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Timber framing with green, round Western Hemlock  RSS feed

 
Eric Simon
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I'm looking to build a a timber framed, wattle and daub structure this spring on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. A suitable wood that I have the easiest access to is Western Hemlock.

My question is, when is it best to harvest hemlock for green, round wood timber framing?

My current dilemma is between harvesting now (January) when the sap is not running to provide the hardest, driest wood after removing the bark, or to wait until May when the sap is running and the bark will peel off much cleaner. I want to start framing the structure early spring, so plan to use the poles when they are still fairly live and green, but want to take care with such considerations as wood shrinkage and drying out as they are being encased by the walls (which I hope to start early June).

Any experience or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for looking!
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Sap down young wood has less sugars for the molds and microbes to nibble, but as you said the bark slips easier for the spring wood......hmmm, interested in what the experts have to say.....
 
Pamela Honey
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I'm interested in this also. My property is heavily wooded. I'm looking into a cordwood structure, for a canning and storage ect. I've been using books, the www and YouTube for ideas. From what I've researched on cordwood the shrinkage can be filled with more cob or whatever mix is being used. I was looking into cutting timber next month (Feb.2016) hmmm.
 
Eric Simon
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Chad: I like your point about less sap meaning less microbial decay. Definitely seems like a legitimate reason to harvest in the winter months.

Also just realized that there is a round wood timber framing forum, so I think I will move this question to there. Follow up in there if you're still interested, Chad and Pamela.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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If you ask Burra nice she'll probably move it for you....
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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I merged your stuff with the following thread. I hope that is okay by you.
 
Eric Simon
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I'm looking to build a a timber framed, wattle and daub structure this spring on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. A suitable wood that I have the easiest access to is Western Hemlock.

My question is, when is it best to harvest hemlock for green, round wood timber framing?

My current dilemma is between harvesting now (January) when the sap is not running to provide the hardest, driest wood after removing the bark, or to wait until May when the sap is running and the bark will peel off much cleaner. I want to start framing the structure early spring, so plan to use the poles when they are still fairly live and green, but want to take care with such considerations as wood shrinkage and drying out as they are being encased by the walls (which I hope to start early June).

Any experience or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for looking!
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Location: Volant, PA
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forest garden fungi goat trees wofati woodworking
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Do you have a draw knife? There is a technique called chasing a ring, where you remove one or more growth rings and follow the growth of the tree rather than applying your will to the shape. This could allow you to harvest in spring and remove a number of rings leaving a winter wood ring as the exterior ring. Thereby slipping bark easily, having the toughness you seek, and removing the sugary spring cambium layer......but let's wait for an expert.....
 
Eric Simon
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Chadwick, thanks for the tip.

I have a drawknife, but I have yet to practice such precision as sounds necessary for chasing a ring. With your reasoning in mind, I'm guessing precision will be necessary whichever season of harvest: in winter being careful to remove only the outer bark, or carefully removing outer bark and spring cambrium if I harvest in May.

I'd still be interested if others had more tips or experience to share. At this point I think I might get my drawknife out and start experimenting with technique on some practice logs I recently found for firewood.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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It's not to hard, use your eye, basically following the color.....let me see if I can find a video. If the wood is green it's really simple.

Ok, this is a bowyer, but it's the same for round wood, easier really just more of it......

 
Eric Simon
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Thanks, Chadwick!
The video is helpful. Straightforward, but still appreciate seeing someone else's technique.

Experimented on a log of green hemlock that I had laying around for firewood. Used a hammer and chisel to get the bark off in strips, then used the drawknife to work at the cambium. I'm thinking the precision of a scraper could be very useful.

At this point I think I'll soon fell a smaller hemlock for the lighter supports of the structure. Though chasing a ring seems like it might be easier in the spring, I'm getting anxious to start. Living in the temperate rainforest, I want to have the framing done in time to start the cob walls as soon as the dry season arrives.

I appreciate your interest and support!
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