Making Wood Chips at Last

by ziggy on March 26, 2014 -- 0 comments -- Follow

16" Makita Circular Saw in Action

Jacob tests out the 16″ Makita circular saw on an end cut

Things are progressing smoothly for us here in Nacogdoches. We have fairly quickly moved on from layout to cutting the joinery for the Lake Naconiche timber frame pavilion. I personally haven’t spent much time around the more specialized timber framing power tools, and it’s been a sight to see…. and an experience to use them, too.

Scoring a Timber

Carefully scoring a pencil line on a timber ready to be cut

The Tools Come Out: Cutting Joinery

I appreciate the great attention to detail paid to the workflow. The team leaders all have their own approach, and even the smallest steps in the process are rather meticulous. We spent one morning talking about the simple action of scoring pencil lines with a razor for at least 20 minutes, for example — proper technique, why it’s important, etc. It’s funny to think of these massive timbers, and then how scoring a hairline mark can be so important. The difference in scale is amusing to me.

Timber Frame Pavilion Layout

Red marker means a timber has been checked, and is ready for cutting

It’s very satisfying when the timber you’ve laid out gets the red pen treatment — that means the measurements have checked out, and the timber can be cut. Some pieces look downright daunting with all of the markings. There are several compound angles throughout the frame, so those have been particularly tricky to lay out.

Timber Frame Angled Lap Joint

Big angled lap joint getting cleaned up

Timber Framing Chain Mortising Machine

You looking at me?

Some of the specialized timber framing power tools include the above Makita chain mortiser, and giant 16″ circular saws — pretty intimidating tools. Thankfully, these aren’t as bad or as mean as they look, as long as you’re careful. The chain mortiser is an interesting fellow. Think of a small stationary chain saw that you plunge into the timber. It’s the electric alternative to boring holes. Cleanup work with a chisel is much quicker because there’s that much less material to clean — you’ve basically got your square mortise with corners already in place.

Cutting Tenon with Circular Saw

Carefully cutting an angled tenon with a “medium” circular saw

I’ve been somewhat surprised how the larger circular saws are not that bad to handle. They’re heavy, and best to avoid picking up too much, but once they’re set on a timber and in action, they are pretty reasonable to control. I still like my hand saws, though. The danger is so much less, and the satisfaction of a clean hand saw cut is extremely high. They also don’t require hearing protection.

Timber Framing Drop Cut

Jim does a drop cut on the purlin ends

I stood back and watched Jim do the drop cuts on these purlin pieces. It’s a challenging cut, but Jim made it look easy.

Chisel Work on a Timber Frame

Practicing good chisel technique on a housing

There have been constant reminders about how to use your body beyond your hands to control any particular tool. Good form makes paring, planing, and sawing a lot smoother and more efficient.

Protool Drill Guide

The Protool drill guide makes drilling square to the timber a simple task

Kerf Cuts in a Timber

This angled housing has a lot of kerf cuts so it doesn’t blow out during cleanup with a chisel

Staging Timbers

Staging timbers for site delivery — check out those compound tenons

At this point, we have a lot of the frame cut and ready outside. We are doing all of the cutting off-site, so each piece will get loaded up onto a truck to be delivered to the Lake Naconiche site once we’re done. We have about a day and a half left to finish the rest of the pieces. I think we’ll make it in time. Friday is raising day.

Staging Timbers for Delivery

Just a small selection of the timbers already completed

Last but not least… here’s something you don’t see every day. This giant piece of equipment is a big mortiser. This sucker has a bed with rollers that the timber moves along while a bit drill bit hollows out mortises. It’s amazingly precise. The operator controls how the timber moves along the rollers and makes sure not to hollow out material outside of the lines, and to the proper depth.

Giant Drill Mortiser

Giant mortiser in action

Here’s a close-up of the bit in action. A still photo doesn’t do it justice, really, but you probably get the idea.

Drill Mortiser with Timber

The drill bit moves along the timber and quickly removes material inside the lines

More updates to come later in the week… Also, check out the TFG Lake Naconiche blog for news and photos, too.

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