Monday, August 1, 2011

Using Wood Milled On Site

Figure A
With all the talk about alternatives to wood in the construction world, it is worth noting that wood has several redeeming virtues.

1. It can be harvested locally.
2. It requires relatively little energy to transform the raw material into a building material.
3. It has an established track record with the building code.
4. Douglas Fir, the primary structural wood grown in California, grows relatively fast.
5. If push comes to shove, it can be used in virtually any capacity in a residential project (floor, wall, roof, cabinetry etc.).

Drew Maneuvering the Lumber
In these respects, wood is more readily available and, once obtained, more "adaptively reusable" than most other materials.  Because scrap wood often gets used for blocking, furring or any number of other miscellaneous secondary uses, its efficacy often goes unnoticed and under-appreciated by laypeople.  Most of the time the wood is hidden in the wall and out of sight.

A while back a client removed a couple trees on her property for construction and life-safety reasons.  We were working on a design for her residence at the time and it was a golden opportunity to get some great beams.  Merle Rueser is one of the last remaining sawyers in Sonoma County with a portable sawmill aand we had him come out to her site and convert the felled trees into lumber.

Merle Managing the Milling

It's important to keep in mind that there are many sizes of lumber that are not readily available through a lumberyard.  If you have the opportunity to have lumber milled on site, its a great opportunity to get some big beams that would be costly through a lumberyard.   We had the extra wood cut into wall boards for the residence's public spaces.

In the last couple weeks Chapman Construction attached the interior wall boards to the Agriboard panels and we can start to see how the site-milled Douglas Fir is doing (See figure A).  The 6x14 overhead beams were stamped by a lumber inspector prior to incorporation into the structural design.  This is the one hurdle that is required of site-milled lumber and one should anticipate an inspection to start at a few hundred dollars.  For a residence, most of this cost is manifest in the transportation time of the inspector and you can usually get a fair amount of wood inspected for close to the starting price.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a photo archive of a small timberframe we built with site milled lumber