Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wood Science is Now LumberTalk . com

I am happy to announce that Wood Science has officially moved to LumberTalk.com.

After more than two years, it has become more than I expected and needs more than blogger to continue with my plans for it. LumberTalk will have even more useful content with more how-to's, technical information, and even regular profiles and interviews with small companies in the lumber industry.

The content (started in 2005) on Wood Science will remain as it is and all new content will be added to Lumber Talk from now on.

Thank you,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beautiful Structural Timber Trusses

I ran across these structural timber trusses today when I was looking at small home plans from Ross Chapin Architects and it reminded me of the Parts of a Structural Timber Truss sketchcast I made a while back.

These structural timber trusses at the Whidbey Institute are absolutely beautiful. I am not sure who made them but I will probably try to find out later.

Structural Timber Trusses at Whidbey HallThey have an impressive sense of balance. I especially like the way they burst out of the vertical columns along walls and reach up to the walls as well as the ceilings. The timber trusses themselves support the structure of the building instead of being supported by the wall and only supporting the roof. These structural timber trusses have a great balance between being structural and aesthetically appealing. They are as interesting as they are functional.

Structural Timber Trusses on ColumnsHere's a broad view of them.

Small Home Plans

Small home plans typically include plans for small homes under 1,800 square feet but this article is really about small home plans for small homes under 1,000 square feet.

Often small homes under a thousand square feet are used as cabins or weekend homes but there is a growing movement towards living in very small homes to take advantage of energy savings, minimal investment in land and home, and because some people just enjoy the outdoors more and consider a home to be a place for sleeping. That's where my interest in small home plans really comes from.

Not exactly regular small home plans but if you are looking for a DIY small home, this is a fantastic step by step construction of the small home pictured above (really a small cabin).

Some Considerations for Choosing Small Home Plans

How much small do you really need? Be honest with yourself and your lifestyle and don't try to choose a small home plan that will require you to live in a new way.

Why do you want a small home? Do you want to be outside more? Save energy? Be less wasteful? Save money? Build something yourself? Want a second home? There is a very good chance your reason for searching for small home plans is different from one of the above.

Where are you building your home? Make sure the small home plan you choose makes sense for where you are building as well as why you want to build. If you are trying to save energy, a small home plan for a house made mostly of glass that you are going to build in the middle of the desert might not be the best idea. That's extreme but you get the idea. At least, I hope so.

What do your small home plans include? Before purchasing your small home plans be clear about what is included with your purchase. Do you get hard copies of the drawings, blueprints, a cd with plans, and a materials lists? Do you get just one of those or all of them? Can you make copies or do you have to buy additional copies? Do the small home plans meet the building codes for your building location?

This is not an endorsement (though I will take kickbacks if they want to give them) but my favorite small home plans are designed by Ross Chapin Architects.

Another WoodScience post about small homes.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

How to Build a Dock Foundation

This sketchcast is an overview of the basic components required to build a dock or pier foundation and how they fit together.

The main components are:

  1. Pilings
  2. Pile Caps/Beams
  3. Stringers
You will also need the appropriate hardware and surface deck materials for your pier or dock. The sketchcast does not cover spans or what sizes of materials you should use. There are a lot of variable to take into consideration for that stuff. So, if you want my advice I will go for the mega overbuild. Check with your local building codes and consult an engineer to be safe.

Make sure you use properly treated wood when building your dock or pier. For fresh water, use wood treated to at least .60 pcf and use 2.5 pcf for saltwater. Marine environments are really tough on wood.

Along the same vein, use the best hardware you can get. The price difference will be next-to-nothing and you will always know that your dock or pier is really strong. Use hot dipped galvanized or even stainless steel hardware.

If you have any questions about the components, where to get them, or how to build a dock or pier foundation, post a comment here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Plywood Grades & Information

I get questions about plywood grades from time to time so I figured I would see what it is already out there about plywood and compile it for you here. There is some good stuff.

Plywood Grades Sources:

  • Plywood - this is like a plywood 101 and 201 combined. It covers hardwood plywood, how plywood is made, uses for plywood, and plywood grades.
  • Plywood Grades Stamps - Even though this is a lesson specific to TECO, it still applies to the plywood grades stamps on most plywood.
  • Softwood Plywood Grades - Informative article that sticks closely to construction plywood grades. Excellent read if you are about to building something with plywood.
  • Hardwood Plywood Grading Rules - Sticks to hardwood plywood grading and gives a very clear explanation.

Plywood Grades (from "Plywood")

CDX: Lowest grade of exterior plywood available usually used for sheathing on roofs or walls. Can be used for utility purpose. Available in 3/8", ½", 5/8" and ¾"thicknesses in 4x8 pieces.

5/8" Underlayment: 4x8 used for subflooring, when a smooth surface is needed. This plywood is made with exterior glue.

BC Plywoods: BC grade plywoods have one finished face usually yellow pine made with exterior glue and is available in 3/8", ½", and ¾" in 4x8 pieces.

Finished and Special Purpose Panels Plywood Grades

AC Plywoods: AC grade plywoods have one finished face usually Douglas Fir made with exterior glue and is available in ¼", 3/8", ½, 5/8" and ¾" pieces.

Luan Plywood: A cheap grade of Mahogany plywood available in 1/8" and ¼" 4x8 pieces. Perfect for Cabinet backing, or any utility purpose.

BB Plyform: ¾" 4x8 sheets finished 2 faces, oiled for easy removal after being used for concrete forming.

Hardboard: Standard pressed hardboard 4x8 sheets available in 1/8" and ¼" thicknesses. Pegboard available in the same sizes.

Homasote: ½"x 4 x 8 sound board. Used on floors or wall for sound barrier, also great as bulletin boards.

A/B Marine: Marine plywood available in ¼", 3/8", ½" and ¾" thicknesses 4x8 sheets (sold by the sheet only). Marine plywood is usually used in boat making application. The same exterior glue as in all exterior construction grade plywoods is used. The main difference, and what makes marine plywood more expensive is the voidless inner plys that make up the plywood. Inner plys must be solid. (A boats motor causes vibration, if a plywood with inner voids is used the plywood can delaminate. Marine plywood has all voidless inner plys.)

MDO: Medium Density Overlay is regular plywood core with a smooth 10 mill paper applied to one or both faces. The smooth paper facing is an excellent surface for painting signs. If sealed and primed properly MDO can be used outside. Thicknesses available in 3/8", ½", ¾" GIS an G2S. 4x8 sheets.

MDF: Medium Density Fiberboard, a heavy fibered board used in cabinet making. Excellent for paint applications. What Cabinet makers like about the product is it’s routeable surface. MDF is also used in making speaker cabinets. Sizes available are ½" and ¾" sheets.

CCA Treated Plywood: A grade of "green" CCA treated plywood is chemically treated to prevent corrosion. Re-Dried after treatment, this plywood is excellent for exterior application.

Hardwood Plywoods: Species types are: Birch, Red Oak, Cherry, Mahogany, Walnut and Maple. Sizes are available in ¼", 3/8", ½", ¾" in most species types. Most Hardwood plywoods stocked are graded A-1 which means good on one face. Other grade designations are Cabinet Grade and paint grade for more common used birch panels.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Treated Wood Vine Posts

Treated wood vine post alternatives. This is a short post from Decanter about how vineyards are moving from the use of treated wood vine posts to metal posts because of the perceived dangers of CCA.

Alternatives to CCA treated wood vine posts include:

  • ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary) treated posts
  • MCQ (Micronized Copper Quaternary) treated posts
There are others but you still face a few of the problems posed in the Decanter article. Namely, you cannot burn treated wood vine posts or chip them for mulch or bedding.

Metal vine posts might be the option for the future but they have the same UNappeal as synthetic corks - they work just as well but don't look as cool.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Timber Frame Construction

I found some free ebooks today from the American Wood Council that will help you with any timber frame construction project you are working on. They include information about topics ranging from spans to timber frame connections to proper materials choices. They are totally free, compliments of the AWC. Enjoy your timber frame construction project.

  • Plank-and-Beam Framing for Residential Buildings ebook
  • Heavy Timber Construction ebook
  • Design of Wood Frame Structures for Permanence ebook
Whether you are building a house, barn, or bridge each of these will help you with your timber frame construction project - especially the "Heavy Timber Construction" ebook.

You can buy treated or untreated timbers from American Pole and Timber.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

How to Build a Wood Bulkhead

This is a sketchcast of how to build a wood bulkhead. It covers the basic design and components of a wood bulkhead. This is a follow up of how to build a vinyl bulkhead a few weeks ago.

Here are the basic wood bulkhead components covered in the sketchast:

  • Pilings
  • Wales
  • Center Match
  • Filter Cloth
  • Tie Rods
  • Dead Men
  • Hardware
One main point is to always make sure you use properly treated wood when building a wood bulkhead as it will have a huge impact on how long the wall lasts. If you are building in saltwater, use wood treated to a retention of 2.5 pcf. If your bulkhead will be in freshwater, use at least .60 pcf treated wood.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment.