West Coast High

Has it really been a decade since we opened in Oregon? No. Actually, it’s been 9 years. Summer, 2008 I landed out here after a few years of research and prep just in time for the roughest economic face plant many of us have known (and I’ve known 4 others in our 30 years).

I liken that whole beginning to parachuting out of an airplane amidst blue skies into a thick but fluffy-enough bunch of clouds. Once inside, there was some suggestive bumping about, some troublesome turbulence, but not a clear sign yet of what lay ahead. Then suddenly I break through those clouds and the scene below me opens like a battlefield movie: burning buildings, scorched earth, hungry villagers with widening eyes and the air full of acrid smoke. (Yes, yes I’m exaggerating for effect. There were no burning buildings.)

That was the starting of our west coast effort at the beginning of that darned big recession. In looking back, it might have been better to hang out on the beach for 4 or 5 years rather than make the effort we did to build our business in such a setting. But I am neither prescient nor idle, and so work we did.

…and we’ve made great progress, and well, we’re pretty glad we didn’t just hang out on the beach. I would have gone insane.

Sean seems to be our resident selfie expert. Here he captured himself along with a few of the rest of us west coasters: Darren, Richard La Trobe (artist and bridge maker), me, David, and Quinn.

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Q and A with a timber frame engineer featuring Bryan B

“These are all ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions, right?

I chuckled at Bryan’s inquiry as we settled in for our Q&A interview. I assured him that all questions were going to be difficult and on the record. He grinned and I started with asking him a bit about his background followed by more rapid-fire questions. Here’s a look into Bryan:

On occasion, Bryan will bring pup Reilly into the office. Here she was just a few months old.

On occasion, Bryan will bring pup Reilly into the office. Here she was just a few months old.

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Rebuilding St. Pius X Church

 

On New Years Day, 2015 a devastating fire claimed the St. Pius X Church in the Town of Chili, New York. As church leaders and hundreds of parishioners gathered the resounding desire was to rebuild. Fast forward to December 2016, and after raising the necessary funding to rebuild, the church’s future took shape. Hanlon Architects designed a large, open interior volume with visible timber framing. Working closely with Hanlon and the Nichols Construction Team, our timber frame engineering team applied their know-how to refine and finalize the timber truss design.

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Q and A with a Timber Framer featuring Pete O’Brien

Leaving the world of party tents, awnings, and rough construction behind, Pete O’Brien joined our timber frame group finding the craftsmanship and finer work of traditional mortise and tenon joinery much more to his liking. In his opinion, handcrafting is second only to raising a frame.

pete for profile

We seem to be inundated with folks who love the outdoors so we were not surprised to learn that this timber framer likes hiking, kayaking, and frequents the Adirondacks. However, Pete admitted that he’s a gamer with a passion for racing and marksmanship games (cat’s out of the bag, sorry Pete!). On occasion Pete puts his kayaking skills to the test, participating in our local white water Wild Water Derby. After sitting down for this rapid fire interview, he regaled us with a few stories from the derby. Read on to learn more on this young craftsman (with author comments in brackets):

Pete's favorite way to view the ADKs!

Pete’s favorite way to view the ADKs!

What’s your favorite word or phrase?
Awesome. (Pete’s fellow timber framer and long-time member of the team, Jake, piped in saying to me, “That is for sure his favorite word.” Based on the grin he and Pete exchanged I suspected differently but didn’t press.)

Pete with chainsaw


We think this photo of Pete applying a chain saw texture is pretty awesome.

What’s your favorite time of day?
Dinner. (Big smile from Pete with this answer.)

What’s your favorite truss or joint?
A scarf joint.

Scarf joint assembly.

Scarf joint assembly.

Favorite wood species?
Oak.

What sound or noise do you love?
(A long pause here was punctuated by a good-natured verbal jab from a fellow timber who suggested the high pitched whine of the drill he was operating nearby was the sound Pete loves. Shaking his head and smiling Pete offered a different answer…) Water.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Nails on a chalkboard (He couldn’t suppress a shudder and I grimaced with empathy for his reaction.)

Let’s move on…you travel to raise frames. What’s your favorite area of the nation?
The Blue Ridge in Virginia – the views are amazing. (“Better than the Adirondacks you visit so much?” I asked.) Different. Less populated…

Not quite the Blue Ridge, but plenty of blue water for this lake home raising. (From the left: Pete, John S, and Mike G)

Not quite the Blue Ridge, but plenty of blue water for this lake home raising Pete was a key member of this Spring. (From the left: Pete, John S, and Mike G.)

What’s best about your profession?
Crafting something unusual, something not many other people do.

All focus.

Speaking of unusual, here Pete’s working some new joinery for 100+ year-old reclaimed agricultural timbers salvaged by our sister company, Pioneer Millworks.

What profession would you not like to do?
Telemarketing. (Pete looked stricken by the very thought of having to cold call people.)

What’s your dog’s name?
No dog, I have a cat. His name is Porter and he’s…awesome. (Another grin spread across his features. I have to admit appreciation for Pete’s sense of humor and overall affable nature.)

(Follow the pink arrow to Pete)

(Follow the pink arrow to Pete)

How about the Wild Water Derby?
This was my first year participating. Bruce, Jason, Matt, and a few others – we formed a team using an old wooden raft some of the… (he paused, sending a quick glance at Jake) …more seasoned guys raced a few years back. Things were going well until we started taking on water. (“Really?!” I asked and Pete laughed.) Really. The rapids were splashing up and tossing us around. We were using our hands and a bucket we had in the boat to scoop it out between bouts of rowing. It was epic. We all made it out fine and we got a wooden oar award too! I’d like to do it again next year. 

Ann Arbor Legacy Home

Thanks to Mike W, Timber Frame Champion on this project, for sharing his comments, leadership, and skills.

Thanks to Mike W, Timber Frame Champion on this project, for sharing his comments, leadership, and skills.

“I truly could not have asked to work with a better crew. It’s great to work with people so on-point. Hardly anything went by without someone helping to make the others’ job easier.” – Mike W, Timber Frame Champion on the Ann Arbor Legacy Home.

rendering MI legacy timber home new energy worksRaisings are often an exciting culmination of years of dreaming, months of planning, and hours of crafting. This Ann Arbor, Michigan home was no exception as our team was met with excited smiles and kind accolades from the homeowners Cindy and Bill and the builder, David (of Coppernail Construction). Our team of Mike, Jimmy, Taylor, and Randy from the McMinnville (Oregon) shop raised the frame amidst some rainy summer days in July.

raising main bent new energy works

A large hybrid timber frame and stick-built project, timber abounds in the great room, main entry, kitchen/dining areas. As a full-time home to the owners, this structure will also comfortably accommodate visits from their five children and many grandchildren within its nine bedrooms and seven baths. Plus they’ll have all-season fun with both indoor and outdoor pools.

Jimmy was all smiles for his selfie from the top of the frame.

Jimmy was all smiles for his selfie from the top of the frame.

Mike explained, “Jimmy (featured in a previous blog post) really showed his experience and took charge like a champ. He was absolutely my right hand on this raising,” 

 

Over 300 kiln dried Douglas fir timbers, nearly 20,000 board feet, were crafted for this project. On-site pre-assembly and layout of the hammer beam inspired bents and trimber was smoothly orchestrated over three days.

preassembly new energy timber michigan.jpgWorking between raindrops, the team raised the bents of the great room and main entry in a day.

taylor on frame.jpgOur newest guy, Taylor, got his feet wet (quite literally) during this, his first raising. He has hustle and shinned day after day with a “go getter” attitude and excited mindset,” Mike continued.

raising timber truss ann arbor by new energy works

 

 

Randy was all smiles as he helped direct "flying" timbers.

Randy was all smiles as he helped direct “flying” timbers.

pres MI raising.jpg

The entry was set with posts on concrete pillars that will have a stone facade in the future. More timber will grace the exterior as “trimber” as the project finishes out. Many thanks to the homeowners for a great project, the builder for his many skills, and our team for their dedication, camaraderie, and good work.

Guiding the corner posts of the entryway is a team effort.

Guiding the corner posts of the entryway is an effort in communication on the ground and to the crane operator.