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#34360 - 02/08/18 09:05 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire ***** [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
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Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone tonight

Using recycled timber---as promised----

During the mid 50s here a dramatic event took place here near were I live--The St. Lawrence Seaway Project--

Undertaken, To enable ocean vessels to sail unabated directly to the upper Great Lakes, from ports all over the world--50 years in the planning by the U.S., and Canadian Gov`ts, and 4 years in its making---

For this to happen unfortunately hundreds of the earliest Farms, towns, cemeteries, apple orchards, businesses, older canals, homes, barns, outhouses, even the largest living elm of the time standing near Cornwall Ontario had to be cut.

Every structure had to be demolished so a 22 mile lake could be formed, and a waterway formed to overcome the natural barrier of the Long Sault rapids would disappear

The lake not only was deep enough for shipping but but many millions of watts of electricity was produced by the escaping waters of the lake

Now as the planning of the seaway took place fortunately it was recognized that our early heritage was disappearing along with many very early buildings--homes, barns outhouses and famous battle site like at Crysler Farm where the American forces bent on capturing the then young fledgling British nation was on the line--the date 1813--

Now that date meant that the disappearing buildings and properties, contained timbers, lumber, and architecture, hardware, furniture, implements, churches, and just plain old memories of years gone by, that had by some way to be saved for generations to come.

Upper Canada Village became the depository for this early history, and to that end, hundreds of truckloads of timbers, lumber and even whole buildings, came slowly and steadily from the demolition sites numbering several towns, and hundreds of farms

These truckloads especially of the lumber and timber ended up in large fields adjacent to the UCV construction site

You probably can see where this history lesson is going but it is for another night or 2 to unravel

enjoy

richard
NH

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#34361 - 02/08/18 10:08 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
NickM Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/18
Posts: 7
Loc: Strasburg, VA
Hi Richard and everyone. I am enjoying your tale telling immensely. I am looking forward to the continuation of the tale. best, --Nick

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#34362 - 02/12/18 09:27 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone tonight

Well to continue,

the reconstruction of many of the buildings necessitated the incorporation of, in many cases mud sills and other structural members, that during their 100 years of pre seaway life had sucummed to rot or fracturing from demolition on their original sites

It actually worked quite well because as a replacement timber was required one could usually select one from the timber repository in one of 2 locations

problems did develop though for the framer and his team because the perfect substitute usually had curves and bows that needed to be dealt with before they could be used.

counter hewing was the name of the game, as william E Bell in his 1858 volume CARPENTRY MADE EASY put it, but he was referring to counter hewing new timber that had for one reason or another succumed to internal stresses, or curing ills

I know from experience hewing new timber that the sun would quickly dish a timber as it was being hewn especially if left unattended over a warm weekend, we resorted to covering the exposed upper sides with one inch lumber, and when the timber was finally completed to store on level bed pieces in a sheltered but airy spot

It was surprising and very difficult to frame a barn frame over a couple of months because even the nice straight stored timber would then bow as you worked from day to day, and throw chalk lines out

We were continually fighting the sun`s intensity as we try tested the framed bents and their many braces, for square and trueness

Long timbers say 45 feet even though looking true at first glance would always show a discrepancy as you drew a chalk line from end to end to decide on the many complicated seatings and positions of posts, braces seatings

Sometimes we had to resort to WILLIAM E. BELL`S counter hewing just to obtain a level playing field

I hope that you are following me as I ramble on, but these were just some of the problems we had to deal with as reconstruction moved ahead

Now I say reconstruction, my father dealt with reconstruction using old reclaimed timber, I rather dealt with reconstruction of old disappearing examples of historical buildings using new hewn material, and I say new because to hew enough timber for a 30 by 45 foot barn was quite an undertaking, and required approx 1 season of hard work for 3 men

Just to give you some indication of what we were up against, first of all everything was advertised a year or two in advance giving you and your team strict guidelines, in that regard all timber in advance of hewing had to be selected and purchased, harvested and transported to the site not a small feat because most bush harvesters could care less about old knots, external defects, tears or rips

I personally had to select standing trees, for instance that would square a 12 by 12 at 45 feet, no wane edge, but we did get through it and did end up with some pretty nice timber

Those timber described above ended up 40 inches on the butt, and seemed quite formidable to the hewing team

well so far so good

hope you enjoy

Richard
NH

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#34364 - 02/16/18 09:19 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
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Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone tonight

I must apologize for opening up multiple topics on this thread, but as my mind slowly gives up pieces of my past it has a tendency to skip around a bit, like the reconstruction of the Ross Barn (above).

Many aspects of its reconstruction necessitated piles of research to not only faithfully hew and frame its many unusual features-one might say what could be unusual about a 3 bay barn, well lets see, for starters the frame members were unusually large and decidedly not square but rectangular in cross section

why was this a challenge--well as you framed each bent the cross sectional sizes of each of the different rectangular vertical post meant that an adjustment of the length of each connecting girt had to be closely followed--remembering that the wide width of each of these vertical posts in the outlying walls carrying the connecting girts were in line with the girts, and each vertical post were sized differently in that respect

Just to summarize what I am trying to say is that of the 4 cross girts which by the way were 30 foot 10 by 12s, not one ended up the same length, and even all our careful checking and rechecking failed us on the length of one of the cross girts, by 3 inches, the error not being noted until 2 days before the raising

This error was a sneaky one because even though we had framed and checked the bent for true with each brace in place, we failed to check the overall length until the last minute

We were lucky because we had a spare 30 foot timber unused but not yet hewn-so in the space of 30 hours we had to hew and frame a new connecting girt- a feat I will forever thank the hewing and framing team, and un benown to the many that came to see the barn frame rise

Then there were the large barn doors opening on to the threshing floor--they swung inwards on large wooden hinges, the hinges themselves an integral part of the doors skeleton the hinge itself constructed so that the pins were of 1.25 inch oak and the pin itself held by 2 oak brackets firmly placed in the vertical posts

Safety was always on my mind as we began to move up to the second floor level to install the purlin plates and the posts, these members were quite smallish and the 45 foot purlin plates only 7 inches square were delicate to manouever and could have cracked or split as they were being handled

Well have to go

enjoy

NH
richard

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#34375 - 03/04/18 08:45 AM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
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Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone tonight

Well to continue

You know I had constructed and repaired many older structures during my tenure at UCV, but nothing quite as large as a 3 bay historic building, I am referring to the Ross Barn above, many had been smaller buildings with no second level framing so I had to put together guidelines for the constructing techniques
always with a safety person in the background watching closely

The older techniques lack of safety didn`t really cut it so to speak, and this aspect hindered my representation of life in the 1860 time period hard to address

Along with that aspect the lack of knowledge all the costumed interpreters had that dealt with climbing and walking on narrow timbers or even planks added to the safety of the whole raising aspect of the barn frame

I overcame second level work by adding more planks to walk on than I am sure was the case in the 1860 menu but It was what it was and no casualties!

Well I have to leave now

enjoy
will be back

NH


Edited by northern hewer (03/04/18 08:46 AM)

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#34395 - 04/19/18 02:36 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone

well spring is sure slow arriving but always comes

I just finished putting up the firewood for next winter, great for exercise and will feel good then for sure--nothing like wood heat

ran across a few pieces of wild cherry which immediately went into my cllection up in the hay loft--my wood drying area--I get great enjoyment out of having a personal arsenal of various kinds of woods to use when i need to fix or help someone out that needs a handle

During the winter I was reviewing some of my book given to me at some point in my career and came across one entitled Sawmilling as it Was

I never really studied it out at length but it is a fabulous documentry on sawmills out in oregon and California, and covered early 1800s to about 1950

As I read through the text I was drew to one page in particular that drew my attention, it covered schooners drawing fresh cut lumber to San Fancisco

To some this may not be interesting but to me it was because my father who landed there from Canada around 1920 was lured there by the need for carpenters and apprentices to help rebuild the city after the devastating earthquake in 1902 destroyed much of it

He by the way met my mother there and eventually came back to where he came from a decade later

He told me thrilling stories of working hundreds of feet in the air building cement forms from story to story, no fooling around there for sure, when the bell blew you were at your work station no matter how many stories up or you were fired!!!

My father taught me how to support and construct cement forms that needed no outside support or bracing something that I used years later--I was give a job to build cement forms for a large oil separation unit and I put no out side braces against the forms--The superintendant came around and said to me, you have no bracing on the forms, I said to him if you were up a hundred feet in the air what would you brace to--he just turned and left--

The book is filled with wonderful pictures of small to very large band mills, the one in particular had cut the world,s record board, at least they called it a board, it was 4 inches thick by 81 inches high and 8 feet long Redwood

It also showed pictures of men standing beside fallen trees at least 12 feet in diameter, cutting 8 foot segments to ship to the mill--they were funny looking logs for sure--

Well I hope you enjoy

I know you all do for sure-don,t forget to hop on board with some of your wonderful skills and experiences-I do enjoy immensely what you all do, and it can add valubly to the knowledge base for many youger individuals

richard
NH

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#34463 - 06/04/18 08:53 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone tonight

Well I noticed that over 5 million have visited this thread, and I would like thank everyone for stopping by and listening to my ramblings, but you know that there seems to be a real appetite out there for discussions about common everyday life from times gone by

I just took down and dusted off my old Stanley 45 adjustable plane and tried to explain to one of my shop visitors how it worked and what unique things could be done with it like laying a bead right on the corner something that is pretty near impossible with a modern tool--I had examples of a window frame and its associated trim handy to prove my point--he had to agree it was quite unique

My son just went by the shop with a 4 furrow plow with a 100 horses ahead of it, it brought back to my mind my uncle pulling into the field over yonder within eye sight from where I am, I was only 6 at the time by the way--he laboured for the best part of a week with a walking plow and 3 horses, turning a 8 inch furrow resting at each end of the field, the lines around his back.

The same horses and plow turned out our potatoes each fall, upsetting each row so their contents could be easily removed with a short fork that had its tongs turned at the blacksmith shop to create hooks. We put upwards of 1500 lbs in the cellar to last us for the year with some left over for next years seed

You know as I reminisce more of yesteryear returns, and I can't help wondering what we have really gained with all our modern, expensive--to the point of being stupid--

well have to go

NH--richard

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#34501 - 07/08/18 09:15 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone tonight

I would like to say thanks to those that risks their lives for others--it seems to be going on all over the world--

When I was young growing up here in rural Ontario, world events seemed so far away, and you only learned of them months after they happened, if at all--it was even worse as you travelled back in time--my father as he demolished one of the homes that was to be removed and restored at the new UCV site in the 50's came across an old newspaper stuffed in the plaster wall dating to the 1840's, it had a little blurb in it pertaining to the Mexican-- American war, the Irish famine, plus many other non related articles

This family being very wealthy were able to afford purchasing a newspaper, whereas most could not afford this luxury and were only aware of events close to home,

Today we are flooded with world events some good but many do not fall into that category

I must say though that as I sit here tonight I can literally travel the world delving into my favorite subject matter, and realize how small and private my life and my work used to be, and how easy it seems to be now to spread out what I consider interesting to all who take the time to drop by--please say hello---I am humbled by the interest in things related to my life--

Richard-- the Northern Hewer--

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#34579 - 10/09/18 08:52 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1123
hello everyone tonight

well opened up my chest of tools today--its a monthly thing--to check for rust and to apply a light coating of 3 in 1 oil to the steel blades, today I honed my chisels and plane blades,and as my eyes roved over my tool chest, I couldn't help noticing the wooden box holding my complete set of Irwin hand augers--and my mind went back to the day I purchased them 50 some odd years ago now--paid 15 dollars then--quite a sum of money at that time--almost a weeks wages--I do spend quite a bit of time now in the shop--like my dad before me--

well have to go
NH

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