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Re: historic hewing questionnaire #24986 01/01/11 07:28 PM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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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

Re: historic hewing questionnaire #25096 01/09/11 02:51 AM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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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

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer] #25098 01/09/11 02:26 PM
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Cecile en Don Wa Offline
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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.

Re: historic hewing questionnaire #25102 01/10/11 12:45 AM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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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

Re: historic hewing questionnaire #25123 01/11/11 01:48 AM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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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

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer] #25125 01/11/11 02:31 AM
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D L Bahler Offline
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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.


Was de eine ilchtet isch fr angeri villech nid so klar.
http://riegelbau.wordpress.com/
Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer] #25128 01/11/11 03:45 PM
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Cecile en Don Wa Offline
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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.

Re: historic hewing questionnaire #25133 01/12/11 02:02 AM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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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

Re: historic hewing questionnaire #25136 01/12/11 12:43 PM
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TIMBEAL Offline
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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.

Re: historic hewing questionnaire #25144 01/13/11 12:50 AM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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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

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