Design Week Portland: Crafting With Heavy Timbers

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Design Week Portland 2017 has come to a close, but not before New Energy Works threw an event showcasing residential heavy timber framing and solar panels. On April 26th, 2017 outside of New Energy Works SE Portland Studio in Oregon, a couple of our timber framers raised heavy timbers crafting an 18 foot by 10 foot carport structure.

Quinn, Darren and Mike finishing up the frame.

Quinn, Darren, and Mike finish 
up the frame.

Zero nuts, bolts and screws. Just wood joinery.

Zero nuts, bolts and screws.
Just wood joinery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After completing the frame, our colleagues at Syncro Solor came by and attached four, 345 watt,
solar panels to the top. Synchro Solar is a locally-owned, full service solar energy contractor serving Oregon and Southwest Washington that specializes in the design and installation of completely custom solar electric and solar water heating systems.

4 solar panels atop Douglas fir timbers

4 solar panels atop Douglas fir timbers

The event was from 2 – 4 pm. Our guests were a range of architects, builders, and artisans. We shared information about timber framing, cross laminated timber, the environment and what New Energy Works is all about.

Jonathan Orpin presents to DWP guests about timber framing.

Jonathan Orpin presents to DWP guests about timber framing.

The morning had started out a bit rainy, but the sun broke free of the clouds and we ventured outside to have a closer look at the carport and the timber framers manipulating timbers.

Checking out the timber frame as a group.

Checking out the timber frame
as a group.

Darren using a large drill into Douglas fir timber.

Darren drilling into a Douglas fir timber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re excited to send all proceeds and donations from the event went to Community Energy Project. With hundreds of trained volunteers, they reach low-income households, providing life-changing services to thousands of diverse clients. They offer free community workshops that teach practical skills to make homes safer and more energy efficient as well as in-home services to weatherize and repair homes for people in need. To further help support Community Energy Project buy tickets to their spring social event here.

Community Energy Project's booth at the event.

Community Energy Project’s booth at the event.

Our thanks to everyone who attended and our friends at Synchro Solar and Community Energy Project, for joining us on this venture. As well as a special thanks to Cascade Wester Representatives for all of their help with equipment and supplies.

Harmony on the Hudson: The Olsen’s Timber Home Retreat Story

olsen-interiorTimber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.

The Olsen’s story, and the Welcome Home Series, begins with the land…

Part 1: From Dream to Design
The Olsen’s begin designing their dream home on land they’d been spending vacation time visiting for 10 years. Harmony with the land and the family was a must.
view-from-olsenPart 2: Laying The Groundwork
Breaking ground – an exciting day, especially with a few last minute modifications.

groundbreaking-olsenPart 3: Built to Last
Our team raises the frame and the Olsen family watches their dream home take shape.
olsen-raisingPart 4: Worth the Wait
Weather delays…but not for long!
olsen-in-snowPart 5: Lessons Learned
Communication proves vital in the build process for sticking to the plan and modifying.
solar-array-olsenPart 6: Elements of Surprise
Nearing completion, creativity and flexibility lead to modified plans.
olsen-porchPart 7: The Big Finish
Mixed materials, including reclaimed wood, make a statement on the interior and exterior of the Olsen Home.
olsen-custom-cabinetry-reclaimed-floorPart 8: The Great Escape
“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout,” says Greg Olsen.
olsen-porch-exteriorolsen-exterior-timber-frame-reclaimed-sidingOur notes:
When Greg and Dee approached us to craft their family’s timber frame retreat we knew it was going to be fun. Their philosophy fit with ours: they wanted to strike a balanced design, a home in harmony with the site that was as environmentally conscious as possible. Eliminating VOCs, incorporating reclaimed and organic materials, and a solar array were “must have” elements. Planning on large family gatherings and lots of cooks in the kitchen, there is ample party space with unobstructed southern views of the Catamount and Butternut Mountains. Screened and covered porches blur the line between interior and exterior spaces.

The resulting home celebrates a variety of reclaimed and storied wood: the timber frame is crafted from reclaimed Douglas fir; flooring is reclaimed Walnut on the upper level and reclaimed Teak on the lower level; wall paneling is reclaimed barn siding; reclaimed beech was used to create custom bed frames, night stands, and built-ins. Much of the cabinetry and built-ins, including the Ash kitchen cabinetry, was made by our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks. The kitchen island includes a “waterfall” of walnut as a prep/presentation area while the adjacent dining table seats up to twelve.

Barn Raising Time Lapse

After crafting the frame for a large barn in our shop in Farmington, NY, our timber framers traveled to Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina to raise it. Over 500 timbers and timber components make up the frame with those on the exterior featuring a custom stain. After a few days of pre-assembly the raising started and moved along quickly. Check out the big bents pre-assembled and stacked/organized as the central core of the barn goes up in this short video (below). Thanks to Josh at J.T. Turner Construction for the video!

The Persuader, aka: Beetle, Mallet, Hammer

In honor of naming our blog, we wanted to post about The Beetle. No, we’re not talking insects. We’re talking about the giant wooden hammer that appears at every raising.

Beetle wooden malletWe have several beetle mallets around the shop all weighing in between 20 to 30 pounds, sized around 12″ x 12″ x 6″. This is one serious hammer (or mallet, whatever you prefer). A vital tool, beetles are used to help seat joinery together, shift posts or beams, and on occasion drive in pegs. The beetle has various names throughout the timber frame industry, most commonly the “persuader” or the “commander”.

(At my very first raising I was asked to pass the persuader over. Once I knew what ‘the persuader’ was, I reached for the handle with confidence and pulled. I was astonished when it barely moved. It was an oak beetle, weighing about 35 pounds, which is reasonable…if you’re expecting the weight of it. I was saved from a second effort by a nearby timber framer who hefted it up easily and handed it over.)

master timber framer with beetle

Master timber framer Mike Gullace makes handling the beetle look easy from the ground or on a timber. Notice the angle on the end of the beetle head? Part of crafting a custom beetle is in the details and some feel the angle cut helps achieve better weight distribution when swinging the hammer.

Swinging wooden beetle mallet

It takes a good bit of muscle to swing the beetle as Will demonstrates during a west coast raising. This view also shows the how the handle is driven through the head of the mallet for a friction fit, much like a pickaxe.

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