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Re: GBlist: mainstream greenbuilding

Hi Tom,

Tedd Benson's book just came out in a new addition, available through 
Taunton Press, and advertised heavily in fine Homebuilding. While a 
little self serving, it remains (one of) the best texts on the market.

I've used panels up to 8' X 24'. Anything over 4 X 14 is too big to 
handle without equipment.
Sometimes an all-terrain forklift can be used quite efficiently for some 
or all of the paneling.

Timber frame pieces are sized by the joinery in them, and not by the 
loading. Therefore, they are oversized structurally speaking. 
Aesthetically, most western styles of framing have gravitated toward the 
natural sizes of trees, and what is easiest to handle. 8" X 8" is a 
common size. Some of the sizing also depends on species. Weaker species 
are often sized up to accomplish the joint engineering.
As European framing progressed through the middle ages, large trees were 
harder and harder to find, so the style of framing evolved toward 
smaller, more plentiful pieces. Frames in this country are of the 
original European, heavier style, since large logs are still plentiful.  
The eastern timber framing tradition (mostly Japanese) frequently makes 
use of smaller pieces as well. 

I am not aware of any MSV work in timber framing, but we framers are a 
diverse group. You might want to contact the Timber Framer's Guild, in 
Bellingham, Wash, at (360)733-4001. They also have a web site. 
Post spacing is again species dependent, but with oak or douglas fir, we 
can easily go 16' to 18' o.c. We routinely fit long walls of a house to 
within 1/16". Accuracy in joinery and sizing is the key to a strong, 
durable frame.

Most modern timber frames are not hidden behind stucco or drywall.  The 
idea is to present the wood in the home, and to celebrate it. Timber 
needs no further embellishment. The homes I build are for clients who 
demand "absolute top quality". They are not rustic cabins, by any means. 
We use panels with drywall pre-applied, so the drywall runs behind the 
timber, causing it to stand out visually, and still offering enough 
finished wall to hang pictures, etc. Resale values are excellent on homes 
finished in such a way, although most of our customers stay in their 
homes a long time, so we don't have as much resale history as a 
conventional builder would. 

Please elaborate about "standard wood finishing techniques and 
materials". Do you mean trim? If so, yes, although I prefer to design 
with less trim, thus giving the frame additional aesthetic prevolence in 
the home. 

We use alot of green oak in our frames, which does check as it dries out. 
We also use reclaimed douglas fir, which is often chosen by customers who 
strongly oppose the checking. The fir is being salvaged from old mill and 
factory buildings, and is often of the highest quality. It is old growth, 
has very tight growth ring ands has already done its shrinking. It is, 
however, expensive. 
White and red pine shrinks and checks as much as oak, as does green fir 
(the other common framing materials). BTW, in a practical sense, 
shrinkage is more the issue than checking. The question arises, "what do 
I do with the unpainted drywall my shrinking post left exposed?" To which 
I answer, "paint it" (but wait a few years 'til it's done shrinking". 

Re: hanging pictures: be sure to use panels with a layer of OSB behind 
the drywall.  Then you can fasten pictures wherever you want.

Virtually everyone in the timber framing industry agrees that panels are 
the way to enclose a frame.  There are a few who use a built up wall 
system, often called "wrap and strap". I can't understand why, however. 
It's very labor intensive, as it essentially builds a framed wall outside 
of the timber frame. Uses lots of resources it wouldn't have to, and is 
not nearly as energy efficient. Perhaps they are making a commission on 
the materials..or doing the labor..
Recently there has been some exploration in using straw bales to enclose 
timber frames. there are a few folks who swear by it. I'm watching, with 
interest, from a distance. I'm not sure bales would be appropriate for 
your highly finished home. There is also some work in producing a straw 
core panel, which utilizes wheat straw as the core and as the structural 
board (in place of OSB) as I understand it. These aren't up to production 
levels yet, though.

Hope I've helped- let me know if not..

Chris Koehn
Top Ridge timber Frame Homes
Pewaukee WI    
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