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Northwest Timber Frames Wood Selections 


Northwest Timber Frames
Wood Selection

There are several species of wood that make excellent timbers for timberframe construction. Here in the Northwest we normally use Douglas fir which is readily available and comes in a variety of different grades, from very tight grained salvaged old growth, to second and third growth free of heart center. Being located in the Pacific Northwest puts us very close to some of the best sawmills producing the finest quality Douglas fir timbers in the world. Other species can be used, depending on desired cost and appearance, (oak, pine or cedar for example.) We can also mix species in our timberframes for a very nice effect.

Another option is recycled material, which has the advantage of extremely limited shrinkage as a result of drying that has already occurred over time. At Northwest Timber Frames we are always looking for recycled materials and maintain an inventory of such timbers. Inquire today for availability.

Wood choice will affect the price of the project. Green, second and third growth timbers are the least expensive choice for the homeowner while recycled old growth timbers are the most expensive. If green timbers are used, there may be substantial shrinkage as the timbers dry affecting the looks, but not the structural integrity of the beams. To get the least amount of movement in the timbers there are several ways to dry the beams. Air drying takes the longest to get the timbers to a low moisture content. As a general rule of thumb they will dry 1” per year in thickness, so a 6 X 12 would take six years on average to naturally dry. The time required to air dry is often prohibitive for homeowners looking for minimal shrinkage, however it is the most environmentally conscious choice using far less energy. A second way to dry timbers is the use of conventional kilns which basically cook the wood down to a low percentage. This is how the bulk of standard lumber is dried. The third way that we can get timbers dried is by RF/V(radio frequency vacuum kiln). In this technique the timbers can be dried by using radio frequency, heat and a vacuum pump to speed the process often drying the timbers in just 4-5 days with minimal defects in the wood.

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Email: Jeff@nwtimberframes.com
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Last updated on December 31, 2008