alittle that it seems that in the New England the English barns predated the "New England Barns" whereas in our area the reverse seems to be true.

Maybe we need alittle bit more clarification on this issue,

Thanks all for coming on board

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/03/09 12:49 AM

HI everyone this rainy night:

Well to address another queston posed by Our barns on why the dutch built those rather large open ailed barns with the massive anchor beams, well I am no authority but I was always told that those large open floor spaces were well used for many different chores which needed really open spaces, one being the hand thrashing and wind cleaning of grain after it had been separated from the straw.

Even after the advent of the threshing mill powered by a tread mill the whole operation took place in these areas.

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/03/09 01:27 AM

elusive triple post. NH you are an internets geniush.

interesting to hear of axes being passed on with buildings. makes sense.

Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/03/09 02:11 AM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
Hello everyone tonight:


I guess that I am taken back alittle that it seems that in New England the English barns predated the "New England Barns" whereas in our area the reverse seems to be true.

Maybe we need alittle bit more clarification on this issue,

Thanks all for coming on board

NH


Hi NH:

The English Barn is the older style around these parts. I think design drivers depends on what one needed in a barn at the time. New England is not great farmland, pretty rocky, but it is great grazing land. As I've studied, once the midwest opened up after the civil war and railroads really got things connected, New England farms were not able to compete w/ the "bread basket" of the midwest, some of the most productive land in the world as far as grain and vegetables.

New Englanders switched to livestock and put that grazing land to good use. Dairy (and to a lesser extent, beef) really took off as the new farming trend.

A farmer needs a big barn to do dairy to any scale. The long aisle of a New England barn proved efficent for cow tie-ups, and for the hay fork typically mounted at the ridge... hay could be carried to the many mows all along one side (typically the north side, which kept it cooler in summer), while the cows were lined along the south side (keeping them warmer in winter).

Expansion comes up in many readings as a shortcomming of the English barn design. The English barn was typically a smaller barn for a homesteader/ subsistence farm and worked well for early New Englanders. But as America grew after the Civil War, so did the dairy industry.

I can reference some books if you're interested.

I'm interested to hear that the English Barn became the style of choice in your area. Maybe smaller operations drove this. Was livestock big business in those parts??
Posted By: Bruce Chrustie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/07/09 02:20 AM

holy crap! when you see blood you have scored too far wink
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/09/09 12:50 AM

Well Hello again everyone tonight:

Hi Our barns--

Thanks for the deep look back into times gone by especially in your area --your conclusion in the progression of barn styles seems well put, and I must say well thought out indeed!!

It makes great sense at least to me that the smaller barns came first and then the larger barns later to fill the nitch needed to develop the large dairy herds that grew quickly across the midwest US

Here where I live the smaller family operated dairy farms were the backbone of the agricultural dairy industry for nearly 250 years, and to some extent is just now being swollowed up by larger operations. My son still operates a 36 cow dairy herd but pressure is being applied from alot of different areas for expansion\change, this usually comes from the environmentalists and gov't agencies, and I must say that it is not for the best in my books.

Hi Bruce:--want to elaborate on who is seeing blood--any way it is nice that you dropped in

NH
Posted By: Thane O'Dell

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/09/09 02:49 PM

NH
I have a proper felling axe, a broad axe head and an adze head. Other then needing some handles for my tools, what would be the best way or suitable why to learn this craft. Obviously a one on one lesson would be ideal but if there was a video available would that be enough to get started?
Thane
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/09/09 07:54 PM

Thane:
Northern Hewer has a video about hewing for sale.....

Posted By: Thane O'Dell

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/10/09 02:08 AM

Thanks Jim. I will message him.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/14/09 01:01 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Hello Jim and Thane:

Thanks Jim for the offering Thane directions to My training videos posted on the "Tools for sale" Forum I appreciate it, and Thane thanks for the interest, I have sent you a reply.

It would be nice Shane to describe the broadaxe, and adze heads that you have, maybe we can offer you some tips on maintenance.

There are many very experienced people that drop by this site each day and you can benefit from their experiences and advice I am sure.

As well there probably are many as well as yourself that may benefit from a good discussion

NH





Posted By: Thane O'Dell

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/16/09 12:15 AM

Hi guys and thanks for the support. I have recieved your message NH and will consider which dvds I would want to order from you.(cost being the issue) As my wife took the camera to work with her I can't post pictures of the Broad axe or adze and will have to describe them as best as possible. The adze looks new although it has some rust. There are no signs it has ever been used. It even has an edge. The Broad axe head is 11", flat on one side except at the ends where it comes out a bit. There is appx. half inch of hard steel on cutting edge with some small rust pits(nothing major). The handle can be fitted either way. I have made many handle for hammers and axes but I know what they look like so it's not hard. I've never held a adze or broad axe in my hands before. Things like this need to be made properly or you just make things harder for yourself. I believe the first axe used in hewing is the felling axe(correct me if I'm wrong) which is used to remove most of the stock in the scoring process.
This axe I bought from Lee Valley and believe was made in Germany and cost me $100. It has a thin wide blade and a 36" handle. Thats it! Now I just need me some learnin!
Thane
Thane
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/16/09 07:13 PM

Hello everyone tonight:

Hi Thane and thanks for the reply.

I ( and maybe many others) are looking forward to your pics and maybe helping you to get to know and feel comfortable enough with your tools to attempt to use them safely.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/19/09 01:38 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Sorry that I have been away so long but I have been away for a spell for a little R and R.

Hope that everyone is well and enjoying our return at least in this area to summer, it has been dreadfully wet around here.

One of my land mark barns in this area just bit the dust, age finally caught up to it and I guess we could add neglect on the owners part. One good thing is that a few years ago I visited it and did some sketchings

speaking of barns, on our tour that was part of the Morrisbug TTRAG Conference a few years back we visited a stone Barn near Brockville Ontario, this was one of the most photographed barns in eastern Canada, well the new owners just recently demolished it only the front stone arch remains, and of course any photographs that some of you may have taken at that time--

Do any of you remember it? I would like to know.

You know timberframing can take many hats, but I wonder how many of you have tried your hand at timberframing a mill structure with its many intricacies and huge timber framework members?

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/19/09 07:17 AM

Hi Richard,

I suppose that wind and water mill work is our speciality.

Our current windmill project in Barbados has arms that were single piece greenheart - 68 feet long 14.5" x 11". The main windshaft is also greenheart octagonal 24" x 24" with the vertical drive shaft the same dimension but in purpleheart.

We have been unable to find replacement single piece arm timbers and so will make up new multi piece arms with a 40 foot centre section and 20 foot outers with 6 foot overlapping scarf joints.

This kind of project is not for the feint of heart. Windmills are very dangerous beasts. People regularly get killed.

Regards

Ken Hume & Son
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/25/09 06:50 PM

Hello,
it's m' 1st time commenting here and maybe we can say what I have to write is more structural rather than relating to this particular topic. I find the topic, if you can call it that at this point, interesting but following it , oh, taxing. Anyway here goes- This line has gotten way out of hand to the point that there are so many entries that they don't fit my screen -and I have a big screen. I have to scroll to the right- or is it left- to read. Can it not be broken up? It has become a giant monopolistic subject and needs to be reigned in and like AT&T broken down into its constituent parts, Or maybe eliminated and allowed to regenerate... I don't know...
Don
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/25/09 06:57 PM

Don:
If you go to the top of the thread and click on "Topic Options" then select the last one at the bottom called: "switch to flat mode" you may find it easier to read.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/26/09 07:08 PM

Thanks Jim, that is better. Just getting the hang of this, it seems there is a lot to figure out.

Don
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/29/09 01:10 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Thanks for coming on board Ken with that interesting update on your windmill project in the Barbados.

I for one take a real interest in mill construction having been involved with all 3 waterpowered mills at Upper Canada Village over the years in one way or another.

One thing that amazes me is the fact that each one was constructed no doubt without a major input from the powers above but mostly from a millwright with many years of experience.

At the output during preparation of each ones construction site, a thorough knowledge of the finished mill with its equipment had to be well understood.

Take for instance the Mulley Saw mill, the placement of the water Barrel or as some refer to it as the Rose Wheel at the extreme lower level of the site had to be within at the very least a few inches of both side and vertical placement so that as the stories were added and the machinery put in place things had to be right "on",.

Ken--Your reference to the search for 68foot timbers for the windmill arms brings to my mind what a monstrous construction it trully is, just the mast and main pinion timber, not to speak of the massive bearings to hold and contain this timber, along with the breaking system, and thrust problems that one would encounter during the furies of one of their many hurricanes.

Your problem of putting together shorter timbers by using a 6 foot scarf to reach the 68 foot necessary length seems to be quite a challenge.

As a question that comes to my mind how did you arrive at 6 feet rather than 8 feet or possibly shorter for the scarf, did you use historical or modern methods to arrive at this final size?.

And maybe you could just touch on the scarfing method for everyone visiting thi site.

Thanks again for coming on board

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/29/09 08:18 AM

Hi Richard,

Working on old structures is not necessarily to be thought of in fundamental "new build" design terms but maybe thought more in terms of design evolution where some factors are fixed or constrained as in nature. All greenheart timbers leaving Guyana today are shipped inside 40 foot sea containers and it is this factor that now determines the basic raw building block dimensions for this mill. The new arms are to be made up as per the orginals at 68 feet long and this will be achieved by using two 40 foot timbers for each arm with one 40 foot clear span timber used in the central portion of the arm and the other 40 ft timber halved to provide 2 off x 20 foot timbers that will be then be scarved to either end of the central 40 footer.

If we do some simple arithmetic we can arive at the maximum scarf length possible i.e. 40 + (20 - 6) x 2 = 68.

It gets worse ! Piggy backed onto each side of the 68 foot arms are 41 ft whips which form the spines for the sails and these bring the fully assembled diameter of the sails up to 84 feet all of which is supported at one central point on the 2 foot diameter windshaft.

Some time back on this forum I asked if anyone could provide references to books that contained examples of metal reinforced scarf joints and both Gabel & Will T came up trumps in this respect and the knowledge contained within the pages of those reference books has been put to good use.

The method employed for scarfing is currently under development and so I am somewhat reluctant to discuss this here in an open forum. I am working with a millwright who has over 40 years experience in rebuilding windmills and the combination of experience, brain & computing power will doubtless arrive at an optimal solution given the current constraints. As with natural evolution adopting this design development step solution methodology will either work and the mill live on to crush another day or alternatively if it fails then this type of windpowered sugar cane crushing mill will become extinct.

This site can and does provide a potential powerhouse of knowledge.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/01/09 12:24 AM

HI everyone tonight:

Well I finally made it back on, I don't know about all you guys and gals out there but I have been having a rough time signing in sometimes it is pretty near impossible.

Anyway Ken for everyone out there that might be interested in a few more details the mill you are restoring, would you comment on how the power is transfered from the 24" main drive axle to the crushing machinery no doubt in the lower part of the mill.

I expect that a large vertical shaft was incorporated, could you please comment.

The mill structure itself is it of timber frame construction?

The last question that I personally am interested in being quite familiar with placing and running of the grinding stones in a grist mill, is the grinding machinery that handled the sugar cane being an altogether different process, and the daily capacity of such a mill in tonnes.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/01/09 08:04 AM

Hi Richard,

Currently a large 24 x 24 purpleheart vertical shaft is employed to bring power down the tower from the sails to the horizontal cane crushing rollers. A very long time ago these rollers were mounted vertically and were set in groups of three ? What this means is that the cane was fed through the first set of rollers and then a couple of ladies on the receiving side would take the partially crushed cane and turn this about and feed it back through the second set of rollers. In time this process was automated by insertion of a "dumb lady" plate which automatically received and re-fed the cane back through the second set of rollers. The reason the "dumb lady" name was given to the plate is thought to derive from the practice by the original ladies of chattering as the mill crushed the cane and when replaced by the plate the mill effectively then fell silent. There are no known working examples of these vertical rollers still in exisitance today or so we thought until passing by a cricket pitch one day where we noted a large iron cylinder roller being used to flatten the pitch. This roller had axial grooves cut along the outside of the hollow roll. Closer inspection revealed that this was indeed part of an old vertical roll setup which demonstrated that the rolls were made up from multiple sections stacked one on top of the other and slid over the outside of a large turned wooden post - not dissimilar to the ones recently posted on this website.

Seems that recycling is not a new concept. Sweet !

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/01/09 01:21 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer

Well I finally made it back on, I don't know about all you guys and gals out there but I have been having a rough time signing in sometimes it is pretty near impossible.
NH


NH, don't log out..... just close your browser and next time you enter the forum you should be logged in....
This works for me, but I'm unsure if it will work for you....

Jim Rogers
Posted By: OurBarns1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/01/09 02:02 PM

Originally Posted By: northern hewer
HI everyone tonight:

I don't know about all you guys and gals out there but I have been having a rough time signing in sometimes it is pretty near impossible.

NH


Hi NH,

Try this as another fix to your logging-in issue:
At the top of this page, click on "My Stuff"
Select "Cookies"
Click the button labeled "Expire Cookies"

It says "Expiring (deleting) the cookies set in your browser by this board may be useful if you suspect that they are damaged or the board is malfunctioning for you."

I'm enjoying the mill discussion. Great stuff, especially the scarfing and the 24 x 24 purpleheart timber shaft.

Ken when this project "winds" down maybe you can post some pictures of all this.
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/01/09 10:24 PM

It would be nice to see. Some video as well, maybe.

I cleared my cookies out and it fixed the problem.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/18/09 12:46 AM

Well Hello everyone tonight:

I just was able to get loged in for the first time tonight, it has been quite a struggle for the last week or so. I just thought that I would try it to see if it would work as I was starting to give up and lo and behold it worked, nice to be back with everyone again.

I would like to thank Ken for the posting that explained the main cane crushing component of the Barbados Mill--way back on the 2nd of the month, it sure was appreciated, and I am sure many members that passed by this site stand in awe of the millwrighting that must have gone into the construction of these mills.

One question that I have for you Ken---

-- what kind of a braking system could handle such a monstrous piece of equipment which in case of an emergency could stop and hold the mill's sails idle through high wind disturbances?

I know from experience that the slow revolving sails would create an immense tourque, and in turn would require a specialized braking system along with very heavy gearing

Thanks again Ken
NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/18/09 07:20 AM

Hi Richard,

This may come as a surprise to some as it did to me but there is no braking system. Should there be a need to slow the mill down then the cap would be rotated out of facing directly into the wind and then the cane crushing rollers would be loaded up to slow the mill down eventually with the cane causing the mill to stop. The sails can then be turned backwards manually using ropes secured to the ends of the sails, the rolls cleared and then the sails tied off and secured to horizontal posts built into the lower part of the mill wall.

This is not exactly a very safe system of working and at first sight this would certainly not meet today's health and safety at work (OSHWA ?) standards but a delicate balance of weight and force (torque) is going on in the cap and the introduction of braking forces might well result in unexpected consequences.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/19/09 10:39 PM

I once asked an older sawyer how the would start and stop a water powered mill, in case of some need such as service the blade.
And I asked what kind of "clutch" was used to disengage the arbor.....

You can't imagine the look he gave me......

And he simply stated, you "stop the water......."

It seems that most mills that he was familiar with had some type of water way that could be opened and closed by inserting or removing some short planks in a chute.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/20/09 12:55 AM

Well hello everyone:

Thanks to Mr. Ken Hume who put in a help call for me--- once again I am able to access this chat room, it has been 1 month since I have been able to come on board with all my friends from around the globe--it feels really good for sure!

I have been looking at the last post from Jim in regards to an explanation about starting and stopping a muley mill, well here we go--------

To start things off jim, you must understand that the muley blade is tethered to the crank fastened on the end of a 12" oak axle which in turn extends through the centre of the horizontal water barrel.

The tethering is via a large heavy oak pitman that in turn pushes upwards and downward as the axle rotates, this rotation can reach up to 125 rpms with 80 or 90 being a normal speed one at which the machinery is designed to run and run and run with very little maintenance whatever.

Now to answer your question---

You can see there is no clutch between the power source and the vertical blade, so to stop the mill the method that our 1858 mill was designed to use was as follows.--

At the end of the head race and in line with the water barrel directly below the blade there is an opening in the end wall of the head race of approx 24" by 36". On the inside suface of the wall along each edge of the opening are metal plates securely fastened. Against these plates slides a door (vertically) also with metal plates that bear against the ones on the wall. This door has fastened to it a heavy upright stem of oak (2 by 6) which reaches well above the raceway walls. fastened to this upright and cantilevered over a fulcrum is another rather heavy horizontal oak 2by 9 which is long enough to reach the exterior wall of the mill, now the tricky part is that this fulcrum has to be placed at the point that the weight of the 2 by9 should balance the weight of the door and vertical stem, but not quite.

Along the wall (on the upper level)extending down to the end of the 2by9 is a round pole that the sawyer can pull up on or shove down on depending on whether he wants to start or stop the mill.

This system works really well and I will explain.

To start the mill the sawyer shoves down and instantly opens up the gate fully allowing an inital thrust of water to hit the inside of the barrel wheel, this gives the equipment the power it needs to lift the pitman and the blade to the top of its first stroke, then the revolving motion with the momentum of the weight of the pitman the blade the 12" oak shaft, and the large cast collars gives the saw blade a smooth motion with the equipment acting like a flywheel so to speak.

To sort of end this discussion for tonight I will add that the sawyer can at his own discression slow down or speed up the mill with a gentle pull up or shove down on the pole by his side

This mill uses about 2000 gals of water per minute at full throttle

hope you all enjoy this little chat please ask any question and I will try and answer them to te best of my ability.

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/20/09 02:47 AM

Thanks for the explanation of how that mill works....
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/09 02:26 AM

Hi everyone tonight

You are entirely welcome JIm, it is questions and interest from people like you that makes my day, and I hope that those that stop by can understand some of the mill technology from years gone by.

Our mill as it operates today uses a barrel wheel, or as some prefer to call it a Rose Wheel, there are pictures of it in past posts on this very chat site, itmay take alittle looking around to find them, but you might just run across some other tidbits that are quite interesting that deal with many other subjects, including the original one hewing timber by hand with a broadaxe, this in itself is quite a varied subject depending on who you are talking to, and what part of the globe you are from.

The term Rose Wheel I expect is derived from the cast iron collars on each sideof the Barrel Wheel's box, These collars fit on tapered surfaces on the 12" oak shaft and rotate with the shaft at about 1\4" clearance from the sides of the box creating a pressurized interior cavity. One of the main enemies of this set up is believe it or not a single square nail, if one happens to work its way along the head race and enters the pressurized area on its way out it could get lodged between the collar and the wooden oak box, 1\4" being just the right gap for it to enter and hang by its head. If this happens it is very difficult to remove, and will stop the mill dead in its tracks.

To get back to the term Rose Wheel, the cast iron collars referred to above have multiple cups casted into each one in such a way to give it an appearance of rose pedals.

One interesting feature about these collars is that the 2 of them are like a reflection in a mirror and applied on each side of the Box gives thrust in the same direction.

The produced power from our setup at UCV with an 8 foot head of water and at full throttle is about 6 horsepower, which does not seem like much in our world but remember whatI said above once you have the whole setup revolving say at 80 rpm it is developing far more power than that simply because of the mass of all the revolving parts, including the force of the water. At full throttle 2000 gals or approx 10 tons of water is forcing its way into the pressurized cavity every minute, and then trying to find its way out, that is when you capture useful energy to work with.


I have had course to measure the horsepower at full throttle (125 rpm) with the machinery revolving and I estimate that for brief periods you could have 20 horsepower of useful (smooth)energy.

I hope that you enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/09 07:20 AM

Hi Richard,

Your power estimates are of interest to me.

In simple terms power = torque x rotational speed and this does not necessarily follow a linear relationship i.e. if the speed doubles but the developed torque say halves then the power produced is the same as before. I wonder if your power testing managed to develop a set of Power / Torque versus speed curves for the mill. This might have helped established the optimum speed at which the mill should run when in production.

6HP is not so different from that provided to a small portable band saw and so this sawmill should be able to do some useful work. What happened when the saw got to the end of its travel and hence had finished absorbing the power produced by the water wheel. Was there a general speed up in the reciprocation of the saw or did you have a flywheel momentum storage device to help smooth out power demand fluctuations ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/09 05:16 PM

Hi everyone tonight:

Thanks for coming on board Ken:

to answer your question on speed up of the mill at the end of the cut, well here goes----

depending on the size of the cut ie: (face cut) by this I mean cutting a 6 inch cut versus a maximum cut of 28" would of course produce different cut termination results.


As the saw approaches its final vertical cut the sawyer is fully aware if the water gate is fully open or only partially open--if fully open then there is a tremendous increase in speed and he needs to close the gate immediately to slow down rotational speed, whereas if the equipment is sort of coasting along with a minimal amount of water to affect the cutting action then at times no adjustment is necessary during the final cut.

My method of calculating horsepower is maybe not the most scientific in the world but I believe it gives some approximate results, or results that are in the ball park area.

I was fortunate to have been asked to power a belt drive 1860's shingle saw, by extracting power from the barrel wheel. Now I knew from my experience that to drive this circular bladesaw up to speed and do work with it you would need approx 800 rpm or it would wander in the cut, and the speed needed to be held constant.

I knew before hand that because the rpm's of the barrel wheel being a max of 125 meant that a series of pulleys of proper diameters would be needed to come up with the final 800 rpm's, meaning to me that to just get the shingle saw up to running speed would be a great effort on the part of the barrel wheel.

Now one thing that was sort of questionable in my mind was that the shingle saw also had a cast flywheel which would create power once up to speed, would it be enough to do some work, alittle work, or no work--that was the 64 dollar question.

Anyway we forged ahead with directions from my superiors at that time. I had many misgivings about safety especially of the cast flywheel, Iknew that excessive speeds was quite hazardous and a calmity could result if the operator could not keep the saw from running wild after a cut was finished. to this end a safety brake on the flywheel was installed.

To make a long story short, we were able to cut shingles by allowing the machine to pick up speed do a cut and repeat again.

after this trial period I was asked to cut a large quantity of pine shingles for one of our restoration projects, and to this end we removed the shingle saw and in another location powered it using a massey 35 hp modern engine. Now it made it work and we could cut fairly steadily.

As a final notation to this discussion this same shingle saw was used for many years powered by a 2 horse tread mill, which I operated daily, it actually could saw shingles steadier than the 6 horse power of the Mulley saw mill, but not quite as steady as the massey tractor.

I always wondered why the 2 horse tread mill seemed to have more power than the Barrel wheel.

Any comments out there

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/22/09 02:50 PM

Hi Richard et al,

You might be interested in checking out the following article on a watermill just unearthed on the river Thames at Greenwich.

The article can be found on pages 30-35 in the November 2009 edition of "Current Archeology" magazine. Part of this article can be read on line at :- http://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/water-power-in-medieval-greenwich.htm

What they don't tell you in the on line version of the article is that the remnants of this Thames water mill have now been dendrodated to 1194 - that's early. The framework discovered employs tusk tenons in the construction. Mud would appear to have amazing preservative properties.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/22/09 03:41 PM

Hi Ken and all tonight

Thanks Ken for posting thatlink on the unearthing of the tide mill in your area. It certainly is a spectacular find, and will no doubt rewrite the history books that deal with that subject a little bit for sure.--And we think the tide mills are a modern contrivance!

It does boggle your mind how the historic millwrighting methods of long ago were developed to such a high degree.

By this I mean even today with all our so called equipment and knowledge, and education, if anyone of us were asked to create such machine without the aid of any of our modern tools of the trade, and just given man power, and axes and a few other tools to come up with this finished tide mill, it would be an extraordinary effort.

I had similar requests to construct timberframe structures using only the tools that were availble at the period of construction, and I am going to tell you that every step had to be thought out carefully, and a so called (new\old) solution had to be sought after and found to carry on.

One thing that I will say about refraining from using modern methods, or cutting corners is that you arrive in the end with a finished product that looks very historically correct.

Thanks again Ken and I hope everyone enjoys

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/22/09 03:47 PM

Hello everyone, and just before I leave--


You were mentioning the preservative power of mud, well back a number of years ago I helped my father clean out a dug well of about 30 feet deep, as we removed the layers of silt, what came into view was an oak cribbing of about 8 feet in height , and I must say in perfect condition. This goes along somewhat with what you are referring to and I thought that it needed to be said now, mud will for a very long period preserve wood as long as the oxygen is not present for microbial action.

Also during my time in the restoration reconstruction at UCV my work was overseen by one of the best restoration architects in Canada, his name was Mr Peter Stokes. I asked him the following question in connection with a stone foundation wall needed to support one of my structures. The wall construction was stone and not a problem to reconstruct with the old lime mixtures but the base or the footing was more of a problem. I asked him what was used at that period of time . Hs reply was to lay down thick oak planks and then up goes the wall, which is what we did, and the building stands true today, I reconstructed many buildings using the same technique

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/23/09 12:15 AM

Hi everyone tonight;

Just to carry this thought a bit further, I wonder Ken what you were instructed in regards to footings for those older structures, and the original walls that you have examined, have they stood the test of time?

I was also wondering if the tidal mill was on a (floating) foundation?

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/23/09 08:15 AM

Hi Richard,

The only tide mill that I have examined in detail is at Elling near Southampton. This mill is fully operational and operates at different times in the day corresponding with tidal flows. The foundations are brick and doubtless these will have been modified or altered over the centuries. Mills frequently burn down and so surviving mills are generally a mix originating from different centuries.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/24/09 01:11 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Thanks Ken for the reply, I know the reconstruction processes carry on and on, and only stops when technology pushes ahead with something new and the old structures just don't fit into the picture. In our world today the roll over of technology advances is forging ahead at a blurring speed, and even good old structures are dismantled to make way for new advances.

My son who dairy farms here in Ontario has a tough time justkeeping up from year to year with new equipment advances, and health rules which are continuously changing.

There are Tidal mills in operation here in North America but probably do not date back as far as in your area, I expect the technology came from Britain originally. Where there is a significant Tide such as along the coast area in Nova Scotia, harnessing the in and out flowing water is a smart idea.

At UCV our 3 mills are fed from an artificial lake of about 2 acres in size, that has no natural inflowing source. Their combined usage is about 6000 gals per minute, until the gristmill kicks in and runs on steam power, then the combined usage is about 4500 gals per minute.

The lake is replenished during the evening utilizing a 6 foot by 30 feet in length sewage screw pump revolving at 6 rpm. It can nearly keep up with the mill"s water consumption but not quite, it turns out about 4000 gals per minute, and is quite the machine. By that I mean that it sits on two massive bearings on at each end and on a slope of about 10 feet in 30 feet of run. The screw itself sets in a concrete trough and at no place touches the cement surface but runs close enough to cntain the water as it is forced up the incline. There is vertually no wear and can run continuosly with only a smallish electric motor driving it.

Well I must go for tonight hope you all enjoy

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/24/09 12:35 PM

Good morning, speaking of tides check this out. And as a note I believe the term is centripetal not centrifugal force.

http://www.quoddyloop.com/tides.htm

Here locally we can see tides in the the 25'-26' range in the upper part of the Bay of Fundy up to 50' changes.

There is a large push to bring tidal power back in regards of generating electricity. They are also looking at large windmills on floating platforms 20-30 miles of the coast. Which way is technology going? It is advancing Fast, but there is still a connection to the past.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/09 12:49 AM

Helloeveryone tonight:

Hi Tmbeal since you posted the last entry, and I am curious about the centrifugal and centripetal correction.

As Isee it centripetal is a violent force moving towards the centre, and centrifugal is the reverse, if I used an incorrect term I appologize.

I have witnessed the huge tides in the bay of fundy, and the reversal of the flow of I believe the St John river there, but I might be corrected,-- a great force if it could be harnessed.

With modern technology advancing like it is you would think that harnessing this tidal bore would be a piece of cake.

well here we are wandering off subject again I am goingto try and get things steered back on line.

I am going to put this subject out to see if any constructive thoughts will (centripetal) in.

--MULEY MILL-- STYLES OF SETTING UP THE LOG--

taking into account the old wooden saw frames have no modern conveniences to move the log around preparing it for each saw cut, do you think that you would flatten only one side and after rolling the log on its flat side then cut right straight across edging the boards as a final gesture.

Or would you square the log all around and then cut the square edged boards or planks edging all the boards from the squaring process in a final cut?

Which way would give you the better quality boards, and whichway would give you the wider common cut boards with the least waste

And finally which waywould be the fastest, and the most profitable, and best use of your water supply?

OK--lets hear what you have to say on this scenario that has just been passed along down the line from the lead sawyer who is trying to train you as a new recruit to operate this mill----good luck and I hope you make it

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/09 02:28 AM

Richard it was nothing you said, it was in the link I posted, to which I referred. I will look into it in more depth.

As for turning logs on the carriage after cutting the first face, what modern conveniences do you allude to?

I would say it depended on what the boarding was going to be used for.

Did they have an edger of some sort to trim the flitches with? They could have used some with live edges. This would have allowed faster sawing of the log, but in part, limited the use of the lumber.

I can almost see it as today using s4s 2x or finished boards and being left out to hang when we need to use rough cut lumber, it is less refined, some people just don't know what to do with rough lumber. Could the same be said for live edge flitches? You have more options with a live edge but one needs to handle it differently. It is even less refined.

I can see them doing it both ways.

Tim
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/09 10:11 AM

When I learned sawing logs (eastern white pine), it was from an old timer who was using a circular saw.

He would try and square up a cant and then cut boards so when they left the saw they were done.

But he would only saw to the heart/pith and then roll the log/cant over and saw in from the other side, thus reducing the stress in the log hopefully, evenly. And if the log did have stress in it, the last board, known as the dog board as it was the one dogged to the mill carriage, maybe be out of shape. Such as hour glass shaped, thin in the middle thick at the ends or the other way around. And if this board was out of shape it didn't matter much as it was the lowest grade board in the log due to the pith/heart being in it.

If the boards coming off the log did have some round edge to it, he wouldn't completely saw them off the log, he'd saw them until just about to drop off the log, and "gig" back and drag the board back to the log deck. I'd be standing at the tail end of the mill, and he'd grab the board and twist it up from the bottom, breaking the holding grain off the log, with my help. And we'd stack the round edge boards up on the log deck.

Then after he had finished sawing the second side of the cant and the carriage was empty, we'd stack the round edge boards up on carriage in line with the saw so that he could run them down past the saw and cut off the round edge on one side.

Then we'd flip them over and run the other side to a set width.

If he did, by accident, cut off a round edge board and it went down the conveyor belt to the board pit, the pit man would set it aside and it would be brought back to the log deck by the fork lift and re-processed to create square edged boards.

When I saw logs here at my mill, I try and square up a cant that will produce finished boards at the end of the cut. And following the cut to the pith/heart method and then flip over and come in from the other side, as I was taught.

But in doing this, you have to "read" the log and watch for stress. And if you see the boards shifting as you're sawing them you have to adjust your sawing plan based on what you see. Especially sawing hardwoods.

Hope this helps you.

Jim Rogers

Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/09 11:04 AM

Jim, this is what we do today, was a different approach applied in the muley days? I believe that is NH's question/quiz. I do think it was approached differently, how different I am not sure. We will see.

Centripetal force is the new term applied to what we used to call centrifugal force. Centrifugal force is not found in todays high school Physics book, it has been so since the late 1990's.

Centripetal force is as you said a force toward the center, and I like the "violent" you through in there. It is attached to the center by a string, chain or gravity, these are the connections to the center hence the force. This is Newtons second law F=ma. If this connection is severed or released the object will travel in a direction away from the center in a straight line, it will no longer circle the center, there for no centrifugal force exist, it is now just accelerating. The force is connected to the center, centripetal.

Feel free to clarify this if it needs be.

Tim
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/26/09 10:51 PM

Tim:
I'm not totally sure what a muley saw is or how it operates.

Jim

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/27/09 12:29 AM

hello everyone tonight:

Hello jim and Timbeal:

I knew you would try your best to come on with an answer Jim and thanks for the information and a look at your sawing technique.

Timbeal also thanks for coming on board and your remarks on the centifugal versus the centripetal forces. I had to look it up in the dictionary because I wasn't familiar with the term myself, but then again I am only an old farm boy with a one room school house education.

I am sorry Jim I mistakenly thought you were familiar with the workings of a Mulley Mill, to this end and for the sake of others that drop by I will quickly review the basic workings of such a mill.

I believe that everyone knows now that the Mulley Mills were basically driven by water, used a vertcal 6 foot blade, and in some cases 7 foot blades, these blades were stiff enough to withstand the upper thrust of a pitman revolving under the floor level, or in the area adjacent to the water barrel.

The saw frame was on the second floor and was usually mounted on wooden v shaped hardwood slides imbedded into the soft pine beams of the saw frame and slid back and forth passing by the blade on other v shaped hardwood blocks imbedded in the floor timbers.

I had mentioned that there were no modern methods used to roll the timbers on the saw frame, just cant hooks and pointed bars.

Once loaded on the saw frame the log is positioned in front of the blade in such a way that the best use of the log can be realized. The log is held in position for the cut by pounding in heavy cast iron dogs on each end of the log.

What I had eluded to was once a sufficient flat surface was cut on one face of the log, (usually 2 cuts). the log was rolled 1\4 turn on this face and then lined up for the second series of cuts.

Now the first 2 boards had both edges round and these boards were laid aside. The next set of boards all have one flat side, and if you cut right across the log all the boards would have one flat side and some of the centre boards would be quite wide and have some nice outside material in them. In a maximum centre cuts you could obtain a few 25 or 26 inch boards from a large pine log

This was the fastest way of cutting up a log with a Mulley saw, but edging the boards was tricky because there were no centre supports in a mulley saw frame only end supports, only one being moveable to accomodate different length of logs.

We normally squared our timbers getting as much good lumber from around the heart and as Jim mentioned as you neared the centre during the final cuts at times the final piece would be a little out of square or varied in dimension from end to end.

We used to vie with one another to see who could saw out the truest lumber and finish up with the centre cut true end to end, not an easy feat on these old saw frames, but quite possible if you took care in set up.

These blades had 2 inch teeth at about 2.25" spacings, and the teeth were bent slightly alternating to create a cerf.

The blade was also slightly out of perpendicular so that on the up stroke the teeth would lift away from the face of the cut, and gave the log enough room to move ahead before the blade descended for the next cut

I hope this helps explain the workings of a mulley mill, they could be very temperamental and each cut had to be monitored to be able to compensate its wanderings on each succeding cut.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/27/09 07:03 AM

Hi Richard,

What was the stroke length of the saw ?

Presumably the blade was always in tension - being pulled down into the kerf by the frame and not "thrust" or "pushing" as you mention above.

Do you know what tooth form was employed ?

Hi Jim,

I followed your proceedure but would the centre boards not potentially be the most valuable since these are the only true radial cut boards on a thru and thru cut ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/27/09 05:12 PM

Richard:
Thanks for the explanation of a Mulley Mill. I think around here they are called "sash saws" or is that something totally different?

I now understand what you're saying about how to edge boards.

And if that is the case about having only two log rests on your carriage, then I'd square up a cant so that when each board comes off, it is done.

Ken:
Yes some of the middle boards are radial cut, but it depends on the knot placement as to whether or not they are valuable.

It depends on the end user.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/09 11:32 AM

HI everyone tonight:

Nice to hear from you guys your questions help to expand on this conversation for the benefit of others.

Ken-JIm:

We have to clarify one technical aspect of this type of mill
A Mulley Mill operates with a free standing blade, which is an improvement on the earlier style of what was referred to as a sash saw, or a rather thinner blade which had to be restrained in a wooden sash, and the whole sash had to be lifted and lowered to move the blade up or down so the cutting action could be done.

The Mulley blade was about 3\16 " in thickness and as I mention earlier the teeth are about 2" in length at 2.25" spacings and the configuration is almost identical to a rip tooth on a small hand saw. The bottom edge of the tooth is almost square out from the blade (not quite) and sharpened square across and slightly beveled on the other remaining angled edge.

There were two methods of preparing the tooth for the cutting action the first was to slightly bend the tip of each alternating tooth slightly to create a kerf, or swedge the tooth tip to also create a kerf.

We always slightly bent the tooth tip which seemed to work well, so I cannot speak for the other method. I do feel though that it would work well used by an experienced mill operator.

Anoter thing that we always did was to peel a slight channel in the bark ahead of the blade on the initial cut to ensure that removal of any hidden debris was effected cleanly for the blade.

These blades dulled easily and if the teeth became damaged on one side the blade would then begin to wander and heating problems would develop and poor quality lumber with uneven thicknesses would be noticed

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/28/09 10:02 PM

NH:
Got any pictures of this you can post?

Jim

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/29/09 12:06 AM

Hi everyone tonight

Jim: Look back in earlier posts, you will find views of the water barrel being restored, also you will see views of the 12" diameter oak shaft being turned and prepared for the insertion and the eventual leading in of the cast iron crank on the pitman end, as well as the cast iron bearing on the running ends of the shaft.

You will also see the 2 large cast iron disks that have the buckets casted into them and that also are mounted on turnings on the shaft, one on each side of the water barrel (box). These cast disks are what give propulsion to the shaft as the water hits them from inside the pressurized box during start up.

You will also see views of the saw blade in the sawing area, and the large 20 foot saw frame with the (2) bunks , one solidly mounted and the other that can slide along on the frame to accomodate different length of logs.

These pictures should be rather close to the beginning of this thread, but not right at the beginning.

Ken: The crank has an offset of 9" giving the saw an 18" stroke. Now on large logs (say logs over 18" and up to 36") during the cutting process the saw dust has to work its way out from along side of the blade and in the cavities between the teeth, so on large cuts you need to take your time to allow this to take place.

I hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/28/09 10:51 PM

i do enjoy it! thanks

here's one for you northern hewer: i mentioned a finish-canadian style of hewing, standing on the log. it's not a replacement for standing beside, but sometimes it's a way to zing through the wood. and you get the balance game.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/06/09 01:49 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Thanks to everyone for all the recent posts and conversation, I have once again been experiencing log in problems but tonight it seems to be working well.

Tovio thanks for the hewing video it verifies what others have told me in reference to the hewing style in that part of the world.

I would not advise anyone to try that style without good instructions though because even a seasoned pro like myself would consider it risky.

It is nice though to see it being practised via the safe medium of the computer screen.

The comments on the quality of sawn boards using various methods of log set up is interesting.

I would just like to comment that in the squaring up process there is always waney edged boards, and I am not so certain that time was taken to cut the edges square using the muley blade,s equipment, I rather think that the waney boards were just taken back to the farm and used up.

Well best of the season to everyone, and if all of you have enjoyed this chatting site please let me know by signing in and posting what subjects you liked the best.

I would really like to hear from you

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/10/09 12:04 AM

it looks dangerous doesn't it? balance is like that.

actually it works out pretty good- an instance where the danger is so immediately present that the danger stays in consciousness and you tend not to cut your toes off.

the balance game is only a test on the 4" faces- otherwise it's shuffle shuffle backwards- don't fall off the back of the log though!

zing zing zing and cut where you see

Posted By: Don P

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/10/09 01:43 AM

There might be something to that toivo. I've never tried it but have watched an old tiehack use that technique. I don't use an adze much and keep meaning to get some shinguards but the same focus has worked so far. The tiehack did pull up his pants leg and showed me a terrible adze scar though.
NH,
I didn't want you to think we were ignoring your request. I imagine others are in the same quandry as me, just can't think of where to start, this entire thread has been a pleasure. Best of the season to all!
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/10/09 12:04 PM

I think, if you need shin guards while adzing you may be using the wrong technique. But there is nothing wrong with a bit of insurance.

Tim
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/11/09 12:37 AM

don't people adze between their feet? how would you hit your legs?

i actually feel more comfortable hewing from above than the side- the thing is if the axe glances it moves away from you. standing beside it's coming towards your thigh. the danger is toes with narrow widths. but as per the barefoot japanese hewer (i think it's earlier in this thread -massive and still good!) with a decent size timber it's easy to tuck your toes in. no real danger in dabbing off the log if the worksite is clear.

yes Don- to my understanding toothis was the way that railway ties got done up here. it's about getting it done- i love non-standardized methods. so many ways.
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/11/09 04:15 AM

Nope -

If I'm adzing something I'm standing on ( and that, for me, might be half the time I'm swinging one, I use it as a carpenters tool, to bring small sections to a needed dimension,and never to dress timber to some kinda fakey desired texture - Hewing is an ax thing ) I'm aiming under my foot, and my toes and the handle are the brakes.

Wild overswings are almost impossible, and I've never had a mishap - Also this is not my own thing, not sure where I picked this up, but I am sure it is (or maybe was) an accepted norm.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/12/09 01:24 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

I agree immensly that using the proper technique the adze will not hit high enough to injure the shins ---but--watch your ankles

My father made a slip and the corner of the adze penetrated through his leather boot and severed the tendon on his ankle, he was one year learning to walk again.

When I told him that I was going to be using the adze in my restoration work , he cautioned me to be very careful and not work when your arms are beginning to tire because it is at that time that accidents can happen.

I always practiced real caution and took short breaks when I felt that my concentration was begining to wane.

I have did alot of hewing and adzing over my career and really had only one scare and that was when I was creating a watering trough using a gutter adze. It happened very quickly as accidents usually do, I slipped and fell forward and the adze handle went down under me turning the blade of the adze upwards, my knee just missed the blade, I was some shook up though and thanked the one above who must have been looking over me.

Thanks to all of you for coming in on this thread it makes for a very interesting and I hope educational read for those that come our way.

As we get closer to the holidays I again would like to say that commentatng on this thread has been one of the greatest highlights of my computing career which by some standards I suppose has not been too lengthy.

Happy holidays to everyone

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/31/09 10:55 PM

i'm with you Will on resurfacing sawn timbers. that said, it's nice to put an adze over an axe-hewn face for a last pass, that or a slick, mostly to clean up any scoring marks, but also just to have a last go over. and they're both light tools, so it's a pleasant change of pace for the body.
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/31/09 11:26 PM

also i love the idea that's been tossed around of cleaning up faces with a scrub plane. any historical precedents for such a process on hewn timbers NH?
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/01/10 12:51 AM

I was taught to brace the handle of the adze against my leg. This really reduces the chance of an injury. I've seen that technique in an old Audels book from the '20's.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/02/10 01:02 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

And welcome to 2010--it just seems like yesterday that we were waiting for the world to collapse when the clock ticked into the 21st century--it seemed that no one knew what was going to happen, but low and behold here we are just chopping away

Back to business--well Dave you are righton line I always braced my one arm against my leg without a doubt this steadied my hand and made adzing much safer

The best of the new year to everyone

I will be posting on the Tools for sale forum once again a new updated version of my training dvd', should anyone be interested check it out in a couple of days.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/03/10 01:17 AM

Hi Tovio:

Well hello again everyone, and nice question Tovio:

If you have been following my thread you probably know that I have examined many historic frames in this area, and I can only speak for this general area, one that was the settling ground for approx 12000 United Empire Loyalists and their families starting about 1784.

I personlly never noticed any plane tell tale marks having been used on outbuildings or barns, but having said that the homes with exposed beam ceilings, and the floor boards above were planed by hand to create a lovely finish appearance when you glanced up

The beams were usually beaded by hand on their corners after the planning process this again added a special touch. I have restored period homes using a hand beading plane and I must say the finished product was worth the effort--try it don't take my word just use a small timber to work on to get the feel.

The hand held router will not put the bead directly on the corner like say a Stanley beading plane will

Any comments on this subject?

NH
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/06/10 10:29 PM

Hello NH and All;

I wanted to comment on the adz techniques. From what I have read, adzs were swung a variety of ways. Sometimes coming up under the foot, sometimes between the feet, and I have seen a photo of a Japanese temple builder working in Hawaii with one foot on the ground, the other on the piece "chipping" diagionally. As Will said, hewing is for axes, "chipping" is for adzs. I have read accounts of adzs being nicknamed "the devil's shin hoe" and "Devil's shin eater" indicating they were sometimes used at shin height. Shipbuilder's adzs are often lighter and may have shorter handles since they were sometimes used overhead or on the sides of a ship. Also, there is such a thing as a butchering adz for processing meat.

Adzs are ancient tools and one of the very early spellings of adz is nads and nadge, in addition to many phonetic variations of adz and addice.

Salaman's Dictionary of Tools has illustrations of over thirty types of hand and foot adzs and other references in addition to the illustrations, but does not include any types of ancient adzs made of stone.

Take care;
Jim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/07/10 01:23 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

On this subject of technique used in the adzing process, in my opinion and my experiences every different finish that presented itself required a different posture in order to not only do the job but to do it safely.

finishing the surface of a square timber was entirely different from adzing the surface of a newly laid floor of uneven boards. creating a seating on a timberframe again meant that the user of the adze had to get really down to work andremove paper thin shavings. As I stated in a previous post creating a gutter or a trough with a gutter adze meant that the adze had to be used differently. The barrel maker working with his specialty adze inside a curved surface, and the list goes on---

In my opinion once one has achieved a fair knowledge of the use of any tool be it an adze , broadaxe, slick, even a handsaw, one should be able to handle a new situation should it confront you, eventho you may not have actually had the opportunity to have did it at a prior time.

I can remeber saying to my father as I was learning the trade many years ago--"what if I have never done it before"--he quietly said--"you will have enough experience and knowledge to figure it out, do not worry", he also said during this conversation "when a real construction or other problem confronts you, just think very deeply about it and the answer will present itself--be careful"

I can honestly say that I never ran up against any problem that a solution would not come, and getting back to the adzing part of this conversation, many times I was confronted with historic restoration finishing problems that involved adzing, and had to be solved on site, it was at this time that I remembered my father's words--think, work and be careful.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/26/10 01:49 AM

Hi everyone tonight

Well I thought today is a good day to clean up the stored tools so I got out my broadaxe(s) and dusted them off, sprayed a little WD40 on the metal surfaces and with a very fine emery paper worked the rust remover into the surface of the steel until the surface looked real good, then I wiped off the resulting liquid with a a clean paper towel. I then applied a little machine oil and wiped the surfaces down.

I then took a fine sharpening stone and touched up the cutting edges, until they would shave my arm--they are ready for business!

I am heading back into the bush to pull out some spruce timbers that will become the ceiling supports for my son's country home that he is constructing. They will be 6" by 8" by 16 feet, and will carry the floor for the second storey. The flooring will be 1".5" by 10" pine grove and tongue, and adzed on the bottom surface and be open from below. I am intending to bead the bottom corners of the timbers with a hand beading plane, leaving the surface to show the hewing process.

The flooring will be nailed down with 3" square cut nails which will be set just flush with the top surface of the floor.

This should give me alittle workout and bring my (70) hewing skills back up to an acceptable level.

Now I have to rest for the work ahead.

The best of the day to everyone

If Rob Leslie is passing by this site would he contact me Please by Email--thanks



NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/29/10 02:06 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Well the weather deteriorated here so I decided to stay in the shop and turn out a few chisel handles, they were needed to replace some that have become split somewhat and ratty looking.

I think that I will turn out 4 slick handles, while I have the lathe up and running, to fill an order for a lad out in Tennesse, These will be 22,24,26,28inches long and will have the same lines as an 1840 one that I have in my collection, he has asked them to be from black walnut, and to be glass finished with a dark antique stain and boiled linseed rubbings on the surface

This will be an enjoyable order to fill turning out slick handles is not something that one does on a regular basis.

I will try and post some pictures of them when I finish and before shipment for those of you that might be interested

Have a good evening

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/06/10 02:26 AM

Hi everyone tonight

While I am working on handles and |I| suppose generating some interest in handles in general and how they are created I might say that putting the curve in handles can be accomplished in many different ways

I generally look for a curved piece of rough stock, but for some this is not an option so i would like to share this small piece of additional commentary in regards to creating say a curved broadaxe handle

The early generations would never consider buying even a regular axe handle but rather create their own with the special curves and sweeps that were passed down for generations, and this would probably be a pattern that hung in the corner of the driveshed

In the case of broadaxe handles creating from a pattern would be the norm.

A rough blank slightly larger than the finished handle would be cut from a good straight grained plank and soaked in boiling water for maybe an hour or so to soften the wood fibres

The rough warm blank would then be secured in such a way (usually close to the end that enters the eye) so that as force was exerted on the opposite extreme end of the blank (usually using a rope twisted) it would create a curve in the handle to the offset that one usually worked with in most cases 3" off the flat of the handle. It is usual to create an additional .5" offset to allow for spring back when the rope is released in a month or so.

Properly done this curved handle will retain its curve and be really strong,

Many curved handles were made like this one that comes to mind is scythe handles with their many curves.

hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/07/10 01:25 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Just as a further note to handle making I believe that adze handles are sort of unique they were usually not bent artificially but rather fashioned from a good stout straight grained plank of a wood of one's liking, I really like wild cherry if I can get it, and especially if it growns in an environment that has made it work to survive, it gets tough like people I suppose in a similar environment

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/08/10 02:33 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Further to my previous posts on curved axe handles, using a piece of green wood would also be an option for the curving process should that type of handle be needed and soaking in hot water is also not an option

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/10 01:49 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Sorry for the hiatus but I have been away from the cold weather for a few weeks, I appreciate the interest that the remarks on this site seem to generate, and maybe we can generate a few more in the weeks to come.

As an old woodsman commented in a northern lumber camp up around Perth Ontario--

"In the crisp winter air, many choppers moved among the trees, working in pairs there was a continuous sound of the large pines falling ripping and tearing their way to the earth, with a final thud as they came to rest"
"And then those with the large flat hewing axes moved through each with a helper to cut the even notches along their lengths some as long as 120 feet"
"those large pine giants slowly began to loose their coats of bark and exposed their inward white blemish free flesh, the song rang true as the choppers sang-"to England with our signature carved in each piece"

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/07/10 03:15 AM

england gets our woodchips. we keep the timbers and exploit seedlings sheltered away as seeds in ships full of sawdust, warming and ready to sprout in the spring times of somewhere overseas. no offense but the trees stay at home.


there are a bunch of good red pines up the road on an MTO powerline right of way, though contested by the adjacent property owner. apparently he's a taxidermist, and if i can convince him, the trees are mine to cut. it's that time of the year when it's nice again to work in the bush.

spring is coming!
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/10 02:14 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Thanks for coming on board Tovio I thought that everyone had deserted me it has been a while since anyone came on board with a comment,

I was just wondering if any of you still think that it pays to get out your own logs and have them milled over just going out and buying the lumber. Around here the going cost of band mills is $60 Hr., and adding that to your time and fuel costs is there anything left to fight over?

I would really like to hear your comments, I think that this subject needs some discussion

NH

Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/10 08:20 AM

Hi NH,

Like Toivo I have spent this last week in the woodland cutting a half kilometer's worth of 10 years regrowth on a pollarded hazel hedge. This has yielded hundreds of beatifully straight and clear stems that would be ideal for making thatching spars, liggers etc but I fear that most of this will simply be left in the woodland to rot down due to the difficulties of marketing same. This is a big problem for woodlot owners in England and has come about due to the gradual fragmentation in the woodland management and produce useage chain. Instead of the primary use of woodland being for timber production this now seems to be very much more perceived to be a visual amenity and nature conservation areas for bobble hatted hikers to tramp through to satisfy their wanderlust.

Whilst cutting my hedge I have been eyeing up a block of 50 year old Douglas Fir, underplanted western red cedar, and have been toying with clear felling this block. It would be so much better if I could fell and convert on the spot but then we are back to the same dilemma as the hazel - without a predetermined use or buyer for same agreed then this would potentially just rot away as well. Having cut and converted logs then these would need to be moved to a stack to allow for replanting the cut over block. Every operation in the woodland requires investment of either time or money and generally both so it can be cheaper just to do nothing and allow the timber to keep growing.

What I really need is a local Jack Sobon type who would be happy to come and cut / hew or mobile mill convert wood for free, which he or she could keep thereby allowing me to pursue my woodlot management objectives of returning this back to the growth of native deciduous trees (oak, ash, cherry, etc.)

This would therefore be a win win scenario for both of us but I doubt that it will ever happen.

Ideas please ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/10 02:25 PM

My first idea would be to ask Jack if he'd be interested......:)

But you could call Woodmizer sawmill company and ask them for a list of all sawyers in your country and then ask them (the sawyers from the list) if they have anyone interested in your logs for timber.... you may just find someone who will do what you want.....Woodmizer does have a "find a sawyer" option on their phone system, but I'm not sure if it applies to other countries....I could call them and ask for you....
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/10 05:26 PM

Hi Jim,

Good idea. I will follow up on that suggestion.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/10 01:28 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Thanks to everyone for coming on line and the interesting line of the thread, I suppose it is similar to the line that I put forward about whether it still is feasible to cut your own logs and mill versus just going and buying the dimension lumber at the store.

Cutting a thousand feet of logs will take an average day for two people along with a tractor, wagons,saw, fuel, time, and then another day to truck it to the mill, your time, fuel, and cost of milling at $60 Hr. I should add in there the repairs to the saw, files, fuel,, and unexpected breakdowns, and wear and tear on the old body.

Like Ken what do you do with the woodlot that you are paying taxes on, just to see it grow?--The tax man likes to charge you for this luxurious product that really is costing you money.

This woodlot is housing the wild animals like deer, coyotes, moose bear, birds, and many other of the government's so called wild inhabitants, and also \mr gov't will tell you that it is wet land, and you shouldn't disturb it by cutting, draining, or otherwise.

The way I see it maybe we should be paid to take care of it rather than pay taxes, and maybe we should be able to have access to a certain amount of lumber in lieu of cutting and managing the acreage that we can't disturb in any way for fear of offending those that make their home there.

Around here we have these hordes of wild geese that drop in twice each year to fill their bellies on our crops , as well as the deer that freely tramp through and eat the crops as they try and grow each season.

I really feel that things are alittle out of whack and not getting any better, but maybe I shouldn't complain, hydro is going up, gas is $1.00 litre, the cost of getting a good education is about $50,000, and there is no good permanent jobs for our youg people after they are educated.

Oh yes I should say they are making the cars more efficient, but they are getting bigger with bigger motors and in the end you get about the same mileage,

funny world isn't it but i promise not to stray so far away from hewing , but then I can't get in the bush without disturbing those that live there and may have to do it at night so no one sees me cut a tree down, working in the dark without lights is dangerous,and anyone that hears that I am cutting trees at night might think that I am just alittle crazy.

I used to think that I own my home because I made payments for 25 years-- but only if I pay the taxes--in reality I don't own anything, just manage it

Doggone it though I still love hewing, and creating things from that old bushlot eventhough I have to be careful not to offend anyone or anything

NH

Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/10 08:31 AM

Hi Richard,

One benefit that I do enjoy here in England is that I do not have to pay any taxes on ownership of my woodlot. I do however need to pay a hefty chunk of money each year in public liability insurance just incase a ton of beech tree comes down on a trespasser.

Sometimes trees do need to be cut. Its a use it or loose situation and so providing this is done in a thoughtful and sustainable fashion then one should be prepared to take the long term view. My woodlot was last cut over in any serious kind of way by Canadian Lumber Jills towards the end of the last war and the evidence for this can still be read in the woodland archeaology. Time for another cut. I have been investigating the possibility of buying a Lucas mill so that I can take this right to the felled tree. Anybody ever used one of these ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/10 11:54 AM

For what it is worth, Allodial Title.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allodial_title

Just don't die. And it probably can't be purchased with debt notes.

Ken, how about hiring some youths to hew? It would keep them busy and out of trouble. Pit saw? Sell it as historic material/fabric. Possible marketing ploy.

I had to look "ploy" up, I think it fits well.

Tim
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/10 10:13 PM

Hi Tim,

I spent today in the woodland getting wet but came away very satisfied after completing my 10 year hedge cut.

I wish that I could find some young (or old) hewers, but how to do that ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/10 11:45 PM

It's hard to make it pay even when you own the bandsaw NH. Forget it at $60/hr.
my 2cents...
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/13/10 01:38 AM

I would be lost without my mill......a couple more pennies. I don't charge by the hour. I also don't directly try to make a living with just the mill.

Keep it as small scale as you can or go for the big times, I think the middle ground is the toughest area to reside in.

Ken, I don't live in your environment, but I do offer it as a serious consideration.

Tim
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/13/10 09:36 AM

Hi Tim, Mark & Richard,

I do recall that someone asked Jack Sobon the easiest way to hew logs and Jack's answer was to pay someone else $10/hr to do this for you.

On a more serious note Jack's argument might still hold true even if the $/hr has changed more than just a bit. A tree standing in the woodland is really worth nothing until one starts to invest time and money into its transformation into a finished woodland product (felling / conversion/ extraction). Hence if the cost of the log is discounted and the cost of hewing becomes the main investment to produce a finished beam then adopting this method would also potentially help to reduce extraction costs and so maybe this approach might still hold true today on a small, local, sustainable economy basis.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/13/10 11:14 AM

Ken, Jacks hewing suggestion rest in the length of the timber, long stock was more economical to hew than saw if it was 18' or longer, and a 8x8 and up.

Around here most folks have ATVs to recreate with. They also can be used to extract timber with by adding an arch which is towed behind. There is other small scale logging equipment available but it is cost prohibitive.

If you are going to use human power to hew than a logical next would be animal power, if it is available.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/15/10 12:08 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Just to expand this topic out a little lets do a hypothetical problem that needs solving,

Person "a" needs a 10"square hewn log 25 feet long out of white ash

Person "a" has the standing tree that fills the bill in his bushlot

He has the ability to cut and haul out the tree with a minimal investment using his saw that he cuts his firewood with and a good heavy team of work horses just waiting to get a little exercise.

Now the tree is out in the open area ready to begin its reduction into a hewn timber.

From my experience the first side will take the best part of 6 hours to flatten, the second side will take 5 hours, and the other 2 sides will take 3 and 2 hours respectfully.

This makes a total of 16 hours which is I believe a realistic timeframe for a tree of this size and length, would anyone like to comment on this time analysis please feel free to do so.

I suspect that you will have to pay more than minimum wages for this type of skilled worker, so in this regard I would say at least $25 hr. or $400.00 for wages to hew the timber.

My question to you all would it be advantageous to precut the timber oversize and hew the final finish, and how much of a savings could be realized, or would it cost more in the end

NH
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/15/10 02:41 AM

I would charge .35/bd.ft to mill white ash
so,
10x10x25/12=208 board feet @ .35 = $72.80

If you leave it slightly oversized and hew 1/4, I think you would be more like 1 hr per side, or approx $100 to hew.
PLUS you would have the white ash side cuts, worth possibly enough to pay for the sawmill and the hewer.
AND the hewer might also give you a hearty thanks, after all we are talking white ash here...
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/15/10 12:26 PM

I see this in two different avenues.

First If you don't have a saw mill and want a timber then you will throw the extra boarding and price / bf out the window, that is not the goal, the timber is and how do you achieve that by the simplest means, I should say lowest cost? You already have the timber, no cost there. No cash outlay.

The second is along Marks lay lines, I would have to add the cost of the log into the equation though. The butt end of the log would fetch a higher price so why use it as a timber at all. So, you would have to be brave and stick $1.00/bf to it, there is $208 before you even start. Hewing may take some practice but I don't see you having to pay $25, I would put $10-15 on it, I will go the low road=$160 for a cost of $368. Now feed the horse, I round the total to $400. I don't buy hard wood timber does anyone know the going price for ash timber?

In addition why even hew it after it is sawn? Doing that has always.. not done much for me. You can tell when it was sawn and then hewn, there is that extra bit of perfection that doesn't quite make it actual.

You would only be adding to the cost of the timber by hewing it after it was sawn. Why would you do that? It would cost more in the end.

I would not saw a 25' timber exchanged for the edgings. Flat grain, sappy, short, tapered, narrow boards.....and hew a finish it on top of that?

Tim

Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/16/10 01:33 AM

I don't mind hewing on a sawn surface, I think the key to getting it to look "right" is in the scoring.

going price for ash around here is probably 1.00-1.50 bd/ft.

I wouldn't hew for 15/hr unless it was my own stuff.

The outside cuts on a bigger ash log are good stuff in my books, they will cup, but just use them in narrow widths, good handle wood... should be clear of knots.

btw, I think your time analysis on hewing a big ash from the round is pretty good. I had to hew a bunch of 24 ft 6x12 oak joists from the round some years ago, and the time was quite similar. Such a relief to get around to that last side on the big hardwoods.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/16/10 01:58 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

It really isn't that simple is it many things go into the final answer.

Truly I think that you both are right looking at it from each perspective, and some of the answers in life are very similar but not simple at times to figure out.

I did specify that the final timber had to have a hand hewn surface, so in the final analysis the cost would have to reflect the cost of putting that finish on the timber.

You are very right Timbeal the timber will look unnaturally true and square when sawn and then a hewn finish applied, I have had to wrestle with such senarios throughout my career in the restoration field.

Listening at times to many talk about producing frames for customers I suspect the short cut has been taken many times for cost's sake, but for true work nothing beats the fully hewn timber which gives that unmistaken look that carries the little flaws, twists, and uneven measurements.

When you really examine the input from both of you guys there really isn't much difference in cost, there is alot of difference in the amount of work, and for my money I will go the way of fully hewing the timber, laying it up to cure shielding it from unaturally drying currents of air and the sun of course.

Around here you cannot obtain someone that wants or is able to swing an axe easily, not impossible, but it will cost more than minimum wages which is $11 \hr, maybe $20/hr would attract someone to do alittle physical work

Thanks for coming on board both of you that is what makes this chat room special, and maybe informative for those looking in.

NH
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/16/10 10:50 PM

I wish I was a little closer to your location NH, I would come over and do some 20/hr hewing......
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/10 01:34 AM

hello everyone tonight:

For a new line of thought in regards to learning an old craft, I would like to look at how many of us acquired the skills that enabled us to use the historic Broadaxe and of course the other many points of necessary skills like setting up and lining prior to hewing.

For starters I was fortunate to have been taught by my father, who in turn had been taught by his father who had actually lived and grew up at the time that hewing was needed to construct timberframed buildings. I was taught of course to use the style that my family used, and many other aspects that went along with the hewing process, I related in previous postings that I also had the opportunity to research my hewing methods as a backup to presenting it in as true a fashion as possible to the general public for a period of approx 30 years.


I realize that this is very seldom the case and many that now hew acquired the historic methods in many ways very much unlike the way that I did.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask those that have these special skills to come on board and let those that want dearly to learn to Hew timber and use their Broadaxe an insight into a way of acquiring these skills.

How many of you out there just learned by trial and error?
How many studied and researched before attempting to Hew?
How many took an historic course before embarking out with your axe?
How many like myself had the family background training to help them along?
NH







I was just wondering
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/10 03:08 AM

My first exposure to hewing was reading Eric Sloane books. My first attempt I used a coopers broad axe. It worked, but the axe wasn't heavy enough. I then was shown how to do it with the right tools in the Sobon/Carlon workshop at Hancock in 2006.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/21/10 02:50 PM

Hello everyone tonight:

Hi Dave:

Thanks for joining this discussion and your comments on how you acquired your skills, I am sure that it will guide others in the right track.

I am sure that there are others that would like to join in please do so, and it matters not whether you had a success looking for help,I think that your story/journey in your quest for instruction is what many really need to hear.

We will wait patiently for others to join in.

It would be interesting to find out how others besides myself who have tried to help and pass along the special skills learned their knowledge in this field.



Nh
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/10 05:53 AM

I learned to hew from Joe Erikson, who I beleive came to Canada to dodge the Viet Nam draft. He had worked in some museum in the USA and was working on a "strictly cash" basis at the time.
I found Joe by accident, my girlfriend at the time had taken an introduction to the trades course and she got placed with Joe afterward for two weeks. I got pulled out to the job site after a couple of days and Joe and I ended up working together for a couple of years.
The method Joe taught me was what he called "yard hewing" with the log at hip hieght and a short handled broadaxe. He would often finish up after hewing with a couple of handplanes and make a very nice looking log.
I remember once someone at a job asked Joe what the tolerance was for cutting stuff at one of our job sites
Joe said "zero".
Posted By: frwinks

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/10 02:40 PM

And since Mark taught me how to hew, I too hew @ the hip using a short European goosewing axe
Thanks to Joe, who "showed me the way", I use the plane a lot in my work, and can turn an "out of tolerance" hewed stick into a very decent looking piece grin


Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/10 11:47 PM

I am still learning. I have picked info from a number of sources, books, people, observing and trial and error.

Today I worked a 25' pine log, 6"x7". I do not hew on a regular basis. For times, in line with NH's previous time post, I have 5 hours total in it, it is almost done. I left the last 8' on the end to video, maybe. I noticed that as I progressed around the log the times got longer, I was pooped out. A part of that time was snapping lines and such, a little rest too. I tired four different axes and my one felling axe for a total of 5 axes. Single bevel, double, long handle short handle, I even docked the handle on my newest axe, which I acquired at the geometrics workshop for $35. This new axe is the heaviest but removes the most wood the quickest, it takes it out of me though.

I would really choose the double bevel Gransfors axe as a favorite, but the stock handle is not in alignment with the blade, it bends slightly into the work making it nearly unusable. I shaved the handle down thinner a while back but it's just not enough. I fall back on my home made axe, a kent style which I reshaped, but I think it has too much scoop in the blade, but is really not too bad. It is nice and light. If I was to hew on a regular basis I would rehandle the Gransfors axe. A long handled and short handle version would do all I would need.

I also tired the blubber axe, as Jack Sobon called it I asked his opinion at the geo workshop. I posted a picture a while back some where here on the forum. I would say it could have been used for finishing timber, it leaves a flat surface, no scoops. It still leaves me wondering.

I have not tried hewing at an elevated height. There are a number of methods and combinations from axe type to styles of hewing all with variations.

Tim

Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/23/10 12:30 AM

How many people have looked at old timbers to see where the hewer was standing? Any timbers I have looked at, the hewer was working over the top of the timber, working backwards. I'm not saying any one is right or wrong, just looking to see if there are regional variations.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/23/10 02:34 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Thanks to you guys for relating how you acquired your techniques,
I am sure that many looking in are enjoying the chat.

I for one have never tried the hip height technique, with the short handled broadaxe, but I enjoy watching and looking at the photos above.

Dave: I have spent many hours examining the finish on timber of period structures in order to try and produce timbers with similar finishes--not easy to do, and I might say at times the finish that I had to produce sort of went against the grain, because the original timbers were not finished in the best manner, I am sure that many different people worked on the same frame, one in particular was a church frame that I examined, it appeared to me that the whole congregation worked producing the frame timbers. Some were real nice and others looked like beavers chewed on them.

One thing for certain that frame stood for over 100 years and would still be standing if the church itself had not folded.

As far as stradling the timber while trying to hew, in my opinion is not practical nor safe, but then this is only my opinion, but an opinion based on experience in the hewing field. People will try and work in many different ways, for better or worse, I do strive to try and show a style that I know for certain was practised, and to this end standing beside the log while hewing is a style portrayed in sketchings and tapestries, and paintings, and I might say taught to me through family history.

A while back on this thread there were posted pictures of a hewer working while standing on top of the work piece, this is definitely a style that would need to be taught by a very experienced tradesman or teacher for sure on account of the blade passing close to the hewer's feet.

Keep the comments coming

NH





Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/24/10 01:00 AM

I hew with one knee on top of the log, which is placed on a low hewing setup. The axe is going in a downward stroke, not towards the hewer. Quite safe. The axe is not swung wildly anyway.
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/24/10 11:10 AM

Another aspect I used, was selecting the right tree for the job. I had two choices, I chose the smaller one, with the free board footage.

Tim
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/27/10 03:40 AM

for sure Timbeal- or maybe even the other way around, and the tree selects the project. enough hewing to get to square at the joinery, and to heartwood most other places, and that's the dimension.

one thing i've found is those rubber gloves make holding the axe less work. they're grippy. staying relaxed and working with a good day long rhythm also helps. in log building we had 6-pack days- one man- six logs scribed. the chainsaw allowed for a more mechanical, steady day. with hewing it's more like 1 timber hewed and then on to some other kind of lighter work.

Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/27/10 06:47 AM

Hi Toivo,

Do you mean those knitted gloves that fit either hand and are coated with squiggles of a glue / rubbery like substance ? If yes I agree with you and have recently taken to using those to swing the axe as well.

REgards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/28/10 01:36 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Hewing timbers as accurately as possible is quite a challenge, but to also execute the work as it progresses using period tools and methods is another thing entirely.

It always amazed me that the final product usually reflected all those hours of hard work, and then the fun began when the freshly hewn timber was moved to the framing area, and the pressure mounted because each move had to be very accurate because an inaccurate measurement could completely ruin a 30 foot 12 by 12 with many hours of work, especially if it was accidently cut even an inch too short, and it being a connecting girt in one of the frameworks.

We did use measuring poles for all layouts of varying lengths, multiples of which cold be used to come up with any measurement, we found this way of measurement superior in everyway to modern methods to reconstruct old frames.

It was quite interesting because real accurate overall measurements did not really matter, what really mattered was that all the measurements were the same, (if you all are following along on this line of thought)

these measuring poles could vary from accurate measurements by say fractions of an inch due to shrinkage,humidity, or wear, but generally speaking the emerging structure would be quite accurate, and fall in line with some of the odd measurements that the old structures exhibited

HOPE YOU ENJOY

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/28/10 12:17 PM

That same concept was use in the Geometric work shop with Laurie Smith. Trammel points, or large dividers used to apply lengths and more. A simple stick with pointed nails could be used to walk off long lengths. Or the dividers used to walk off a shorter distance on the rod which could be applied to gain all the repeated sized through out the frame.

In the latest issue of Timber Framing I enjoyed Laurie's article on useful geometries for carpenters. I liked Fig. 6. specifically for more accurately drawn 3 circle daisy wheel, faster, simpler, and more accurate. The ogival arches was a treat as well.

If I don't use a method, learned, I tend to loose the connection. I recently used a long measuring pole or radius to generate the curves cut into the post on my own project, which is based on a two circle layout. I used three methods to achieve the overall building, rods/diivders, tape measure and chance.

Tim
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/29/10 02:01 AM

measuring sticks- i like the idea for late afternoon joinery.

Ken- the gloves i've been using are knit with a rubberized palm. there are winter and lighter versions. i prefer them to barehand for tool response. i feel more connected.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/30/10 01:35 AM

|Hello everyone tonight:

Great responses

The measuring poles that we used were made from 1" square oak of varying lengths some of them were especially made for the different runs of the braces that usually varied even within the same framework.

The use of measuring poles ensured that repetitive measurements would be of a standard length and not vary, and minimized measuring mistakes that might be the case using a modern tape measure.

One of the neat pluses for using measuring poles was the ability to tick off say the mortise placement positions of joist/stud housings along the flat surface of the measuring poles, these little ticks would always be referred to as the work progressed and transferred to the timber surface for the work to begin. We would even make notations by the ticks as a reference to what they stood for

Three of the measuring poles would be of 6', 8' and 10' lengths that were quite handy for squaring up frameworks when the trial fitting began.

The use of measuring poles could be used by those that could not read, but could produce good frameworks, one of these old time framers just happened to be my grandfather who could not read or write but could hew and frame up buildings, (he could also figure money and what things were worth).

These measuring poles were metal tipped to take wear, they were square ended and fitted nice and neat on the pole ends and were drew out to a sharp edge.

Hope you enjoy

NH

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/10/10 12:04 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

While we are discussing layout techniques using rough hewn timber, and measuring poles to locate accurate locations for seatings and other types of points of interest such as exact final lengths, I always used and was taught to use the 36" Blind Man's rule. This folding wooden ruler was used to locate measurements from 0 to 36", and in many cases the main length of runs for barn braces came in at 36". In this case you could use a 36" measuring pole or the 36" Blind Man's rule whichever you preferred.

The technique that I used for layout usually involved placing a scratch awl at one point and then sliding the measuring pole against it or the Blind Man's rule which ever you preferred, and left it there until all measurements were done and checked for accuracy.


NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/28/10 12:19 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Exact measurements---this is a topic that needs alittle more scruttiny---

Given a pile of rough hewn timbers for (a three bay barn) of varying sizes both cross sectional, twisted and bowed, and with the measuring and cutting tools available or known of during the early 18th century, which ones would you select or need to carryout the precise layout of all the mortise's and tenons and all other construction jobs dealing with this structure.

List the contents that would be in the timberframer's box(s) if he had more than one box which he no doubt did, don't feel shy lets get the list started

It would be nice also to list the direction you would give to your 2 helpers on the first day of the work (these are going to be hired hands) and will be standing there ready to go to work and will want to know what the work hours are going to be and of course the wages.

Please remember that the owner wants a completed building before he pays you, and what price would you place on the document and maybe your demands as far as payment is concerned.

He is supplying all the timbers, sawn materials, shingles, nails and hardware items

Lets have fun you modern experienced and not so experienced timberframers--lets look back in time------

NH
Posted By: Gumphri

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/28/10 01:35 AM

I'm not that familiar with the old ways but, this summer I just did the layout on a 3 bay barn with two carpenters so lets give it a shot.

I don't know much about foundations of the time so I will leave that to someone else.

Ok lets start with the ideal tool kit of the time. Please feel free to add to this or subtract from it as you feel fit.

2 hand saws crosscut and rip
1 brace and bit
1",1 1/2", 2" bits
2 rafter squares
I would say a couple combination squares but they were apparently invented in 1878 so scratch that.
2+ framing chisels
1+ slicks
1 sharpening stone
1 file
1+ string lines
a measuring stick of some sort. (tape measures and folding rulers were invented 1850+)
1 marking gauge
1 draw knife
2-3 mallets if not made on site
1 froe
1 shaving horse if not made on site
2-3 hammers/hatchets with poles
1 awl
1 marking tool or knife(to replace a pencil)

I would also assume he may have the following
-an assortment of axes, one of which being a hewing ax
-an adz
-most carpenters would have had a couple planes too.

I suspect I'm missing stuff but its a start.

I would start by getting the mules ready(probably log ends), pegs going, and then move into knee braces using the worst stock for that first. After a few knee braces the helpers should be fine finishing them off and I would get myself at least a half day jump on the straightening of timbers and layout of the frame.

The first day would be shorter. Kind of an intro. After that I would be leaving for work at dawn and coming home just before dusk. My helpers might show up just a bit later or leave a bit earlier if they had pigs to feed or cows to milk.

Price I will leave to someone else. Although I probably would have the owner pay the helpers directly if he knows them well.
Posted By: mo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/28/10 02:32 AM

I'll give it a shot:

Toolkit:

Cribbing ponies
straps
wheeled device for moving timbers

Chalkline
level
dividers
plumb bob/line
string
framing square
wedges
scratch awl

handsaws
axe
bits/brace
chisel
slick

froe
shaving horse
drawknife

pole
guylines
block
windlass
pike poles
beetle
hammer
mallet
driftpins

food
water
tourniquet
splint

1st day (assuming foundation is done, if not foundation): get an image of the frame in the helps mind. goals to be set at different intervals of the project. inventory timber and designate sticks for placement in frame. crib the plates and place the xframe timbers on top of plates. find flat area to scribe the seperate frames. pay at the end of week according to performance (this colony is an "at-will employment" area).
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/28/10 12:24 PM

Hi everyone tonight:

Well what a great start you 2 brave souls, a great start to the list

To everyone else lets jump in and help Mo and Gumphri put some finishing touches on this tool list, after all we don't want to get held up without the proper tools and have the hired help standing around do we?

I fully intend to stay out of listing and will moderate from the sidelines--I do see though a few items that would need to be on site that are not listed--

We will be discussing the foundation eventually so you foundation guys think about that aspect from the mid 18th century period.

This barn will not have a full foundation but substantial bearing points

Just a note before I leave to many who will be looking in, now is your chance to jump in even with only one item, it could be a very valuable tool that might be needed and it would be nice to have it available should the need be required by your paid helpers

To you history buffs, you might clarify the type of tool(s)that were available and maybe suggest that they should or shouldn,t be around. Let us keep in mind no later than 1867 which was the year of confederation for Canada, the year of census taking and those wonderful Hardware Catalogues, and to that end should have been listed for sale if they were patented yet.

Thanks again--have fun--lets keep going down memory lane

\NH\
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/28/10 11:01 PM

Wheelbarrow, for the foundation. And a good eye.

Bartering and borrowing, grain, livestock and such, for the cost consideration.

I found this interesting.....http://www.wvculture.org/hiSTory/journal_wvh/wvh51-4.html
"Folkways can tell us much about the non-monetized economic exchanges of rural West Virginia. If someone possessed an implement that was not in use, another person could arrange to borrow it or request help with the work he or she intended to do. It was implied that the borrower would later repay the favor by lending something in return, volunteering labor when necessary, or contributing other goods at some mutually convenient time. Within this context, a relatively poor farmer might contribute mostly labor while a relatively prosperous farmer might more readily lend equipment."

Tim
Posted By: Gumphri

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/28/10 11:19 PM

Tim, Things still work that way where I grew up. Often where livestock or harvest is involved.
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/30/10 01:16 AM

beers stashed in the spring for the end of the day.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/07/10 12:28 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

Further to our discussion ABOVE--

No one seems to be coming forward with further suggestions so maybe I will put in a few items

-two man crosscut saw will be a must for sawing to length
-Peevey for rolling the timbers (2)
-timber dogs (4 sets)

NH
Posted By: toivo

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/07/10 01:32 AM

and some big spikes to make a bunk. let's add that to the list.

and now we need horses to carry all of this.

axe, chisel, cross- cut saw, square, string. simplify, simplify, simplify.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/07/10 06:45 AM

Hi Richard,

Why do you need 4 sets (pairs ?) of log dogs ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/08/10 02:19 PM

Hi Ken and Tovio:

Ken-- during the trial layouts an extra set of log dogs come in handy to hold the frame down while the squaring off and checking for accuracy is ongoing, maybe many would skip this step but in my books it is imperative to catch mistakes prior to the day of the raising

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/09/10 08:42 AM

Hi Richard,

Aha, so this relates to framing rather than hewing. I have just ordered up some blacksmith made log dogs (one short and one long pair) for hewing but have never considered that these tools might also be used in framing, though you suggestion might have legs.

Anyone else using dogs during layout ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/09/10 11:10 AM

Ken, I have used clamps when working alone to hold one end of timber while I deal with the other. Those curved sticks some times have a mind of their own, they don't behave as a straight piece. Dogs, I imagine, would bump the timber too much when setting them or at least a chance of it. Maybe I am seeing the dogs used for a different purpose than NH is proposing?

I do like my dividers. I am starting to use them more for copying small increments in trim work and such. My big set will stretch out to 24" I don't need the tape measure. No more holding on 1" or trying to stick the hook end of the tape into a tight corner, or guessing where the fraction is on the bend of the tape. Yes, dividers/compass would surely be on the list.

Tim
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/10/10 02:23 AM

Hi everyone tonight

I should add here that I always worked with hewn material that continued to carry the chalk line lining marks on all the finished framing surfaces.

I expect that most of you work with smoothly finished surfaces, and possibly no lining chalk marks.

During the fitting process the frame's long segments are laid out in the fitting area, on top of six by sixes and held tightly in position using timber dogs, while all the other segments are tapped into their positions.

Then using measuring poles of varying lengths the measurements are double checked using the intersecting points of the chalk lines to ensure their accuracy and also to ensure that they will properly meld into the finished frame as a whole.

I hope that I have explained how these sets of timber dogs would be used in the fitting process

NH
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/25/10 05:06 PM

If there was real interest wouldn't the poster speak to the topic?

Is the interest perhaps in selling human hair thingys from other continents and countries?
Posted By: bmike

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/25/10 06:44 PM

Will, me thinks that post is a spambot.
Posted By: Joel McCarty

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/25/10 09:02 PM

Standing by, ever vigilant.
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/25/10 11:06 PM

...with a spambot swatter.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/05/10 03:11 PM

Hello everyone today:

well I don't very often sit down in the dayime especially when my help is required eslewhere around this dairy ranch, but I just thought that I would look in to my chat site and to the other very interesting sites to see what is happening.

I had a call to visit an old barn and help the owner make some informed decisions about the sequences required to straighten up and stabilize her building which I commend her for wanting to preserve rather than tear down the normal practice it seems.

It continues to amaze me how the old timers moved buildings and attached them to existing buildings, and remodelled the structures to exhibit a lovely continuation of the exterior roof lines.

That is what happened in this case but in doing so there is some compromises that happen, and sometimes thse compromises cause frame failures to happen when major weather disturbances throw the book at us, I think back to the ice storm that piled 3 to 4 inches of ice on the roofs of old and modern structures, straining and bowing the timbers and trusses to their breaking point. I must say though that most of the older buildingsbuilt without engineering reports papers etc seemed to have been put up with a fair amount of extra strength

ewnjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/29/10 01:00 AM

hello everyone tonight

Sorry for being away so long but duty called me down on the farm, and I can't refuse the needed help out there.

Today I had a meeting to explore a call to restore 2-- 6" cannon frames, the material is 6" white oak and would no doubt be a very interesting project. I will keep you guys and gals updated as time goes along.

NH

Posted By: jameshelti1

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 07/14/10 05:32 PM

thanks
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/24/10 08:20 AM

Hi,
hewing can be more than just one thing. There are lots of different techniques and idiosyncrasies but I wonder if these have names, particularly regarding surface appearance. A beam hewn tangentially results in a different surface appearance then one hewn along the length. Also, somewhere in this very forum is a link to a picture of some hewn work out of Finland with a very particular surface appearance. Are these various hewing forms named in a way that someone could make a reference to them other than to describe an action or location?

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/24/10 11:43 AM

Hi Cecile,

That pic of the hewing styles employed in Finland might well be an extract from an article that I wrote for Timber Framing nearly 10 years ago and this can still be downloaded from :-

Visit to Finland

The article contains photos of the hewer, axe and finish (forgive the pun) obtained on Scots pine logs on a church at Karsamaki.

I agree with you that we are heading towards a point where someone really needs to compile and document in a paper for publication of a full collection of hewing tools, styles, signatures, finishes obtained, etc., used to convert logs for both academic and craft reference purposes.

I would encourage you all to download a watch all 4 videos (20mb each) from :-

Viking ship construction

where you will see wedged cleaving and "T" axe hewing of monster oak to produce clinker planks and a mast fish and also how pine tar is made in Finland which is used in Viking ship construction.

When you all get your jaws off the ground we can talk again.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/24/10 02:20 PM

Amazing.
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/24/10 03:21 PM

Hello,
I made some pine tar there, with Leif Karlson a few summers ago while in Sweden. He does it every year just to keep the tradition going. We hauled, I'd say, around 3 quarts from this burning and since that is not so much I'm using it sparingly, mostly to dip nails. On the other hand we just covered the barn this summer with a mixture of Swedish pine tar, linseed oil, grown and pressed right up the road here, and lamp black pigment. In Finland, they eat tar.

Ken Hume, probably your article was one of the first times I came across such a focus on this Finish style, or technique, or method of hewing. I don't even remember it standing out when I visited the open air museum there near Helsinki some years back. These Finish axes are also real peculiar. I found one on the ground up there once and brought it home, put a handle on and it has been one of my favorite axes since. Though mine is not equivalent to a broad axe (PIILUKIRVEET), and not good for surfacing. But are you aware of any such categorization or do you have plans to make one up? I sure would like to see something giving the characteristics of let's say cross-grain hewing or along-the-grain hewing or this wavy Finish pattern. Just to compare and contrast, you know, and then choose.

This cleaving shown in the film could only be reliably done with Danish oak. The way they manage to the point of excess their oak stands, and all. It should have its own species designation, it's not normal, this oak.

I thought the videos were a bit weak on details and digital animation does nothing for me but the intent was clear and the project mighty.

Don Wagstaff - (not Cecile, to whom I am married)
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/24/10 04:00 PM

->DON<-
I myself have made that same mistake in the past! (calling you by your wife's name)

I have never heard of any naming of the hewing styles in my study. Perhaps we should come up with a way of naming them.
Perhaps a good method would be to classify them according to tools used and region of origin and/or usage.

I wold think that these classifications would have to be pretty general, because every hewer will have his own spin on things.

You might have names like American Felling-Pennsylvania Axe or Germanic Bundaxt-Breitbeil or Central European Bradvil

Then on top of that, you might also tell if the hewer works cross grain, long grain, or in a sweeping motion, or whatever other direction you might can think of...

Also, I want pine tar! Too bad we don't have pine in Indiana
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/24/10 08:10 PM

Hi Don,

I saw the pine tar pit at Turkansari Outdoor Museum near Oulu in Finland and was taken aback by the diameter of pine tar burn pit. They make pine tar sweets from this gunk which are apparently good for sore or stripped throats. This pine tar was imported into England and used to coat wooden ships plus I have also seen it used on the lower parts of timber framed buildings (brick & sills). Part of the front door of our granary is coated with this tar with later planks simply being covered in creosote.

The Danes and Vikings occupied large parts of England (Danelaw) long before the Normans came calling and so its quite possible that a significant transfer of carpentry know how arrived in England from this source.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/24/10 08:31 PM

Ken, English shipbuilding and Naval tradition owes a tremendous debt to the Danes and Norwegians who occupied half of Britain at one point. Many of the naval terms in the English language (and about 1/3 of the most common everyday words) are derived from Old Norse, such as starboard, bulkhead, Bulwark, and others. Even the word boat is apparently of ON origin. In addition, the Normans are descendants of Viking invaders who were bribed by a French king to settle in Normandy. As can be seen on the Bayeux Tapestry they preserved their Viking carpentry skills at least until the invasion.

As far as carpentry goes, Scarf, butt, window, scant, possibly rafter (ON raptr), and other terms are derived from or influenced by Old Norse.

I read once that the Norwegian Stave Churches are all coated in tar, and are re-coated periodically. This is perhaps key to their longevity in such excellent condition, such as ornate carvings retaining all of their details that date to around 1050 on Urnes Stave Church
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/25/10 06:49 AM

Hi, Just thought I would include this US government produced film , also because it is not from off of youtube. Other interesting films to be found here on early logging in the US etc...

I think this double scoring technique he uses is an interesting alternative to notching.

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/03/10 12:38 PM

Hi,
any thoughts on how you get this from this?

Don
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/05/10 01:27 AM

Don, what are the dimensions of your timber there, and of the original log?

Today I cut down a hard sugar maple tree and I am hewing a 25' section of it right now. The log has an average diameter of about 10 1/2 to 11" at one end and about 8 to 8 1/2" at the other end, I am hewing a 6x6 timber out of it, with one end just a little bit wany.

Part of the reason is I wanted to see how well maple does. I want to see how easily it hews and how stable it is afterward. How much it checks and cracks as it dries, etc.

My experience with hard maple tells me that it is a dimensionally stable wood, meaning it does not check, twist, bend, bow, cup, or warp excessively. But it does expand and contract a bit from season to season which is a disadvantage in some situations. As I am writing this I am sitting at my desk that I built a few years ago entirely out of solid hard maple with a solid 27" top that has not had a bit of trouble not being in a climate controlled environment.

This wood is very stiff (similar to black cherry, which has been used in framing), has a very high crushing strength, is straight grained (it is an excellent wood to make arrows out of because it is very easy to find perfectly straight grain), and around here we happen to have an over abundance of it (to the point where it is advisable to remove some of the smaller trees to allow the neighboring and much more valuable cherry and walnut trees to grow)

As far as hewing, I found it to be surprisingly easy. A good heavy axe swims through it easily, and the straight grain makes a fine partner in the process. It notches very easily, which is surprising because it is very hard and very tight-grained, both properties that make wood resistant to cutting.

What opinions do you all have about maple for use in structural applications? I know I have heard that hard maple is particularly well suited to use as bracing because of its high crushing strength and low bending. I am wondering how it can handle larger spans
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/05/10 06:39 PM

Hi D L,
I didn't really take note of what the diameters of this stem were beyond determining that I could get a balk 8 X 15 X 9001 cm out of it. I try to limit how many numbers there are floating around in my head. Sorry for you about that. I am going, though, into a lot more detail over this particular piece of wood just here with the full unedited photographic accounting to be seen at this location.

I imagine that fresh maple does hew nicely. That comes mostly because the fibers making up maple wood are short ones and no matter what you are cutting/carving with, maple responds well to a sharp blade.

Not to worry about structural applications. Any such concerns come again from these short fibers and the regular dispersion of poors - known to many as DIFUSE POROSITY - throughout the wood but are really only relevant to the furniture maker, in particular the chair maker. You wouldn't want to make tenons out of maple in a chair construction. Better to use floating tenons of another suitable wood.

Maple must not be exposed to the outside climate or moisture from the ground though. It is susceptible to fungus attack.

Greetings,

Don
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/05/10 08:00 PM

Thanks Don, as usual you are a wealth of helpful information.

Unfortunately for me, the two tree species I have most abundantly are pignut hickory and maple, both of which are very susceptible to rot. That is one of the reasons I have decided to seal all timbers on outside walls with wood tar, and to seal the boarding gaps as well (makes the whole things kind of like a Klinker built boat). The other reasons being it is authentic, and it looks and smells wonderful.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/21/10 12:12 AM

Well hello everyone tonight:

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful and informative threads that you all have put forward, I know that I have really enjoyed reading and catching up the last page in particular.

This is alittle off line but maybe someone might have an answer for me--my son bought a older home that has a slate roof which is not in bad shape, but the flashing in the valleys needs replacing--does anyone out there have any ideas how this might be done.

I have looked it over and really can't come up with a possible solution without spoiling the whole roof

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/04/10 08:43 PM

Hi,
this question from NH about slate roofing was never addressed so here is my poor response. Although my experience is with tile not slate, and this picture * is not of the valley. Regardless, I have done something similar in a valley, lining it with lead like you saw in the picture and the principle is pretty straight forward, although at a valley the slate would overlap the lead.

Greetings,

Don

*© Architekt Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Marc Sattel
Posted By: Waccabuc

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/06/10 04:00 PM

NH,
If the slates are sound and good for more years of protecting from the weather, they will be removable with care and some skill that is simple to learn, then after valley flashing is properly replaced the slates can be re-installed. Removing and re-installing good slates won't "spoil the whole roof". The pitch of the roof, and size and thickness of the slates, and the length of the valleys will determine the ladders, planks, padding, scaffolding etc he'll need. Don't work up there when the slates are wet - very slippery!
Of course the roof sheathing and rafters are to be checked for soundness and proper nailing. If the slates are all the same size you don’t have to keep them in order of removal. You're wise to get some more sound slates, new or old, closely matched in color of the same thickness and the same size or larger to replace a few you might break. Hold a removed slate up with one hand and tap it lightly on a face with a hammer. If it rings it's good, if it thuds it's mush and is good for roadbed material.
I prefer to make valley flashing pcs of 24" x 10' cold rolled (hard) copper or lead coated copper, 16oz or 20 oz per sq ft. I'll use lead sheet, 2.5lb or 4lb per sq ft for step flashing or chimney counterflashing or cap flashing and pans, but very rarely for valleys. Lead is available 4' x4' and 4' x5'. It is dense and easy to form, but doesn't hold to a bent profile like hard copper will. You can bend the lead by hand (wear gloves and wash your hands before you eat lunch) but you'll need a brake to bend the cold rolled.
Pull out all nails that held down old valley flashing. Install 30# felt in the length of the valley, fasten w copper nails. Valley flashings to be bent in the shape of a W, with hems at the outer edges. The inverted ^ at the center has 1" legs and it sticks up to the sky, allowing expansion/contraction of the metal. Then the wings or outer legs of the W lie flat onto the roof planes and are c. 10" wide. The outside edges get another bend, or hem, 3/4" - 1" wide (the entire 10' length) inward onto the top (sky side) of the 10" wide wings c. 180 degrees but not closed tight. This prevents water from running beyond the edge, plus cleats hook into it at 12" oc to hold flashing in place and to have NO NAILS PUNCTURE THE VALLEY FLASHING except one copper nail at each top corner to hold it. Cleats are same metal, 2.5" x 4" and are nailed w (2) copper nails to the roof deck just outside the valley, one end bent as a tab to grip inside the hem, the other end tab bent up, over, and flat down to cover the 2 nail heads.
Just as the metal flashing is to be installed, roll out red rosin paper to isolate the metal from the felt ("tar paper") so flashing metal will slide/move rather than get cemented to the "tar". The next flashing sheet up the valley overlaps the first by 6" with its hems inside the hems of the 1st sheet. Keep the water in the valley and flowing downward, right?
This new work should have no need for caulks or mastic or roof cement. To temp repair an existing leaking valley (or around chimneys) these rarely are 100% effective regardless of how much is gobbed on, unless you can see the damaged areas of eroded and corroded lines , tears and pinholes in the metal and fill and seal them. Re-do annually until you can afford to properly re-flash.
Two books w rules, specs, pics and drawings: "The Slate Book" and "Copper and Common Sense".
If you have to buy new slates any N American slate will be good for 100+ yrs, except PA slate good for 50 yrs - not worth the slightly cheaper price IMO.

Tools: you'll at least need a slate ripper, and good to get a slate hammer. New or used made by Stortz Co Philadelphia PA are excellent. If you have to cut or trim slates as you install them over the valley flashing sides you'll need a slate cutter. Nail holes are best "punched" rather than drilled. Punch holes from the back of the slate, using the slate hammer point or a nail set as a fine punch. Slate cutters usually have a punch point too. Slates hang on two, and only two copper nails, HUNG, not nailed down tight. A wide tipped flat bar is very useful. I am still using my 35 yr old American made Stanley Wonder Bar. So much better than the recently Mexican made, or is Stanley having them made in China now ? - prob worse.

Normal overlap of next course is Exposure plus 2" (e.g. 9" exposure requires a 20" long slate). Wear gloves and a respirator when removing existing slates and vacuum cleaning or sweeping existing felt and/or roof deck. Wear tough old pants and sneakers or boots w rubbery soles for a good grip. Prepare to get real dirty. Like most good quality construction work it's the 3 Ds, Detailed, Dirty and Dangerous. Could we add Difficult? not if you follow the rules and are prepared.
If you work smart and safe you'll have no need for good luck, except for the weather, and we can't do anything about that.

Glad to be of help Richard. I appreciate your hosting us at TTRAG in Morristown and Upper Canada Village. I learned lots at the Conference and tours. I still play one my Bobby Watt CDs every week.
Steve Miller
Posted By: Waccabuc

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/06/10 04:18 PM

To Don,
In my limited experience with flat tiles on sloped roofs the rules and techniques are basically the same, although in some details of roof tile installation Portland cement mortar is used for filling, esp at rake edges.
Nice picture with the lead step and counter flashings. Good work. Covering the roof planes is straightforward and easy to learn and do well. Using proper techniques and materials for flashing edges, intersectons, valleys etc is where excellence in attention to detail is required and what will insure a good effective job well done. More than half of our roof work over 39 yrs is replacement and or repair of faulty flashing work. Could have, should have been done right the first time.
I enjoy seeing your creative work on your blog. Do you still need a smart farm dog? one of my Aussies? I have 3 pups available.
Steve
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/07/10 01:19 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Well thanks Steve for all that information on repairs to the slate roof's flashing, and I will relay your remarks to my son.

also thanks for your kind remarks, hosting you guys was one of the highlighrts of my career, it makes me feel good that I had something that I could share and be enjoyed by the TTRAG group who are all pretty knowledgeable people and great to have met.

Right now I am in the midst of the reconstruction of 2 period cannon bases that use 6" by 12" white oak sections, I will also need the services of a blacksmith to do period metal work It will be nice to get back in the groove so to speak.

You know and I am addressing those that are looking in tonight and that maybe need employment or ideas, you guys need to expand your knowledge base outside of building homes, timberframing is only part of what you can do with heavy timber, historic millwrighting, Historic mills, historic roads\bridge construction, even period fencing, repairing period machinery--even slate roofs like we talked about above--I could go on but I believe you get the drift.

I have been party to many and varied projects from modern to extremely historic--for instance restoring churches, print shop;s, tin shops, barns, drivesheds, smokehouses, one year I was put in charge of constructing a very modern food outlet, another I worked inside a modern store outlet and I must say that moving back and forth between the 2 mediums seemed to recharge my batteries.

I even did a lttle farming where I raised my family

Well good luck to you all, maybe my remaks will help some especially when you are still young enough to be able to learn more--be open and reseptive to new ideas don't stagnate in one area move on learn, move back if you need to, listen be like to wise old owl in the tree

NH
Posted By: ghdfans2010

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/20/10 08:33 AM

Hello! I am new here! That's very nice that I can find this forum from google. I found many useful info and funny stories here! I will come again.
Posted By: Housewright

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/10 12:52 PM

Hi NH;

Would there be much to see at Upper Canada Village whiltraveling to or from the conference at Montebello?

Thanks;
Jim
Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/10 12:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Housewright
Hi NH;

Would there be much to see at Upper Canada Village whiltraveling to or from the conference at Montebello?

Thanks;
Jim


Definitely worth a stop. The sawmill is particularly cool. CB.
Posted By: Robert Leslie

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/10 02:04 PM

I justed checked the UCV website and hours of operation were not clear so I called St. Lawrence Parks. Access is now Mon. - Fri. from 10:00 to 3:00 to street view only. No building access. This ends Oct. 29 when they close to prep for winter schedule. There is a toll free # to confirm at http://www.uppercanadavillage.com/10090701.htm.

Rob
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/23/10 12:57 AM

Hi everyone tonight

Unfortunately the buildings in UCV are now closed for the winter season, and walking through the site is on for a while I am not sure for how long, it seems that each year with budget restraints the open season shrinks somewhat, it closed this year on Thanksgiving Sunday.

There is alot to see when things are going during the open season, 3 waterpowered mills, one steam powered (the grist mill), the wollen mill (water powered), and of course my favourite the 1848 waterpowered Muley saw mill.

I posted some pictures of the reconstruction of the sawmill's waterbarrel and drive axle, which took place about 6 or 7 years ago now. The reconstruction of the 12 " oak driveaxle with its offset crank was in itself a major part because it was held in place with hot babbet poured around its wings held in place with the oak wood of the shaft and original wrought iron rings on tapered turned wood seatings.

I had offered to make a presentation to the TTRAG on the Mulley Mill and its reconstruction 2 or 3 years ago now which would have been a lecture along with a slide presentation but was rejected at that time.

I won't be at the conference in Montebello unfortunately but I will be thinking of all you guys, no doubt Will and Joel have set up a good itinerary

enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/21/10 07:24 PM

Hello everyone tonight:

Well its been a while since I have posted but thought that an update on the Wooden Garrison Carriages reconstruction for the city of Cornwall Ontario is progressing.

The first unit is approaching completion-- approx 1 month of work in my shop

The frame is 6" white oak sections held together with long 3\4" cold rolled steel rods.

I will try and post some pics eventually

The casted barrels weigh close to 2 tons that are supported by these wood bases.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/21/10 08:03 PM

Hello everyone tonight

Further to my above post

Parts of this reconstruction are challenging because I did not have access to a large bandsaw or lathe and to reproduce the round wooden axle ends I had to rely on my skills with the adze

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 11/22/10 07:53 AM

Hello,

Reminds me of the time I was able to spend a day helping to raise this reproduction windmill near Troyes, a project of an acquaintance. In the video, at the beginning you see also the massive axel of the windmill, similar work to yours I think.



Posted By: Waccabuc

Re: historic hewing questionnaire Moulin de vent - 11/22/10 07:39 PM

Don,
Thanks for this informative and inspiring record of some great work done.
Steve
Posted By: Mark Davidson

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/07/10 10:29 AM

Well, hasn't this become the mother of all threads???
way to go northern hewer!
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/08/10 01:07 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Also a very happpy and (more) prosperous year we all hope in 2011

Just an update on my project I am half way there 1 unit completed and 1 to go in the new year.

I had many inquisitive visitors drop by, and one in particular, a young fellow selling corn seed.

He looked at the Garrison Carriage and said to me what is it? I said what do you thing it is? He replied it sure looks like something to support a cannon, well I said it sure is, then he said are you repairing it? I said no it is completely new, well he said you could have fooled me because it looks old.

I told him he just made my day, and he said why, well for starters I said good restoration workmanship is supposed to renew and look old at the same time, and I know from your comment I have attained the look that will fool 90% of those that will examine it in the years to come.

Of course there is that group that really knows what they are looking at, and to that end I have to be sure that the details of workmanship meet very strict criteria, and adhere to the guidelines of military equipment construction dating back 300 years.

I did some research at Fort Henry in Kingston in preparation for
the project just to ensure that the details on the Garrison Carriage standing at UCV's main entrance the one I was using as a copy, and that I had restored 20 plus years ago were accurate, and I did find some irregularities that I corrected this time around to ensure that the ones following in my footsteps will have as accurate details as I can supply

Thanks for the comment Mark I only supply what I consider interesting topics and you guys make it all happen

NH
Posted By: Ray Gibbs

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/08/10 01:14 AM

Where are you doing this work Richard? I sure would like to stop by some time to see that.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/08/10 01:17 AM

Hi Ray

Give me a personal email for details

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/12/10 08:38 PM



here I am working a few moons ago

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/14/10 01:55 AM



Hello everyone tonight

Here is a wonderful period driveshed-horsebarn combination that I happened to run across in my travels and searches for historic structures

It has 3 16foot bays on one end, and a fairly large horse barn on the other end. There was an original hay manger still attached in the 3 bays with stays dovetailled into the vertical timbers to hold it in place

Enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/15/10 02:30 AM



Hi everyone tonight

I will be posting a series of pictures associated with the restoration of the barrel wheel that powers the vertical saw blade in the 1846 saw mill at UCV

This picture shows the wings of the cast iron offset crank that has been inserted into the end of the new turned 12" oak shaft using molten babbet and wrought iron rings that are original.

The wings increase in thickness as they protrude into the end of the shaft, this fact alone along with the rings on turned seatings make it vertually impossible for the unit to loosen from the unending pounding and tourque assocciated with the sawing proceedure

If anyone has questions do not hesitate to ask

enjoy

NH

Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/15/10 02:54 PM

Glad to see you've figured out all the ins and outs (ups and downs?) of posting pictures, Richard. Keep 'em coming. CB.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/16/10 02:52 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi CB nice to hear from you and the best in the new year

well things sort of slow down in the cold weather here and I thought that I would sharpen up my posting skills. I must say I surprised myself that I remembered the pass words, but proceedures was something else, I had to refer back to instructions from one of you guys a while back, and it all came together nicely--I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy posting for you all.

I am proud to be associated with the TFG group and be able to present items of interest from my past.

One area of historical interest that I will never escape from is the mulley mill and its wonderful but complicated equipment for sawing lumber with a single vertical blade

Having the opportunity to be in charge of the maintenance as well as the operation was a one in a million roll of the dice, and I intend to pass on tidbits of information to those that want to listen.

I often sat in the early morning sunlight streaming through the interior of the mill reflecting on those that must have went before me, and felt their presence and was able to overcome what seemed like unsurmountable tasks that rose from time to time with its delicate technicalities.

I believe that one of the greatest challenges I ever had was to put the mill together in running order after having dismantled it for reconstruction and repair, knowing full well that no help was available if it was required.

see you tomorrow night

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/17/10 01:29 AM



Hi everyone tonight

Here is a good view of the offset crank and its wings upon its removal from the old wooden shaft.

It is at this point that you get a funny sick feeling in your gut because you know full well that in the next few months you will need to have a fully operational new wooden axle complete with the crank installed, placed in a new wooden pressure box of exactly the right width, and I mean with the following criteria:

The pressure box (a view will be coming in the next installment or so) has to be so designed that any swelling of the water acting on the wooden surfaces will not create problems, and to that end you have to be sure to allow for that expansion, but not too much either to allow for excessive seepage along the edges of the cast iron collars, or in the reverse not allow the shaft to revolve.

There is no text books available to my knowledge that contains
such information, you are on your own, and it is a lonely ride let me tell you.

There could be someone out there with that experience but I was not able to locate them for any assistance.

There are quite a few vertical blade mills sprinkled over the country but I dare to say that many of these mills are not operational, or maybe just coasting along with the equipment as it is, or not coasting at all.

Some of the mills that I have visited have cast iron pressure boxes from what I can make out these types were running side by side in the same era, but were not available over all the primitive, or newly opened up areas of settlement

hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/19/10 02:59 AM



Hello everyone tonight

As I promised here is a view of the newly reconstructed turbine box being readied for the new wooden oak shaft.

The placement of this box was a very delicate job because it had to be move about 6" to compensate for the movement sideways of the mill structure over a period of roughly 40 years,

Many would say that this is not very much of a problem, but for starters this pretty well moved all the benchmarks that had been established during the dismantling process, and meant that all new ones had to be established

Try it!

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/19/10 05:40 AM

Looks like a really fun project. If it were easy, it wouldn't be much fun, in my opinion. Probably only a handful of people doing what you are doing. Could you pre-soak the turbine box and then machine it to the exact dimension?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/20/10 03:20 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Dave,thanks for coming on board and the comments:

Well for starters Dave the White oak I used to fabricate the pressure box was milled from green logs, I did this on purpose so that the swelling of the box would not be excessive, when it eventually was exposed to water.

The problem was it was hard to determine just how much the timber was drying during the time from the milling process, the fabrication process and then of course the installation process, and most of these processes was in a heated environment

I realize that across the grain not much movement would take place especially with oak, but then there would be some, and the box is 36inches across solid wood, you can see what I mean.

On both sides of the pressure box run cast iron collars approx 36 inches in diameter, and these collars are on turned surfaces shouldered to bottom out at exactly the right spot and have cups molded in them in such a manner that the escaping water forces the shaft to spin in the opposite direction

You can see why the expansion of the box could be a real problem because these collars have a very small clearance and must run true so that they do not bind against the side of the pressure box

One of the problems associated with this type of power source is as the water passes through it also brings with it many fine particles and anything the right size can jam the wheel and stop the whole mill

I want to say this whole process was very interesting for me and my team, but in the end it ran like a top and is still running perfectly after approx 12 years now.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/20/10 04:39 AM

Thanks for sharing! I'd like to work on a mill or two someday. Water, wind, whatever. There is a chapter in "A Village Carpenter" by Walter Rose, on windmills and their care. Very interesting reading.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/23/10 01:00 AM



Hi everyone tonight

Here is a goodview of the turbine shaft still in the lathe
You will notice turned seatings in the foreground the closest turned seating is the identical diameter of the outside of the wings, and slots will be cut into this turned seating for the wings to slide back into, and then be held in place with babbet and the wrought iron rings, a view of this I posted first.

Alittle further you will notice another turned surface this is for the 36" cast iron rings that have cups casted around its surface.

You will notice that this turned surface ends abruptly and it is this detail that is extremely important because if it is not correct the rings would bind on the side of the pressure box or they could bottom out too far from the box if the shouldering ended too soon

Keep in mind that these surfaces are tapered and again if the tapering is too tight on the interior of cast iron surfaces it could crack the casting when the wood expands as exposure to water eventually takes place

there is alot of ifs here--

-if the wood turning is too tight failure of the casting takes place
-if the woodturning is too loose then the cast iron collars will spin around and destroy the axle

getting it just right is quite a feat, it was always in the back of my mind that should one of the cast collars crack, to have it replaced would cost thousands of dollars because a new pattern would have to be made by a pattern maker and then casted to allow for shrinkage in the casting process.

NH
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/23/10 01:22 AM

Fortunately they make tape measures that account for the shrink. We've had some stuff cast at an Amish foundry in PA that does very high quality work. But, I'd probably be worried about breaking something too.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/26/10 05:54 PM

Hello everyone today:

Merry Christmas to all my visitors to this thread

I invite any questions about the above topic before I move on to another

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/01/11 07:28 PM

Well welcome to the new year--lets hope that it keeps on improving for all of you guys looking for work

remarks for the good of the order

things here in Canada are not too bad but could be alot better, just too much plastic money in use I say and too many looking for the free ride-taxes here are unreal but without that the free ride ends I guess

Ken you were remarking about no one posting, I believe that there is quite a slow down on projects especially house construction by the general public, not the real rich they are sitting back and waiting for a real bargain to come along

I am retired now but watch around me the struggle that is going on for many to provide the things that are needed for their families, the incentives by various governments seem to be helping somewhat but it is only a band aid fix, it will not take away the debt shouldered by everyone, even the elerly and the new born.

well happy new year to you all

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/09/11 02:51 AM

Well hello everyone\:

Here we go into the new year and what a day with the shooting in arizona, what a tragedy.

I would like to talk a bit about historical wall surfaces and help explain to those that need help and instruction-the proceedures to attain the unmistaken look of old surfaces from times gone by.

Old surfaces can be attained on modern constructed walls of dimension lumber, but for me the real look only comes when you are able to apply the surfaces to wooden lath or split lath applied over a timberframe structure covered with an interior smoothing surface of 1" square edged lumber

This smoothing surface is then smoothed further by applying vertical strips of lath that can be further straightened by using an 8 or 10 foot straight edge horizontally as one works along the wall surface to test and correct the relation of one vertical strip to another.

These vertical strips also allow an internal space for the plaster to squeeze through between the lath and form what is referred to as keys on the inside

It is these keys that need hair in the mixture to give the keys strength especially on ceiling surfaces to hold tight the weight of the plaster until the plaster cures and afterwards.

The true plaster wall surfaces contain 3 layers with the first layer containing hair or another suitable substitute such as hemp it is known as the smoothing coat and is scratched using a board with nails slightly protruding. The scratching will enable the next coat to bond with the first smoothing coat. A wood float is all that is used for smoothing the plastered surface

This coat is applied vertically from floor to the ceiling in stages of about eight feet or less and using the straight edge is levelled from edge to edge horizontally as well as vertically. A level is employed to make sure that the wall is plumb and true before moving on to the next stage. It is also scratched before moving on

One can work with smaller vertical strips if so desired but a truer wall will result from wider vertical strips being formed and used.

The historic mixture for this is 3 (shovels) of good sharp sand mixed with 1 (shovel) of slacked lime adding the hair or substitute to the mixture. The amount of hair or substitute will vary from one plasterer to another but the book says about one shovel of hair to a mixture of "20 shovels full". The book also refered to the use of "animal hair mostly from cattle but other types can be used". It also states that "ceiling mixtures should contain more for strength"

Any questions?

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/09/11 02:26 PM

HI,
From what I can make of it, your interior walls are built up as follows, as it appears in your text:
1st layer - Wooden lath or split lath applied over the timber frame. (Horizontally oriented?)
2nd layer - An interior smoothing surface of 1 inch square edged lumber.
3rd layer ( we are yet apply any plaster. Right?) — Vertical strips... for keys.
4th layer - Plaster mixed with hair.
The text doesn't specify any further layers but since it does say 3 layers of plaster I guess there would be layers 5 and 6 of different or similar plaster mixtures and surface textures.

And this is plastering the infill panels I'm guessing because this is in the hewing questionnaire, right? And we aren't going to plaster over those fine timbers now. Or has that subject title totally lost any meaning at this point?


This subject caught my eye just because the other day I had to climb up in the attic to track down a leak when the ice and snow on the roof suddenly melted. While up there I noticed a wall I had plastered a few years back with — let's see, how do you call it, well, I'll say clay, sand, and cow manure, horse and reindeer hair mixed up good, and how good it seemed to have dried up and become solid. And largely thanks to the cow shit. Then I made a picture.

Someone looking good at those keys would notice a sort of grayish brown and also the darker brown. The darker color is the result of throwing the poop in there and has the effect of really binding the plaster well.

It's a foul smelling business at first but pretty soon the offense fades away.

I guess the only thing I would add to the other entry up there is that the type of hair could be of importance as some — human, dog, cow...— are normally quite fatty by nature and can better be substituted with hair known not to have this characteristic.
And it is true or the truth, that there is no beating the appearance of a good old-fashioned plastered wall surface whatever form it may take.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/10/11 12:45 AM

Hi Don and others looking in

I guess a little clarification is warranted

the 3 layers that I am referring to was only plaster layers.

I suppose the preparation of the wall surfaces prior to the application of the 3 plaster layers could be referred to as layers but I would like to refer to them as steps, so in this regard I would like to once again qickly run through the steps prior to the application of the plaster layers---

I was referring to one type of wall construction(of which there are many-- using timberframing as the building medium)--having said that we would have in this scenario 3 or 4 cross bents of large vertical wall timbers between which would be smaller vertical studs of rough 4 by 4's

In my scenario on the exterior wall surface would be a surface of 1" square edged boards, on the interior would be also a surface of 1" square edged boarding applied to the 4 by 4 studdings, up against the side opf the large vertical timbers that make up the bents

On this surface then would be applied vertical strips of 1" by 3" at maybe 24" \oc and on these vertical strips would be the
horizontal wood lath spaced so that the initial layer of plaster would be able to squeeze through and form a key on the inside cavity, it is this plaster layer that would have the hair mixture for strength

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/11/11 01:48 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

I hope that historic plaster enthusiasts are visiting and gaining some insight into the technique of constructing an authentic 18th century wall surface.

Don above has eluded to the use of a variety of ingredients that could be used if it became imperative to use a very cheap and plentiful supply of something else.

Don is quite right in our region the ingredients he eluded to were used at times, in outbuildings of lesser importance than the home say the barn, heated sheds, hen houses, pig pens, you name it but normally not the home.

Most period home's walls were finished with slacked lime and sand mixtures, the interior of the wall cavity might be brick or stone filled which could have been laid with a clay mortar mixture, which does not work bad but similar to lime mixtures and will harden well. Clay mixtures though do not weather well unless fire hardened, and its use should be restricted to dry areas.

The lime that was used then was a white lime powder that resulted from the burning of limestone, shells, or anything that was created with lime. The resulting white powder is very volatile and will when exposed to moisture begin to heat rapidly and can burn up any wooden or flammable container near it.

Great care has to be exercised when one begins to slack it with water to obtain slacked lime for the use in plaster mixtures.

I wonder if Ken would like to comment on lime mixtures at this point, or anyone else who is knowledgeable on this subjectt and who might like to add a comment or two

Don also eluded to not covering up hewn timbers, well unfortunately in an historic sense most times the rough hewn frames were covered up and disappeared into the wall cavities, Ceiling timbers were finished differently, at times (not always)
The timbers were adzed finished and beaded on the bottom corners and left exposed. In the process you could look right up at the bottom of the second story t&g flooring and made for a lovely look.

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/11/11 02:31 AM

http://www.lehmbau-kalkputz.ch/index-4214.html

That is a site in German (Google translate is at your service) and in it the author describes a number of techniques for the use of lime and clay to create wall surfaces, interior and exterior. He talks about older methods used centuries ago, but has also come up with a sensible modern application of those methods.
He describes the use of reeds like we would use lath to support plaster, suggesting this material for use in exterior applications or in places like damp basements where there will be much water. For other applications he suggests the use of reed and clay. The wall cavities are then filled with cellulose. In the past instead of the cellulose he says that straw dipped into wet loam would have been used to pack the cavities, this was used in wall cavities, roof cavities, and even floor cavities. A very interesting system indeed, easily adaptable to modern insulating materials and old materials alike.

He also describes a technique that is interesting to me, Sgraffito. This is the technique of carving through one layer of plaster to another layer of contrasting color to create design and ornament that is permanent.
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/11/11 03:45 PM

Hello,
Is quick lime, this volatile form of lime, something to be easily gotten from a commercial supplier?

Slaked lime, which is the end, or say, usable product, doesn't generate this sudden reaction and isn't precarious to work with at all, though not pleasant to breath in by any means. But this is what we're talking about in relation to plaster, right?

Historically I think the distinction wouldn't have been so relevant because the burned lime, - stone where that was around or seashells if that was nearby - would have been gathered and slaked and, left to brew, at a work site.

(This brewing aspect is also interesting in relation to plastering work. For masonry the slaked lime would have been left to brew for months ahead of the time it was used. Lime plaster for the finest work could be left in containers at the bottom of a well for as long as 40 years before it was used. That is called putkalk or well lime.)

I could buy this distinction between, let's say homes, and other buildings which were not lived in. But I don't know. Could it have anything to do with social or economic standing. That is, in expensive houses walls might be plastered with lime plaster and in simpler houses it was clay plaster. That's what I've seen around here so it's a question where one type of plastering was used or the other. Maybe it's geographical. What about in eastern Europe or the Southwest in the US? The way I like to look at it is that lime plaster is more refined and subtle and you can make a more exact surface than with these, let's say, rough clay plasters - not forgetting the fine tadelak work out of North Africa which is in fact combining clay and lime.

Anyway, that picture there above shows a variation in as far as it is a framework nailed onto the inside of the structural timbers, in this case the roof truss, with a lattice work - a reed mat in place of split lath - to form gaps for the plaster to latch onto. Pretty straightforward. It's clear that for a lot of history - or maybe not so far back really as just last week I sat in the kitchen of an old sheep farmer in France who's heavy timbered ceilings beams were wallpaper covered - timber, stone, brick were covered up with intention. Which I think says something about how important plastering in whatever form has been. But also how subject it is to fashion or trends.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/12/11 02:02 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks for coming on board with constructive dialogue in relation to the many ways that were used to achieve wall surfaces around the globe.

It seems to boil down to what was available locally, traditions, and what technology was handed down from generation to generation

Over the years I tuned into the local building traditions of Upper Canada, which was settled by a mixture of German, dutch, Irish, Scottish, and English immigrants.

This of course resulted in a mixture of ideas and eventually resulted in a "Canadian" technique that only experienced persons can sort out where and when ideas originated, sometimes 2 to 300 years in advance.

I am not an authority on European techniques and really enjoy the input of this type of information from all of you.

I try and not stray away from areas that i am familiar with and feel comfortable talking about

The "reasonably old structures" surviving in Upper Canada are not old by European standards, but do exhibit the infusion of genetic building blocks that came with these early pioneers, who added features of other founding cultures and eventually these ideas melded into and became the "Canadian" culture as we know it today.

Take the technique of hewing square timbers by hand, this subject has really been kicked around on this thread, but as you study it you realize that the final resulting technique used just before stick framing came into main stream, probably combined the best and easiest way to work safely, and produce squared timber, with no more improvements made, it just seemed to stagnate and be taken by many as the way it was always done.

When you start to investigate the various techniques it is like looking back in time or as you look to the heavens and see light that is only now reaching us from time gone by.

Thanks for all your input you guys, maybe more of you will comment and widen out our level of knowledge.

enjoy

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/12/11 12:43 PM

I purchased some pre slacked lime in dry form from Virginia Lime Works, part of their mix and go line. I just needed to add sand. It was not putty. I had a few bags left over, afraid they would go bad, like the typical bag of cement left in the shed for 5 years, I mixed it up into a putty and stored it in a big plastic tub. I did this with the understanding it would last in the putty form. It was topped off with a couple inches of water to keep it from drying our. After almost two years I now have a nice light blue, hard, smelly lime block. Apparently the mix and go does not work like the raw putty lime does. I have a couple bags in the dry form which I am hanging onto to they have not gone hard, yet.

I heard NASA was watching a new big green shape in space, whatever it is, it's probably long gone or changed into something different, like my putty.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/13/11 12:50 AM

Hi everyone tonight:

You are right Timbeal, What you were working with was not the real slacked burnt lime, it also is a powder but very volatile, and once slacked will remain in a putty form for a very long time, provided that it is kept wet, some dug a hole in the ground and stored it there, we did that at Ucv and retrieved some as we needed it for demonstration purposes and maintenance on the historic structures.

This same putty mixture by the way is what is used for the final third layer, as you build up the (3) coats on a wall surface, it is put on very sparingly and trowelled to a very smooth surface, and when dry is very hard, and when tapped lightly will ring

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/13/11 08:29 PM

Hello,

Still, I think it can be tough to really get it with lime. But the more I work with it and learn about it, the more I appreciate its uses. Here at home some of the many uses include:

White washing.
With pigment and a binder it makes a very fine paint.
Pointing
Masonry
Floor
Plastering
Glazing putty (mixed with linseed oil)
Linseed oil paint additive

I also use it with puzzolan, or trass, what could the English equivalent be? Volcanic dust which has a very marked effect on how it hardens - relevant for capillary moisture movement in supporting walls and masonry foundations.
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/13/11 08:52 PM

The Swiss website I talked about earlier mentioned 3 different additives for the different layers. The first layer he used coarse sand, the second layer fine sand, and the final layer he used marble dust. Would adding marble dust help to prevent shrinkage (and the resulting cracking) in the plaster as it dries?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/14/11 02:17 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Good discussions, and thanks for sharing with everyone

I am sure that the european, italian , swiss wall mixtures would vary with each culture, and of course the ingredients that was available in each region. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that the Italian, or Mediterranean culture had many centuries of experimentation and came up with formulas that even today cannot be improved upon, providing that we knew what they used.

The only thing that I am sure of is that in Upper Canada only good sharp sand along with the lime was used in the preparation of the wall surface's 2 underlayers, and if possible hair from cattle or horses was used as a binding agent.

I have read some accounts where the mortar used in the ancient Roman walls in Britain have been examined to determine just what they used at that time, Ken might have something to add on this front, I suspect that they also used ingredients that was available locally rather than import.

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/14/11 08:38 AM

Hi Richard,

The ancient Roman capital of England at Silchester is only a short bike ride away from home and I visted this last year with Chris How from Australia who examined the still standing city walls to same. He spotted pices of charcoal in the lime mortar mix that used to hold the wall together and with a life span now of over 2000 years the Romans obviously knew a thing or two about building. I will take a digi pic the next time I make a bike ride round past "Calleva Atribatum".

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/14/11 11:21 AM

Hello,

It was a matter of common practice, up until the collective worldwide derailing of sanity going on just now, that reuse was the norm. Brick, wood and I have heard, but it may be a myth, even lime mortar. But you could include window panes, roof tiles - christ, who knows how far this cycle of re-use was or could be perpetuated.

I have spent many hours for days knocking old lime mortar off of brick and reusing the bricks. There are noticeable impurities imbedded in the mortar, mostly bits - up to 5 mm and sometimes as big as 1 cm - of shells. These impurities, the result of the less than clinical production precesses, play no small part in the overall character of the mortar. Because modern production is largely a clinically controlled process, where imperfections are frowned on, these defects are done away with and result qualitatively in a different product. This old lime mortar is truly wonderful stuff I notice as I struggle to remove it, and I am left to live with the knowledge that the best that I can do will never match up in reality.

But back to lime plaster and lime plaster applied to interior walls, as the subject was. Except to say those Roman weenies never could occupy Friesland. Ha. Pleased to say that I just hauled some of my lime, in a bucket with the lid on and topped off with water, up from the well after a few years, and it remains a nice, smooth and sticky paste. Only 30 or so more years to go now. It's true that the sand used is particular in that not any old sand will do. Sharp edges give the lime, (binder) a chance fuse with the sand,(aggregate). Binder, aggregate, strength! Water, catalyzer plus makes it easier to use. Watch out, not too much.
I like the idea of storing it in the ground and digging it up later to use. Only thing is that eventually the lime would leach and seep into the ground and leave only sand behind. Better store your clay in the ground and give the lime an impermeable bottom to stand on while it brews.

Now I wonder about finishing off the plastered surface. I can think of no lime based surfaces left without some kind of finish treatment. In fact I think any such surface would be technically incomplete.
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/14/11 12:43 PM

I am amazed every time I walk past the small patch of clay and straw infill in my little blacksmith building. It is holding up very well, no noticeable degrade in the material after 3 years. In hard rain I walk by it and it almost always appears dry! I can just make out straw fleck through the lime wash covering the clay. Time for a second coat this spring I suppose.

I do see some loose sections but these are due to me not having sufficient pinning to the timber with the waddle system.

I also have a section of lime plaster in the house I am testing for durability. It is in the wood storage corner, the lower section is boards, about 3' up the plaster starts. When the wood pile is fresh it reaches the plaster, I am seeing a 1" chunk which was knocked with a stick of wood, some cracks at the lath and in the corner. I have only one coat at this time. As the inner working of the house change this area will no longer be for wood storage and i will finnish it off. It is holding pretty well for the abuse it gets.
Posted By: timberwrestler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/14/11 11:26 PM

I've been putting the first coat of lime plaster on my living room walls. Because I'm slow, I've had the lime putty (topped with water) in my basement for about 3 years. For whatever reason the standard 3/1 sand/putty mix was coming out way too dry. I have no idea of what ratio I did use, just whatever felt right on the hawk and trowel.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/16/11 01:13 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks ken and others for coming on board with constructive information it helps to keep things in prospective using a varied recipe of mixtures and methods from around the globe.

Don--you mentioned the finishing of the wall surface, according to my research the last or third coat, would be just the putty lime trowelled on with a steel trowel, maybe others have additional information on other techniques.

The Grist mill that we reconstructed at UCV had of course stone walls, and on the interior surface the final layer was not trowelled but floated with a wood float, and left a wee bit on the rough side, and not very level, the mixture was just sand and lime 3 to 1.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/16/11 07:39 PM

Hello everyone tonight

Don: that final finish on the walls I suppose that you could be referring to could be a paint layer or wall paper or it could be paint graining if you were able to do that or had the funds to hire a person that could do it for you.

paint graining is not too hard to do it just needs alitle practice and a bit of knowledge to accomplish.

Our historic painter(s) at UCV could do this type of finish, and to appreciate the technique, and to be able to evaluate their work I took a couple of historic course on paint graining and marblezing.

The result of this type of painting can be just fantastic, especially the marbelizing, a good historic painter, can reproduce just about any type of marble finish with amazing reality

Once again I do not profess to be an authority on paint graining, but then again many wives and husbands that look at the product (timber finishes) that you guys produce can easily spot flaws, it is this type of supervision that I had to be able to put forward or at least converse about with the professional person.

I might say that the majority of these historic specialists are not easy to supervise, they take very great offense at being supervised at all but feel that they should only answer to high level managers

In someways I agree and have had hard conversations with some of these individuals, from experience I have worked forsupervisors that really could not do the work that I was hired to do.

It is my opinion that supervisors need only to have a good grasp of professional's jobs, they are being hired at good salaries to do the work or produce finishes that they are hired to do, or that the site required. Year end evaluations are extremely difficult!!

Maybe some of you have additional comments about being chastised by other than professionals of your training or experience, from past comments I can tell that there is problems from time to time.

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/16/11 10:03 PM

Hi,
Yes, NH, ( I don't know if I should be putting an article before that or not - as in the NH or the northern hewer...), and not to move the topic on or anything 'cause there is plenty more could be said here but I did mean how these old-time-plastered walls would have been handled once the plaster was up there. But just as important how they could or should be worked on even now, or in a non-historical setting. After all we shouldn't give the whole thing up for dead and buried in a museum out there somewhere.The use of clay here is widespread, relatively, but I see lime making strong inroads now as a wall covering.

The finishes I am aware of are paints, washes and wallpapering but then maybe not the sort of wallpapering generally thought of today. I mean the strung up paper with linen backing floating on a wooden framework attached to the plastered wall. I'm also aware of plastered walls being covered with modern sheet material - I don't know, maybe to get that oh so flat look.

Graining and marbleizing I've seen on columns and other elements but no plastered walls that I know of in these parts although I have seen it on wood plank walls and bedsteads.

As far as washes, I think, what could be better than a good ol' whitewash for in the stall or down the cellar, or in that gri - that mill. Also in rooms where not a lot time is spent, where the wash would rub off on your shoulder if you brushed against it, and yet where every few years or so, when it needed it, or yearly out there in the stall at the spring cleaning, one could easily mix up and slap on a fresh coat, and on the ceiling. And the whitewash I like best is the simplest, just a kilo of lime powder and a liter of rain water mixed together. Maybe some skimmed-off milk or a bit of casein powder in there if it is in a room that is more lived in like a kitchen or front room.

Northern hewer, have you ever noticed different wash mixtures for rooms with different uses? The funny thing about whitewash that also struck me in another entry up there is how it is translucent when first put on and then whenever it gets wet, but that at the same time wetting it makes it even stronger or more durable and opaque once it dries out again. It is the damnedest thing.

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/17/11 01:19 AM

Hi don and others tonight:

typical historical finishes

Walls----

kitchens--beaded vertical or horizontal wide pine boards topped with a nice molding--boards could be washed with a red ochre paint stain--no additional sealing--above this wainscoating just the plastered wall surface usually left the lime white until such time as it needs refreshening, then maybe paint would be in order

floors----

wide 1.25|" thick t&g pine boards surface nailed, sealed with cedar oil yearly to harden the surface

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/11 01:57 AM

Hi everyone tonight

Well excuse me for getting carried away on wall surfaces but I am sure there are more than a few souls out there that appreciate an off shoot subject that really is part of the timberframing picture no matter if it is a home or outbuilding or maybe a high end drive shed with living quarters in one end for the hired help to call home.

We had a good example of this type of structure at UCV it was the Robertson driveshed it was 4 bays, the one end bay was a lovely living quarters, with a fireplace suitable for food preparation and heating, 2 centre bays for carriages, and the opposite end was a 3 stall horse barn, the centre section was ground floor, while the 2 ends were raised floors. The area over the tie beams was floored and contained grainaries, and hay storage areas, we used it extensively for drying some of our better grades of lumber from the muley saw mill.

It was a great area to cure slowly the fresh cut lumber, which after about 4 to 5 years could be used by the cabinet maker to create his hand made creations.

Before I leave for the night I am going to throw out a request from any one of you for a special subject that you might want answers to. If I can't answer it I am sure that someone out there can.

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/11 05:22 AM

I was going to ask about this anyway...

How often do you see exposed timber in historic structures? The only timber framed buildings in Central Indiana aside from barns are very old churches, and in those there is no evidence that they are timber framed at all.
The timbers are lathed and plastered over, never to be seen again.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/21/11 02:39 AM

Hello D L

Well DL some churches do have exposed beams in the ceilings, but if you want to see lovely timber framing just climb up in the attics above the lath and plaster and you will see some of the most beautiful original timber trusses, that are not weathered and just there for the viewing, here again you have to have the oportunity and permission to be able to probe around in these old structures.

When The TTRAG met in Morrisburg a few years ago I hosted them through UCV historic site, and I had set up the itinerary for the group to enter the attic of Christ Church to view the Lovely timber trusses that were exposed in the attic, these trusses held up the gothic ceiling of the sanctuary, and you can see just how the gradual arch of the ceiling was formed on the underside of the trusses,

It is a marvel to see the huge trusses fabricated using white oak, and sit there and imagine the order of construction and try to theorize how they were put together and raised in their present position,

This church was built in 1820 well before any modern equipment was available.

Another structure that I visited and photographed was the lutheran church in Williamsburg Ontario Canada built in 1865 The trusses in the attic are spectracular spanning 40 feet and fabricated using all hand hewn timber.

The trusses look like they were just hewn yesterday

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/21/11 09:21 AM

Hi Richard,

The Williamsburg church with the 40ft span is quite a timber design engineering challenge and so I think that we would probably all like to see one of your photos of this roof truss please.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/22/11 01:25 AM

Hi Ken

Thanks for coming on board, I will try and see if I have any pics loaded into photobucket, if not it may be a while but I will try to oblige if I can

I do have some good photos if I can get them arranged to post

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/22/11 05:55 AM

I would love to see those pictures, NH.

But in my question I was wondering about interior finishes in homes other than plain plaster.

Here's some to ponder:







Notice on that last one the curious tiled object. It is a Kachelofen, a tile oven. The procedure of using these is to get them very hot on the inside in the morning, and the thermal mass of the whole unit will slowly diffuse the heat during the day. Supposedly they can heat an entire house for a day with just a small handful of wood.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/11 01:14 AM



Hello everyone tonight


Well here is a shot of one of the wooden Garrison Carriages that I am working on

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/11 03:21 AM

Is that a 12 pounder?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/10/11 03:05 AM

Hi everyone tonight

I was just reviewing the posts above and noticed that ken had shown an interest in the 40 foot trusses in the Williamsburg Church and their construction, well just to catch up,--

The trusses are constructed similar to a bridge truss and are really strong,in fact the last truss from the south stone wall supports not only the ceiling's 40 foot span, but a good share of the weight of the spire which is supported equally on the stone wall and the first truss.

There are running length wise over the upper surfaces of the trusses hewn timbers that serve as purlins in other timberframes, they in turn support the rafters that seem to rise independent of the trusses but in reality are taking the roof's weight, including the present heavy snow loads

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/10/11 08:51 AM

Hi Richard,

Did you forget the digi pic ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/11/11 02:43 AM

Hi Ken

Sorry about the pics, I did look back at the reecords that I have and unfortunately I was using my camcorder at the time and the record is in that format not easy to pass around, or work with.

So for the time being I guess that my documentary is the best that I can provide, unless at some point in time I can lecture and use video format like I used at Montebello or the Morrisburg TTRAG gathering.

Always nice to hear from you

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/11 01:19 AM

Hello everyone tonight

I just finished my project and now to tune up my tools

I am going to have to replace my small mallet which received some bad scars--I was just wondering what is your preferences of wood for this particular job.

I was planning to use a hard maple blank that I have had stored away for some time but I thought that I would ask you guys what your preferences are

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/11 01:59 PM

My personal mallets are oak heads. They have lasted for years and years....
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/11 02:21 PM

Hello,
I guess regardless you will use that hard maple because you have set it aside, it is nice and seasoned, maple is resistant to denting, at least tangentially to the growth axis, it is easily obtainable and probably where you are maple is commonly used for this purpose.

Here in this area maple is not a common choice for a mallet, beech is, for many of the same reasons.

The mallet I have been using for some years now is a piece of ash stem with a branch coming off of it at a more or less 90° I have cut to form the grip. This leaves an extended amount of continuous grain and is very strong. It took some getting used to the asymmetrical weight of the thing because its form is organic and not contrived. Also, I have a nice solid mallet from hornbeam, (Carpinus betulus), I picked up from a guy in Krakow, Pl.

Some other woods good for mallets are, black elder and birch root. The wood from the root of many trees would make excellent hammers as long as they were solid and not laminated. I always try and salvage root wood if I can manage it.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/13/11 03:39 PM

A little something like this:
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/14/11 01:07 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Great responses, You are never too old to learn for sure, those are great suggestions and cover a large part of the interests of those who might be looking in.

My father really liked basswood for certain jobs because it doesn't seem to have growth rings so to speak, and will not splinnter--for mallets I don't know never tried it.

Oak is not my favorite but I do believe that for mallets it should not be straight grained but really of rough growth, growth habitat is the key here I would say.

Any one else care to add a comment



NH
Posted By: Waccabuc

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/19/11 05:25 PM

Good suggestions from Don in Holland and a good pic too. I used an ironwood mallet (via references in Eric Sloane's books) of branch and stem.It was strong & tough but it wasn't heavy enough. All ironwood I've kept for use seems to get punky and rot in 7 - 10 yrs.
I love basswood aka linden, for the nectar-loaded blossoms for the honeybees, as well as for the carveable,light, soft wood. Good for making lightweight boxes, not good for mallets
I'll look up elder for Don's elder root. We've got elderberries here. Alder maybe?
I'll go along w sugar maple, with a good curly grain. American elm is a top choice - really fibrous twisty grain, so difficult to split. I made 2 that have been in use for 30 yrs. One has a chunk split off one face. Think what are toughest woods to split, what don't you like to see as fat ones to have to split for the stove?
A curly pc of Amer cherry could be good too.
I think cherry will "ring" when dry & hard, more than elm, which is more "dead" and will absorb shock better.

Those leather-faced iron mallets w wood handles by Garland of Saco, Maine are hard to beat - good weight and balance and shock absorbing. Leathers are replaceable if you ever wear them out or if you leave one where your puppy can get it and chew it to mush.
Steve
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/19/11 09:05 PM

hello everyone tonight

Well once again great responses--I actually never thought about ironwood it grew abundantly here a few years ago but like other types are beginning to get scarce- a good suggestion though!!

wild apple wood was another type of wood that has a very tight grain and might be a good suggestion also.

I believe that any type that you finally go to use needs to be well dried and cured to be of good service

Thanks to you all for coming on board, I hope we have been of service to those that might be following this thread--I AM LEARNING AS WELL

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/20/11 02:56 AM

I like sugar maple for wedges, because it can take a beating without splitting or collapsing. It has great compression strength. I was splitting a hickory log, made some wedges from its branches and used them for a while, then cut down a maple sapling nearby and made some wedges. The hickory ones would last for about one drive, then they were toast. I never destroyed the maple ones. They were beaten with a steel hammer...

I tried walnut once just because I was in need of a mallet for a little bit and had some dry walnut firewood handy. not a good idea. walnut shatters. It worked for what I needed it for, but not much else (It got demoted to a can crusher)

Wild apple? ever tried hawthorn? I bet it would do the trick!

As a side note, we have been working on an old TF house, with about 3 inches under the floor between the wood and the dirt. We had to replace the joists and the sill on some spots. The sill is white oak (I think, it is very hard to tell)

The house is of generally poor quality. The joints are loose and poorly crafted. I suspect it was a hastily built setters cabin (the early settlers around me were Amish, so they build frames not log cabins. The non-Amish settlers in our area built log cabins)

To fight against rot and mold, we covered the ground with a generous helping of agricultural lime.

We also use ag lime in barns and such places with dirt floors to harden the ground. "poor man's concrete". In our horse barn the stalls all have lime underneath them to make the ground very hard (so a skid loader can clean them out easily) yet provide drainage unlike concrete. Lime is one thing people don't know about these days that is worth considering. The ground in our barns is certainly very hard and tough because of it. My Grandpa when he built the barns did not want to use concrete as he thought that it would be messier and, more importantly, be hard on the horses' legs.

What would limewashing timbers do for rot resistance? I know that in some cases in the old days wood would be whitewashed to keep it dry, I wonder how well this works? would giving exposed timbers a good lime wash help them last longer?

I have seen many times in my research the Swiss all-wood exterior timber framed houses with a whitewashed finish inside and out. Might this be part of the reason? I wonder...

Could whitewashing joints and places that might be vulnerable to moisture travel or condensation be beneficial?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/21/11 12:51 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well DL thanks for coming on board with more good choices for mallets, I had no idea about some of the suggestions, but all are good in my book!

The second part to your thread is very interesting and I would like to tell you a story that might answer some of the questions you are asking.

To begin I would like to travel back a few years--At UCV when all the Historic buildings were reconstructed,(about 1960) part of the work on each building was to reconstruct the window
sash(es). Good C select pine was used for the work and as the years rolled by about every 10 to 12 years nearly all had to be reconstructed eventho they were well taken care of and painted etc it was a yearly maintenance headache.

Now to expand on this my father about 1946 built a new barn and from the pine logs on the property, he had constructed 6 light sash for the barn at a local sash and door factory--that is now 64 years ago. These sash are still in use and going strong.

I put this question to some experts in the field, and their reply was that the use of mill run pine (heart wood) and the yearly White washing with lime and no exterior paint, lead to their longevity--the lime actually kept the rot at bay, and the bare wood could take the weathering.

I hope this information finds its way to the restoration experts manual because it sure works wonders, and I hope it answersyour questions

enjoy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/21/11 01:40 AM

Thanks for the response, certainly actual experience is more valuable than saying 'yes, I believe it works'

I know that paint can work well for a few years, but after that it can make matters worse by holding the water against the wood and not letting it evaporate. Even if it is good and fresh on the outside, if there is any separation between paint and wood (even a microscopic one) than it makes things worse rather than protecting.

With this in mind, I shall be sure and whitewash or at least lime wash my wood.

One question, was the whitewashing interior and exterior?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/22/11 02:14 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi again DL, no the whitewashing was strictly on the interior.

The sash were primed and painted in the beginning so the exterrior of the sash did start out painted, I remember helping my father in the light of a kerosine lanern puttying and installing the glass, nearly 70 years ago now.

The sash up in the hay mows though did not receive any whitewash, and were never repainted, they are still there and in pretty good shape today.

It always amazed me that in 1960 during the reconstruction of UCV,s historic stuctures, the historic architect could still find examples of original trim in the area, which at that time would have been well over 100 years of age.

Each building had its own unique trim style, and to reconstruct it faithfully a set of shaper blades had to be hand crafted to create new sections. The window muttons were a good example each alittle different in some way. The trim around the edge of the roof was another, in some cases there were 5 or 6 complete runs of trim to create the roof edges.

Another characteristic was the chimney styles, and the size and colour of the bricks or stone whatever the case might have been

Once again enjoy everyone

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/22/11 06:35 PM

One thing I guess I don't understand, how does whitewash on the interior protect from rot?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/23/11 02:31 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi DL

Well the whitewash is lime and water mixture a good disinfectant and will kill bacteria, so--lets review a bit

On the interior of a barn which has a high moisture content and in most cases the walls being not insulated will sweat.

Now remember the windows are single pane glass which in cold weather will collect frost an inch thick on cold days, then along comes a warm spell and everything is wet

This barn had no fans for about 45 years of its life and saw many of these wet cycles, but every year the interior was whitewashed early each spring

I was told by the experts, that it was due to these yearly whitewashing cycles that the funguses were not given the chance to create rot

I hope this answers your question

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/24/11 04:27 AM

So you posit that the problem of rotting out of windows originates with the interior moisture?

I am wondering about all of this because of a wall system I am working on. see here for details: http://www.tfguild.org/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=25255&page=3
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/27/11 01:48 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi DL

Just to summarize just alittle further

Remember that we are talking about a dairy barn not a house--very different situations, normally homes do not have high interior moisture content so no interior rotting would take place--these sash would look excellent on the inside, but the outside or exterior surfaces would be the one that would rot from moisture.

Even painted the esterior surfaces would be suseptible if the paint layers cracked and allowed moisture to get trapped underneath, in this case the sash would last alot longer without paint just bare wood

take the case of wood shingles, they actually never rot but wear away from the friction of the water running and dripping from row to row.

horizontal or vertical wood siding is another example better left bare, not so niceto look at but weather hardy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/27/11 02:55 AM

NH, I see what you mean. I was not thinking about the dairy barn application in contrast to a home.

Perhaps if we humans lived in stalls like cows there might be higher moisture content in our homes? But fortunately we like to discard our waste immediately.

Europeans seem to universally paint their timbers when a buildings is infilled, might this have to do more with the tendency of the interface between wood and infill to hold moisture to the wood?
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/27/11 07:11 PM

Hello,

It wasn't that long ago that people lived in open spaces adjoining the stall.

Here where I'm living, right now on these winter days, moisture collects and condenses and at times drips down the window panes and the wood becomes wet.

So the painter will overlap the glass by a millimeter giving a bridge to shed the water. Then the problem becomes the carpenter's who will make troughs and profiles and openings to guide the water outside. Maybe there are better solutions.

The inside edges of a window sash with its munitions are profiled in order to shed this water. Even the Shakers who mostly avoided superfluous profiling knew the function it served on windows. Personally I learnt about it when I built my work shop. In an effort at simplicity I left the inside window edges angular and then watched water pool there on those flat surfaces.

The joinery techniques for windows can also be specifically adapted, using draw-boarding and avoiding glue which creates a vapor barrier and using bridle joints where they can be used at the bottom corners in place of mortise and tenon will facilitate moisture exchange.

That moisture is always there and comes mostly from the people (or other sentient beings) who are in the rooms. It will migrate to the coolest surfaces which in rooms with single glazing will be the windows. This can be an advantage because otherwise those cool surfaces might just be somewhere, as the writer DL Bahler points out, like where the timbers come up against the infill or the window jam meets the brick or other inaccessible places. When these are covered with the wrong paints or sealed with a polymer the moisture accumulates, when the temperature gets right bacteria and insects get active and damage the wood which can eventually need to be fixed.

No, I don't think a limewash will solve all the problems though it has its place and I also think that certain approaches to fixing perceived problems maybe lead to their own inherent disadvantages. Could be a conceptual problem instead of false action.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/01/11 12:53 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks Don for the comments----- an engineer told me one time that it takes views from all angles to figure out the best approach to any problem------

In my latest project I had to drill holes through the sides of the Wooden Garrison Carriage for 1" bolts to pass through, these sides run at angles to one another (not parallel. These timbers were 6" in thickness and were about 36" apart.

For the sake of others looking in what kind of a proceedure would you use to ensure that the holes were straight enough so that the !" threaded rods would pass through unhindered from side to side. They also passed through a channel in a 6" timber spanner that held the sides at a proper width and could be really tight.

I have many years experience but found this quite challenging considering the tools that I have which was a 1/2" drill and a 16" ship auger.

I would like to consider the solution using the tools that i have which would probably be in line with what most people have in their arsenal

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/01/11 01:06 AM

what procedure did you use NH? sounds like a tricky one.

One possible solution is to cut a block with an angled side to match the carriage sides, so that when placed against the timbers the sides of the blocks would be parallel (I don't know how clear my description is?) These blocks could be held in place opposite each other, and would give you parallel reference faces for the purposes of marking and drilling. Then when you do drill, just go through both the block and the frame.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/03/11 12:57 AM

Hi everyone tonight;

Thanks for jumping in DL and a good starting point.

As you go for (hopefully) the right proceedure remember that you have only one try and spoiling the processed timber is not an option

DL I take it that you are suggesting going from the outside surface on one side and then progressing toward the other side, that would be a distance of 36" , do you think that you would exit where you want to or just hoping?

Remember also that the 1" threaded rod will not bend even a little bit so the hole has to be straight and true from side to side

I am not ready to share the proceedure I took yet I need some more solutions to come in first, so lets have some more input from you guys,

Thanks in advance

Have fun and learn

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/03/11 02:31 AM

My thought was to drill each side independently by carefully marking the positioning of the holes, and using the blocks to ensure the drill goes in at the proper angle
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/11 02:58 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well it doesn't look like anyone else is going to put their views forward on how they would tackle this drilling problem and as I said just using ordinary tools nothing special

How I did it was to use a slightly larger auger to allow for some error, and I drilled from the inside outward using the channel in the spanner as a guide for the drill, this seemed to work well for me.

Thanks for coming on board

enjoy and learn

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/09/11 08:42 AM

Hi Richard,

I have keenly been awaiting some answers on how this would be achieved but confess that I don't quite follow your explanation - a little sketch might help.

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/10/11 01:54 AM

hello everyone tonight

Ken I am not much good at posting sketches but with a little imagination I will try our best to clarify

The sides run at angles separated by a 6" spanner, I noted that the !" bolt will run in a channel located in the spanner.

I decided to use the channel as a guide for boring the holes through the exterior vertical timber walls

Knowing perfectly well that there could be some error I decided to use a slightly larger diameter auger, and a good thing I did because the ship augers are famous for not boring really straight, at least that is my observations from experience

The auger did wander a bit even after carefully lining up , and carefully sharpening before I used it.

I hope this helps

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/12/11 03:13 AM

Hi everyone tonight

Thanks for coming on board and those that are visiting the site

I had one last problem to overcome in shaping the various pieces for the garrison carriages, I had to put rounded axles on the ends of the fairly large timbers to accomodate the cannon wheels

The timbers were 10 by 12" white oak, and the rounded portions were 13" long 5" in diameter.

Of course I had no large lathe, just my experience and ingenuity to accomlish the task. Keep n mind that the wheels only had to slide on snuggly!

Now for the sake of those that want to learn lets hear some ways that you might take to go ahead with this problem

Have fun

Learn

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/18/11 01:38 AM

hello everyone tonight

There doesn't seem to me to be any one venturing a method to get this job done so lets go a different direction--

I am asking anyone and everyone to rate this job on a scale of 1 to 10 in degrees of difficulty

I am trying to make this a learning experience so lets get going

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/18/11 06:33 PM

I am afraid I don't quite understand the scenario, and perhaps I am not the only one? Maybe with a bit more clarification and perhaps some illustrations some of us might be more willing to hazard a guess?

thanks

DLB
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/11 01:26 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks for coming on board DL

Maybe I am naieve but I really didn't think that putting rounded axles on the ends of large timbers was too hard to comprehend, I tried to explain it as best I could sorry if I did not come across clear enough

I guess that over the years I have come to marvel at the workmanship of our forefathers, taking forgranted that they accomplished many complicated projects without the use of electricity and power tools

I Put this quiz out to test the ingenuity of this site's followers, to see what solutions to accomplish this task they would use if it was put in their hands to carry out

I have not said no power tools but just basic tools, and I might add historic tools if one has them and can use them.

So having hopefully clarified things a bit lets again try to get some methods to go ahead with this project

|Have fun learn

NH


Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/19/11 04:23 AM

I went back and looked at the picture of your carriage, now I understand

The rounded sections, I suppose, would by necessity be the same piece of wood as the square sections, correct? This creating a static axle, where only the wheels turn. At any rate, that seems like it would be the strongest way to make it to me.

I suppose my method would probably be something along the lines of This: I would first make the ends octagonal by cutting away at the corners, to lines marked in from them to create 8 similar faces. I would then repeat the process on each of the new corners making a somewhat more circular section with 16 faces. From this point, I would probably take the drawknife and shave away at it and smooth it down to round. To ensure it is truly circular and the proper diameter, I would maybe make a simple jig consisting of 2 pieces of wood held at a certain distance apart, and then use this something like calipers to check the diameter all around.

This could all be accomplished with tools as simple as chisels, drawknives, and perhaps a good carving axe. A hand saw might be handy to make good shoulders.

this is just off the top of my head how I would do it, there may be a better way but this makes sense to me.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/20/11 12:27 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi DL thanks for coming back with a good constructing scenario I am sure that many will enjoy it.

I hope that someone else now will come on board with their version or technique

My dad always said there was more than one way to do everything and through my career working with many carpenters I found this to be very true. I personally was always learning new tricks just by good observation watching other good tradesmen carry difficult jobs through to the finish.

This is much the same thing so lets have fun and learn



NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/22/11 01:01 AM

Hello everyone tonight


Well I am still waiting for someone else to come on board

Lets try and put a new twist to this construction project

Lets have fun

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 03/26/11 12:10 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well for those that are waiting here is how I accomplished this task---

1)--I cut out 5" diameter discs from 1/2" ply and
2)--I positioned these discs on the ends of the timbers
3)--I then scribed shoulder lines around the square timbers 13" from the ends
4)--placing my skilsaw on the top of the timber I dropped the blade to the depth of the top of the plywood disc
5)--I made multiple cuts approx spaced .5" starting at the end of the timber and working back to the shoulder lines
6)--after that I took my small adze and with the poll i quickly knocked away all the material
7)--I then smoothed up the surface with the adze

I repeated this on each surface and in the end what was left was a 5" square protruding from the end of the timber 13"long

8)--I then took the adze and roughly removed the corners on the protruding square
9)--I made up a half round from plywood of a 5" circle and used it as a guide to smooth up the surface using a wood rasp

10)--very quickly i ended up with a nice round axle of 5" in diameter and 13" long

Thanks for looking in

I hope that this exercise will be useful to someone at sometime in their life--just store it away

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/04/11 01:32 AM

HELLO everyone tonight

please note that I have a new Email address for those that might want to contact me---check my profile
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/07/11 07:27 AM

Hello,

A peculiar and different sort of axe just came my way. This one is intended to perform a very specific and limited function. The specialization is what makes this particular axe intresting I think. There are larger versions used for rough hewing, though the one here, about half a meter long, is used to maintain interior walls of log buildings in Finland. In that sense not really a hewing axe at all but something more like a carving axe. Actually, difficult to say how one would characterize it as these axes and their function are unique.





This last picture is looking down the belly of the heft at the heel side of the beard, if I can use a little axe jargon.
(I've got more over there on the web site for anyone interested.)
Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/07/11 04:53 PM

Don, nice axe! Certainly unique to us, though I am sure in its particular region it is not all that unusual.

I have a particular interest in 'odd' axes.

I made a revision this past week to my own hewing setup, the setup for when I am working by myself.

Previously, I had my timbers set up higher, at a height that is comfortable for cleaning up with the broadaxe, but I changed my whole method.

Typically in the past I have done all of my hewing in the woods, but with my new setup I am altering that a little bit.

I have switched to doing only the rough squaring off in the woods, hewing them about a half inch over size, and with a bit of a rhombus shape since I am not leveling out the sides yet.

This work, notching and juggling, is done with my big Austrian rough hewing axe

to work with this axe, I set the logs low to the ground. A general guideline might be putting the center of the log about 4 to 6 inches below knee height. I notch while standing on the log, and cut out the waste from beside the log.

It's then that I take the now squared off timbers up out of the woods and haul them off to my shop.

For this next step, I use my nice Breitbeil


What I do here is I set the timbers up fairly high, maybe about waste height or a little lower. I mark 2 faces at once to be cleaned up, with lines snapped on top and below and shave away at the face until it matches both lines fairly closely. Doing it this way, I don't have to worry if the timber is perfectly level when I finish it off. The Germans would use a board with a plumb bob attached to check the straightness of hewn faces. here all I need is a straightedge to line up the two snapped lines.

working this high, I have a lot more control over my axe and it is easy to keep it from breaking out the lower edge. It is also very important to work the axe in a circular motion, pulling it toward you when cutting. This means you are doing more cutting than chopping, which leaves a nicer finish and won't tear out edges.
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/17/11 04:10 PM

Hello,
A few first impressions after a go with the Finnish axe... No set-up involved here, just went at it to have a little fun.






Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 04/17/11 09:09 PM

Hi Don,

Check out :-

http://www.kfhume.freeserve.co.uk/pages/publicationspages/finland2001pages/finland2001frame.htm

where you will see a Finnish hewer with his favourite axe.

The surface finish produced by him is identical to that which you have achieved shown above.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/09/11 01:52 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks ken and others for the technical information that you have posted for everyone to enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/10/11 01:58 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Just a quick question

As I was growing up working with my father and remembering his construction comments, one that stuck in my mind for all these years I would like to share with you and maybe get some comments

His theory was that laminated carrying beams were stronger than solid ones providing that the materials were selected properly--

What do you well educated and \or well experienced builders out there think of this

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/10/11 05:02 PM

when stick framing, we use laminated beams for large spans that wont have the support of a stud wall underneath. These are made of many layers of wood pressed and glued together.

Such laminates are tremendously stronger than a solid piece of wood for a number of reasons, the chief of which is there are many layers of varying grain structure instead of one single grain structure as in a solid timber.

However, it is my personal belief that such have not as long of a lifespan as a solid timber. The glue compounds that hold it together break down over time, and I suspect that after a time of maybe 100 years they will have lost a significant amount of their strength. When building a modern stick frame, this is something of a non-issue as the frame itself will have deteriorated similarly. However, in a timber frame I would say this fact makes the use of laminates something I would avoid.

DLB
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/11/11 01:37 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks DL for your input in reference the laminated and glued beams, I have also worked with them from time to time, but I am referring to beams built up with layers of say 2 or 3 inch material--ie a 10"by12" rectangular beam made up from 5--2"by 12" planks nailed together with arddox nails or in one case I had to use hardened steel nails (cement nails), maybe someone would like to comment

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 05/22/11 01:55 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Kimboy

I don't know exactly what you are talking about but thanks for coming on board and offering help

Really I was enquiring about the load carrying characteristics of laminated beams and posts versus solid timber, pretty straight forward I think

I would be glad to have input from anyone no matter where they are from or their background

Thanks again

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/24/11 01:43 AM

Hello everyone tonight

I used a double bitted axe for many years in scoring and chopping displays, I always found it well balanced and accurate in the strikes.

I am just wondering if any of you also used or found these axes pleasing to use

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/24/11 07:02 PM

I've always been a bit nervous of them, though I haven't ever been able to come up with a logical reason why! I can't recall ever once hitting myself on accident with the pol of a large axe. Now I have done so with smaller axes and hatchets working on joinery, but never with a big one.

That said, I could certainly see some advantages to the tool, always having 2 different striking surfaces suited to different tasks.

However, I am heading somewhat in the opposite direction seeking to acquire an axe with a very narrow bit (2 to 3 inches) for notching.

Myabe, NH, with a little convincing on your part I could be persuaded to try a double bit axe some time...

It interests me the ways people use different tools and methods to accomplish the same task. I think that is a good thing, and am in no way in favor of developing any kind of 'standard' practice for hewing, joint cutting, or whatever else.

DLB
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/25/11 02:10 PM


Hey DL -

I've long used a Double-bit as one of my primary axes, an old four pound Plumb, and like you suggest above, I filed one of the edges far thinner than the other for a deeper bite, and left one factory fat for the stems that seem to be grabby and tend to get you stuck.

I use this as my scoring ax when hewing, (but juggle with a 5 lb jersey pattern) and it has over the years made some partners in two-man scoring a "bit" nervous, but have never had any mishaps. It actually makes for less bit damage when an occasional contact between the axes happens.

I bought it because it had plenty of life left, and was obviously good steel. Now I wouldn't want to hew without it, and would recommend one to anybody serious about axe-work.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/26/11 01:47 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks for coming on board with the replies and positive feed back, I also kept one edge filed and maintained for chopping with a thinner blade, a bit flatter on the cutting edge than the other one which I kept rounder for more dangerous and uncertain spots

Nh
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/29/11 03:33 PM

Hello Richard, nice to see this topic raised again, I mean the broader topic but also the double bitted axe topic. You make a good point about the particular balance of these symmetrical, straight handled axes. For me, this makes them an easier axe to use. I am using a double bitted axe that I found out in the desert once for hewing, mostly doing the juggling part, now and then for scoring and less frequently for surfacing.

Could you elaborate on the different edge grinds you are using. I am guessing that the thinner edge grind you mention gives you this elliptical or banana shaped bevel. But I mean, when do you use one and not the other, what is the effect, that sort of thing. Just interested in your experience. Thanks.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 06/30/11 12:46 AM

Hello everyone tonight


Hi Don and other looking in and showing interest in this topic, one of my favorites mext to hand hewing and creating wooden timber frames

Juggling or I refer to as "notching" in preparation for broadaxing is a pretty important function, to do it properly you need a good axe with a thin blade to get good penetration, and you need a fairly flat edge --not too rounded so that as you lay down the last set of scores approx 3 inches apart you are not penetrating unnecessarily deep into the underlying layers that make up the surface of the hewn timber.

The other blade can be more rounded, and used for clearing an area around a standing tree in preparation for felling with the two man crosscut saw--(pre chain saw era)--or chain saw--around these parts 1950's

I hope this helps explain my axe style and reasoning, besides that it is the way I was taught by my father--Ross, and his father Robert-- before him

The best of the day to you all and enjoy your time to the fullest
because time has an awful habit of speeding up after 40

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 08/26/11 01:51 AM

Well hello everyone tonight

It sure is nice to see that someone else has taken up the reigns in regard to teaching our younger generation the art of hewing--I spent a good deal of my life doing just that.

To the student---Just have an open mind about the style that is presented by your instructor and be attentive and learn the style taught without questioning--there are many different ways to do everything--that is one thing that I was taught a good many moons ago

NH
Posted By: vapo083

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 09/05/11 08:33 AM

THANK
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/03/11 12:10 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well we have had many good discussions covering many subjects on this thread, but closest to my heart is using the broadaxe styled closest to what the pioneers in this part of the world used, and the carpenters adze. You could include carving out a new offset broadaxe handle if you would like--there is nothing like a handmade handle for an old historic tool whether you are going to use it or just dislay it

I am offering a great addition to your library roster or educational centre depending on your needs--look on the "tools forum" for more details

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/16/11 12:02 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well I have a new discussion thread one that I have pondered about for some time now, not really knowing the reasoning behind the technique.
About 30 years ago I was given the task of reproducing a 3 bay english barn at Ucv.

At that time a good example became known to our Historic Group and it turned out that it had been constructed about 1800 in the area west of Iroquois Ontario along the St Lawrence River by the founding UEL's that were arriving to settle the area.

I began to document the framework taking very close attention to details that included the rectangular timbers (rather than Square) that were used in the walls, and their orientaions.,the size of the braces which also turned out to be rectangular with all hewn surfaces.

It was a feature of the braces that really threw me--their seatings both on the posts,the plates and girts did not follow the framing lines but rather sloped from their heels to the seating line.

This unusual framing detail was reproduced faithfully in the new reconstruction at UCV, creating a real challenge for my well trained staff.

I wonder if any of you have ran across this unusual framing detail

NH
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/16/11 02:55 AM

Are you referring to a diminished haunch? I will see if I can get a pic loaded to Photobucket and post back in a few minutes.
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/16/11 03:05 AM

I could not, as usual, get anywhere with photobucket. I believe what you are talking about is referred to as a diminished haunch. The Dutch barns I am working on have diminished haunches on the braces, and wherever a beam meets a post. This is a scribe rule trait. When scibing the brace to the post, you would have a standard dimension that you diminish the haunch. In the barn I'm working on now, it is about one inch. There are scribe marks down the posts that you could line up your gauge at zero at the top of the mortise, and one inch at the bottom. Hard to describe. I will try a sketch of this, but I don't know how to share it when P bucket is not cooperating.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/17/11 01:26 AM

Hi Dave:

Thanks for replying to my query

Isn't it something that you are working on a frame with that particular characteristic.

I was very interested in your reply especially now that I have the term that describes that type of detail thanks to you.

We struggled as we put our frame together to ensure that this feature was reproduced as closely as possible.

It sounds like you have the techniques worked out to create these diminished haunches my hat off to you and for sharing with everyone.

In your opinion what is the advantage of using a "diminished haunch" over braces with their ends following the seating lines.

There has to be some sort of reason, but I am at a loss to know what it is

Do you find diminished haunches hard to work with?

NH
Posted By: Dave Shepard

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/17/11 01:44 AM

I like the diminished haunches. I've been working almost exclusively with scribe rule for a while now, and when I have to work with square rule, I feel like the reductions and housings are a pain. The haunches are not a problem, it makes no difference really whether you make a shoulder parallel to the face of the timber, or at an angle. The diminished haunch gives you more bearing on the end of a brace or the bottom of a beam. Without it, you just have the tenon supporting the load, no shoulder. In square rule, the housing is parallel, and you get the same effect on the bottom as the diminished haunch.

I will have to work on getting some pics loaded up so I can show you better how the layout is done. In scribe rule of course you have to do a full layout, and the mortises would have been cut first, and the brace or beam laid over the mortise, and the shoulder would be laid out by putting a square across the top and sighting down to the layout marks on the mortise. Hard to describe in print. Scribe rule is easier when doing it the first time, but scribing in new or repaired parts takes more time, and more test fits. I have pics somewhere of a new corner post that I had to scribe into a wall assembly, then flip it up on it's side and scribe it into the gable as well. Took a bit of time and not a good place for a mistake.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/18/11 12:25 AM

Hi Dave

Thanks for the explanation, but you sort of lost me in the second paragraph.

I suppose that we are not discussing similar situations I mean that I always was using hewn material with rough side faces that required the braces to be housed a certain amount, we always precut our braces using brace measure lengths for certain length braces in most situations, but for a diminished housing it required some adjustment due to the sloping haunch, and in my books whether it is a sloping haunch or regular type of brace with a parallel face the pressure of building movement would be handled the same in both cases

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/20/11 06:53 PM

Hello,

Would this be anything like the joint in question?



Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/11 12:23 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Yes Don that is exactly like the braces that I described earlier and has been labeled as diminished haunches.

Thanks for posting

I really cannot think of a reason for forming this type of framing detail, in my opinion it is alot more work to create and for what end?

NH
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/21/11 10:51 PM

Don, is that a magical shaman from the northern hinder lands painted on the post?

NH, I don't typically use a haunch on brace work. But I do find a haunch for the housing easier to cut as Dave points out. The aspect I like is the grain is sloping the right direction. No squirrelly grain to deal with, null and void, as is possible with square housings. I call it "pat the cat", pat most cats the wrong way and they get irritated.

Well, the grain isn't sloping but the cut in relation to the grain allows you to shave nice smooth cuts.

Is this page/thread getting too long? It is always weird to load.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/22/11 12:01 AM

Hello everyone tonight

thanks for coming on board Timbeal and the comments on the point in question, and now I am going to ask another favour:

Could you or Dave explain to me your proceedure for cutting the diminished haunch angle, I suspect that you would do the braces first and then the matching angle on the post or beam, or visa versa.

When we were reconstructing the Barn at UCV we did the braces and then fitted the brace's feet to the sides of the post or beam what ever the case may be, until everything was square, it seemed to be quite a bit of extra work.

We were using 4 by 6" hewn white ash copying the size of the originals

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/22/11 07:50 AM

Hello,

Timbeal, there are so many possible responses to your speculations given the relation of the projecting brace to the shadowy figure, but I'm not even going to go there. I will state though that from now on I will not be able to go to that corner of the barn with a neutral mind-set.

Regarding the joinery, to me this is a completely standard, logical and even visually pleasing joint in its entirety. And as the question by Richard was a pointed one, I'll just add for now that in the way I have learned to cut it, all the lay-out is done prior to any cuts being made.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/22/11 09:47 AM

Don, truly at first I thought it was a picture of the famous amanita mushroom collector, but after closer speculation it reminded me of something I had seen in my grandfathers shed, the place where he cleaned his paint brushed.

Richard, the joint can be cut very easily via square rule, one solution. No mystery, with the exception of Dons picture.
Posted By: Will Truax

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/23/11 12:10 AM


NH - I'm a bit puzzled as to how these represent extra work, no harder to layout and particularly easy to cut with hand tools, the bulk of the waste removable with a small side ax.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 10/23/11 01:39 AM

Good evening everyone

Well thanks for all the varying explanations, I guess that our experiences probably are a result of never having came across or seen a diminished haunch that is until I examined the barn we reproduced, and then had to reproduce it.

From what I can make out there seems to be some fitting that would need to be done at some point during the fitting up of the frame.

I really was wondering if we were following the only proceedure as I explained above or if one could prefabricate the braces ahead of time, like one can the regular cut braces that follow the framing lines

I must say that I am a bit puzzled yet as far as why one would use a diminished haunch

In my opinion the regular braces would allow more freedom for movement off the frame in very high winds, it seems to me that the dimished haunch's very tight fit along the haunch would place an exceptional amount of strain on the side of the brace, rather that being a compression strain only

I wonder what an engineer might think about this reasoning.

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/14/11 01:00 AM

Well Hello everyone tonight

Sorry to have been away for so long, but I was having password problems--finally got the kinks worked out thanks to Joel Mcarty, my hat goes off to you Joel, thanks for keeping at it.

I was just noticing my last post was in October, and I am sure glad to be back on board again.

I have some really good topics coming up so please come back and visit.

Well merry Christmas to everyone, or happy Holidays what ever fits--

As always

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/16/11 02:24 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well great weather here, usually -20F but tonight +50F

Years ago my dad and I would be starting out for the bush to ready the sleighing roads, and cutting ones into new territory

getting the sleigh out hitching up the team and pulling it a few miles on the gravel road to shine up the steel runners, a real must before trying to haul heavy loads through the snow

next getting out the axes, the crosscut saw, the steel wedges, the logging chains, and lastly the peevee, or canthook.

There is nothing better than entering the bush road on a coating of fresh snow, coming upon a group of white tailed deer, and a few wild turkeys, standing out black on the white snow

our agenda would be 40 cords of firewood, 100 cedar posts, and the usual 2 to 3 thousand bd feet of logs

In 1942- my father left to work on the Alaska Highway construction--The reason being to earn enough to construct a new barn. He was gone for 2 years, and when he returned my mother didn't even recognize him when he stepped off the train at the Morrisburg station. His return of course meant that he was in charge as head of the household, a role my mother had held for 2 years, what a change!

In winter of 1944 he along with my uncle cut 22 thousand Bd Ft of logs just with axes and the crosscut saw, along with the usual 40 cords of firewood and fence posts. On our property that meant that everything was removed from the bush lot that would square 4 inches

The nails were hard to get due to the war going on at that time, but we were able to get 2 kegs of square cut nails, and some aluminum nails which came out at that time

By that fall a new barn stood out against the skyline, and I stood in front of it with my duck, I was 5 years old,

I am looking over now at the same barn 70 years later, the same 6 light wood sash in place still in good order, it appears like they will last for another 40 to 50 years. I remember quite well playing in the putty as my father glazed the windows on the table of the old house, in the light of a coal oil lantern

I was just getting ready to start my schooling at SS#10 a one room school up the road that taught all 8 grades in the open room.


Well I hope you enjoy a little look back in time, this seems to be a time for remembrances of years and christmas's gone by

Does anyone like to add their touch I SURE would like to hear your story

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/16/11 09:47 PM

Well hello everyone tonight

Continuing with my remenicents above, I had the opportunity in life to experience and live the hardtimes first hand, in doing so though I learned and was taught some of the basic requirements to survive without much--one thing that we had though was a close family relationship, we pulled together to get through the seemingly endless cold nights, cut off from the outside world for weeks at a time

Hewing timber for a new addition ( a woodshed) took place during these days, I remember going with my dad and picking out the straightest logs, and then watching with wonder as he seemingly worked slowly and methodically with what seemed to me to be a very large axe to square up the framing timbers

These remembrances came back to me as my life unfolded and I had the opportunity to show those that wanted to learn the old craft, as I knew it,--a great feeling--

Father liked to reminise about the days gone by, and some of the old bush stories really got my attention, like the one he told about the horse they had that drew out the logs without any supervision, "just hitched him up and let him go, he loved it" . Hewing railway ties for the railroad construction was another story of course going back another generation to my grandfather's time

These oldtimers were real men--lived for the winter and bush work--and for their horses--loved them with a passion--

Well got to go

hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: daiku

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/17/11 03:00 PM

Great stories, Richard. Thanks for sharing.
Posted By: Thane O'Dell

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/17/11 05:51 PM

More stories Please! Love them.
Did your father tell you stories about his time working in Alaska?

Thane
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/17/11 08:47 PM

Hello everryone tonight

Hi Daiku, and Thane thanks for stopping in to this old pelters niIch

Well Thane thanks for asking--by all means he sure did,I knew the names of most of the stations and sites along the Alaska Highway, like Dawson City, Fort St John, Dawson Creek, Carcross, The Liard |Hot springs,--many stories of black bears, living in tents at -50F, the perma frost problems the list went on and of course really held my attention at 6 years old.

I had the opportunity of travelling the full length of the Highway when I retired, what an amazing experience to see the places he had been, and to see the spectacular landscape

Hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/18/11 03:37 PM

I have one story I could share with you all.

Back in the early 80's I was hauling logs to a local sawmill for a friend. He introduced me to the sawyer.
And this sawyer had many years of experience cutting logs to lumber and harvesting trees to make logs.

While we were waiting for the heater to warm up the hydraulic tank so we could run the mill during the winter time when it was fairly cold at the mill, wed sit in the tool room around the wood stove and wait. During these times Id ask him to tell me a story.

He would tell about getting his truck stuck in the mud and how he and his brother would pull it out.

Hed talk about driving his truck to Boston to deliver three by planks for the forms for building Logan Airport before highway Route 95 was built.

But most of all, I liked the stories hed tell about harvesting logs before chain saws and using heavy equipment that had hydraulics.

One story that is my favorite to tell is when I asked him to describe to me step by step how they did it.

He said that theyd go to the woodlot and pick out the tree that they wanted to fell. They didnt have a chain saw so they would chop with an axe the felling wedge area. This would allow the tree the space it needs to fall off the stump.

To make the back cuts; theyd use a two-man cross cut saw.

Lining up theyd saw the back cut and put in wedges to hold the tree from sitting back down on their saw.

Once the hinge wood was reached, they pound in the wedges and the tree would fall over.

These were eastern white pine trees.

I asked: ok, so now its on the ground, what did you do next?

He said theyd limb it out. That is chop off all the limbs until they reached the top of the tree to an area where the trunk was about 8" in diameter. Most of these limbs would be dead branches and that they would pop off with a single blow with a sharp axe. Now they didnt use a regular axe, but they used a double bladed axe.

I have heard that some people sharpen their double bladed axe heads differently. That is one cutting edge is sharpened for one use and the other is sharpened differently for another use. Im not sure if his was this way or not.

He mentioned that with the right sharpening and a good swing you could chop off one of these dead branches with a single blow. And then follow through just like a golfer would do. But instead of ending at the top of the back swing; youd then continue to swing down to the next neighboring branch. And that you would kind of rock your body left and right; as well as side step to advance up the log from the stump to the tip.

After he described this to me, I went to my tool shed and found one of my fathers double bladed axes and sharpened it up. During one of our regular harvesting jobs I decided Id give it a try.
And I laid down a nice big white pine and then I limbed it out using a double bladed axe using the double chop method. And within a few minutes I was swinging and side stepping my way down the log chopping off all the dead branches. Most of them with a single blow of the axe. It was fast and it did work. I was very proud of myself for learning the old way of doing things.

Chopping off a green live branch was a different story. As they dont usually chop off with a single blow, depending on the size.

I said: ok, so now you have it all limbed out what did you do next.

He said that theyd then site it to see where the bends in the tree were so that they could figure on cutting the straightest logs. They would site it from stump end known as the butt to the top. Then theyd site it from the top to the butt. While walking back and forth theyd pick up a small chip or branch piece and place it on top of the log where they think theyd like to make the cut to make the logs. Kind of like a marker. Theyd move them as they view the log and see where theyd be best for making the most out of the tree.

Back then they didnt use a loggers tape like we have today. Theyd layout the lengths of the logs using a layout stick and a hatchet to mark the spots. A layout stick was a small round branch 4' long. Just small enough so you could hold it in your left hand and light enough to carry easily. The stick would have a ring carved into it at the middle, 2' mark. The ends would both have a ring carved into them 4" from the end. That was so that if they wanted a ten-foot log youd layout two sticks and a half. The four-inch ring was the added trim that every log will have in order to have the extra required by most mills.

So starting at the butt end, youd lay the stick onto the log and chop a small cut at the end of the stick. Just one wack to create a line. Then move up the log and place the end of the stick at this line and make the next line. Move over four inches and make a cut through mark. A cut through mark would be made by making two wacks removing a small piece of bark and exposing the white sapwood against the dark bark, which was very easy to see.

I used the stick to layout logs for many years until we were taught by forester how much wood we were actually wasting using this method. Once logger tapes were used then the stick was retired.

Ok I said, now youve got it marked where youre going to cut it to lengths. How do you cut it to length without a chain saw?

He said that they used the two man cross cut saw again.

Ok, well. I could see that.

But, I asked: when cutting down through a log, and the log is held up at each end the saw kerf would close on the saw blade. Using a chain saw, when we see this wed stop cutting down, and reach the bar under and cut up with the top of the bar. How do you do that with a two man cross-cut saw? You cant cut up the handles would be in the dirt and too long to allow you so pull it back and forth?

He said that I was right that they couldnt saw up. What they had were small, sometimes wooden, wedges in one pocket and a small hammer in the other pants pocket and that theyd saw down from the top on their mark and if the log started to close up on their blade that they insert the wedge and pound it in to hold the kerf open so that they could saw down through and not get their two man cross cut saw stuck in the log.

Ok, so now youve got the log sawn into two pieces and the log dropped a bit when it was cut through and released. This dropping may have shifted the log and you cant get your saw out because it has the handles on each end. How do you get your saw out? I asked.

He said that most two man cross cut saws have one handle on one end held on with a bolt and a wing nut. They would turn out the wing nut, slide the bolt(s) out and take the handle off. Then the thin blade could be pulled through the logs and released to cut again.

So when youre in one of those restaurants that have old long two man cross-cut saws hanging on the wall, take a look at the handles. Ill bet one of them has a wing nut on the bolt.
I have seen some, some do not, so I dont know if the wing nut is on the back side against the wall or whether these werent used in the woods.

Well that my favorite sitting around the wood stove story.

Jim Rogers
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/19/11 02:37 AM

Well hello everyone tonight

Thanks Jim for sharing, and a look back in time, I could follow you through each step, those old stories are sure wonderful reminders of the days gone by

Large pines like the ones you are referring to usually required a soft landing to keep them from damage, we would clear a felling spot and leave the brush to cushion the fall, I expect you did the same thing

I expect there are some that wonder how they handled these large logs without hydraulics, well the old timers were pretty well versed in this category, around here the logs would be skidded to a loading area, and then rolled up on the sleighs one at a time, using long chains and one horse as motive power, it worked really well, and one could build up really large loads quickly, and I might add cheaply--most everything we did cost very little.

Maybe you had some other loading techniques that you might share

The double bitted axe you referred to was also used by my father, he kept one bit thinner and sharper for chopping, and one for brushing and using where there might be stones hiding in the snow

Thanks again for coming on board keep you stories coming

In the spring of 1945 (before the snow went) I went with my father and my uncle to the local saw mill as they drew the logs there to be sawn, the saw mill was powered by a steam engine, which ran on slab wood from the logs, I can remember going in the engine house to get warm, and listen and watch the steam engine driving the large circular saw, what great power.

As I grew older I realized how important it was for the circular blade to be held at a constant speed to keep it from wandering in the cut, the blades were hammered to cut straight at a certain RPM.

Steam engines are like diesel motors, they are driven by a sliding valve that admitted steam at each end of the power stroke
I helped install a 45 hp steam engine at UCV that can drive the Grist mill there, taking over from the 45 hp water turbine for part of the time to conserve water.

The steam engine worked with 125 lbs of live steam it certainly was not a toy, and could be quite dangerous. We found that out in 1987 about 3 years after the Grist mill was opened, a very large thunder storm knocked out the water main to the whole village, and in turn it stopped our ability to feed water into the boiler as it worked, if the water level had dropped too much it could have blown with disasterous effects.

It was from this scare that we installed a back up 200 gal water tank that would feed water to the injection pump by gravity, this would give us enough time to pull the fire and lower the heat to the boiler.

Steam power is wonderful -powerful- and quiet no sound
That also goes for the water turbine--powerful and quiet also.

Thanks again for coming in Jim

hope you all enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/19/11 12:13 PM

Hello,

Richard, In that old mill did you use lard as a lubrication? That's something always there in the operating windmills around here, a slab of pork fat hanging from the ceiling to wipe over the wooden gearing to reduce wear on the cogs and teeth.
It comes to mind when reading your story now only because we killed the pig this weekend and with all the meat set up to cure and packed in the freezer I'm busy cutting up fat and rendering it for lard, the less pure part of which I'll use as a lubricant and some of which will be hung and dried in slabs.
Oh yeah, our wood boiler for warming the house is out of use right now until the pipes which feed the safety mechanism to cool things down in the event they overheat are repaired.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/20/11 01:55 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Don welcome on board, and thanks for sharing and the question

Well I am going to be quite frank, we did cheat a little, we did use a modern grease for lubrication especially in places where prying eyes were not allowed--one of the reasonings being that the historic equipment was very expensive to repair so we used a top quality lubricant to allay wear, thereby extending out the intervals between forced repairs--

We were quite aware that in the 1860's modern lubricants hadnot arrived on the scene in any great quantity at first only in industrial centres like Massachusetts, Chicago, Pittsburg, and New York and the predominant lubricant in the frontier regions was beef tallow and lard at that time.

This was a common question by visitors --"what did they use for lubrication then". We of course said lard and tallow which was highly regarded and rendered down from the slaughter of animals for human consumption

Also Goose grease was used as a rub on for colds,lard was mixed with many things for many purposes also

I am quite interested in the mentioning of the boiler heating system you use--it brings to mind the one we installed at UCV to heat water for the woolen mill

It was widely used in England, I will try and describe it for everyone--The boiler in an upright low pressure vertical tube boiler, connected to pipes that lead to the attic space about 20 feet above the boiler--in the attic is a heat exhanger just another closed tank full of water with tubes inside for the steam to pass through

The way it worked is unique--the boiler is low pressure--7lbs sq in-- and saftied at that pressure--as the water boils it of course produces steam which rises up the vertical pipe to the tank in the attic--there it heats the water and cools back to condensate,--running under gravity back down another pipe to the boiler--the 20 foot height gives it enough pressure to inject itself back into the boiler so it just keeps circulating--if it happens to overheat the safties blow to relieve the pressure.

This system is closed and only needs a periodic injection of some water from an ordinary water source--it works like a dream--it was urprising how much hot water one can get from an armful of wood

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/21/11 01:33 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Today the cold has reappeared with vengeance around here, a time for things to slow down, a time for remembering, but as always a time to heat up the shop and make a few hand carved handles for a couple of orders that have come to my attention through that wonderful electronic medium--email--thanks to it we all can have these wonderful nightly conversations and exchange stories like those above.

I will be using black walnut blanks for these 3" offset broadaxe handles. You maybe noticed the tree in my "Broadaxe handle carving" DVD, it has given up many twisted limbs which contain the natural bent fibres for the handles above

Another lad from Utah wondered if I could carve out a "Casselman" style chopping axe handle for his early axe head that he intends on using for demonstrations out there next spring, so you can see I am going to have a fun winter ahead

Carving out handles was a winter pastime by the old wood stove, alittle each night--except saturday night--that was our weekly trip to town to purchase the supplies that we needed, provided we weren't snowed in which happened often back then

Maybe some of you can add a story or two

Well got to go

hope you enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/21/11 08:35 AM

Hello,

From your postings, Richard, it's clear to see that your work was really bound up in a good way with the different times and conditions of the year, something, for the most part, that technology has now done away with. Another indication that we are all just misplaced souls here on a strange planet.
I have seen descriptions of the wood generated, steam heating systems you write of up there and think that it is in many ways an ingenious way of heating though it would take a good deal of expertise to install right. My heating system is by no means so ingenious but relies on electricity and pumps, (a great drawback in my opinion), to get the warmth distributed from the source out there in the barn, throughout the house. The furnace heating the water directly until it reaches a temperature of 60C when pump no.1 switches on circulating water between furnace and accumulation tank standing right there next to it. Once the 1,500 liter tank is up to sufficient temperature the thermostat inside the house can be set and pump no.2 will switch on sending water circulating throughout the radiator system and back to the accumulation tank to be reheated by more fire. The furnace itself is connected to the water mains as a source of cooling in case it gets overheated. At just under boiling a thermostat opens the valve and fresh cold water is let in to cool it all down. By clicking here you can see how it's all set up.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff


Description: heating source
Attached File
P1030169.JPG  (482 downloads)
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/21/11 08:57 PM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi again Don for coming on board, sure was a nice posting for all to see and learn--your heating system is just great, was it a patented setup or custom built?

Either way it is great especially if you have your own wood supply. The only draw back to wood is that it requires a constant presence to add fuel once in a while. I suspect though that you do lose some heat through the flue.

I also burn wood in a (so called)-- high efficiency wood stove (pacific energy), it takes burning one step beyond the cheaper models by heating the incoming combustible air before it reaches the burn chamber, thereby the fuel burns at a higher temperature, and keeps the emissions down in the outgoing smoke flue. There is quite a bit of heat escaping though and as most of us know the chimneys have to be a certain temperature or problems begin to develop, like freezing up on real cold nights from the liquid creosote condensed on the interior surface, or no draft, it seems to be a no win situation, but one can try and keep as much heat from escaping as possible

It also sounds like you are really into living the right kind of life, but as we all know it is not for everyone, many, many like the city life, but for me and especially since the great ice storm a few years back, that knocked out the power lines for a great large area of Ontario, give me a good wood stove and at that time quite a few hunkered down in our wood heated home. I was fortunate enough to have had a generator at that time and I travelled around starting up peoples furnaces to give them some heat--it was unreal many were just sitting there wrapped up in blankets not knowing what to do.

Knowing how to keep warm, plant a garden, slaughter an animal for meat, dig a hole in the ground for water, burn candles the list goes on--kids should be taught this as part of regular schooling in my book--it might save their lives in the years ahead.

Well everyone got to go

MERRY CHRISTMAS

enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/22/11 01:52 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Had quite a day today, and a strange one indeed, I volunteered to help my wife finish up wrapping gifts, and I got to wrap a rather large one out in the garage

Well she handed me 3 partial rolls from a box of many partial rolls, and to my surprise the first roll had only a small piece which I laid aside, I unrolled the second roll and it covered exactly both ends and one side, the fourth one had just exactly enough to do the other side, while the small piece covered exactly the top---this is the first gift I ever wrapped that did not reqire even a little trim--now isn't that wierd or what!

Maybe you all might have some similar strange happenings that you might like to share with everyone, I sure would like to hear them

As I said above this is the time for story telling

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/22/11 08:56 AM

Hi Richard,

A few years ago my son visted Len Brackett in California. Before leaving Len gave him a small offcut of incencse cedar typical of what he uses in making his Japaense style frames. When my son eventually arrived back home he gave me the planed all round offcut which after much sampling of it's beautifully fragrant arome I placed upon a window sill in the workshop alongside a piece of Western Red cedar. I noticed that the cross sections of both samples were absolutely identical being approx 4" x 4" x 9" and then stood them on end to compare length which was also absolutely identical. I often wonder about the statistical chances of such an occurance ?

Have a nice Christmas and New Year and please post another excellent story on Christmas eve that I can open and read on Christmas day whilst waiting for the turkey to arrive !

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/22/11 06:26 PM

This topic of wood heating sparks my interest.
I am convinced that wood heating could be the best method available to us. The only problem is that we don't tend to apply the same principles of efficiency toward wood heat that we do toward more expensive sources of energy like gas, electricity, or oil. Although that seems to be on the change.
And then there is the problem that you have to keep adding wood to your wood burner...
But you know what, the solution to both of these problems was, at least in part, found hundreds of years ago. I suggest you all look into masonry wood ovens, particularly the south-germanic variation of the Kacheloffen. The principle here is that you have a masonry firebox which can withstand tremendous heat -as wood burns, it releases a bunch of volatile compounds as smoke -these include tars, methane, hydrogen, and CO. In a steel firebox, these will go up in smoke (quite literally!). However, in a masonry oven you can get the fire hot enough that these compounds will also ignite. This means your wood is burned much much more efficiently. The key is to have a fire over I believe it is 1400 degrees F. This heat would destroy the integrity of steel.

Then the oven is built in such a way that the fire's heat is absorbed and slowly released into the room. You can have 1 or 2 hot fires in a day, no need for a constant burn. The outside surface of such a stove is generally only warm to the touch, with temperatures not above 130 degrees. It is common in the south for benches to be built on the side of these and used for tables in the winter time.
And last, the exhaust snakes around through a maze of masonry, where almost all of its heat is absorbed to be diffused into the house. The exhaust out of the chimney is only slightly warm, consisting mostly of condensed steam.
These factors put together make these things tremendously efficient and incredibly safe. The only way one could start a house fire off of one of these is out of sheer stupidity (the firebox is completely enclosed and sealed)

I like to live a life where I know I can feed and shelter myself if I have to. I prefer to use methods that don't require this ridiculous infrastructure to use. I look at our country right now, and realize that this luxury we have been afforded can't last much longer. That's the number one reason why here lately I have spent all of my money acquiring a diverse collection of hand tools. My table saw hardly gets used any more.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/22/11 08:29 PM

Hi ken and DL

Thanks for coming on board with both those threads--Ken --I know how you feel, you just stand there and wonder, I believe that things do happen in life from time to time that are unexplainable or at least hard to explain--I was demonstrating hewing back a few moons ago and a older lady came up to me and just kept staring not saying nothing, so I stopped work and asked her if she needed to ask me a question--she replied in amazment that I looked exactly like her son--and she said I mean exactly!--she continued to stare as she walked away--it sure gave me the shivers--they say everyone has a double in the world, I must have been his double.

DL--How right you are--they have improved wood burning stoves but stopped short of perfecting the perfect model--I am sure that could easily be done in this world--When you talk about your masonary stove I think back to the large bake oven at UCV that holds 100 loaves of bread--it is so easily heated with a couple of armfuls of cedar, and can then bake easily the many trays of bread,--as you say the heat is absorbed by the interior lining of soft masonary bricks, which after firing release the heat gently to do the baking.--This bee hive shaped oven is about 24" in thickness, the interior layers of brick are covered with sand to retain the heat that is eventually released.

I had the good fortune to be in charge of the restoration of this oven to replace the brick lining which at that time was about 30 years old. The historic mason I had working for me was from Belgium--Fred Arens-- a nicer man you would not meet, and on top of that he was a top notch tradesman--what a treat to watch him lay up the curved surface of the oven's ceiling, and place the key brick at the top, He also installed the curved arches of the mill races entrances and exits, at the grist mill during the mill's reconstruction in 1984

Well thanks for coming on board

I hope all enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/24/11 01:53 AM

Well hello everyone tonight

Just for a clarification to my note above on the reconstruction of the Bake oven--We used a light wood frame that supported the bricks in the curved ceiling of the oven, it was on this that Fred laid the bricks around and around until he reached the centre point of the curved ceiling, it was at this point that he inserted the key shaped brick, that would keep the ceiling from collapsing once the wood frame was removed.

We just started a fire to consume the wood frame after all thelayers of bricks were all laid, if my mind serves me well I believe that there was 6 layers of brick all together, and then about 1.5 cu yds of sand on top to insulate it well

We tried to burn it out slowly to not over heat the brick by closing and choking the cast iron entrance door leading into the oven's interior restricting the admission of combustible air

Fred said that in Belgium where he was from another system was to use wet sand and shape the curvature of the oven's ceiling and then scoop the sand out afterwards

anyway got to go

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/24/11 09:30 AM

Hi Richard,

In England brick bread ovens formed an integral part or were added onto the massive inglenook fireplaces that became popular in houses after the demise of the open hall. The oven door opening was positioned inside the large fireplace. The oven did not have its own flue so instead once the fire was lit all the smoke and flames exited through the loading door into the inglenook fireplace then up the main chimney flue. Once the oven had been burned and heated up to a temperature sufficient for baking then the ashes were quickly raked out into the fireplace below the oven without fear of setting anything alight or causing smoke in the room. The one difference that I note is that many of these English ovens did not have a metal door since metal is a very good heat conductor which would have quickly cooled the oven, instead they had a simple wooden door that was lifted into place to block the oven during the baking process. Understandably very few of these old wooden shutter type doors have survived.

I have pictures of this type of oven if only I could figure out how to post them. I note that some of the free picture posting website are now arramged such that it's no longer possible to create a single picture URL and instead now feature a picture show folder. How do we overcome this problem ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/24/11 08:00 PM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks for coming in on this thread Ken--that is very interesting --I can't say that enything like this has shown up here in any of my researching, the closest thing that we have is a fire place and small oven combination, that has a flue for the ashes running down to the fireplace after heating. The oven was off to the side and above the level of the main fireplace's floor, but was an integral part of the masonary construction of the large fire place itself. The opening for the oven was on the same face of the wall as the fireplace.

In the Louck's house at UCV the summer kitchen had an early wood stove that stood right behind the exterior back wall of the fireplace and the smoke pipe feed into the main chimney flue

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/27/11 08:15 PM

Well hello everyone tonight

Here we are coasting to a new year, in places on the globe that I am sure means new hope--they sure need it from what I can see and hear

The world seems so small now with modern communications--new technology travelled so slowly back 150 to 200 years ago, new ideas of construction took generations to catch on and then it sometimes relied on the spead of new hardware ideas, and the means of production.


chainsaws came out around here in the late fifties and sixties, right when the burning of wood was winding down, I am surprised that trains have survived like they have, but I expect their demise is just around the corner

anyway Happy New year to all I sincerely hope that better things are in store for all you guys in the timberframe and log home building industry--you have came through some difficult times
And to everyone else I hope that the economy straightens up

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/27/11 09:52 PM

In the land of my people, folks were rather poor for a very long time. They did not have many resources in their mountains, and so they had to work very hard to live. For centuries their lands were cut off from the outside world due to their geography. So these people were frugal -and also skeptical of advancement and foreign innovations. Their lack of money meant that they did not take part in the industrialization of Europe. Instead they watched with great skepticism as the machine slowly devoured the cultures of their neighbors.
In our homeland, change always happens very very slowly, still today like it was n other places 150 years or more ago. New ideas of construction, for example, never come because they have no reason to think they might be better than their old ways -they have been building houses in a very similar way for 700 years.
After the World Wars, our homeland for the first time enjoyed a status of wealth (which it has never since lost, today having the strongest economy in the world) But even though now they could afford the luxuries and machines that make life so much easier, they for the most part to this day choose not to. They saw what it did to the rest of the Western world...
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/28/11 04:17 PM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks DL for coming on board with some of your thoughts, memories and reminders of the past and the time leading up to the present--I often sit and think if we are in fact any better off than we were--well I can say with confidence we probably are to a certain degree, but I also believe that even with modern technology we are putting in just as many hours now for a living as we were when I was a child maybe more--I really believe more

I was talking to a lad yesterday that I hadn't seen for maybe 15 years, and during the course of the conversation he said that in order to follow his line of work he had to be away from his family for up to 2 months at a time--the reason being I guess the economy's weakness and slowing down in areas and speeding up in others a real roller coaster ride

Mother and dad lived through the depression of the thirtees, which lasted up till the time of the war in 1939, it seems unrealistic that it took a war and the lose of many lives to bring back the economies of many parts of the world

Wars usually though speed up technology's slow grind forward, and also here in Canada we seen an influx of new canadians of many nationalities--I as a teenager watched with awe as these new industrious immigrants turned the slowly dissapearing farm cummunities into thriving business ventures seemingly in about 10 years

It takes good vision by the politicians to put in place the seeds that develop a country as a whole, I know that around this area the development of the St Lawrence seaway in the late fifties created employment, opportunity, hydro generation, it was unbelievable the work that went on for about 3 years, it did though for better or worse bring up the wage level, good for some and not for others--it goes on today!--where does it end

Do any of you like to add to this line of thought--I know it is not timberframing but as Lowel Green used to say this week anything goes--some of these things need to be discussed for sure

enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/29/11 04:03 PM

hello everyone tonight

well -20C last night-- here we go--winter here we come--

I was thinking back last night to a time just a while ago it seems but in reality a quite a while ago--watching for the horse and sleigh as they plowed through the drifts of snow, now getting packed down as the neighbours also moving about were trying to get supplies that they needed, but probably could do without if a major storm swept through--you know I remember the storms which seemed fierce then, the howling of the wind, these storms were referred to as blizzards--you would actually get tired of listening to the mournful sound, and the shaking of the old house.

I can remember quite well getting up in the pitch blackness and with the parka pulled tightly around start towards the barn. One time in particular after an exceedingly long "blow" the drifts were piled high--I ran right into one in the dark higher than my head--what a time getting through!

Eventually reaching the barn door, you opened it and the heat in there created huge clouds of steam, but what a welcome reliefto close the door--it was like another world--so hot in there, and so cold out side

As your eyes focused all heads were turned in your direction, waiting for food, water, cleaning, and milking if any were still inclined--in those days January and February were months that not much milking was done, just enough for the table and cooking

After a while the snow on your clothes melted and it began to feel uncomfortable, but when you went outside your pantlegs froze almost immediately, and became like metal pipes around your legs

As a youngster then I helped my father as much as I could, but one job was usually left up to me bringing in the daily firewood supply, and filling up the wood box, which was a never ending job --two stoves--one for cooking, and a large box stove that you could drop in large chunks of elm, one on top of the other--pieces that had resisted splitting, and so were left for this stove.

The old car was parked for the winter not to move a wheel for many months--the snow was 3 feet high right outside the doors, with no way to move it then.

Well I have to go

hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 12/31/11 06:00 PM

hello everyone tonight

well this is it the last of 2010 coming up

Thanks everyone for stopping by over the last year, I hope that you enjoyed your visit and maybe learned a little about the common everyday life as it used to be,

To those of you that joined in with personal experiences and added to the threads--a heart felt thanks

May God give me the strength and good health to be here next year

Happy New year to everyone

NH
Posted By: Jim Rogers

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/01/12 12:41 AM

Happy New Year to you NH.....
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/05/12 02:10 AM

Hello everyone tonight

well back to topics that deal with historic work of many types

I am putting the finishing touches on my 2 broadaxe handles that I had to make, and will then start a project really close to my heart

I have for a number of years planned to reproduce the family handsleigh--it is quite a story going back 30+ years--

As a young lad I remember quite well the handsleigh that my Grandfather made, and was used right up until my uncle sold the family farm I believe around 1948

I wanted to purchase it the day of the sale but arrived too late another person had bought it and would not consider selling it to me, so I just waited around--unfortunately I have now only the metal parts to begin this task, but feel fortunate that I have them.

The runners look good yet--good sleigh steel I am sure, because they show only minimal wear for all those years

For all good purposes I am going to name the sleigh the "Casselman Hand Sleigh".

I did some preliminary measuring today and the sleigh steel is 4'2" in length and 1.25 in width, the rounded end that comes up over the front, is a separate piece and is nicely shaped to fit over the main runner itself, and bolted at the joint

One of my next problems will be to try and obtain naturally bowed oak pieces to construct the runners out of--that means a trip to the bushlot-- a fun trip--

Well I will be back--if anyone would like to comment on handsleighs in general or post some pictures for everyone to see
that would be nice

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Gumphri

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/05/12 11:24 AM

My grandfather had a horse drawn 2 person cutter that my great grandfather used to use to take cream back to town on and get all the neighbors mail with. Back in high school I had the oportunity to restore it in 4-H/woodworking class. When I was working on it there was an old carpenter that was leading 4-H and he discribed that same process for finding runners. Sounds like a fun project.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/05/12 06:55 PM

Hi Richard,

Can you please advise whether cruck blades should be positioned banana ends up or down for hewing ?

Should this make any difference to the finished article ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/06/12 01:28 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Gumphri, and Ken

Thanks for coming in with your experiences Gumphri, I think that you are talking about the curved wooden parts of the runners, in the end did you have to replace the wood, and if you did how did you do it?--I know that the cabinet maker at UCV -Luciano Direnzio- would steam bend the pieces, he did many curved wood pieces like chair backs this way--it is time consuming though and you need to really plan ahead--in my department we did some specialty curved handles, one was scythe handles--these were created using green ash saplings of about the right size, boiled them in boiling water and then clamped them in an apparatus that would hold the shape until they dried, broasdaxe handles with the 3" offset can be created using a similar method.

Hi Ken:--I am glad to hear from you, I hope things over there are going well--I am very sorry, but your descriptive terms have me baffled.

I am not familiar with Cruck blades, I suspect it is the lower part of a tree but not real sure, and then without this information I cannot answer the last part----sorrree--please get back to me i am very interested in your question and will do my best to give you an answer

Enjoy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/06/12 01:48 AM

Ken, I would guess, if I understand your question right, that it would be easiest to position the ends of the curved cruck blades up when hewing. This is because that is how it would want to sit naturally. If the middle sags down, then its hundreds of pounds of weight will help to hold the whole thing in place to hew. If you'd place the middle so it arcs up, then you would be added the timbers own weight to its already annoying tendency to want to move while hewing. It seems to me it would be very hard to do it with the ends pointing down.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/06/12 01:29 PM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks DL for stepping in, I now see what Ken was referring to, and the problem with the configuration during the hewing process.

Ken could you give me an idea just how long these crucks are?, and the sizes of both ends.

It sounds like hewing a number of these for a rconstruction, repair or new project would be quite an undertaking--but be sure there is a way, just have to figure it out.

I suspect that there was a special set up for supporting them which had evolved during the 100's of years they were used, then forgotten about or discarded

I have run into just such problems especially in the historical processes of putting up timberframes, it is extremely hard to backtrack on technology,it is like learning in reverse, you are also working with a group of men who like yourself have their minds modernized

Your problem if I was given it probably would be done in this manner--with the bow down and the heavy end more or less close to the ground (supported) and the lighter end elevated coming to its natural position according to where and how the cruck is turned, I probably would then lay on a line and begin to flattend one surface--using a combination of axe work and adzes and if possible the broadaxe--having completed that side I would roll it over and after lining again would lay the cruck flat, (maybe elevating the ends, to come in line with a good working posture) and proceed with adzes and chopping axes and if possible the finishing touches of the broadaxe,--(this new angle though means that everyone is working in reverse, like right to left, which goes for example the right or left broadaxe, as well as workers who work right or left--some could work both hands)

I suspect that you are looking for a broadaxe finish, but maybe not, sometimes hewing and adzing finishes are hard to determine, especially in historic times.

It could be very possible that an adze finish would have been applied after the rough hewing, a careful examination of the old surfaces would be in order--I belive you know what I mean and what marks to look for--

I do believe that obtaining the proper angle to work on these crucks was the key, only now a little experimentation might be needed,-- a slight repositioning of the cruck during the flattening process might be required to keep this angle correct for the workers

I hope this might help you out, and thanks again for bringing this old problem to our attenion, it makes me think deeply again and reach into my bag of past experiences,

enjoy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/06/12 05:08 PM

NH,

The interesting aspect to me here is how one would get a clean finish on the inside face of the cruck's curve.

And also, I am one of those who works with both a left hand and a right hand broad axe. The terms are somewhat misleading, as a left hand axe does not require one to use his left hand to use it. It just notes where you stand in reference to the timber. In fact, I almost prefer to use a 'left hand' axe.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/06/12 05:22 PM

Hi Richard,

Both your and DLB's reply has got me thinking that maybe I have asked the wrong question and instead I should have asked for the best way to create / shape a cruck blade since this might be more easily undertaken with the blade lying "flat" on the ground.

Small cruck blades would be 16" or so diameter at the butt tapering to 12" dia or so at the top end and would probably be about one rod long (16 - 17ft). Where the blades need to rise to peak at the ridge then they might need to be up to 28 - 30ft long with varying degree of elbowing.

I came across a picture today of The Barley Mow pub at Long Wittenham. This is just down the hill from the Wittenham Clumps project that was undertaken by the TFG a few years ago alongside the Carpenters Fellowship and this photo shows the exposed cruck blades of the timber frame following a fire in the thatched roof during the 70's.

Barley Mow Pub - Long Wittenham

The Barley Mow cruck blades are made from Wytch Elm and currently I have a number of standing dead elm snags at the woodlot which have recently succumbed to Dutch Elm disease. Elm is quite a stringy wood to work having more than its fair share of both cross and wild grain.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/07/12 01:24 AM

hello everyone tonight

Ha ha Ken that is a better description and the picture sure helps

it sounds to me like the crucks are round, because you refer to their diameters top and bottom, but here again I take nothing for granted maybe you are referring to their square measurement,

I believe the biggest challenge here would be to make all the crucks's curves similar so that the whole building would be symetrical, here again I would produce a pattern out of light material that one could lay on the rough blank as he worked to check the progress of the journeyman or tradesman

It would be nice to have yet just a bit more information about the finished appearance, especially if the crucks are flat on one side, or square, or round

best of the new year

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/08/12 01:34 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Ken--our elms have all but disappeared here too, but the specie is fairly hardy, and new young trees are pushing up in fence rows, and it seems to me that some of them are resistant to the disease, because theyare inhabiting areas near where dead elms were, and seem healthy.

They were really majestic trees, we had 3 or 4 varieties around here, white elm, swamp elm, rock elm, and then there seemed to be ones that lived in the open areas, and had slightly different characteristics--really brushy, and well forget about splitting them--impossible--

You mentioned that the crucks were made from elm, in my books that is the strongest and toughest wood around, if you wanted a timber that would carry a heavy load--elm would have been your choice

At the entrance to UCV they planted a row of English Elm that seemed to do good for a few years but eventually succumed to an unusually cold winter and spring. One thing that I did notice was that they held their leaves all winter which seemed unusual, it was just like they didn't know what to do in that respect. They were quite curly in appearance and different than our native species

My dad used to say a place for everything and everyhing had its place

Our set of sleighs that we used for many years to haul out wood and logs, had oak runners, but the bunks were elm, the stakes were elm, and the reaches were rock elm, there was just no breaking them

I can remember quite well rounding the sleigh up high, and then heading for home through the gullies and ditches, over stones and large drifts, and as the sleigh twisted one way and then the other you could hear the sound of the bunks taking a beating, you would hold your breath as the sleighs tipped and dived deep into the snow, the team seemed to know what was up and they would lay into the harness, the snow flying from their shod hooves, actually they seemed to enjoy it after standing for so long in the cold waiting to hear the command from my uncle a slight tap on their flanks and we were away

When we reached the unloading area I am going to tell you, they would be well steamed up

My father when he built the barn in 1946, used all elm 3" by 6"'s for the joists, man would they bow down when the mow was loaded to capacity,

well got to go


enjoy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/08/12 02:13 AM

NH,
How, in your experience, does elm hew?

I never learned about elm. I can easily walk around our woods out here and tell you all the useful trees and what they are good for, but I don't know how to identify the elm varieties. Because we don't have them, and what few we do don't get very big before they die off. So it is not a tree that is useful to us any more. Which is sad.
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/08/12 07:47 PM

Hi Richard & DLB,

Historic rude cruck blades, purlins, ridge and tie beams are generally made from boxed heart materials and hence the dimensions quoted above are for the typical round stock needed prior to conversion to boxed heart. Cruck blades can be found with lots of waney edge and are quite variable in their profile with mixtures of different shapes (elbowed, ogee, straight, etc.) scribed together to form the cross frames. Differing cruck profiles result in cross frames that do not necessarily provide an even platform for running side purlins & ridge and this can give rise to difficulties in providing a location for wind brace foot mortices so sometimes it's necessary to add blocking pieces and / or struts as required to make the frame geometry work.

Our elms died out in a major way back in the 1970's but as you mention above left alone they will grow back from suckers springing from the rootstock (not the stool). In turn these trees have started to die back again after 25-30 years regrowth but by this time they had already put on sufficient girth and height to provide sufficient stock to hew out one good purlin from same. After examining 5-600 year old elm frame components I think that there is every reason to believe that Dutch elm disease is not a new phenomenon and that the medieval carpenters were maybe just making the best possible use of available timber stock during phases of elm die back.

I will try to remember to take a few photos of the elm growing in our woodlot.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: TIMBEAL

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/08/12 11:27 PM

Hi Ken, correct me if this is not the case. Some crucks were shaped then rip sawn into two sticks, allowing a matching pair. A question, was this ever done and instead of setting the matching pair in the same bent did they ever use them next to each other on the same side of the building, say bents 2 & 3?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/09/12 02:24 AM

well hello everyone tonight

Good conversation keep it going!

One thing that I wonder about was how far spread the growth of elm is around the globe especially in the scandinavian countries

Hewing Elm--well I can honestly say I have never hewed elm but have used lots of sawn elm lumber and small timbers, like 6 by6's and 8 by 8's--for support posts they can bear quite a load, as well as for joists

I cut down a really large elm in our bushlot it was approaching 48" in diameter--the butt timber cut out---if my memory is correct--36-- 3 by 6's 16 feet long to reinforce the hay mow floor when we began to load it with baled hay

The single butt timber was all the sleigh could handle, we rolled it on with chains, and when it dropped about 6" from the cants to the bunks the sleighs settled right down to the hard earth through the frozen snow, it took quite a pull to get the sleighs up and going, but the team seemed to enjoy the challenge

another thing I remember was when the tree hit the ground one of theside limbs was driven right into the earth through the frozen layer, and it stayed there for quite a number of years

During the seaway construction the area being flooded had to be clear cut of all trees, At Aultsville just west of Cornwall stood one of the largest trees in Eastern Ontario, it was an elm and it was 6 feet in diameter, it stood along the old canal bank. Unfortunately it had to be cut down but a slice from the tree was preserved at UCV, I used to look at it and wonder what things and events the tree had witnessed.

The growth rings dated it to well before the coming of UEL's to the area, and probably witnessed the skirmishes during the years leading up to settlement in this area--a real shame I supose, but the dutch elm disease probably would have done it in anyway

Well got to go


enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/09/12 08:20 AM

Hi Tim,

Never say never !

Please check out the picture of a very early cruck frame located near my home in North Hampshire that has gable end oak cruck blades that are rip (see) sawn down through the heart to form a book matched pair set in the same cross frame. This is very easy to determine simply by looking at the mirror image of knots and other defects as they appear opposite directly one and other.

Halved cruck blades

I am not aware of halved cruck blades being used along side each other i.e. on the same side of the timber-frame but that does not mean that this has never happened and it might well afford some benefits in terms of providing similar alignment arrangements for carrying side purlins. This could provide a very practical solution for a single bay frame.

Richard,

Your comments about the St Lawrence seaway / UCV elm is interesting. I have noted that one of the 20+ year old English elms that I felled in my own garden nearly 10 years ago has annual growth ring widths of one half to three quarters of an inch. It appears that elm can achieve these remarkable growth rates during the early years of regrowth from suckers presumably because the main root system has remained intact and is still fully functional even after Dutch elm disease has killed off the main stem. What did you observe in the early growth rates of the UCV elm ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/09/12 08:22 AM

Hello,

Elm, as we call it here, is even more common throughout Asia, widely used and highly valued in Japanese building construction as well as furniture. Some years back, down there at the Amsterdam lumber yard they were selling stacks and stacks of old doors imported from China, (no doubt some village or villages, were demolished to make way for a factory complex or hydro electricity damn), most of these were also made of Elm wood - Iep or Ulm as they call it here. I have noticed it is common in the landscapes of Central Asia and have seen it growing widely in Western China.

I think in Europe you would find it growing no further north than probably the southern halve of Sweden. Here in Holland there is a ban on transporting freshly cut Elm with the bark still on it in connection with this mould there which leads to the tree's dying. It seems this sickness is gaining strength from out of the south as the temperate zone expands along with the warming of the Earth.

There is a section of the barn here where the walls are planked with Elm wood and they show a great deal more worm damage throughout, spint and heart wood, than the pine planks next to them.

I have used Elm wood in making furniture and it is a fine and easy wood to work with hand tools in both wet and dry states so I can guess that hewing in it would pose no particular problems.

Here is some Elm wood I've had out back leaning up against a Willow drying now for two or three years. Nice thick planks.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/10/12 01:07 AM

Hello every one tonight

Hi Ken

Unfortunately I never really took notice of the thickness of the growth rings I wish I had, maybe I will have a chance at another time, if I do I will report my findings

Thanks everyone for coming on line with all your great inputs

Well today I have cut a piece of naturally bent (grown) ash that I think I will use for the handsleigh's curved runners--have to get that project on the go

Enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/14/12 01:38 AM



hello everyone tonight


Here is a good view of the inside of the attic of a lutheran church circa 1865--showing the intermediary trusses, that are 40 feet in length, and the rafter structure that is suspended on these trusses. Notice the centre wrought iron rod that drops down to hold the centre of the trusses straight

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/14/12 08:26 PM

Hi,

It reminds me of the time I spent as what they call "klokenlouder," (which is also another name for whistle blower), in the village where I lived some years back. At times during the year I would have to climb to the top of the tower and hang out the flag, (for a small cash renumeration I might add), an impressive timber construction, the tower itself, but not as impressive as the construction supporting the bell - only oak wood there my friend.
Greetings,

Don Wagstaff


Description: tower
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Description: bell
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Description: Door to the ship
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Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/15/12 02:15 AM

Hello don

thanks for coming in with that interesting thread and the photos they are great

The last one showing the door and the ladder has some good details

The hinges are of a great style--crude yet well made for sure

The door itself is interesting, but doesn't show the characteristic nailing pattern usually exhibited in a board and batten door, it would be interesting to see the other side
It does have a nice mouse hole at the lower left corner

The ladder too its styling seems unique, around here the ladders are usually made from split round poles, with round rungs, I can't say that I have ever seen one constructed exactly like that one with round poles and flat rungs mortised right through.
The rungs show quite a bit of wear, must be quite old, and is real good construction

Do you have any idea the age of the structure?

The inscription on the bell would be interesting I am sure but I can't really make it outor understand the language, can you interpret it for everyone

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/15/12 06:47 PM

Hello,

Well, to begin the tower is not original but was an effort at modernization of the kind thought necessary around 1867. The building is ancient though and dates to the 12 century with some unique masonry workmanship. Anyway to the point. That door was always one of the more interesting features for me too. In fact I had intended to look into giving it some needed attention but never got further than repairing the arched trim which had fallen down. The hinges are authentic and likely even older than the door itself and differ from hinges used in houses or farm buildings, maybe because this is a church. They are attached pretty precariously only to the trim. I believe it is what you called a board and batten door, with three battens on the opposite side. But the construction is consistent with similar doors I know of, that is tung and grooved planks nailed from the batten side through and clinched.

Of the five ladders I had to climb to get in the top of the tower this and the one under it were fairly old and similarly built and I know at least the one under here was, like you describe, from a single, split through pole. The rungs always are flat, through morticed, shaped on the under side and pegged at every rung or every other rung. Mostly they are made from North American softwood like Douglas Fir because of advantageous strength to weight ratios over long lengths.

I can't tell what is written in the bell because other than the Latin there, the rest of it is in Friesian and my Friesian is very poor. An interesting thing is though that the Nazis stole the bell from the tower during World War 2 and took it back to Germany intent on melting the brass down for bullet casings or something. Thanks to their obsession with documenting the whole plunder though the village folk were able to track down and retrieve it. Of all the clock towers around here this one does have a uniquely long and clear resonance. It is located in the village of Ee.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/16/12 01:30 AM

Hello everyone tonight

What a great response Don I thank you very much, it addresses every point that I asked for claification, and I am sure that those looking in enjoyed the response as much as I did.

I wanted to point out to everyone that it is very big difference in looking at a picture, and really look at a picture, that is one thing I learned throughout my career, it is the fences, the roads the clothing, the animals, equipment and the list goes on that makes a picture or a painting very interesting.

I remember one time I needed to prepare a very accurate display for events that we would be staging for a number of years and one of the items was sawhorses for the timberframers to use. These had to be accurate to the period and had to be reconstructed a very costly venture in today's world.

I began by looking through old photographs, and paintings that our museum had in storage and the library. After looking in many areas and just about giving up I ran across a very old painting of tradesmen at work and low and behold there was a lovely view of the sawhorses they were using.

So from that I was able to pass on details to the construction division and I had 6 reproduced that were real treasures as far as strength, durability, height, width, and most of all each one had a nice shelf on which one could use to lay tools on when not in use. After approx 20 years now they are still in use and going strong

I guess I have a real interest in saw horses when I was very young My dad built 2 sets when he was building the barn in 1946, I remember him telling me that when he was working as an apprentice to become a full fledged carpenter, one of the first tasks that he had to master was to build a proper sawhorse.

I want to stress that these weren't just the ordinary sawhorses but after completion and you stood back, you really knew that a craftsman had did the job. These horses are still kicking around but starting to show their age

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/16/12 12:15 PM

Ah yes. I truly stepped into a trap of my own making, blinded once again by ego.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/17/12 02:22 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Don

Just before we leave the conversation about the great church structure above, I expect that you probably had a peek in the attic, would it be possible for you to describe the roof's super structure, and maybe how the tower is supported, that would be nice

Are the exterior walls brick like the interior wall in the door photo?

One other item, I noticed no handle on the door, I expect for a reason maybe you might expand alittle--I am going to guess, probably only opens from one way

enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/17/12 03:06 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Here is a view of one of the naturally curved runners that I am working on for the hand sleigh

enjoy

NH


Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/17/12 09:02 AM

Hello Richard,

Nice, how you've chosen to make your runners. Is that ash wood? And is this one of the two runners or do you saw the two from the one once you've got the shape?

I answer your, what I take to be straightforward questions this time in reverse order. First of all with a picture where I have highlighted the obscure handle on the outside of the door.

The parimeter walls of the building are made up of what they call kloostermoppen which refers to a particular soft-fired brick format,(22x10.5x5.5 cm) and lime mortar fired from seashells. Probably the clay of bricks was dug and fired at or near where the church is standing. The tower is, lets say built along side and independent of the original building. The timber framing of the tower begins at the third level, the level in which the bell is contained, and stands on bricked walls more than half a meter in thickness at that point. I'm not sure how it is anchored but the joists there are massive things, around 30x30 cm I think.

Here, because of the earlier influence of the sea, the churches were build on top of man made mounds of clay so the church and the old village stands higher than the surrounding area. This is a cultural/historical characteristic of the landscape in this part of Friesland.

Details for me of the roof construction are a bit vague at this point. I recall only the spaar construction, simple rafters of round and sometimes roughly hewn poles. And it is by no means original as the walls were made higher at some later point. The impressive thing is the upside down boat, the actual covering of the chapel below. In this little film, plucked from the internet, you can see this from the underside.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/12 12:58 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks Don for all the feedback, and I guess the church secrets are now well explained--to other things--

You were asking about the sleigh runners, yes--what you see in the photo is a curved natural blank that will be split in two creating two identical runners

As I work on this project I will be posting photos that will show my progress and the early design of the sleigh

I haven't yet but I will be also showing the metal parts which are blacksmith made from times gone by

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Gumphri

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/18/12 02:46 AM

Here's a picture of the bottom part of the cutter. I didn't have to replace the runners. But, I did take everything apart, cleaned it up, and put it back together.



Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/12 01:39 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Gumphri --thanks for coming in with your photo of the cutter

I take it that it is a cutter--like the ones that are large enough to be pulled by a single horse--Am I correct?

It sounds like a fun project for sure

Was it a family cutter, or one that you acquired

Well today I had a visit from a reporter who had stumbled across my thread accidently, and was impressed with the various topics which she found very interesting. Needless to say I was very surprised

We had a great visit, mostly talking about the days gone by, timberframing, hewing timbers, the seaway construction, and most of all the interest that the thread seemed to generate

Well I have suspended shop work to cut the firewood for next year, conditions are just about right for bush work, a nice coating of snow, and cold enough to freeze up a good road into the difficult areas.

Will try and still come on in the evenings

Please feel free to keep the talk on handsleighs going, it would be nice to hear about and see examples of other sleigh's

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Gumphri

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/12 05:43 AM

Yep, it was a two person cutter, my great grandfather used to take the cream to town on it and come back with the mail.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/12 05:12 PM


Hello everyone

Well too cold for the bush today so here I am

Gumphri--I just visited your site and really liked what I saw especially the picture of all of you standing in the finished frame

The frame is interesting especially the way the upper plate is attached, and the location of the cross girts.

I always had to follow the framing techniques of the early settlers and I guess in some ways it has limited my experiences to other types of frames

It was quite interesting though because we had to use hewn material with rough surfaces, and that meant using lines and seatings, taking into account the uneven thicknessess and the twists in the timber, quite a challenge, it made the old brain work

I had good carpenters walk away because they said that they just wern't up to the mental challenges that came with working on the hewn surfaces

Anyway here is a shot of the just raised 3 bay driveshed at the Bellamy's Grist mill site at UCV, It was the culmination of 2 seasons, usually 1 year hewing the timber and 1 year framing and raising. Prior to that I spent part of a year working on securing and documenting a surviving historical, in this case a driveshed, to measure and produce a set of construction plans

In the very beginning of the project it was necessary to try and obtain a photo of the original drivehed, which in this case we were able to obtain a painting that one of the family members still had, and from studying that we were able to ascertain what the building we would be looking for wood be in appearance

This driveshed had unusually heavy timbers in it, and had a second floor for storage of barrels and other articles that was needed to run and maintain the mill.

Anyway really enjoyed your site and recommend a visit by everyone looking in

It looks like you are really dedicated to the timberframing trade keep up the good work

Where in Ontario did you work?

enjoy

NH


http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o198/Hewer/TimberFramingandStaff063.jpg[/IMG]
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/12 05:18 PM

HELLO EVERYONE

Well I guess i brought in the wrong picture but it is a good view of the timbers being dovetailled and assembled around where the base of the water turbine would be setting in the pressure box at the Asselstine Woolen Mill at UCV

These are all Oak timbers

Here hopefully is the right picture but no promises

Posted By: Gumphri

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/19/12 09:37 PM

Yep, its cold here too.

I worked an hour and a bit north of Toronto in a town called Minesing.

On that house I was helping the carpenter that exposed me to timber framing. It is his house. He likes to keep changing the top plate corner post connection. I'm sure he lies awake at night dreaming up the connections. His last frame, a garage sized shop featured the cog joint where the top plate meets. I'm not sure about the house but in garages it has always been an issue keeping tie beam and the top plate high enough for a door but low enough to not make the building height higher than the city allows.

I've often wondered how you attach the edge of the decking when the girt is a different height than the tie beam?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/20/12 01:46 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks for coming back with the explanation Gumphri but I am confused with the last question about attaching the decking which building are you referring to?

enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/21/12 01:32 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Just thought that I would reminisce abit about the Bellamy Driveshed project

When you look at the Picture I posted of the framework just raised, I am sure that you would not imagine the activity that went on in that area during the previous summer

Along the outskirts of the area we brought in the round logs cut the previous winter--we needed first the longer plates so these logs were first on the program to be hewn

2--38' pine--large enough to square 12" by 12" on the top ends
2--26' = --large enough to square 12" by 12" on the top ends
2--38' = " " 8" by 8" "
2--26' = " " 8" by 8" "

I remember the activity, the work, the sweat, and of course the interest the hewing of the long logs generated--the larger ones were upwards of 36" on the butts--there was lots of chips around for sure!

We then switched to the shorter posts and the cross girts while the framing team began the mortising and tenant work on the freshly hewn plates

The hewing of the rafters (20) was quite a challenge alone because they were tapered from 6" sq at the bottoms to 4" square at the top--being white ash they were tough for sure, and on top of that small to hold

well see you tomorrow night

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/21/12 09:09 AM

Hi Richard,

Your last point about hewing small diameter white ash is interesting. I have noted in the Bayeux tapestry that small logs were positioned leaning against a forked tree and then hewn downwards with a "T" profiled axe. I have of late been splitting cedar fence post and then flatening these up on one side using a hatchet. Without realising what I was doing I quickly mimicked the positioning of the Norman Hewers using a firewood sawhorse and this stoped "the bounce". I also found that it was easier to hew from the pith down to the outside edge to create the first rough pass flat surface i.e. removal of the high spots and then the post was flipped and this process repeated on the other side of the post pith. I then removed all the sap wood along the split edges forming an arris thereby leaving one semi round face and three flat faces. If I had needed to remove the semi round face then I would by default have created a rafter and so by process of experimentation it seems relatively easy to rediscover the old techniques for making components.

One February morning as the snow was melting on Royalston Common in Northern Massachussetts I gathered up some wind blown white ash seed and brought this home with me to see if they would germinate. They did indeed and these seeds soon turned into healthy saplings which I grew on in pots for 5 years or so before eventually planting them out in my woodland alongside their English cousins. I am hopeful that in due course and long after I am gone someone walking the woodland will hopefully chance upon these American White Ash trees and wonder ?

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/21/12 10:13 AM

Hello,

Thanks for the insight Ken. We seem to be busy with similar pursuits. This week, spliting out rails and posts from that Western Red Cedar.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/22/12 01:34 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hello to both of you for coming on board

That is very interesting Ken, and maybe it would work for the tapered rafters I am not sure but for sure it would work for shorter pieces.

Splitting out cedar fence rails is not an easy chore, especially with the cedar that we have growing now, the old rail fences were split from the large hollow red cedars that abounded in the early forests but are now long gone

I did run across large split threshing floor planks in one of the earliest barns around here it is a swing beam barn, and had floor planks that measured 36 inches across, that had been split from large pine trees, and were 20 feet in length.

It must have been quite a chore to have split them from these huge trees with what they no doubt had to work with in the 1700's

This same barn had waney roof board that were also 36 inches in width, and vertical sawn, these marks were quite noticeable, so immediately it dated the barn to the early 1800's, before circular blades came into use at least around here, even then they couldn't have sawn that large a log.

The large vertical blades that were 6.5' to 7' could easily have sawn these large logs--slowly--for sure--but steady!, theywould have been run by water power, usually a barrel wheel, not a turbine! there is quite a difference.

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/22/12 07:46 PM

Hello,

Those Romanian brothers from Carpenters of Europe are hewing pole stock right on the ground. I am guessing that this has a lot to do with this deflection problem Ken Hume has alluded to up there. Now that I think of it there is a kind of axe known in Sweden as "sparrbila" which could, in a stretch of imagination be called a double bearded axe as the one depicted on the tapestry there. A sparr in one sense is the sometimes rounded and sometimes, (partly), hewn, small diameter poles taken from the fir tree and used as rafters. These were something of a mass produced and widely exported product of the Swedish forest industry of earlier times. It would be interesting to know something of the technique used by these Swedish hewers. Was it the inclined technique or was it more like what the Romanians do, down there low on the ground?

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/22/12 08:24 PM

The German term for Rafters is Sparren.
And I believe the German technique, prior to saws, was to stand on the rafter, which was set very low to the ground or even on it, and use the long handled Breitbeil (broad axe) which has a handle as long as a felling axe or even longer. This as opposed to the short handled Breitbeil, which is the goosewing we are all familiar with.
You would chop down below your feet with this axe, sweeping along the timber to square it off.
It is actually quite easy to square off a timber with this axe without snapping any lines at all, as the motion follows very naturally in a straight line and allows you to sight yourself as you go.
And here I think that the act of standing on the timber helps keep it from bouncing

This longer-handled axe has a heavy profile similar to a goosewing, having the lower beard but not the upward sweep. The bit is around 8 inches or so, as opposed to the 12 inch or more size of a goosewing bit. Its own weight is used to do all the work, rather than a forceful swing.
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/22/12 08:57 PM

Hello,

Seems plausible. The intent not being to square up but to pair down. The only thing is, on the sparr rafters, as I will refer to them here, that I've seen the hewing marks are at a pretty steep angle which makes me think that they were cut if not up off the ground, than on an inclination. I incline toward the inclination hypotheses.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/22/12 09:14 PM

Don,

It is more than likely that things are not done the same everywhere. I am just pointing out here another method used
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/23/12 01:43 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Great conversation you guys, I was just wondering though with my feeble mind, if the poles were on the ground during the hewing process, how you protected the axe from damage?

No doubt there was a way, I would very much like to hear your take on the method used though.

I realize that sometimes it is very hard to visualize the methods that were used, although they were probably quite well known at that time.

They are still contemplating how many of the wonders of the world were accomplished with the means available then at their disposal

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/23/12 07:32 PM

Hello,

Never having done it for that very reason Richard, I can make no offer to explain. Sometimes securing a particular piece for hewing is not that straightfoward especially those smaller pieces, but, the laying on the ground total support method does seem to be the way the gentleman in this film clip is going about his business, no doubt after a lot of experience.

The coming time I'll be having a go at squaring up short lengths with the axe to pretty small dimensions for making rain gutter sections. My plan at the outset is to leave plenty of extra length over, of what would otherwise be unusable waste where the stem is kinked, for the hewing, and supporting the blank over a relatively shortened span, then easing slowly towards the dimensions of the rain gutters as I want them. So far it seems to be going good even without first scoring due to nice fresh wet wood, the minimal moisture evaporation at this time of year in this particularly wet and soggy winter, along with the axe sharpened good like it should be.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/12 01:47 AM

Hello everyone tonight


Thanks Don for the information and a link to that site I thoroughly enjoyed it--it is always nice to see someone else hewing, only then can you compare techniques, of which there are many

He is hewing close to the ground but not right on the ground from what I can make out--I may be wrong but that is the way I see it. It does look like there are some sort of timbers with their tops just above ground level supporting the log he is hewing.

I noticed that he straddled the log, and hewed against the round section, leaving the flattened section behind as he works along.

We here in this country hew along the flattened section with the handle curving out from the freshly flattened surface. It is interesting to see his technique, he has to keep his handle very high, and that means hewing more along the grain rather than down across the grain

I wonder what he would do with a log that was 36 feet long and 46" in diameter, he couldn't straddle it for sure, probably stood on top, but it would be interesting to see what technique he would use to square this log, I am sure he had one.

One thing I am sure he had to be very careful not to strike his handle on the unhewn section by his legs, especially with larger logs.

you mention in the second part of your post a reference to making gutters, I was trying to follow it along, it seems to me that you are hewing the gutter flat on the sides,bottom and top but how would the hollowing be done, we used gutter adzes and left the gutters round and flat on top, the surface that we gouged out to form the gutter

Thanks again for your interesting post

enjoy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/12 04:47 AM

When hewing with the long broad axe, I have never had any trouble with hitting the dirt even with timbers very close to the ground. My motion with this axe is usually vertical too, but I am relying on the axe's own weight combined with the mechanical advantage derived from the long handle to do all the work, and not actually swinging the axe. This means that in most cases, the wood just splits away calmly, and the axe doesn't fly through.
It is also very important not to try and remove and entire juggle as one solid piece on thicker sections, but to remove it in sections. This way the wood can easily split away and you don't have a sudden release of energy when it split off. In addition, when you are removing wood you finish your swing with a slight snap of the wrists, which gives the axe a kind of slicing motion, then when it is embedded in the wood you pry the piece of wood free with the axe. I tend to finish out the bottom of a section with slow, gentle, sweeping cuts that sometimes run more horizontal.

This long axe is single-beveled as well.
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/12 04:51 AM

It's important to not get in a hurry. Americans are impatient and want to remove wood quickly, but this will only lead to bad things. Even if you are built up enough physically that your can actually stand to swing a heavy broad axe with some force all day long, it is still not a good idea. A swung axe of this style can be very dangerous, bouncing and deflecting and surging through the wood into the ground or worse into your foot. But if you take your time and let the axe do all of the work, it is very very easy to control and actually there is very little risk even though your are bringing a heavy axe head that is 8 inches wide down from a height of perhaps 10 feet or more. The only risk here is if the user becomes suddenly very stupid.
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/24/12 03:49 PM

Hello,

Yes, so first will be to make a vertical plane of one of the edges, then hew the side opposite parallel to that one before rotating the blank 90 degrees onto one of the planes and squaring off what will be the underside of the gutter. This blank that the gutter will come from is actually a quarter section with the pith split out. In removing the pith section, it separated nicely along a single growth ring leaving a naturally concave surface and that is what I want to maintain if possible, for the gutter. This may or may not actually work and in the case that is doesn't I use first a gutter adz then smooth out the bottom with a plane. Sometimes there will also be a profile planed on the outer lower edge though not this time.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/25/12 01:13 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks Don for the clarification on the gutter, and how you are going about its manufacture it is very interesting about removing the growth ring to leave a concave depression for the rain. I do believe that is no doubt the best explanation I have ever heard dealing with that subject~!!

I wonder if any of you guys have ever heard of a gutter hidden in the edge of the roof, At UCV the Robertson house had such a gutter, created out of a full length timber, which was lined with sheet lead.

Replacing the timber was a job handed to me quite a number of moons ago now, and was in conjunction with a roof replacement, the sheet lead run up under the shingles a ways to catch any drips

The timber itself was quite large, and rested on blacksmith made drift pins that were driven into the upper plate of the house.

The timber was massive enough to create the whole cornice , and the facia and other rows of trim were applied right to it, it was impossible to tell that there was a rain gutter from the ground level.

It really was not a good form of construction because any leaks were directed to the interior of the frame,

I noticed that the lead sheets had expanded and contracted ever so slightly, and eventually cracks would appear in places. It looked to me like some caulking had been used over the years to keep it waterproof.

Enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/27/12 01:26 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Don

I was just wondering and for the sake of anyone else looking in who may also be wondering, could you please explain what your rain gutter was mounted on along the edge of the roof?

turning to another subject--- Historic Metal shingles--

A few years ago now I was involved with a roof replacement that had wooden shingles, but the slope was too low, and right where the roof met the porch it always leaked just a bit no matter what we seemed to do, so the decision was made to apply metal shingles which were historically correct for the period, the project was handed to me

It was sort of a fun project because there were a number of factors that came into play, mainly the size of the tin plate manufactured at that time, along with the type of metal, and how they were fastened, and how they were laid

I suspect Ken that you probably have run across examples in your travels, would you like to expand on this subject?

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/27/12 05:37 PM

Hi Richard,

Please check out the panoramic photo link below which will let you see some typical metal roofs commonly found on barns and other agricultural buildings here in the UK. Though not particularly scenic this type of galvanised corrugated steel roof has managed to preserve vernacular building at very low cost. The box framed farmhouse on the right is probably early 17th century.

English Tin Roofs

I have never seen metal shingles on any roofs in England though folded seem galvanised steel and copper roof coverings are becoming quite popular these days.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/27/12 09:36 PM

Hello,

I gotta keep switching up to the flat mode on this one. But anyway, That rain gutter you have depicted seems similar in form to the one here at the house though instead of being massive, the trough here is made up of individual planks and moulded lengths forming a cornice, and lined with what they call zinc. The zinc plates run up onto the roofing planks, under the insulation, battens and roof tiles and at the outside curls over the woodwork offering good protection until the zinc is punctured. It should always be free floating, that is not nailed or clamped because it does expand and contract a lot according to temperature and we never use it in lengths over 1100 cm. I have tried showing how it is put together and attatched here.
The supports for the gutters are in fact interesting and varied. My favorite and the method I used in building a workshop, (pictured in the background of the picture), once was just to extend the ceiling beams beyond the outside of the brick walls. The blokgoot or massive wooden gutters simply rested atop these and in fact were so sturdy I could, and would, walk along the gutters. I've also used iron supports newly forged and, when I could find them authentic ones. These having a long enough end to be bricked into the wall with a sort of tail dropping down and arching towards and against the wall for support

There is the one there in front and more in the dark shadow along the side of the house if you look closely and can see them. The other one, of the ones worth mentioning, is sort of in between, being short straight wooden supports usually profiled, extending into the brick just under the wall plate with the gutters usually standing freely atop. Anyway this is what I'm dealing with presently.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/28/12 01:17 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Well, well--both great responses--

Ken thanks for your photo very interesting, but the roofing is quite modern--I agree though it is a very inexpensive roof covering if that is the way one wants to go, but really I am surprised that you are not familiar with historic metal shingle roofing, we have many examples surviving here, especially in the city of "Old Quebec", I also have seen old photos and paintings with examples of metal shingles applied on the angle to the horizontal of the roof plane, on many buildings spread across Ontario, which of course was the Area of Upper Canada prior to 1867 which is the date of confederation, and the time that the present provincial structures were formed

Metal shingles in the historic sense was widespred here during the 1800's, and one of the reasons was the fire protection they afforded any building they were applied to.

Another interesting thing is that the metal plates that were used then came from the mother country England, and had special characteristics in its chemical makeup, and special sizing I suspect governed by the machinery that produced it at that time

Thanks again Ken for coming in it is always nice to hear from you


Don--

Thanks also for you photo and the comment on rain gutters and what I found quite interesting the metal supports with the decorative supporting tail that run downwards toward the wall surface

looking in the background of your photo your workshop's brickwork is also quite interesting, I have never seen anything quite like it, and is quite striking in appearance the way it seems to blend and continue upwards toward the chimney's summit.

Did you copy from an original design or is it of your own thinking

The Way the gutter on the building in the foreground is built into the edge of the roof structure is also quite interesting and remarkable

Well thanks to both of you fellows I'm sure everyone will enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/28/12 01:21 PM

Hi Richard,

I too spotted the "tumbling in" employed on the gable brickwork of Don's workshop. This is also seen here occasionally on well built buildings and notably on chimneys and buttresses.

I have thought more about the use of metal sheets and now recall that large 4ft x 2ft galvanised metal sheets were used to apply a cheap weather seal to the exterior of planked wooden siding that was applied the the buck of post mills. This looks dreadful and even worse results in the decay of both the wooden siding and post mill timber frame due to the trapping of moisture within the body of the mill.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/29/12 11:46 AM

Hello,

This galvanized iron sheet material is, next to wood and clay, my favorite building material! I really like it, maybe because of the association it has of exploring old mining camps and desert ghost towns in my youth. I try to collect and use it around the house here when and where I can but must say I get the sense that many of the neighbors don't share my appreciation for this great material, being caught up in their bourgeois pretentiousnesses. But I sense this is not what Richard is referring to anyway. Still, I believe it is a much underutilized - and aesthetically underrated - building material.

The brick situation there. Yes, we call it vlecht or vlechten in verb form and it is, or was, fairly common from around the 17th century until the cost ratios between material and labour got flipped. I must credit my bricklayer friend with the willingness to make the extra effort there. It's not only decorative but functionally it ties the top line of the gavel into the face for more strength. I think equally as interesting is the over-all pattern of how the brick are layed in what they call kruisverband or cross bonded we can maybe call it. The corner of every third layer of brick starts with a three quarter length brick, and then half length, or the short length of the brick is used to complete that layer, the following layer being all full length brick and the one following that being all short or half length bricks and then the sequence repeated. I can no longer look at a brick wall with simply overlapping layers and find it interesting or beautiful.

Greetings,

Don Wagsaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/30/12 02:27 AM


Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/30/12 02:32 AM























Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/30/12 02:42 AM

hello everyone tonight

thanks Don for you reply and fine explanations

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 01/31/12 06:19 PM

Hello,

Well, I've got to revise my list of favorite building materials, if I may without penalty. Instead of corrugated iron coming third, the ordering would in truth be, after wood and clay, flax, and then corrugated iron. Flax is just so versatile. You've got the fibers for all kinds of reinforcement, from a floor scree to a filler in the plaster or mortar mix. It makes a good insulation itself or in additive form along with other cellulose material. In spun and woven form it can be spanned across a wall attached to batons as a base layer for glueing wall paper onto, and the seeds can be pressed for oil for a whole other range of applications in and related to building. Yes, flax is number three.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/03/12 02:16 AM

Hello everyone tonight:

Thanks Don for coming on board and your list of building material preferences

Personally I really enjoy working with hard wood like oak, my dad used to say it separates the men from the boys

Oak was his favorite wood and when he died I made sure he had an oak casket to lay in.

In my opinion anyone can work with a soft wood like pine, but put a piece of oak in front of him and you soon find out his skill level, and how sharp his tools are, and his carpentry experience.

I think that everyone will agree with me that producing a timberframe using oak, ash, or any other hardwood, is not near as simple as pine or other soft wood.

Mind you there were many frames produced using soft wood, that are still standing, but having said that I did reconstruct a 3 bay drive shed using white ash (as was the original), and it is hard to describe how or why I felt the difference as I stood there looking at the bare frame after the raising.

One thing that was noticeable was that the connecting girts, posts, beams and braces seemed slimmer and more elegant, with a smoother finish, making the whole structure appear special in some way

Does any one have anything to add to this or have experienced such a feeling??

enjoy

NH
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/03/12 03:29 AM

The forests of central Indiana are totally lacking in pine or any other softwood, aside from the occasional scraggly ceder. This means for me that, from little up, my experience has always been with hard wood like oak, maple, walnut, and especially ash -I am very sad to see that the beetle has made its way almost to my stomping grounds, and my beloved ash trees are doomed.

For me, whenever I hear people talk about how hard woods like ash and oak are to work, I think it strange. That's just normal to me. Every now and then I get to take my axes to some pine r fir -transplants- and it's like butter to me!

Yet I have this lofty dream of laying up a house of stacked fir timbers, like my kin in the homeland do. It would be totally impractical, and very difficult, to build a house like they do out of our local hardwoods!
Interesting how there in the homeland (Switzerland) where they have softwood they build solid wood houses, like a super-refined log type of building, while in the lower regions where they have more oak they build timber frames.

I would have to say that wood cannot be beat as a building material, and if I had the option I would live in a Chalet made entirely of well joined stacked timbers, all wood inside and out.

But this flax you mention, Don, interests me. In what form do you use it? Is it just dried and beaten? Is it retted and separated into fibers?
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/05/12 01:39 AM

Hello eveeryone tonight

Well the firewood is all out for next winter, just needs to be split, and piled indoors for the summer.

Now to continue with my project the Casselman handsleigh, I posted a few weeks ago some views of the naturally bent ash for the runners, I now have them completed and ready for the dainty work of mortising the holes for the supporting spokes, that carry the cross framework members.

You know it is not easy working in what I call miniature frames, which is what this sleigh is made up of, and try and follow the way that the original sleigh was crafted, the angling of the runners is tricky because it throws out the 90 degree angling of the mortise holes, and the seating lines which on the original I supect was pretty darn tight and accurate. One has to be careful not to over do the angling and give the runners too much cant.

One thing that I have going is that I do have the original metal braces which give a good indication of the cant of the runners

It certainly is a fun project

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/05/12 02:23 PM

Hello,

Here, going through the firewood pile like it was vanilla pudding with this cold Siberian high pressure system hanging over. Not to be misunderstood now, the winter here, up untill last week had been absolute crap - warm, wet, soggy, grey - so the cold fresh, and above all dry air now is more than welcome. The wood boiler at full working force out there in the stall keeping the whole house warm enough.

Well Bahler, the last time I reached for flax was about two weeks ago. Doing some plumbing work, and to seal up one of the nut connectors of two adjoining pieces by lining the thread of the male component with flax fiber. Any leakage will soon swell the fibers permanently, sealing the joint. A lot of plumbers are using teflon tape for this purpose, with all the disadvantages that entails. Anyway, not having the fibers ready to use I grab a handful of flax stocks harvested last year and the year before, down from the hay loft, beat, break, twist, scrape and otherwise abuse the hell out of them until the outer dried stem has broken away to leave just the long intact fibers in hand, making up extra just to have when the need arrises for example, short lengths for tying up a sack or bundle. Another time the flax came in handy was last year or so, laying a lime screed floor in the boiler room. With the whole stock - minus the seeds naturally which have to be replanted - lain roughly or randomly spread under the scree, as opposed to mixed through, acting as reinforcement - where you might otherwise use reinforcement bar or re-bar. Well, there is just under 100 liters now out there in the barn, of oil, pressed from flax seed by my neighbor with his oil press, known as linseed oil oddly enough. That, I used in a mixture to coat the barn. Mixed up with some ocher pigment and lime I painted the ceiling in the kitchen. For walls or items within reach it is less good because of the time it takes to dry, but up there on the ceiling it doesn't bother anyone. We used the fine outer portion - a waste product otherwise - of the stocks mixed into the mortar as we bricked up the masonry oven at the other house. Again, it is a sort of flexible reinforcement that can accommodate a lot of the movement that occurs as the masonry work cycles through heating up and cooling down. One might think, huh, dried grass to make an oven? But I am assured that as long as there is no air there is no combustion. What more? Oh yeah, On a more refined level, and also after some processing, the flax is spun and woven into a more or less open structured linen which is tacked to a grid of battens nailed on a plastered wall. Well, I won't go into the process just now, but this linen forms a good tight and flat underground for pasting wallpaper onto with very fine and durable effect. These are some of the uses I've had the chance to put flax to in every form from unprocessed to moderately processed.

Richard, There is some help here for the next half year and to start him off he's begun taking apart and refurbishing the old wheelbarrow with the cast iron wheel I pulled out from the sheep shed down there at the end. He'll be wire brushing and painting the wheel, replacing broken parts with new and remaking what needs remaking, then we'll mix up some paint to make it look sharp in the end. I'll be calling it, The Mellema Wheelbarrow in honor of the previous owner and in all likelihood original maker. Planks of pine, structural components, oak. Sort of a simplified counterpart of your sleigh, minus the family history part though.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: D L Bahler

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/05/12 06:18 PM

Without air there is no oxidization, but there is pyrolosis. these are both processes that occur in combustion of organic matter. pyrolosis is charring, the matte undergoes a chemical change where it releases a number of volotile gasses such as hydrogen and methane and CO, and liquids such as tar and water. What's left behind is a semi-crystaline structure that is about 80% carbon, and very brittle -useless for reinforcing. This will occur in wood at about 580 degrees Fahrenheit, a little lower for grasses and such.
Oxidization normally occurs after pyrolosis. Essentially, the heat breaks down the solids into volatile compounds which will freely bond with oxygen. Without Oxygen, the carbon will not burn into CO2.
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/05/12 06:52 PM

Hello,

Might your point be that at degrees above 580 F the flax elements in the mortar would begin to carbonize and then provide no reinforcement? Maybe so but only the burning chamber of this oven was subject to such temperature - and even more - and this was made up of fire fast free standing precast elements. After some years of use I decided to reconfigure the encasing and in dismantling it noticed no change in the blocks or mortar other than some soot accumulation here and there inside the channeling. I smashed the excess clay blocks, mortar and plaster all up and reused it in putting the oven/heater back together.
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/05/12 08:21 PM

hello everyone tonight

Well good conversation you guys, but you are loosing me in the technical talk, but I agree with you Don, it seems that flax no doubt has alot of uses, not just clothing

My mother who is now 100 years young wove with flax on her spinning wheel, I have some good pictures of her at work.

Flax reminds me somewhat of cotton with its multiple uses, and there is corn with its whole plant cattle feed, the cob only at times for people, and also just the corn kernel with its multiple uses, corn starch, corn syrup, by products of whisky (distillers feed), corn glutten,--look at wheat the many uses it has for many centuries, oats, also for many centuries, this was a verycommon crop in these parts, Ontario's climate was very well adapted to many of these cereal crops

well back to my project at hand- the Casselman Sleigh--, I will be sharpening up my spoke shave to use on the curved surfaces, what a versatile useful tool--back to work till chore time--

enjoy

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/06/12 02:52 AM

hello everyone again tonight

Not often I post twice in one day but here I am again.

Ken -- I was just reading through an old copy of Joiner's Quarterly 1997 issue #35, and thoroughly enjoyed your article on the 600 year old "Pembroke Cottage", it sure must have been a great feeling to have reconstructed and preserved for future generations this old building--

In your opinion will this new building be around 600 years from now, or will the original one still outlive it?

Wood I suspect can only survive x# of years even under ideal conditions--dry--especially--my sleigh that I am working on is being reconstructed with only the metal parts the wood completely gone--reconstruction can only be done some from memory, some from the metal parts, some from a surviving example if there is one somewhere, maybe an old photo, and maybe an old painting.

I am maybe lucky because UCV has an example in the vehicle museum that in my mind seems almost exactly like the one I remember

Having the measurements from it to start, and as I compared it to the metal pieces of the original, I find some similarities, but I also am finding some irregularities, like the overall height of the sleigh, 1" to be exact, and a slight difference in the curvature of the sleigh runner's curved front

Well have to go now

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/06/12 10:36 AM

Hi Richard,

I have uploaded a digi pic of Pembroke Cottage [2011] taken last summer whilst out on a bike ride to survey neighbouring Moat Cottage in Hartley Wespall, North East Hampshire (that's another story)

To say that Pembroke Cottage is 600 years old is probably a bit of an exaggeration - Dan Miles has now dendrodated the cruck framed part of the cottage (on the left) to 1414 and so it's actually only 598 years old. The box frame (on the right) is much newer and probably dates from the mid to late 1400's.

A more up to date 3D image of the Pembroke Cottage box frame can be found in OBR Newsletter No 44 where this features in an illustrated timber frame glossary in the article on pages 4 and 5 - "What's in a word". Check out the other Oxfordshire Buildings Record Newsletters that can be downloaded for free from http://obr.org.uk

I think that old buildings tend to be reivented with the passage of time as bits decay or are removed and replaced and not necessarily with like for like materials (what evidence of this can you see in the photo). It would be very difficult to forecast just how long a timber framed building might survive or at what point in percentage of original materials remaining that we can still call it the same cottage. The secret of long term survival would appear to lie strangely enough with poverty and and to a certain extent in neglect. Generally the worst things happen to these veteran buildings when new upwardly mobile owners move in and begin to assert their will on the component parts of our built heritage sometimes causing significant damage and loss. This is nothing new and it is known to have happened over the centuries as fortunes wax and wane but at least these days there is now a due process to be followed when making changes to historic buildings.

The version of Pembroke Cottage constructed by Tom Musco in Royalston, Massachussetts (up on the border with New Hampshire) was made using local vernacular materials instead of English oak and so this included such timbers as Eastern white pine, Eastern Hemlock, Red Oak and some Yellow Birch. The frame is clad and so is to a certain extent protected from the elements however the internal army of carpenter ants is ever present and remain focussed on their task to recycle dead wood.

It would be wonderful if Tom or someone living local to Pembroke Cottage II could take and post a pic of his wonderful creation. I am sure that it will outlive us all and then, with our passing, so will the joys and sorrows associated with this kind of human endeavour be forgotten, with only the building remaining, holding tight lipped onto the true story associated with the creation of one of New England's future historic buildings.

Vive la Pembroke !

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/07/12 02:03 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Hi Ken

Thanks for coming on board with the great reply, and the offshooting leads for everyone to enjoy--I certainly did--

The parts to me that appear to not be original, are:

--bricks starting at the bottom section, they appear of a different size, Then moving to the central area they are thinner probably older from my experience, and then the top part seems to be a replacement, but nicely done
--part of the vertical corner post missing, replaced with brick which appear to be a slightly different size but coloured close to the original

--part of the bottom sill also replaced with brick which appears to be a nice match
--All the windows seem modern, the lights are a little too big to be created for the older sized glass

Thanks again for the learning experience for everyone

NH
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/08/12 12:54 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Ken

It would really be nice if you could explain to everyone what the original windows of this 600 year old Pembroke Cottage have looked like, and what would the glass panes have been made with at that time, I would really find your answer to this query very interesting indeed, and I am sure others would too

Thanks in advance

enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/08/12 08:47 AM

Hello,

Well, to my knowledge - to the extent that I can lay claim to knowledge - in the years 1400 - 1450 there was no trade in tropical hardwoods between regions in the tropic zone and Pembroke so what can explain this gate at the foreground?

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/08/12 02:29 PM

Hi Don,

I will check the timber type the next time I pass bye the cottage but I suspect that as per most modern gates of this type which are found widely across England today that these tend still to be made from oak and not tropical hardwoods. This cottage is located in quite a shaded damp spot and so the colour apparent on this gate is mould. You raise an interesting point as to whether or not all features on a historic site should replicate former patterns and practices but to what date should these comply ?

Richard,

The simple answer to your question about windows and glass is that this type of building predates the use of glass and so any wind hole openings would have been fitted with wooden mullions and sliding shutters. These were located above and below the gable end cross beam and are now covered by the attached chimney (see article sketch).

The chimney employs thin tudor bricks and it has been built to follow the already badly deformed profile of the gable.

The front sill is 10 inched higher than the rear sill and this is because the original sill must have rotted out and been replaced. Evidence of this can be seen high up on the front wall centre post where a "scotch" has been cut into the post to facilitate prop jacking of the whole building using a Spanish windlass.

The gable corner post has rotted off and is now underbuilt with brick and has also had a splint stud added.

The cottage originally had wattle & daub infil external panel walls with these later being knoocked out and replaced with brick. The internal cross frame walls are stil wattle & daub.

A low doorway at the front is now blocked with brick and this is opposite an extant rear door forming a good thru draft for this attached kitchen hall.

The oriel dormer window in the cruck end of the roof is a later insert doubtless done when the cruck hall was floored over after the addition of the box framed kitchen hall.

Regards

Ken Hume

Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/09/12 01:03 AM

Hello everyone tonight

Thanks to both of you --good conversation--

I am not an authority on glass, but I had thought that production of crude glass had not been tried yet in the 1400's, you have verified that for me--thanks--

So then Ken all window or air passages were closed by wooden shutters of some type or another, and no doubt lead to very uncomfortable living quarters early on in the cold weather areas especially.

How did they overcome some of these problems, I am sure they must have developed alternative measures to deal with inclement weather--I do suspect that the light from the open hearths probably substituted for natural light somewhat, would you care to comment


enjoy

NH
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/09/12 08:19 AM

Hello,

To be clear about it though, using glass to close off windows goes back much further than the year 1400. It was expensive in the early times and maybe could not be used in this house for that reason.
The wooden mullions for keeping thieves and buggers out, the shutters to keep out the wind and snow and at the same time control ventilation of the smoke from the fire.

I wonder if in such a house farm animals would have been kept along side where the people were living?

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff
Posted By: Ken Hume

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/09/12 11:31 AM

Hi Don & Richard,

Glass has been made in England since Roman times (2000+ years) but as Don points out it was a very expensive commodity generally available only to society elite and certainly not to be found in a simple copyhold farmhouse such as Pembroke Cottage.

When I examined this cottage I did debate whether the LH ground floor bay in the box framed extension could have been used for keeping a small cow since it had a cobbled floor and an opening to the floor above but it is very difficult to confirm this one way or another. There is an adjacent barn with an outshot stable that features lap joinery and this is likely to be even older than the cottage.

Jack Sobon once pointed out to me that burning an open fire inside a room released 100% of its heat into the room whereas almost 95% of heat goes up the chimney in a fireplace and so maybe it wasn't so much cold as draughty and uncomfortable from stinging smoke hanging in the air.

Regards

Ken Hume
Posted By: northern hewer

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/09/12 06:09 PM

Hello everyone tonight

Good replies--just what I wanted to hear--I thought that glass had been produced earlier that 1400, but wasn't sure--so that puts that part to rest for now, unless someone else wants to further this conversation.

Talking about open fireplaces, at UCV I had my headquarters on site in the hired man's house, which was a open one room log building with and upper floored area, it was heated with a large open stone fireplace, the chimney I am sure one could crawl up it was so large, but my goodness would it throw alot of heat, it always amazed me, I believe like KEN says the fire radiates out much of the heat due to the openess, meanwhile directing the smoke upwards

Thanks for this conversation

enjoy everyone

NH
Posted By: heavydraft

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/09/12 09:01 PM

Hi all,
I want to interject a question. Hope this is the appropriate place. I have hewn a few timbers, and have pretty well followed the score up, hew down thinking. This has been long beams and curved braces. Not until a hewn post was used did I notice that this put any effects of scoring facing up, which is contrary to direction a hand would move "down" a post. For washing or for pleasure. I have no historical reference around me, so kinda curious.
Have a good day
Posted By: Cecile en Don Wa

Re: historic hewing questionnaire - 02/09/12 09:42 PM

Hi,
By way of coincidence I was just looking at a post in the barn that is needing a new section spliced