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jim soderberg
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I would like to make my own railings for around my stairway... I have ample wood on the property.. My is do I cut and peel the top and bottom rails green..I will be useing pine... OR cut and let sit to dry.. Next I would like to use branches for the verticle slats... But is there any streanth there.. Kinda like a branch you could break over your'e knee...And should those be peeled green..

I like the looks of the log furniture and thought ( I can do that ).... Now I'm not so sure .. I will most likely just screw the verticals in place,, not mortise.. Anyone have experience in these things

Thanks sodi
 
Satamax Antone
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Hi Jim.

Pine branches imho are a smidge weak for the spindles. Don't you have something like ash, chestnut, hazzlenut, or hickory. I'm sure thoses would do

Anyway, it's been done before.

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,63591.msg946794.html#msg946794

http://www.simondale.net/charlieandmeg.htm

http://worlddaily.ca/featured/save-charlie-and-megans-beautiful-straw-bale-roundhouse/

I thought you might like the pics of this one! Not mine, but i'm keen!

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=70489.0
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Jim, et al,

I have built many and teach green wood working methods...you need to mortise and tenon...NO SCREWS!!! This may seem fast, but will only lead to failures and frustration down the road. It is simple (but often time consuming work) to build in the "Adirondack" styles of "rustic wood." The better tools can be rather $$$$ but may the job much easier.

Good luck, keep us posted and share pictures when you can.

Regards,

j
 
R Scott
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What Jay said. NO SCREWS.

Here is an affordable hand-powered tenon cutter (cheaper than a big box of screws) : http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=52401&cat=1,180,42288,52401

 
Satamax Antone
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Well guys, i have to say i find that a tad harsh. No screws? Ever? To me a whole life without a screw would be real dull

Well, i've seen cheap handrails done with screws which have held more than 20 years. So, i won't be as strict as you. The good thing is, if you happen to break a spindle, you can replace it without dismantling the whole thing.
 
R Scott
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Screws work fine for lumber, but are nothing but problems in roundwood, especially small roundwood.

 
Satamax Antone
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R Scott wrote:Screws work fine for lumber, but are nothing but problems in roundwood, especially small roundwood.

Well, even with the wood pre drilled?
 
R Scott
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Satamax Antone wrote:
R Scott wrote:Screws work fine for lumber, but are nothing but problems in roundwood, especially small roundwood.

Well, even with the wood pre drilled?


If the humidity or water content of the wood changes, yes.

 
jim soderberg
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Thanks all for the replys and pics. How about the peeling and drying ?? peel as soon as I cut the tree down ?? I would like it to look kinda white.. Not like a gray fallen log..
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi All,

First thing...before I forget...the link shared by R. Scott is really for tapering the spindles in hand made chairs, not railing members. The tenoning jig you would use for rustic furniture and other "round wood" power tenon cutting is this one:

http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=63795&cat=1,180,42288&ap=1

As for screws...nope, no screws, as these are a sign of poor design, crafting, and will not last. If a spindle is damaged there are several traditional ways to replace them as fast as a screw in some cases and of course much more secure and stronger. I have seldom seen traditional ones fail, but see screwed railings fall apart very quickly if put to any substantial use or under strain. Sorry Satamax we will have to differ on this one, my friend.

Regards,

j
 
Satamax Antone
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Jay, screws can hold fine, if we're talking about real screws. Look at threaded rods and bolts, they are a type of screws. And they hold! Roofing screws, some are 2 feet long, and you hold a sarking type roof with theses. And screw are may be bad looking, but if thought well, they can hold better than any wood tenon. Shearing strengh of a tenon will never match shearing strengh of several screws positioned in a well thought out maner. Plus, you can introduce tension on the joints, where friction counteracts somewhat the shearing strengh. I prefer the looks of traditional timber framing for example. With drawbore etc. But for holding a stool top or chair seat, even the old farts, when they had screws availlable were using screws. And i bet that if they had profusion of screws, as we have now, most of the old woodworking joints would be long gone. That veritas round wood tenon jig is poor in my opinion. May be on dry wood it's ok, but on green it's pish. I'd rather have a conical fit, like a morse cone.

Ok, if a joint with play in it is held by screws, and it moves often, they would work themselves loose. But that the same with a tenon or peg they would break in the end. And not everybody is set up to cut tenons or else, nor have the skill, while everybody can screw.
 
R Scott
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Thanks Jay, I was looking at two screens and grabbed the wrong link. I really meant to grab the search result that showed all the options.

The issue with roundwood and screws is the way it expands and contracts with humidity. A cut board basically expands/contracts in one direction as the grain is cut, but roundwood grows all around. And you just put a splitting wedge into it. It will usually work with large wood 3" rounds or bigger if you don't get too near the ends (using oversized holes and lag bolts with washers), but smaller spindles will almost always split and have zero strength left when they do.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Scott,

No worries, I knew when I saw it what you had done as I did the same thing to a student (which lead to some funny confusion about "rustic furniture.") The link does show my form of "spindle work" with "hinden" not exposed shoulders. This makes for a much stronger joint and a more "grown in place" look.


Hi Satamax,

I normally would not make an issue of such a small point, (please use whatever you would like my friend if it seems correct to you ) yet because we are sharing with those that may be less experienced I have to stress the errors in your comments about screws in this context, and agree with Scott 100%.

"Real screws," (or any other type)do not "hold fine," in the end grain application of wood (especially "green" live edged wood) where they are acting like a tenon. This is not true or appropriate "green wood" construction, and would not meet PE standards for dynamic momentum load in stair or porch railings. I have to really stress this, as a public forum, the use of screws in this application ARE NOT SAFE.

Now, if you take some of the "bolt assemblies" found in "knockdown furniture," or the "Timberlinx" bolt found in "post and beam" work, yes these can afford the strength and joint power needed in railings. (which by the way, are not a type of "screws" at all, as they interface with a nut and/or washer, yet both are on the principle of a "wedge or inclined plane" if you want to speak of the "physical dynamic.") They also take more time to cut, and cost more as you must "buy something" than traditional "mortise and tenon" work.

Your other comparisons are not germane to this subject as they are being applied to wood in the "cross grain" application, and are under more of a "shearing load" than any other modality. Some of your observations about "shearing strength" of a traditional wood tenon compared to a screw is simple false and the furthest thing from the truth about it. You are now getting into part of what I do for a living, and just returned from a roof job of a warehouse built around the turn of the century. I can not tell you how many times I have seen all manner of "ferrous metal hardware" fail in comparison to traditional joints, both in shear and in other dynamics. I have spent a large portion of the last 40 years in and around vintage timber frames and there ilk, restoring and taking them apart to do so. In this light I can speak with some authority that metal fasteners are seldom superior to wood joints and only came into primary use during the "industrial revolution" when "big industry" started the practice of hiring "unskilled labor" and needed a fast (not better) method for creating joints in wood assemblies from furniture to architecture. This is the reason we have the many different types we do, not there superiority. It is not until you get into very sophisticated and noncorroding alloys that you find "metal joints" that can compete with traditional wood joinery for longevity, strength and durability.

I would point out that you can also create tension in several traditional joints as well. I would further point out that "tension joints" relying on a screw thread in the end grain of wood is a formula for disaster. I have never seen the legs of a stool attached with screws, except after the time of the "industrial revolution" and none last very long without major repair. So again, NO the old farts did not use screws when given a choice, the manufacture of stools did because of the labor force they indentured. We "old farts" knew better and only built properly with the correct methods. This "if they had it, they would have used it," modern excuse is not true in many applications and cultures. I have seen this reality time and again, among the Amish, and indigenous cultures around the globe when they flatly ignore or clearly chose traditional over modern methods, as seldom are these modern ways better...only "modern" and often less enduring.

You will have to share with all of us how much time you have behind "Veritas" tools (including the tenoning jig) as I know (and have met on several occasions) the owner of the company, and have spent about twenty years behind them. Most, (including the tenoning jig) are excellent at their given tasks. I would be keen (as would Leonard Lee the owner and principle designer) to read what you find wanting, or lacking about them, and could see improvement, as he (or his son Robin) are extremely open to feedback from Artisans and Craftspeople that actually use their tools extensively. I don't mean to sound condescending but your comments thus far seem parochial at best, and lack "green woodworking" experience. I do not typically use a tenoning jig on dry wood, often rewetting a section of dry wood just to get better shear cutting action. "Morse tapers" (after Stephen A. Morse) are for tapers in machining metal and not wood predominantly though after 1860 the similarities do exist. So once again your information is a little out of context and needs refinement. Both "straight and tapered" tenons have there place in both "green" and dry woodworking methods, yet neither modality uses screws or other metal fasteners to secure them relying instead on friction, compression, wedge expansion, adhesive and/or pegs and wedges to create a drawing or holding effect. I would also point out that cutting a tenon by hand is not as challenging as you would lead the readers here to believe. A screw belongs where it belongs and I like screwing in those spots...not acting like a tenon in wood which is not where I do my screwing...

(sorry for the side track folks... )
 
Satamax Antone
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Hi Jay.

Well, here's a case of misunderstanding between us.

I never said to screw in the endgrain, and i didn't assume that the original poster meant that either. When Jim said slats, i understood that, slats, not spindles. So that would mean to me that they're screwed from the side.

Well, i have a slight background in mechanics, and in French, a bolt is composed by a screw and a nut. We agree on screws being cheap and fast, invented for unskilled labourers. But here, we might bump onto more diyers than skilled carpenters or timber framers no?

And yes, screws can be used in engrain to replace e tenon, with ledges to stop the shearing movement. Tho, in special aplications where the screws go real deep into the wood. I don't know if you have theses in the states, but in Germany there's a maker of screws, "heco" who makes up to 700 or 800mm screws. You stuff eight of thoses in the endgrain of a piece of wood, if there's no traction on them, they won't go far. I know this is not traditional, nor elegant. But it can be done.


The case of saying no to screws because they're evil, i've heard that way too often. If thought out well, screwing can be fantastic, and even decorative.

For the veritas jig, well, used it twice on a project, with different wood for the tenon and the mortice, and noticed that the thing gets loose with the wood drying (i admit, may be at a diferent rate) . Tho, i quite like the looks of the one with the round shoulder. The one with the cone, i've never seen before. I work with green wood often, but, not round weet wood. That was a first and a last, the jig isn't even mine. And it all ended up with a looooonnnnngggg screw in there to tighten the joint

And if you want to go to the old versus young argument, ok, i just turned fourty. I haven't worked as many timber frames as you have. But i've worked on far older buildings, that's for sure. I'm doing more rooves than anything else. And if i say old farts, i'm talking about cathedral builders and the like. Not refering to you. They were skilled, but also knew how to take shortcuts when needed. And i'm sure they would have loved the screws.

Keep yourself well, and don't boil your spleen in stock over this (well translation of the french "se mettre la rate au court bouillon" )
 
Dale Hodgins
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To screw, or not to screw. A dilemma we've all faced. Be careful about corrosion. Sometimes the wood and the screw become incompatible and at the same time inseparable. Edited by request.
 
jim soderberg
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O K !!!

No screws,,,,, how about peeling green or dried ??
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Jim S.,

Bark on or off is an esthetic choice, and I try to work as green as I can in most designs, but if you stock pile material, it will dry out and may need to be "rewetted," by soaking in water.

Regards,

j
 
jim soderberg
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Thanks Jay.... I want them peeled and to look kinda white.... And then stain and oil-rubbed...
 
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