Monday, March 4, 2013

The Quest for Hand Hewn Beams: or Why We Like 'Wood From the Hood'

Even though our house was built in 1947, we want it to feel like a much older home.  So when we started looking for a way to transition from the old ceilings to the new - rustic beams seemed like the perfect design element.

We've had original hand hewn beams in many of our own homes over the years.  In fact, in our 1790 colonial, the floor joists were entire giant tree trunks that just had one side flattened for floor boards!  There is something about those hand hewn beams that really speaks to us.  We love the sense of history that comes with this old wood.  And I guess it's trendy.  NPR just did a story on 'Wood From The Hood' (love that term!) on this morning's newscast!

Since power tools weren't in existence when these beams were cut, you might wonder how they got their shape.  Typically, they were cut with a broad axe and an adze.  An adze is a unique tool that's gaining some new popularity - Click Here if you want to see a demonstration of how to use one.   It lets the carpenter take off thin wafers of wood, to achieve the desired dimension of lumber. 

See how the adze cuts look on our beam?  Love that look and the history that goes with it!

Thankfully, when old structures are taken down, particularly here in New England, salvage organizations come in and remove all the original beams so they can be repurposed.  We started looking for sources and were pleasantly surprised to find multiple options.   Price points varied a lot, depending on size, quality and condition.  We had quotes ranging from $5-$16 a foot.  And while many of the salvage providers keep them outside (aka - buried under a couple feet of snow in a Maine winter), Portland Architectural Salvage had them in a nice, dry warehouse.  

And there was a lot to choose from!  We needed two lengths - 16' and 12'.  They let us lay them out in the parking lot, to decide which matched up the best.  

We loaded them on Mike's truck and he and Richard muscled them into the house.

Stay tuned, we hope to get them installed this week!  I promise to share pictures!

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1 comment:

  1. I have beams from a barn that was built n early1800s they r oak some r 40ft long with pegs wandering how old they acually r and how much they r worth


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