Sourcing Round Wood Timbers From the Forest

It’s been several months since I’ve written.  The main reason is because we were overwhelmed working on the natural building, and hosting the many great souls that joined us this summer.  Anyway, now that our building season is over, I would like to take this time to fill you in on all the events and processes during our last three months.  Let us start at the beginning.  The week of May 22nd.

The first week started off with the arrival of Miguel, our first 2012 apprentice.  He was joined by Wesley a week later.  The weather was great, not too much rain, not too cold, and not too warm.  

Miguel after debarking one large cedar tree

The main task during our first weeks was to source the lumber for the timber framing, so the timbers would have 60 days to dry before we put them up.   We spent three days in the forest shopping.

Shopping in the woods is one of my favorite things to do.  There is nothing like walking into the woods among the giant oaks, doug firs, ponderosa pines, madrones, and cedars… all the while respecting the poison oak’s space on the forest floor. 

Shopping in the woods, Cedars, Oaks, Doug Firs, and Madrone trees

The objective was to source only the trees that were crowding an older tree, giving the established trees room to grow.   The other objective was to make sure that when we cut the tree down, there would be the least amount of damage to the forest.  We needed to make sure that we were not going to take down large branches from older trees, or damage any smaller trees on their way to maturity.

We were fortunate enough to locate several cedar trees in two locations not too far from a road on the property.  Felling trees near road access is helpful so that we cause the least amount of damage dragging the tree out from the forest.

After we sourced over 40 trees, we sat down and went over our shopping list to make sure we had everything we needed and more. Then we walked around the property and made sure that the trees we picked were okay to cut.  After the final approval, we started harvesting our timbers for the project.

After cutting down the cedar it is best to debark them right away
A tall cedar grown on the north side can generate two posts and a rafter
Get the most out of one tree; find long trees that can give at least 3 usable timbers

We started with the largest cedars, because we found that these conifers will yield at least 4 logs per tree.  Once we finished harvesting these larger cedars, we reassessed our shopping list and started harvesting the next largest trees.  The idea was to harvest the cedars that yield at least 3 usable per tree.

The other task we did the first week was to assemble the two inch water line to the building site.  Because California building codes now require water sprinklers to be installed in any new building, we needed to make sure there was enough water getting to the site.  A two inch water line is what they recommend to be compliant.

Stay tuned ……

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