Timber framing (German: Fachwerk, literally “framework”), or half-timbering, also called in North America “post-and-beam” construction and post-frame construction, is the method of creating structures using heavy squared off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs (larger versions of the mortise and tenon joints in furniture). It is commonplace in large barns. The methodology comes from making things out of logs and tree trunks without modern high tech saws to cut lumber from the starting material stock. Using axes, adzes and draw knives, hand powered auger drill bits (bit and brace), and laborious woodworking, artisans or farmers could gradually assemble a building capable of bearing heavy weight without excessive use of interior space given over to vertical support posts. 1
So technically the title to this post is false and after looking again at the definition above, has nothing really to do with timber framing. But I call your attention to the line “making things out of logs and tree trunks without modern high tech saws to cut lumber from the starting material stock.” Now we’re (sort of) talking! Okay, in all fairness, allow me to start again.
As we are but a month away from beginning actual construction on our tiny house we have really started collecting materials, gathering odds and ends, checking and rechecking measurements, etc. And for those familiar with the process of home building and in this case tiny home building, the first step in construction is the floor framing. In a typical tiny house build you put together a floor sandwich by laying down a radiant barrier over the trailer. (Coincidentally we are using White Double Bubble Insulation by EcoFoil on the underside of our home.) You then place your floor framing (joists, hangers, and crutches) on top and securing it by bolts or fasteners to the trailer. In the cavities you will lay down your insulation as you would with any dwelling. We are using SafeTouch insulation which although now discontinued is a batt insulation material made from 100% polyester fiber. The material contains no fiberglass, so there are no respirable glass or mineral fibers to cause itchy skin, red eyes or respiratory problems. Lastly you lay your subfloor or flooring substrate down to create a solid foundation for the rest of your build. Our subfloor will be built of LP ProStruct Floor with SmartFinish.
To get a better idea of what I am talking about I encourage you to take a look at these beautiful pics by Evan and Gabby on their blog Built By Friends.
Because our trailer is 8′ x 30′ we have quite a bit of framing to do. The floor is no exception. But because lumber has witnessed another sharp price increase since gas closed in on $4/gallon we knew we were going to have to look to other sources rather than just a stack of fresh pine from the big box store. Enter Jordan Forest Products.
Jordan Lumber is a wonderful and relatively ecologically responsible forestry and lumber manufacturing plant situated in my parents town of Barnesville, GA (also the location of our build) since 2004. In the 3rd quarter of 2011 they announced a temporary shutdown of the plant due to a “poor market and downward economy.” It is now March 2012 and there are no real signs that they have opened back up at any more than about 20% capacity. Many of the workers around town have not been called back to work. The line of loaded down logging trucks that once flooded 1/2 mile out the entry gate is nowhere to be seen. And the trains of pulpwood and wood chips that once sounded their whistles 3 or 4 times a day have all but stopped. It is truly unfortunate. But in every situation there is a silver lining and in this one we are coming out with a small victory.
Since the beginning of March they have been selling at just over $30/ton (you have to pick up, of course) some castoff wood they call lumber rejects. And this is where the lumber industry and Andrew Odom differ in opinion. Their lumber rejects are actually beautiful pieces of rough cut pine. The sizes are literal 2″ x 4″ and 2″ x 6″ and are all 16′ long. And while, yes, some have a little warping and some have a few larger-than-normal knots, once culled they will comprise a beautiful stock of wood that will not only become our floor framing but also several other areas if we play our cards (and our cuts!) right. Oh! And did I mention the wood is raw meaning it has no toxins, finishes, or stains to it? In essence we purchased nearly 110 sticks of framing timber for $42.90.