Red Suspenders Timber Frames

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The first logs arrive at Red Suspenders

The first load of logs for the chapel arrived at Red Suspenders in late October from a tract of land near Palestine Texas in Rusk County. This is only the first of many sawing sessions. John will be producing 10"x16" timbers for the chapel post along with 10"x12"x32' rafters. These are some of the larger timbers used in the structure. We should be receiving the larger logs needed for the truss arch sections in a few weeks. In the mean time, John will continue to produce the other timbers needed.
Image Not Available First step in producing the timbers needed is to "buck" the log to length. This first cut is done with an industrial sized chain saw. Working with timbers of such size requires a lot of caution and attention to safety.
The next step is to remove the end of the log. This is done so that precise measurements of the heart of the log can be made. Image Not Available
Image Not Available The log is being moved to the saw mill for cutting. John directs the move while his crew manages the equipment. The "bed" on which the log will set while being sawn is precisely aligned so that the sawing operation produces timbers at precise right angles.
John determines the location of the heart of the log and measures it against the cutting bed. The log must be correctly aligned and centered on the bed before sawing can begin. Image Not Available
Image Not Available The first cuts square the log and remove the bark layers. The log will be rotated on the bed as layers of wood are removed from each side. John uses a band saw to cut the timber from the log. Band saws produce very little waste with very smooth cuts.
You can see the timber emerging from the log and the manner in which John mills the wood. All of the timbers sawn in sizes 6"x8" and larger use the "boxed heart" cut wherein the heart of the tree is the center of the timber. This is done to equalize the stresses in the wood around the center of the timber which makes it less prone to twisting and warping. Image Not Available
Image Not Available The finished timber can be seen in this picture. In all, it took about 45 minutes to mill it. When you consider the number of timbers in the chapel, you can get some appreciation of the amount of time required to just to produce them from the original logs.

After all of the timbers are sawn, the next stop is our dry kilns.
All of the timbers that have been sawn for the chapel are moved to the dry kilns for drying. It will take about 28 days for these timbers to dry down to a moisture content under 20%. We use only dried timbers for a frame as they are more stable over time. You can learn more about the saw mill and the dry kilns by clicking on these links:

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