Growing Up: Creating Volume in a Small Footprint

While site constraints are common with any project, this particular building site on Otsego Lake demanded that any new structure fit within the previous camp’s footprint – no larger, no change in orientation, no closer to the shore. However, there was opportunity to play with the height of a new project and always room for thoughtful use of space.

building sectionThe Southeast side of Ostego Lake is forever wild. The Northeast is home to a state park, the Western side is a large, privately owned estate. Thanks to good timing several years back, the client purchased this site with an existing three-season camp, on the Northwestern end of the lake. Removal of the old three-season camp revealed a tight 24′ x 31′ footprint.

sat view site otsego lake

Our design team began the journey to ‘grow up’ on the site by understanding the desires and needs of the client—a father looking to create a four-season, multi-generational family get-away. A sleek mountain-lake aesthetic provided the starting point for a taller, multi-level cottage design. With the lake as a major focal point, contemporary, horizontally mulled rectangular windows were combined with non-mulled square windows for ample views and abundant natural light. A split shed roof will allow the project to stay within height restrictions while creating a clerestory to bring southern light into the upper-level bedroom spaces. “I really like the simplicity and functionality of the split shed roof and I’m excited to see it come to life,” said Pete, lead Architect on this project.

clerestory timber frame small lake home

“We knew making the most of the site would likely result in a very “flat” exterior aesthetic. To add dimension we’re incorporating a combination of vertical and horizontal siding in a mixture of materials along with varying the depth of the roof overhangs,” continued Pete.

main level floorplan timber frame otsego lake

The design suggests setting the project further down into the site to provide parking access at the roadside, rather than lakeside as the camp had previously been oriented. This will provide more “green space” on the lake side of the site, however, it creates an interesting entry point that is situated ‘between’ the main and upper levels. The entrance includes a larger landing with a bench and connections to two staircases: one that leads down to the main level commons and another that proceeds upwards to the bedrooms.

timber frame entry lake otsego home

Timber runs from the ground level up, enabling the creation of visual breaks throughout the project’s open spaces with strategically placed structural timber frame posts and beams. Overall the design plays out to 2,000 sq ft with bedrooms, including a master with private balcony, on the upper level, main living on the mid-level, and a guest suite plus lake access from the lower level. Pete and team are continuing to finalize this design, adjusting to meet both client and additional zoning requirements. We can’t wait to see the home as it comes to fruition. Tell us about your dream timber frame.

Wood where the elbows are: Celebrating the Table.

Dining, meeting, drafting, sewing, displaying—the table is one of our most versatile pieces of furniture. They range in size, use, and style—across cultures and materials. Small functional bedside tables, wide ornate coffee tables, grand formal dining tables: each personal and flexible to nearly any imaginable design.

In this New York home, two wide reclaimed Elm thresher boards were bookended, butterfly joined, and place atop a custom fabricated metal base.

In this New York home, two wide reclaimed Elm thresher boards were bookended, butterfly joined, and placed atop a custom fabricated metal base.

For over two decades our fine woodworking group, NEWwoodworks, has been designing and crafting all varieties of tables, working out nuances and integrating creativity with functionality. Wood is this team’s preferred medium, be it antique reclaimed, live-edge, or newly sawn. Celebrating the beauty of the wood is instinctual with these craftsmen.

Headed for its new life as a bar height community table this creation has intentionally selected planks from original Foundry Maple flooring with a resin pour finish atop a powder coated custom steel base.

Headed for its new life as a bar height community table, this creation has intentionally selected planks from original Foundry Maple flooring with a resin pour finish atop a powder coated custom steel base.

Completed last week, this boat-shaped conference room table has a top crafted from Reclaimed Settlers’ Plank Mixed Hardwoods and a base of what we like to call “Toasted” Oak. Also integrated into the top are three power tilt-ups.

conference table reclaimed hardwoods newwoodworks custom reclaimed hardwoods conference table newwoodworks
Working alongside our Architectural and Interior Designer, Andrew, the NEWwoodworks craftsmen recently made two tables for our showroom remodel. Both are intended to provide additional work surfaces and meeting spaces for clients and co-workers alike.

A modified “waterfall” effect has the reclaimed Tropical Hardwood Mix of one of the tables dripping over the edge towards the floor:

reclaimed exotic hardwoods waterfall table newwoodworks

The original stamps marking the approval of this wood for overseas use via a form of kiln drying.

The original stamps marking the reclaimed exotic hardwoods are pest free.

Not to be missed is the “suspension” table, an idea that has been percolating in the NEWwoodworks group for some time. Crafted of mixed oak with a dark wash stain, the deep wood color draws attention to the metal suspension components:

suspension oak table by newwoodworks

Live-edge tables are always intriguing with their organic edges and truly one-of-a-kind shapes. Several tables designed by Rob, manager of our NEWwoodworks group, celebrate live edges and “x” bases in a Kentucky farmhouse:

The root burl of a large walnut tree was carefully maintained to create a live-edge end on this farmhouse table.

The root burl of a large walnut tree was carefully maintained to create a live-edge end on this farmhouse table.

Similar to the dining table, walnut end tables have one-of-a-kind live-edges in this Kentucky home.

Similar to the dining table, walnut end tables have one-of-a-kind live-edges in this Kentucky home.

Figured cherry maintains a live edge with a low height traditional for coffee tables.

Figured cherry maintains a live edge with a low height traditional for coffee tables.


Reclaimed wood
lends other interesting character marks and hard-earned patinas to any fine woodworking project:

Old French white oak and domestic barrel/vat staves were repurposed into a pier table off the kitchen island, ideally situated for family meals.

Old French white oak and domestic barrel/vat staves were repurposed into a pier table off the kitchen island, ideally situated for family meals.

Incorporating our torsion box design and a mixture of reclaimed hardwoods, Parsons-style tables offer space for patrons of a Florida-based bank:

reclaimed hardwoods box communal tables

In another commercial space, Kindred Fare, a large walnut table with contrasting butterfly joinery and a trestle base (crafted of reclaimed Hemlock) seats 10+:

custom walnut table kindred fare by newwoodworks

An extra large, curving edged Settlers’ Plank reclaimed oak conference table easily seats 20+ as demonstrated by some of the NEWwoodworks team:

nww crew at SP table

As we find with any fine woodworking, so much is in the details. Custom designs are made better with detailed execution and specific attention to each wood plank’s grain and character, to overall dimensions, to what base material and style fits best, to the shape of an apron (or not having an apron at all!), to what joinery is applied, to the finish, and much more.

In the details: A reclaimed beech table with thru-tenon aprons and pyramid pegs.

In the details: A reclaimed beech table with live edge, thru-tenon aprons, and walnut pyramid pegs.

The more challenging and more unique, the better for this team. What table is in your imagination? Let us know – we can help bring it to life.

A well-loved 'timber' table in the NEWwoodworks showroom celebrates live edges and original mortise pockets suspended from heavy Douglas fir timber legs.

A well-loved ‘timber’ table in the NEWwoodworks showroom celebrates live edges and original mortise pockets in its top, all suspended from heavy Douglas fir timber legs.

 

A Bridge of the Future

Authored by: Darren Watson

Jonathan, our founder, and president, brought me into this bridge project about 5 weeks ahead of the annual Timber Framers Guild (TFG) conference. It is the beautiful realization of an offhand comment made at the Coeur d’Alene TFG conference in 2015 between Jonathan and Richard La Trobe-Bateman.

completed latrobe bridge tfg and new energy works

I was immediately excited to have the opportunity to work on this bridge having seen Richard La Trobe-Bateman and his minimalist pedestrian bridges presented at the 2015 TFG Conference. I was asked to coordinate the temporary installation of this 92’ long 19’ tall bridge on the rooftop plaza of the Edgewater Hotel in Madison, WI, from 2000 miles away using volunteer labor fitting in around the conference sessions. Right away I took to looking at Google Earth to understand just what I had agreed to.

empty rooftop for bridge

“Roof top” turns out to be true though rather deceptive as the hotel cascades from street level down the hill to Lake Mendota six stories below. This did mean that every timber, bolt, and section of scaffolding had to be carried from the valet parking down, and then back up again; 22 steps to and from the build site on the plaza.

timbers down the stairs for bridge

Shortly thereafter Dick Anderson, of Darlington, Wisconsin contacted us expressing an interest in working with us on this temporary bridge. He turned out to be our “Ace in the hole” as he was able to visit the site and make arrangements to have the scaffold delivered and to coordinate with the hotel staff. He also built a model of the bridge purely from pictures and a couple of sketchy dimensions. Dick has a history of working on other traditionally timber framed bridges in his area and having taught high school shop class for the majority of his career he was uniquely qualified to help me wrangle the cats responsible for making this project a success. Dick has written a great blog post with more details and images on this project – I think it is worth a read for sure.

The project began with a further lesson in coordinating from a distance as a missed flight connection in Denver on Thursday night sent me scrambling to find the right combination of flights to get to Madison, WI. Again, Dick was in the right place at the right time. He was able to get the scaffold delivered to the site Friday morning and then take Richard, and his son Will, out to Mike Yaker’s shop where the frame had been delivered – all before I finally arrived late Friday afternoon.

bridge raising in rain

6am Saturday morning started out beautifully, cool and overcast with a light breeze off the lake. Dick and I were able to get the bridge “footings” and scaffolding located and laid out very carefully as we would be building the bridge from both ends to meet in the middle. As the finished bridge would reach 19’ in the air, this initial layout was critical. We added a couple extra inches in length to the overall length to allow us some wiggle room to pull the halves of the bridge together at the end of the assembly instead of ending up too close and having to figure out just how to spread it apart.

By the time this was all said and done the timbers arrived along with the rain, which would be our constant companion through the rest of the day. Fortunately, the rain let up for just long enough to get a bunch of help from the TFG conference goers, allowing us to run all the individual timbers and walk plank assemblies down to the build site.

bridge assembly aerial

Once all the timbers we loaded into the site, construction commenced. Myself, Dick, Richard, Will, and Keith Rockett formed the core assembly team. We were joined intermittently by numerous folks taking a break from the conference sessions to help us out. Dick’s model became an invaluable tool in communicating what was to come next in the assembly sequence as our paper plans soon succumbed to the rain. At the end of the first day, we had completed approximately three-quarters of the bridge. The north half was complete and the south half was nearing the upper stages of assembly.

Sunday morning dawned overcast but DRY. With this turn of the weather, we had a surge of timberframers eager to get involved with the final assembly of the structure which now loomed tall on the plaza right outside of the conference windows. We were able to wield two teams of bridge builders on this day. One completing the final structural assembly of the south half and one installing the walk-board starting with the north end. The walk-board assemblies were able to slide neatly up the previous section eliminating the need to carry these large and heavy units into place.

vertical of latrobe bridge at TFG

In another lesson in relinquishing control, I was pulled away by a session presented by Tedd Benson and two of his most knowledgeable managers on the concept of Lean Manufacturing and distribution of leadership and responsibility – right before we were to begin installing the central walk-board and diagonal cabling that comprises the structural heart of the bridge. I asked Joe Miller, of Fire Tower Engineered Timber who did the engineering design, to take over the installation of these components and off I went to the presentation.

under latrobe bridge

After an hour and a half of manufacturing process enlightenment from some of the best in the industry, I came out to find a scaffold-free completed bridge with people walking over it. This was a highly poignant lesson in trusting in people’s inherent capacity to perform the task in from of them when trusted to do so.

close up of bridge joinery

The bridge stood for a total of 20 hours before we started the disassembly Monday morning at 8am. Again, we were graced with a perfect day and more than adequate work force. By noon all of the bridge and scaffolding had been cleared from the plaza and it was like we had never been there. I was astonished at the speed this structure was dismantled as I was expecting it to take fully two thirds of the install time to remove from the site due to the challenge that the assembly presented.

new energy works team on latrobe bridge

My co-workers along with Richard posed on the finished bridge. Front to back: Sean, me, Richard, Jonathan, David, and Quinn.

I can’t adequately express how fortunate I feel for being given the opportunity to meet and work with Richard and Will La Trobe-Bateman, Dick Anderson, Keith Rockett, George Brinkman, Joe Miller and Fire Tower Engineered Timber. I had a most enjoyable time working with them and all of the other unnamed Guild members making this dream a reality.

latrobe with Arete Structures east coast

The bridge was auctioned off at the Saturday night benefit auction bringing in over $20k for the Timber Framers Guild. Arete Structures, a division of Arete Engineering out of Boone, NC, were the lucky winners of the auction. Atere Structures specializes in custom prefabricated pedestrian bridges so this was a great opportunity for them. Shaun (pictured above with Richard LaTrobe Bateman) and Brian of Arete were there to help with the assembly but unfortunately had to be on a plane before it all came down. However it was great to have them there for the bulk of the project. That first-hand experience of the assembly will hopefully help as they re-build the bridge for one final time in its life.

Find the Beetle: Greenwich, CT

Our craftsmen are raising the frame for a large timber frame central hall for a project with Kurpinski Builder. Each timber has a multistep custom finish and a few have needed to be ‘persuaded’ into place. The best tool of the trade for this? The trusty wooden beetle mallet wielded here with gusto and precision by Matt.

matt h timber framer with beetle

Restored, Reused, Reloved: Doors of Heritage

Doors are the transitional pieces, the welcoming elements, the barriers against intrusion—be it weather or other diversions—the room dividers, the separators of space. A high-crafted door is designed to function flawlessly and be in service for decades. Yet over time their movement and environment can impact aesthetics and usefulness. Our fine woodworking group, NEWwoodworks, has had the opportunity to restore doors of heritage, bearing, and beauty for a few special spaces.

Home at the Spa

spa door rehab by newwoodworks

Elements from an original carriage house in Rochester were carefully salvaged, including the main entry doors, for a local spa. Always believed to be arched, during removal it was discovered that the original doors were rectangular. They had hung for years behind an arched opening to give them the look of arched doors.

Original doors, site salvaged.

Original doors, site salvaged.

The craftsmen at NEWwoodworks, lead by door guru, Jay, were tasked with creating arches in the old doors, along with general restoration. The doors were constructed in a traditional way using wedged tenons which were hammered in from the side. This type of old craft construction would close and tighten all of the stile and rail joints. With skill and care, an arch was cut in the doors and components were re-fitted to create truly arched doors. The surface was then wire brushed and mounting hardware was set into the backs of the doors so they could be hung on a wall.

spa door refurb by newwoodworks

Today they greet patrons from their new home where they live as pieces of art behind the spa reception desk.

newwoodworks spa door refurb

University Ave

Though species and finishes play a large role in the durability of wooden entry doors, time and weather will eventually wear through and some TLC will be needed to bring the wood back to life. A set of white oak entry doors on University Ave in Rochester, NY were removed by our craftsmen and transported back to the shop.

univ ave door orig

The original weather-worn oak doors on University Ave.

It was clear the bottom rails were beyond repair which lead the team to dismantle the doors and sidelights. Over 200 oak pieces and all joinery was restored. New insulated glass units and oil rubbed bronze hardware were added bringing a touch of modernization to the doors. Originally the oak was stained dark brown, but for this revitalization, it was requested to keep a natural finish to allow the oak’s patina to be celebrated. The craftsmen employed a polymerized tung oil that will be applied biannually as part of normal maintenance for the revived doors.

university ave door refurb newwoodworks

Eatery Entry

A fun find by a restaurant owner, this tall and slim pair of doors is believed to have originated in India before making their way to the US and eventually to the NEWwoodworks shop for a bit of care.

newwoodworks refurb pine doors detail

The doors were sinch-nailed together, nearly 3″ thick, solid white pine covered in layers of paint and signs of age.

original pine doors eatery entry

Original, as-found pine doors.

The first step was stripping off the hardware and cleaning up the grills. A light wire brushing was applied to the surface to remove some of the rotten paint while highlighting the hard-earned surface character. Structural repairs were required in the moldings and some of the rails, but overall these doors were fairly solid. Frosted glass, new hinges, and a dead bolt completed the overhaul. Today the doors conceal a closet while acting as wall art. Their grills and glass are backlit, warm and captivating in the eatery’s entry foyer.

restored pine doors by newwoodworks

Rejuvenating and repairing, bringing new life and new love to these timelessly authentic doors are stories we’ll tell for many years to come. They’ve influenced and inspired new doors (below) and reminded us of old high craft techniques. See the gallery of door creations here.

Inspired by the adjacent antique doors, the new entry door was crafted by NEWwoodworks using reclaimed Heart Pine.

Inspired by the adjacent antique doors, the new main entry door for the eatery entrance was crafted of Reclaimed Heart Pine by NEWwoodworks.