Now that you’ve decided on building your own timber frame home, you have countless decisions to make. One of those decisions is which species of wood your timber framer will use in the construction of your home.
There are a number of varieties of wood that are suitable for your home, and each has its own strong points and weaknesses. You may also need to consider availability, sustainability, cost, and suitability in making this important decision. The most common species of wood used for timber frame homes are white pine, red and white oak, and Douglas fir, cypress, and cedar.
The part of the country in which you plan to build plays a big part in what materials you will use for your home. It will be the most economical for you to use locally available materials, as the cost of transporting posts and beams across the country can be exorbitant and be cost-prohibitive.
There are a number of species of trees that grow pretty much throughout the country, and a number of types of wood have similar properties, so finding an appropriate, locally available species should not be a problem in most but not all areas.
You may choose to use timber to build your home from a logging company that practices sustainable forest management. In very simple terms, this means logged areas of forest are replanted with appropriate trees and vegetation, and the ecosystem of the area is not damaged or destroyed. For more information check out the FSC Certified wood or buy from a local sawyer that practices sustainable practices.
The cost of the wood for your timber frame home can vary considerably. You may have several choices for the wood species to be used to build your post and beam and the cost will always be a factor.
Strength and Suitability
Not just any wood is right for building a timber frame home. Some woods, like oak, are hard and strong. Unfortunately, this wood tends to twist, crack, and check. It is most often used to make the pegs that hold your home together. Other species like Douglas fir are stable and strong while white pine, cypress, and cedar do not have the load capacity as Douglas fir or oak.
Another important consideration is whether the timbers will be exposed to the exterior. If so, your choices of species drops to just a few like Douglas fir, cypress, and white oak.
Wood Species Types
Douglas Fir is known for its structural strength, so it is a popular species for post and beam construction. It is prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, although it can be found in many other parts of North America. It ranges in color from a yellow or orange-brown shade to a deep, reddish-brown. One outstanding characteristic is that it cracks and checks minimally when dried. Large timbers may be designated FOHC, which means that the beam does not have the typical bulls-eye heartwood in the center.
Eastern White Pine
Eastern White Pine grows from Minnesota through Newfoundland, and south along the Mississippi basin and the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia and Mississippi. As it is a softwood, it is less costly than oak but has a tendency to check. It has multiple sizes of knots and is a blond wood with occasional red streaking. It cracks and checks as it dries, which gives it a rustic, weathered appearance. It is easy to work with and does not twist or deflect when properly treated. However, it is not as strong as Douglas Fir.
This hardwood grows from the Great Lakes to Nova Scotia and as far south as Georgia. For hardwood, it is a fast-growing species and is very popular as a framing choice. However, it is not resistant to decay or as strong as white oak.
This species grows from Texas to Quebec and from Minnesota to the Eastern seaboard. White Oak is very decay resistant but is hard and has a high shrinkage rate that makes it more difficult to work with for timber frame construction.
Other woods can be used in timber frame home construction, and each has its own characteristics. Southern yellow pine, spruce, and cedar are also good choices for your home, depending on your location and the features you want in your building material.
What Is Checking And Twisting?
When wood dries out, it undergoes physical changes. The grain separates, and this is called checking. The timbers also will twist as they dry, so the timbers that are secured with tenons will allow some movement but hold the structural components securely in place.
Some wood species are more prone to checking and twisting than others are, so this characteristic is taken into consideration when choosing wood for construction. Checking does not generally weaken the wood and adds character and aged quality to the appearance of the timbers.
Using a humidifier and keeping the temperature down the first winter in your home can help to minimize the amount of checking your wood will develop.
What Is The Difference Between Fresh Sawn And Reclaimed Wood?
Fresh sawn timbers are produced from living trees. These newly harvested trees are taken to mills for processing. They can be used green, air-dried, or kiln-dried.
Reclaimed wood was cut many years ago and has dried and stabilized over time. This wood will have minimum checking or twisting if it is used in new construction.
Also popular as of late are timber homes built with reclaimed timber. Reclaimed timber is basically used timber taken from unoccupied homes, unused barns, and other old structures. Because reclaimed timber is weathered and shows usage wear, it is favored by those looking for a rustic-looking home. Even though reclaimed timber is beat-up and used, it is just as strong and durable as fresh timber is.
If you prefer a modern feel over a rustic look, then using laminated woods in the construction of your timber home might be a good bet. Also known as glulam, this type of wood is extremely strong (the strongest of all perhaps) because it is made from only the best lengths of timber. Basically, glulam is a bunch of the best cuts of wood with all of the bad parts taken out (and other good parts glued in their spots). It is also one of the cheapest options that there is. But there is one downfall. Glulam is a bit shiny and “fake” looking, and it can easily be picked out as artificial.
When selecting the wood for your timber frame home, you should research which woods are available locally and select a species that is harvested in a sustainably responsible manner. This not only saves you money, but it is an ecologically sound choice as well. Several different kinds of wood will probably be used in the construction of your home, as different wood characteristics are required for various components of the structure.
140 thoughts on “Choosing a Timber Species”
Hello. I’m new to timber framing. Thanks for your great web page. Very helpful. Just a couple questions. Wouldn’t cedar be a good lumber to be exposed to the elements? And is it better to let your logs dry before building or is green fine? Thanks for your time.
Check out our article on Green or Dried Timbers – https://timberframehq.com/green-vs-dried-timbers/
Which one can be use for all fases of the construction that will repels the most termites and will be more resistant and durable in florida ?
I was wondering if anyone has used hard(sugar)maple for timber framing and if there are any pros and cons as to its use. I understand that it’s not very decay resistant but would it be OK if not exposed to the elements?
I would be cautious about exposing it directly to the elements, perhaps under cover but as you mentioned it is prone to decay.
I would choose either cypress or white oak.
I am about to start a 24X36 barn with apartment over it and have a lot of yellow pine avlible to use and large trees at that would it be a wood to consider. I know it is strong but it dose twist and check with 2 by material but is it okay with those larger timbers like 8X8 and up.
Yes, it is a great wood to choose. It will still twist, bow and check but so does white oak. I have it in my two personal frames.
Sugar Maple also tends to have a very pronounced spiral grain, and twisting can be catastrophic in larger timbers. It is also extremely difficult to work, more so than most other hardwoods.
That being said, I have used it for accents such as bracing where the members are not particularly big or long and can be sawn free of heart.
It’s possible to use it, but one must understand its limitations to avoid disappointment.
Thanks for your comments, Bruce!
What are your thoughts on using Shagbark Hickory for timbers? It is readily available here in Indiana. It also has a very high modulus of elasticity, but I have heard that it may be targeted by powder post beetle.
I have 18 acres of a 40 year old red pine plantation and have been told that this is not a good species for framing. Do you have any experience with using red pine or any recommendations on how/if to use it. Thanks for your website and information. It is really good.
I am looking at harvesting Ash trees from my property to saw into timbers for our upcoming build. Do you have any tips when it comes to making timber frames from Ash?
Hickory is a really beautiful wood but it is extremely hard and therefore difficult to work with except with power tools. So when using hand tools to fine-tune your joinery it will be hard going. I used a couple of pieces of hickory in my frames and speak from experience. Good luck with your project.
While I have never used red pine personally I have heard it being used before from other framers. I would think that it would behave like yellow pine, twisting and checking lot but that is OK. Will ask around and see if I can gather more info for you.
It is a great wood to use. It is not used widely commercially but it is an easy wood to work with.
Thank you for sharing all the information on Woods. Greatly appreciated. Does redwood 4 X 4 posts work well to support open ceiling beam? Looking for wood that is termite resistant..
Redwood is a very termite resistant species, as far as whether it will carry the load I would refer you to an engineer at https://timberframehq.com/timber-frame-engineering/
Matt I just used white ash to make a timber frame addition and it has worked very well. One advantage is that it grows tall and straight with few knots. I also got some curly grain ash, it worked well and looks great.
I didn’t see anybody ask about sycamore trees and their value to timber framing. Their are plenty of large sycamore trees located on our property running along the river. How would this tree do?
Sycamores grain structure is a little different than others in that the fiber cross over each other making it incredibly hard and difficult to work. Also since it usually grows next to water it has a high moisture content so it shrinks and checks a lot as it dries. I would stay clear of it for a timber frame.
I am building in southern Vermont. Many beech, birch and maple and some oak. I will be using a chain saw mill to cut posts. None will be exposed. I read above that beech, birch, and maple may not be as rot resistant, however, if any of that variety were to be enclosed, will that be a significant concern? I am also considering staining to seal.
You heard right that those species are not rot resistant at all and should be avoided on exterior timber frames with the exception of white oak. However it those timbers are on the interior and are completely protected from the elements then they will work well and look great. I have a couple of maple timbers in my home.
I am considering a timber frame structure and have access to a fairly large stand of aspen trees. Would this be a wood species suitable for use?
Yes, Aspen is a great species to work with. It is not very strong though which should be a consideration in beam sizes and spans.
I have a lot of Poplar trees on my property and I have been cutting some down to use for a timber framed home, is this a good choice, or what is your thoughts?
Popular is a great stable wood to use. It is not very strong with similar values to white pine. Just something to keep in mind and should not sway your decision. It is a beautiful wood!
I live in south Louisiana so we have a lot of cypress available. Is it suitable for timber framing, also what about checking and twisting.
I’ve heard that long leaf pine is much better for building than the shorter leaf ( needle) species. I wonder if that’s true and how do you know it’s long leaf.
I’m in the FL panhandle.
Cypress is a great species for a frame. I have worked with it quite a bit. Like all woods, it will check and twist but it is a relatively stable wood to use.
Longleaf is a bit more stable than shortleaf pine, but both are good and strong to use for timber framing. I would break out a tree guide or ask a forestry professional.
Bruce, thanks for the information. We are looking at building a timber frame pool house here in Colorado. As you may know, out west we have a problem with the Pine Bark Beetle that is killing may thousands of trees. I have access to a large number of now dead trees and wondered if you knew of any structural issues with using this wood. The wood is not rotten yet, just dead.
Great stuff to use, it is naturally dry and will produce a stable frame…go fo it.
Would eastern red cedar be a good choice for an exposed frame?
Yes, it would work well!
Surptisingly I have alot of perfectly straight uniform osage orange trees on my property. 16-30″. No limbs for 50 feet. I’ve built bows out of it and understand how strong it is. What do you think about using for timber frames?
It works well for timber frame! A beautiful wood!
Would walnut be a good wood to use. I have tons of it on my property and it grows nice and straight.
It is and will produce a beautiful frame. Not used that often for the value of the timber but if you have it use it!
I live in California near Buellton and have thousands of coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) trees on my property. Would this be a good species for timber framing? Thanks in advance for your advice.
Live oak is the only oak that I know of that is not suitable for timber framing. You can use it, and it is strong but the grain makes it difficult to work with and it twists and checks more than others.
I am planning on building some timber frame buildings on my property, the largest being a 36x 48 2 story barn. I have quite a bit of pine, poplar and oak on the property. I have windfall pine that I am stripping bark off of as an attempt to have it on hand when I’m ready. What length would you recommend cutting the pine to? I know it depends on structure, but is there a max length?
As a general rule, I would cut them as long the timber and mill allow. Some logs will have a natural point which to cut and it will dictate the length on them.
What wood is best for pegs. Are there any that expand as they dry?
Straight grain white oak is the most common however, black locust is a great alternative.
Great info. I felled some good sized linden () on my property here in northern Minnesota last year. It appears to hold a lot of water but otherwise to be straight and quite clear. Would it be suitable to use? Thank you!
I have not worked with or heard of that species. I will reach out to some engineers and see what I come up with.
My current home (not far from you actually (Mountain Rest)) sit’s on black locust post foundation. I know it’s bug and rot-resistant but how is it to frame with? Just curious because I have lots of red and white oak, poplar and white and yellow pine that I could use.
Do you do consultations?
It is extremely hard wood to work but it is great for foundation sills as it lasts such a long time. The heartwood of white oak is rot/bug resistant but not nearly as well as the locust. I do take on some consulting, zap me an email at [email protected].
Any use for sweetgum in a timber frame?
There is, it is just not widely available. It does move a lot but is great to use.
I live in Maine – have you had any experience using Hemlock – and what are your general thoughts in using it in TF?
How about Ponderosa Pine?
Hemlock is great! There are a bunch of those frames around. It is prone to twisting and bowing, but so it oak, just keep it in the back f your head and get some extra timbers.
Is this true for California pine species like lodgepole, ponderosa, and sugar? We have lots of these available to us (small and large diameter, fresh and beetle kill)
Great species to use for a frame!
Hi Brice! I’m in south-central Kentucky with 100+ acres of eastern mixed hardwood forest, getting set up to start logging with my team of Suffolk Punch draft horses, will be using a Norwood chainsaw mill to cut timbers and lumber… planning to use your 14×30 shed plans to build an equipment shed. Lots of species to choose from and all your info given here is really very helpful! I had been told white oak was the only one recommended but now I’m thinking about ash and walnut, too (I’m not interested in selling logs, just building with them). My question for you is, can I mix species? For example, white oak for the posts, ash or walnut for the plates, girts and braces? Thank you for all the great info on this site!
I have seven species in my home. It looks great to have some contrasting colors in the timbers. A couple of hundred years ago when they cut a frame, a team would show up on a property and use what was available to them. Think about where they are in the frame, the loads on them and have fun with it.
Thanks Matthew, that’s good to know. I’m kind of in the same boat as those last-century builders; I have structures to build, a woodland to utilize, and my forestry approach is to harvest thoughtfully, culling trees with useable wood and leaving good growers to reach maturity for future projects. Being able to mix species would be awesome. I just wondered if there were any potential drawbacks, such as differences in shrinkage affecting joints. Definitely plan to have fun with this…
You will have different shrinkage but I would not be overly worried about it. I don’t see any drawbacks.
I have always been fascinated with timber frame construction and I’m interested in building with timber from my own property. I have red oak, black cherry but, not interested in decimating those species from my 14 acres. In abundance there is a lot of soft maple and hard maple that is straight and ideally at 12″-16″ in diameter at the base. I also have an abundance of sassafras, however not as straight as the maple. My last species in question is pin oak, some very large.
My first choice would be the soft maple, then sassafras and finally the pin oak.
Also since I don’t have anywhere to dry the timber I’m interested in 1)green building the timber frame or 2) girdling the selected trees to dry standing.
Your thought’s please?
Great questions. Using green timbers is the norm, check out our article at https://timberframehq.com/green-vs-dried-timbers/. I would not do the dry standing it dries at a year and inch, think it would be better to cut down the timbers, mill it up oversized and the resaw when you use it. Or just cut it the sizes you are going to use and go from there. Sassafras is great to work with, maple is good but neither is as strong as the pin oak. The oak will move and shrink more than the others.
As you can tell from my questions, I’m a green horn at this timber framing. So if I target the maple and cut it oversized then resaw when ready to construct, is this process allowing the wood to move and shrink some, then resawing allows one better quality/more manageable timber at the point of construction?
Are the maple sizes I mentioned ok to use for main columns or only for braces?
Would you recommend using the Pin Oak or Red Oak for columns or over size the maple to compensate using lesser strength wood?
This isn’t exactly a timber framing question but I’m hoping to get some advice. I’m framing an 8×12 shed to be used as a sauna and I want a nice rustic, woodsy look. I’m considering rough hemlock for the roof and rafters (4x4s and 1” boards). Everything will be covered although the ends of the rafters and boards will be exposed under the overhangs. Any concerns with hemlock for this purpose? Thanks in advance.
No, it sounds like a great choice for you. It is not rot-resistant but it sounds like you are thinking about that in your construction details.
I would like to let you all know there are many species of exotic hardwoods available from the Amazon they are FSC sustainably harvested and are both stronger than Doug Fir or Oak and highly rot resistant and the frames we build and ship to the USA are comparable in price to the higher end Doug fir frames, so you can have the best for the same price as the local species, We can even provide you the timbers to cut your own frame if you prefer.
The most common species we have are Goncalo Alves (tigerwood), Jatoba, Massaranduba, Curatinga Rosewood, Ipe, Purple Heart, Timbauba, Satinwood, Sucupira, Cumaru and there are many more varieties.
These species of wood are not only stronger but highly stable and come in many beautiful colors so no stain is required as they are to dense to take a stain anyway.
I love most all wood and if you have your own trees and a mill its the way to save a lot of money, but having a tigerwood frame with purple heart pegs and ipe or massaranduba braces is a whole new level. As an architect it gives me a broad new pallet to design with.
I too want to build with what’s available on my property. So that will be mostly white spruce. Any troubles with it? I know it checks a lot but strength should be decent enough? I also have what I think is poplar. Or maybe it’s aspen. I don’t know the difference. Either way I may have to mix in a few pieces of it. Any comments on that?
Mixed species are great in my opinion. Both species will work well, do some homework on the strengths of each type and put them in the best spots. You will also get an idea about how that will affect your timber spacing and size.
Would Texas cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) work well for timber framing?
When trees are cut down for agriculture and construction , what do you do with the trees/ wood that can not be used for housing .? Can any timber be used for housing of furniture ?
Yes, when I was milling timbers for my house we got equal boards to timber as far as board footage is concerned. This was used as trim, paneling and now furniture in our house.
I was thinking of using fresh sawn alder timbers to build a frame for a barn to keep wood in. Good or bad idea?
I have very large white pine logs, many 36″ and more across. Do timbers always have to have the bulls eye-heart in the center? Whats the general rule for this. Thanks!
No, in your case the goal is to get Free of Heart Center.
I have a lot of white ash that the emerald ash borer is in the process of killing. I was wondering how well they would timber frame. I have had some milled up already and the wood is beautiful. Also wondering on input on preventing/lessening checking. I have seen reports of painting the ends with every thing from commercial products, to exterior paint, to watered down wood glue. Any thoughts would be appreciated. My plan would be to make an 18 by 30 timber frame with a 12 ft high front opening.to house camper. It would open sided at least at first.
Ash works well in a frame and it sounds like a good time to use it. If you paint the end grain, with paint, anchorseal, or similar product it will greatly slow the drying process down. Which will help in minimizing checks and twisting.
Does anyone have any thoughts about sassafras for use in a log/pole construction ?
I have a lot of it on my property in Pennsylvania and was hoping to use it as poles/posts and ridge beams for a pavilion. I am especially interested in learning about how much a 8”-10” diameter pole can span horizontally without needing another upright. The horizontal and ridge beams will only be supporting the roof, but I obviously don’t want a heavy wind or snowfall to bring it crashing down.
Any thoughts or direction would be extremely helpful and graciously appreciated.
Thanks for the consideration.
Sassafras is an excellent wood for timber framing. I would make sure I had enough for your flooring first. Working with it is very enjoyable with the smell of the wood.
I live in southern Vermont and plan to build on a mountainous lot. I have a lot of large white spruce on the property wondering if it is worth using for timber framing? From some research I see it’s widely used as pulpwood and dimensional lumber for prefab homes.
Yes, spruce will work well, it is just not as strong as some other species out there.
I saw another question about Sweetgum. It is plentiful in my area of NC. I have heard mixed reviews. How durable and rot resistant is it? Is it a good choice for rafters or framing?
You say the trees are 12-18″ diameter, that is just not enough to make into reasonably stable timber. Prime material is free of heart center (denoted FOHC often) to avoid excessive twisting and splitting that will result. It would be extremely challenging to yield timber of any substantive size and avoid the heart center at that diameter.
Maple is especially prone to twisting and deforming, so it is a major risk. You might harvest some acceptable appearance grade lumber in smaller sizes. Young maples will often comprise of excessive amounts of sapwood, structurally much weaker, poorer in appearance, and will exude resin that will ruin the finish.
Don’t worry, hobby logging and milling is a very supportive network that will eagerly guide you in finding more appropriate trees in your area. Reach out on social media, contact local sawyers selling their products on craigslist, join forums and don’t be bashful. Ask to meet up and be willing to help in exchange for guidance.
Don’t forget, we are all people in real life and you are likely to bump into a timber enthusiast if you broach the topic enough. If you have a passion, wear it on your sleeve and you will be shocked at how fast you pick up helpful and interesting contacts in your area.
It is not rot-resistant. It can be used in timber framing.
Any thoughts on using cotton wood?
Cottonwood has a high water content and it shrinks a lot as it dries. You need to keep it from having ground contact or some kind of waterproof barrier with a good overhang on the eaves.
Also wondering if basswood could be used for timber framing? Thanks
Basswood is light and soft, and as such it is weak. It has low strength properties.
I have a line of Norway Spruce that needs to come out….It’s at least 60 years old…because it was planted before I was born!…Will it work to mill into beams?…Should I plan on only using it for vertical support?…Is it decay resistant because of the pitch in it?
I live in the mountains of southern New Mexico and have access to a stand of alligator juniper that has tall and relatively straight trees. Have you ever used alligator juniper?
Must admit I have not. You can find research on the wood strength at https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/research/units/4714.php
Hello to all,
Closing on some land some and my take is that Ponderosa pine is the most dominant species here. This will be my first TF build and i’m so excited. I’ve heard mixed reviews from builders in the area as it pertains to Ponderosa Pine (not TF builders) any concerns with this species would be greatly appreciated.
Great wood to use!
What about southern yellow pine it is strong strait and can be very beautiful when planned.
This may be a duplicate question, but I’m looking to build a couple structures utilizing some syp here in northern Florida. Is there a desired amount of time to allow between milling and framing? I understand the importance of dry time prior to normal woodwork, and moisture levels, but this is a new frontier for me.
That is a huge question! Please check out this article for in-depth exploration of the answer.
Recently cut a couple post oaks that were split at the base and leaning over my house, I just finished my porch and wondered if these post oak logs would be ok to use for supports for a cover or roof over the porch.
Building a house out of timber in Nova Scotia. Considering the elements and weather which is much the same as England. What would be your main choice for internal and external construction. Regards.
Yes, most post oak refers to a white oak, which is a great wood for exterior use.
I would go doug fir for both or white pine interior and white oak exterior.
Do you use full dimension lumber or should your 6x6s really be 5 1/2 X 5 1/2?
It depends on the project but if I get S4S material from a mill (planed on all 4 sides) it would come 5.5×5.5. If I have it milled and use it rough it would be the full 6×6.
Just found your website, and this will be my first stab at a post and beam structure! It will be a large, outdoor pavilion style, about 14 feet wide, funning 55′ feet one way, then 90 degree turn for another 30 feet. Beams will be spanning about 14 feet an their longest. Everything will be 8X8, with some roof supports being 4X8, and metal standing-seam roof. I’m in Phoenix, so very hot ( 115 degrees all summer, mild winters, and less than 7 inches of annual rainfall). 2 questions: #1 What is the most suitable wood for this project that I might find in the Phoenix area and #2: I have an opportunity to get plenty of Eastern Red Cedar at a good price and delivered basically free because my brother is in the trucking business. Is the Eastern Red Cedar suitable for such a project, and if not, what’s best for this type of climate? Thanks in advance!
Red cedar would work well, you do not have a very large span. It is not a strong wood so just be aware of that.
Just discovered this website, great information! I am a newbie and I am learning from everyone’s questions and your suggestions. We live in Ontario on a forested property with a lot of tall old maples up to 60 ft +. We want to build an extension, Could we use maple for interior structural beams to create more open space? I can see from comments above that maple is not recommended for exterior usage. I can get them cut and milled to order from a local lumber mill.
You can use maple in the interior, yes you should be able to get them milled locally.
I know you specialize in timber frame. We have several very large long leaf pines. My husband wants to use them for a post and beam backyard pavilion. Is this advisable? If so, how long would they need to season? If now we are going to mill them rough cut to go in the ceiling. Thanks.
You can find out more info about using green timbers at https://timberframehq.com/green-vs-dried-timbers/. It can be done!!
I’m in Michigan and I have Jack pine on my property, what’s your thoughts on using them for timber construction? Any information would be appreciated.
Thanks James Gamble
I have a large stash of 12-14’ white pine that I want to mill for beams without the pith. But, theyre not big enough to get 8×8’s FOHC. They are nice and straight and any knots in them are small. I could get some really nice 4×12’s out of them. Could I use those for my horizontals and rafters. I have a steady supply of ash that I was going to use for my 8×8 posts.
Looking to build in southeast Alaska and have lots of western red cedar and Sitka spruce. Big trees, so beam size isn’t a concern. Not sure what spans these species can do however. Any thoughts or advice?
The western red cedar is not as strong as the spruce. It will really depend on the other loads and rafter spacing for the size of the beams. What are you planning on building?
Sounds like a good plan to me. Just keep them as far from the pth as possible.
They do not usually grow perfectly straight so just choose the ones you cut wisely or you many have a lot of bowing and twisting.
I currently have a lot of yellow poplar and sweet gum logs at my mill. Would either of these species work for timber frame construction?
Brice, my hope is to be able to build a 24×40 foot home. What is in my head is something with a greatroom /living room at the front that would be a 16 x 24 space. Behind that be two stories with first floor ceiling of 9-10 feet and walls in the upstairs of six feet to the start of the roofline. Your 24×36 Barn Home Plan looks to be similar, but without the greatroom.
I would stick with the popular. It is a great choice for timber framing
Okay, so now I’m confused about how to best mill timbers out of a log. In other things that I read, boxed heart timbers seem to be preferred and considered most desirable. However, in this post everyone is stressing FOHC. I’m sort of getting the idea that either of these methods is good and the main thing is to make sure that the pith is either fully contained in the timber or stay free of it altogether. You don’t want the heart either running along the side of your timber or weaving in and out along the length. Does that sound right?
My issue with trying to cut FOHC timbers is the size of the log you would need to begin with. For example, to cut an 8×8 FOHC post you would probably need what, a 30″ diameter log? Whereas you could get an 8×8 boxed heart out of maybe a 12″ tree if it was straight enough?
Am I all wet?
It takes a big tree to get FOHC timbers. In the US Doug fir it about the only for all sizes of timbers. Boxed Heart will work great and most timber frame are made with these types of timbers. The reason that FOHC may be a bit better is that a Boxed Heart timber has the youngest part of the tree in it. When a tree is young environmental factors come into play and can cause the most damage to it and cause bows and twists in the timber that a more mature tree will not have, outside of the heart.
“If you have a passion, wear it on your sleeve and you will be shocked at how fast you pick up helpful and interesting contacts in your area.”
Such good energy and pure spirit in these positive words!
I find this to be true at my second/retirement home in Southern Vermont, Phil, but your eloquent reminder freshens the thought for me.
Hello, and thank you for your time posting content like this. Very helpful for a novice like me.
I was wondering if you have had experience timber framing with red pine? I’m having trouble sourcing white pine in my area (Duluth, MN), however, red pine is available in abundance.
I’ve read mixed reviews so far. According to a couple forums it looked like some people in my area (great lakes area) had better luck with red pine than folks out on the east/west coasts.
Also, if red pine is not a good option for me are there any alternate species I should be looking for?
Red pine will work well. It will move around a bit more than EWP but not much. Go for it.
Hey hello sir, sorry what are your thoughts about the European wood for timber framing, like oak, beech, maple, ash, alder, fir,cherry, pine, larch.
Ranniel, oak is commonly use in Britain for timber framing. You might check out this article for more discussion on the different species.
West Virginia , Hemlock will it make good timber structure? What about the knots from the limbers will they pose an issue?
Hemlock works well. It can move around a bit but it is used quite often.
This is great news! I plan to build an A-frame very soon on my 100 acre woodlot that has a ton of ash. I was expecting to have to source some large dimension spruce or even doug fir but if i can use ash from my own lot well that is just the cat’s meow, as they say. Whether it is white green or black, i’m not sure yet but it is really tall and straight and free of branches for what seems like 30 or more feet.
Good luck with your project, let us know how it goes!
Linden is soft and we had some rot when used outdoors as curved runners for long set of steps. It is one of my FAVORITE woods though and for uses like interior paneling it is one of the most beautiful. It turns a lovely shade of pink!! American Basswood is the proper name for species in Western NC …but all the old timers called them Linden or “Lin” tree. Graceful and beautiful they make flowers which == fantastic honey too.
Thank you for sharing your experience!
I’d like to build a small shelter (10×10) on my property using timbers I’ve gathered from fallen trees. Most are red oak or yellow poplar. Assuming I place the sills on concrete piers with a moisture barrier of some kind, and use a roof with enough overhang to prevent any blown in water, just how “susceptible” to decay are you suggesting the structure is? Do red oak or poplar posts rot out just by looking at them? Are we talking about the difference between a structure lasting 200 years vs 300 years, or 5 years vs 300 years when we talk about rot susceptibility and comparing the timbers to White Oak?
Hi Kevin, you’re right to focus on species and method.
Red oak isn’t as resistant as white oak, however it is a much better choice than poplar. See the report from the US Forest Service.
And of course, using tried and true construction methods is key – good airflow, keeping water and anything that could hold water off, using a sealer, etc.
I’d recommend Jack Sobon’s or Will Beemer’s books, especially Historic American Timber Joinery, there’s a few pages on sills specifically. Jack wrote the book taking apart old TF barns and is quick to note which barns were rotting into the ground and which ones were still standing whose joinery should be copied.
Has anybody used aspen for a TF barn? I have tons of it but can’t find anything online about whether it would be suitable if treated or not
My guess is you haven’t found much information because it isn’t suitable as a structural species with the large spans typically associated with timber frames. Large aspens are somewhat rare. The aspen tree has a rhizomatic root system so they spread and shoot up new trees quickly but none of them live very long. Heart rot is common. Even if you could get sizes large enough with minimal knots, the low strength would place strong limits on your design. See the chart I found here: https://www.woodworkweb.com/woodwork-topics/wood/146-wood-strengths.html
But anything can be used if well designed/engineered. It just may prove more trouble than it’s worth.
Can Hemlock be used for a post and beam barn?
Yes, that is a great choice.
I have access to a mixture of white oak, red oak, hickory, and perhaps a few yellow pine trees. I could have a few red cedar, elm, and ash timbers. I will probably make use of all these species in my build for logistical reason.
When considering the wall frame, roof joists/rafters, and so on, is there a preferred method of which wood for which structural section of the home? IE should I use oak for the walls, hickory for the roof, etc? How would you divide the wood species for specific purposes?
The biggest think to think about is how much they will shrink. Each species is a little different so research that and you will be good to go.