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Author Topic: Beech floor joists  (Read 6976 times)

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Offline arj

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Beech floor joists
« on: April 27, 2009, 09:09:27 pm »
I have a customer who restoring an old barn, and is trying to get some kind
of grant. He needs to use lumber of the period. He is replacing some floor
joists under some horse stalls, There 5x10 sawed flat top and bottom. They
are 12" plus above the ground, and his lumber list suggest Beech. I did not
think Beech was to rot resistance. Maybe ok for second floor. What would you
guys recomend? There are other kinds of wood on his list, woak, cherry, walnut,
and others. It says some maybe to costly. Cant remember all of them.
               Thanks for your help
                                                  arj

Offline moonhill

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 09:27:38 pm »
I don't know how rot prof beech is but white oak and black cherry are and would work well.  Are they available to the builder?

Tim
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Offline Mad Professor

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2009, 11:05:02 pm »
Locust

Offline Jeff

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2009, 11:23:19 pm »
I'd never use beech for a structural member. I've seen to many beech cants fall in half on the mill at the knots. Beech knots create a lot of unsound wood quite some distance from the knot itself.
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Offline Raphael

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 03:01:33 am »
In theory Beech is quite structurally strong, it's grouped with Birch (non-white) and Hickory.
Dunno for sure but given that grouping I wouldn't expect much rot resistance...

From what I'm familiar with I'd suggest Black Locust, White Oak or Black Cherry (in that order).
White Oak is probably your best bet, good Black Cherry timbers will cost more and rot sooner.
But you are a good half zone or so warmer down there so the locust might be available...
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Offline Rooster

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2009, 10:40:48 am »
Hey there,

I'd like to chime in, but.....I have a few questions/ points of interest I would like to throw out there.

You said the customer is applying for a grant. 
Q.  Is it a true grant from a government agency or foundation?...or a tax deduction for historical building restoration?  The first would probably be more strict on the materials used. The latter, might give you some wiggle room.

You also said that he needs to use lumber from the "period".
Q.  Does he mean rough sawn?...or does he need to replace specific building components with the same "species" of wood?  Who identified the species of trees that was used to make the lumber?   And since there is such a wide range, I would think that either the building was built out of what ever was on the property at the time, or  they don't know what type of materials that make up the structure, and they are guessing.  This is important to know, because you should be able to use what is best for the structure, and not worry about going "above and beyond" to fulfill a questionable requirement, or repeating a mistake that was made when it was first built.

This brings up another point.
Q.   Is he going it alone?  Or is he working with a barn restoration specialist? 
He may just need to have someone stear him in the right direction before he spends his money on materials.

Let me know if I can be of any help to your customer.  Please feel free to forward my contact info to him.

Rooster
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2009, 11:48:28 am »
Good points that Rooster brings up, and questions that crossed my mind as well.

Also, who knows what woods were used originally. They may have been replaced a few (or many) times over the years. Not uncommon to have to do some "repair" and "replace" when original materials rotted away.

Sounds like an interesting project. Would like to learn more about it.  :)
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Offline arj

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2009, 04:31:50 pm »
Raphael
 There is a lot of Black locust around here, most is far from straight. Did saw some
last winter about 30 8  footers nice and straight, don`t know exactly where they
came from.
  Rooster
 This is a state grant, (If Ct. involed it`s probley more trouble than it`s worth) He`s
more into fixing the barn than getting a grant. Yes rough sawn, period lumber would
be Chestnut, so other brands will have to be used. He is working alone pretty much,
a little at a time. I be talking with him next week, will see if he wants to take you up
on your offer of advice. I like new opinions some times you look at some thing so
long you only see it one way.
 Thanks for all the replies.
                                                  arj

Offline Mad Professor

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2009, 09:31:27 pm »
I'd never use beech for a structural member. I've seen to many beech cants fall in half on the mill at the knots. Beech knots create a lot of unsound wood quite some distance from the knot itself.

Most likely because the disease that causes beech canker entered through a broken branch/knot and the rot entered the tree there.  Historically this was not a problem as many diseases are recent imports (i.e. chestnut blight, dutch elm disease).  Chestnut was wonderfully rot resistant and elm made very durable flooring.

An old timer who did many many frames spoke highly of beech but not for sills or places that may get wet.



Offline Rooster

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2009, 09:46:28 pm »
Well there goes the idea for the "horse stall floor joist"!!! :-[
"We talk about creating millions of "shovel ready" jobs, for a society that doesn't really encourage anybody to pick up a shovel." 
Mike Rowe

"Old barns are a reminder of when I was young,
       and new barns are a reminder that I am not so young."
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2009, 11:10:58 pm »
I don't think it had so much to do with disease, as back then the beech diseases were not what they are today.  I think it had more to do with past high grading of beech and beech type forests here. Hard maple and any quality beech was taken out, leaving the lesser trees to become the mature trees for my era of sawing in this area.  I'll admit that clear beech would be strong, but anywhere there is a limb, you get this big "V" that runs out into the wood and the wood around these just fall apart like it was a cut.  We have a lot of Beech in Michigan, but you never hear of it being sought after for timber. I can't remember our mill ever selling any as grade, only low grade blocking to the steel mills. The pallet makers were not wild about it for the reasons stated, and because it's hard to nail.

 It does create some pretty good feed for the Deer and Bears though, I'll say that. Its got a pretty good use at the bottom of Busch aging tanks too.
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Offline Raphael

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2009, 12:08:54 am »
You're probably right about the high grading, the Beeches out back look a lot like those you describe (pretty much this whole area was deforested by 150 years ago).  There's a mature stand I know in NH where the character of the trees is more spreading and the stems are longer.

I don't know if anyone actually uses Beech in a timber frame these days but I've seen plenty in historic barns...
Plane makers still like it.
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and the truth hit him like a man with no parachute.
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Offline moonhill

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2009, 06:43:09 am »
I have some naturally curved Beech struts in my saw mill building frame, they are working fine, they won't take a nail it will fold before it reaches home. They were destine for the fire wood pile, I salvaged them before the they went to ash (that is not the tree, Ash).  I have always wanted a Beech floor, I hear it polishes with wear.  Beech has some very interesting grain and the canker adds to the character, I think. 

Tim
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Offline raycon

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2009, 10:25:48 am »
http://www.connecticutbarns.org/


I'm not sure of the name of the place in Woodbury (?)T but there is a timber reclamation yard on one of the main roads think its
rte 69 or rte 63.   If he wants to used reclaimed timbers.
White Oak's was here then and is readily available now a good fit for the application. From the 1700's I see a lot of chestnut and oak.   
Lot of stuff..

Offline Raphael

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2009, 06:08:39 pm »
Is that the one on Rte. 67 or perhaps 47?
We stopped there before we started building.... I wish I could afford his prices.   ::)
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and the truth hit him like a man with no parachute.
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Offline Mad Professor

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2009, 04:55:56 am »
I don't think it had so much to do with disease, as back then the beech diseases were not what they are today.  I think it had more to do with past high grading of beech and beech type forests here. Hard maple and any quality beech was taken out, leaving the lesser trees to become the mature trees for my era of sawing in this area.  I'll admit that clear beech would be strong, but anywhere there is a limb, you get this big "V" that runs out into the wood and the wood around these just fall apart like it was a cut.  We have a lot of Beech in Michigan, but you never hear of it being sought after for timber. I can't remember our mill ever selling any as grade, only low grade blocking to the steel mills. The pallet makers were not wild about it for the reasons stated, and because it's hard to nail.

 It does create some pretty good feed for the Deer and Bears though, I'll say that. Its got a pretty good use at the bottom of Busch aging tanks too.


I'll agree with you on the early 2nd growth beech. Can't get any clear out of it.  There are some older 2nd growth just north of here in Vt, Id say most could get 2-3 8' logs before the first branch, probably 30-35" at the base, I bet these would make nice lumber/beams.

I also agree that it's a great mast crop.  Fills in the time after the berries but before the acorns.  I enjoy finding the trees with "bear prints" going up the trunks.

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2009, 10:26:15 am »
That's interesting to hear about the 2nd growth beech.  I suggested to him a source for seasoned old growth beech, of which I mentioned I puchased a bunch of in an earlier post, which is very solid and tight, but then again it's old growth that was felled over a hundred years ago.    If there is wood going under a horse stall, it does sound like a problem, for any wood, if exposed to urine on a regular basis.  Maybe a stall like that should be lined with a rubber mat and a slight slope put in the floor so it all drains to one location(anything not absorbed by straw).  Maybe build in a small cutter to drain the liquid waste so it doesn't contact the wood?  I've never dealt with a wood floor stall.  Another idea is to use beech or whatever, but have a rubber membrane on the floor to drain as mentioned above, but then build a wooden deck on top of that to maintain the look, or if you're looking for a softer surface on the horses legs/feet.  I would try not to face nail floor boards though, as that would not be good on the horses frog(soft part of the hoof) if they pop up over time.
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Offline raycon

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2009, 11:17:17 am »
I think it is rte 67.  I have relatives that live a few  mile from it and I still can't remember the road/route  names.  I heard they were expensive as well.

Somewhere I heard, saw, read someone was looking for reclaimed oak timbers from a farming application where the livestock had urinated on them. Preferably pigs. 
Guess the patina is quite unique. Urine is antiseptic (?) I wonder if it slows down decay.
Beech here gets pretty large. I've had more than a few to big for the mill on both ends of the log.  I'd be tempted to saw timbers FOH instead of boxed heart if someone were looking for frame stock.

Lot of stuff..

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2009, 11:56:25 am »
I helped to dismantle this barn from Lexington, OH.



The frame was all sawn Beech, including the four 36' tie beams. The original sills were gone, but the posts all had a large copper staple driven in near the bottom. This seemed to keep the bugs away and protect the frame from attack.  Brought it home to Illinois and put it back up on new White Oak sills for my next door neighbor.



I rebuilt the straw shed that had blown off using local timber and we don't have any Beech. Oak, Cherry, and Walnut will have to do.


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Offline Raphael

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Re: Beech floor joists
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2009, 02:21:06 pm »
I think it is rte 67.  I have relatives that live a few  mile from it and I still can't remember the road/route  names.  I heard they were expensive as well.

Anything that close to Roxbury isn't going to be cheap. ;)

Quote
Somewhere I heard, saw, read someone was looking for reclaimed oak timbers from a farming application where the livestock had urinated on them. Preferably pigs. 
Guess the patina is quite unique. Urine is antiseptic (?) I wonder if it slows down decay.

It might slow decay but I suspect the primary effect is something like that of fumed oak as the timbers would have gotten saturated with ammonia.
... he was middle aged,
and the truth hit him like a man with no parachute.
 --Godley & Creme

Stihl 066, MS 362 C-M & 24+ feet of Logosol M7 mill