FAQ's

METALWORK SHOP FAQ:

Can we buy the products displayed on the Big Timberworks website?

We often do one-of-a-kind products, therefore we custom make the items, depending on available materials. At Big Timberworks we do not have a warehouse of metalwork pieces; everything we have made has been for a client’s specific needs.

Do you ship products out of state?

We do. We’ve shipped to many locations throughout the United States. We have ample experience shipping products of any size.

Can we buy reclaimed metal directly from your yard?

Yes-depending on availability of the metal and whether or not the material is committed to another project within our shops.

Do you design individual pieces?

Most certainly. Most of our pieces are custom one-of-a-kind creations made to meet the client’s specific needs; however we will make other people’s designs too upon request.

Do you apply finishes to completed products?

Yes-it is a necessary evil. One must understand that working with patinated materials poses a natural variation in their coloring. Thus when finishing these materials, the finish will almost always not be uniform and not exactly the same with each piece of metal.

How does Big Timberworks handle payment?

Once the price is agreed upon between the client and Big Timberworks, we require a deposit before we start fabrication and progress payments throughout the duration of your project, with a final payment prior to delivery. We accept cash, check or credit cards.

SAWMILL/RECLAIMED MILLED LUMBER SHOP FAQ:

How much of your old wood comes from barns?

Actually we’ve gotten very little wood from barns. Barn timbers are usually a mixed species (depending on what grew around the barn); they are usually full of holes from guys like us who mortised and drilled them, and they are prone to rot because many old barns have compromised roofs, and they are difficult to grade for structural uses.

Where does your old wood come from?

Most of the wood has been salvaged from industrial structures such as old factories, warehouses, canneries, bridges, grain elevators, trestles, sawmills, and water towers. We’ve bought wood on the East Coast, in many metropolitan areas in the Midwest, and all up and down the West Coast.

What species of reclaimed wood are available?

Ninety percent of the timber we use is old growth Douglas fir, but over the years we’ve bought loads of white and red oak, cedar, redwood, western white pine, ponderosa pine, eucalyptus, longleaf pine, western larch, Engelmann spruce, cypress, and western hemlock. Except for longleaf pine, availability of most of these species can be unpredictable and limited. Many of these species are sawn for specialty items: small timber packages, flooring, siding, millwork, trim packages, doors, furniture and mantels.

Can we buy wood from BT’s sawmill?

Certainly. We sell wood to both contractors and individuals, and have shipped to many projects out of state. We don’t require that you buy our woodworking services to get the wood.

Why do you use reclaimed wood?

Until 1990, we exclusively used green timbers. We were always disappointed in the long term when green timbers shrank and moved. We also had a difficult time justifying the clear cutting of old growth forests. We started to reuse timbers because it was a source that was greatly underutilized and the wood was exceptionally dry and stable. These reclaimed timbers were sawn from some of the finest old growth forests known to North America. To build something well, no matter what it is, one must use the best material possible. We think this is the best material for timber construction.

How long will there be a supply of reclaimed wood?

There is a lot of speculation on this topic and nobody really knows how many buildings contain timbers and when they may be dismantled. There will always be used wood, though its sizes and quality will change. BT also uses standing dead logs as an alternative to reclaimed timber stock.

Why is reclaimed wood so expensive?

When we first started using salvaged wood, people almost gave it to us to avoid hauling it to the landfill or burning it. Times have changed and now most everyone has realized its value. Demand has risen dramatically while supply has stayed relatively static, driving up the cost.

Another reason salvaged wood is expensive is the amount of waste generated in the process. On average, 35% of every truckload is waste or very low value material. We do better on our waste factor than most companies because we carry a large inventory, which allows us to saw efficiently. We’ve also developed a number of products that utilize this less usable wood.

What other building materials does your Sawmill inventory?

In addition to reclaimed timbers and large logs, our sawmill inventories other interesting materials including:

  • Standing dead fir and larch logs in both straight and character form (arched, forked, wiggly) in a wide variety of sizes
  • Juniper fence posts, which make wonderful western furniture
  • Wine, pickle, and water tank redwood staves
  • Salvaged circular sawn dimensional lumber
  • Twig stock
  • Mantel stock of all kinds
What kind of equipment does BT’s sawmill have on site?

We have a well-equipped mill that features the following machinery:

  • 3 Woodmizer band saws with one capable of cutting timbers up to 55’
  • Stationary planers that can plane up to 9”x24”
  • Our 6 head molder produces paneling, decking, flooring, and siding up to a 12” face
  • Stationary wire brusher
  • Straight line rip
  • Baker resaw
  • 4000 BF kiln for drying all trim, flooring, and millwork products

TIMBERWORK SHOP FAQ:

How does your company differ from other timber frame companies?

We were one of the first companies nationwide to use recycled timbers and crooked logs in our frames. Our goal from the start was to develop a “western” vernacular in timber framing that was not the traditional style of log building. We have never been content to copy the established eastern traditions of timber framing, so we set out to establish a new tradition that feels right in the West. We don’t use automated joinery equipment to cut our frames; instead we rely on talented craftspeople to cut and fit our unique materials.

Can we erect the timberwork that BT cuts for us so that we can save money?

Generally we erect anything that is cut in our shop. We can guarantee only the products that we erect. We’ve found that we can put frames up much more safely and quickly than someone who has less experience, therefore it is a false economy to think that it would be less expensive to not have us erect our work. The only exception to the above statement is trusses, which we can ship assembled and requires only lifting onto the building.

Does our whole building have to be timber framed?

BT very seldomly builds structures that are entirely timber framed. Western houses are generally more spread out than the traditional New England model, which is usually more compact and two-storied. Therefore our clients most often choose to timber frame the public spaces (kitchen, dining, living, porches, entry ways) while saving money on the more utilitarian spaces. This style is often called a “hybrid.” Timber framing can combine with almost any type of construction.

What kind of timbers do you use and why?

Primarily we use Douglas fir because it is the most prolific lumber tree in the west. It is strong, relatively light, plentiful, available in large sizes and lengths, and widely recognized for its beauty. There are four types available to us:

  • Reclaimed timbers from the obsolete “industrial forest”—factories, warehouses, bridges, and sawmills: The wood tends to be high quality since it was taken from our old growth forests over 50 years ago. Reclaimed wood is the most expensive option but it is the most stable.
  • Timbers sawn from large standing dead fir logs: Moisture content of these timbers average 20-28% so they are marginally dry. This is a good use for a material that might otherwise be underutilized, and is a less expensive option.
  • Kiln dried Douglas fir: Kiln drying has come a long way in the past decade. Radio frequency (RF) kilns are the only kilns to effectively dry timber sections to the core. The guaranteed moisture content will still cause moderate shrinking in the West. Kiln dried wood is almost as expensive as recycled and requires longer lead times.
  • Green Douglas fir: In addition to the shrinkage and movement problems, some might wrestle with the issue of cutting old growth forests. We use very little new green timber.
Do you use panels to enclose your frames?

We generally use panels to enclose our roofs but almost never use panels to enclose walls. We’ve found wall panels are problematic for electrical and mechanical systems, we don’t like fastening siding to wafer board skins, and we’ve found panels to be springy when doors close.

We use other systems which solve many of the problems that insulated panels have. We generally use our walls structurally and eliminate posts, connectors, and braces on the exterior wall line. In contrast, most other timber framers use two structural systems; the timber frame and insulated panel system are both capable of carrying vertical loads. In that type of system the timbers carry the vertical loads and the panels mainly act as the insulation and base for finishes.

What do your frames cost per square foot?

We have never built the same frame twice: every frame we build is designed for one-of-a-kind spaces in one-of-a-kind places. Once design and engineering are completed, we price using the following criteria:

  • Total material including timbers, hold downs, hardware, pegs, etc.
  • Shop drawing time
  • Number of and type of joints
  • Type of surface finish: planed, sanded, wheel sanded-oil, urethane, etc.
  • Transportation distance to site
  • Crew expense and labor for raising

We can supply pricing information based on previous projects as a general guideline.

Can you handle design and engineering for our project?

We work with consulting engineers that are licensed in over 45 states. We have years of experience in designing timberwork and we prepare structural drawings in CAD.

What kind of lead times do you have?

Lead times vary depending on season. During the summer they often run about 4 months; at other times during the year they average about 2 months. If we receive a commitment in a timely manner we can usually complete a project within a timeframe that is agreeable to the client.

WOOD FURNITURE FAQ:

What is the process for creating one of a kind furniture?

There are many questions when it comes to creating a one of a kind piece of furniture, door, mantel piece etc. The most common is “what does this process look like?”

Our process for commission pieces is pretty simple:

  • We develop a concept drawing based on your needs and style preferences at no cost to you.
  • Once conceptual drawings are completed, we will present a written proposal including shipping estimates (shipping cost may vary based on final weight).
  • Once the price is agreed upon between the client and Big Timberworks, we require a deposit before we start fabrication and progress payments throughout the duration of your project, with a final payment prior to delivery. We accept cash, check or credit cards.
  • It generally takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete each custom piece and be ready for shipping. At that point we will get the final weight and shipping price from FedEx freight.
  • Once the final balance is paid, your product is shipped. This is generally 2 to 4 days from pickup to delivery.