Timber Frames

Surfacing Choices

July 29, 2023
Surfacing choices for your timber frames

There are many choices and decisions to be made when faced with a new build of any kind and timber framing is no different. One of the first decisions you will have to make regarding the look of your finished timber frame is the texture of the timber surfaces. There are several different ways to do this, so we'll go over a few of the most popular.

Smoothly Planed/Surfaced

This most common choice is the result of a portable planer, sharp blades, and patient technique. The timber frame sets the planer blade height to a minimum setting to minimize grain tear-out and planes each visible timber surface while advancing slowly. Areas around knots may require additional attention from a belt sander.

Timber frame construction: Demonstrating the attention to detail in finishing work
Rough Sawn

Rough sawn timbers are the most rustic and basic form of surface finish. Once a tree has been cut down timbers are joined straight from the sawmill, saw marks and rough grain intact. Rough sawn timbers are often displayed in barns and homes. It is truly a rustic and natural surface choice for a timber frame home.

Rough sawn surface of timbers
Hand Hewn

Best described under the heading, "How to make a timber framer wince", this surface treatment is achieved by using an adze. The adze wielder chops along the length of the timber taking small divots of wood. The aim here is to replicate a timber that produced by hand from the log.

hand new surface for timbers

Timber frame timbers can be sandblasted to mimic weathered timber surfaces without the graying. A steady stream of an abrasive agent such as sand or baking soda is directed under pressure against the timber surfaces. The abrasive agent removes the softer 'early wood' leaving the 'late wood'. The result is a timber surface that looks and feels like corduroy with the 'late wood' grain raised.

surfacing process for timber frames

Make sure to choose wisely, because the finish will likely be the first thing most people notice about your frame. There are no wrong decisions, but it is important to choose a texture that matches the look and feel you want in your new home. If you have any questions about these or any other kind of timber frame finishing, feel free to reach out and let us know! We are always happy to talk timber framing with new friends.

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