Author: Susan

Curves, Curves, Curves!

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from Daizen News August 2012


Daizen is getting a growing reputation for curved structural members. Here is one of our summer shop fabrication projects.

Bent member (a series of gluelam timbers) awaiting fabrication to support structures.

Images above and below: the grain-matched curved gluelam looks just like natural wood that happened to grow in a curve.

This small curved truss member was cut out from large-dimension high grade timber and features enhanced chamfer details.


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Staining (and protecting) timber

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from Daizen News August 2012

Why stain early?

The right finish protects timber, making it both more useful and more beautiful. The most important types of protection are from sun, from moisture, and from fungus. Also, applying an oil or other coating system will allow timber to cure very slowly. Curing slowly means fewer twists or checks: it means the timber stays stable.

It’s best to apply the coating to all timber surfaces including butt ends and “inside” (hidden) joinery such as tenons and mortises. The only chance to do this is when the individual, unassembled timbers are in our shop. We apply multiple coats of the wood finishes we use.

Wood colour and orientation (straight-grain or cross-grain) affect finished colour. End-grain surfaces, where the stain penetrates more into the fibre are darker. And flat grain timber shows a lighter colour than vertical grain because flat grain shows more of the summer growth ring (less dense than the winter grow ring). Surface texture also makes a difference: rough surfaces hold more stain and are darker than smooth surfaces.

Our choices: LandArk and BoMol

LandArk, formulated and produced in the United States, is the most natural system available to protect the wood fibre. It’s an oil finish that soaks deep into the wood.

We also use BoMol Woodcare Products, made by Bohme, a Swiss company. Besides being environmentally friendly (no volatile organic compounds), they are water-based and provide effective UV radiation protection and moisture damage protection.

We use 7 different colours in the BoMol system, ranging from transparent clear to very dark brown. Of course, final colour depends on grain orientation, denseness, and surface texture, as well as type of wood. Here’s a subset of our finishes:

LandArk Oil Finish

The most natural system available, it soaks deeply into the wood. It brings out the richness of the wood grain, a real advantage to enhance the quality of high-grade timber.

BoMol Clear

This transparent colour really is clear—it almost feels bare. It’s popular for those who want to keep the fresh look of the timber in its unadulterated beauty. It still contains the UV and fungus protection, though.

BoMol Natural

Our most common finish colour, a bit darker than Pine with more orange.

BoMol Cedar

A decidedly red colour.

Bomol Walnut

The darkest colour we use. It’s really a chocolate, but the wood grain is still visible. Stunning.

The other colours we carry are BoMol Pine, Chestnut, and Butternut. To see the full set plus more in-depth information about the staining process at Daizen, see the Downloads page on our website.

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Midyear check-in

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Generally speaking, Dazen’s production schedule is full to early October; our sales team is starting to discuss fall and winter jobs.  If you’re interested in working with us and want a reasonable production schedule, we recommend starting discussion with us soon for any upcoming projects so that you secure a place in the production schedule.

We have a few grain-matched curved beam trusses in progress as well as other interesting projects coming this summer such as using 30 x 30-in. timber in a stairway. We will feature these in our August newsletter.

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Latest test: timber drying

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From Daizen News July 2012

Timber is tricky, and to achieve predictable, consistent results, Daizen specializes in controlling it.  Many people don’t understand how wood can be so varied in its behavior: wood is wood, right?  Well, in fact, there are many, many variables. Wood fiber is a natural product. No two trees, even of the same species, are exactly the same; timbers behave differently in different drying processes (air or kiln dry, for example).

Part of our timber drying test.

To clarify how we evaluate information, we conducted a test of kiln drying behavior, comparing two species of Douglas fir (coastal and interior) that we use very frequently. We compared wood from  two locations on each tree (boxed heart: BH; free of heart center: FOHC) and, for the interior D. fir, we also compared two stages of dryness:green—live when cut—and standing dead (SD). (Coastal D. fir is not subject to as many fires, since it’s much wetter.)

Timbers are planed square, to exact size, in order to monitor the changes after drying.

The coast’s mild, rainy climate causes trees to grow larger and faster. In the interior’s climate, colder winters and hotter summers make for slow growth and very tight winter growth rings, which in turn means the fiber is denser than the coastal version.

We took samples by drilling to the core and placing the chips into sealed containers so as not to lose moisture.

We prepared six timber samples (coastal D. fir: BH and FOHC; interior D. fir: BH green and SD; FOHC green and SD) and planed them to the exact same size (7½  x 11½ in.) to measure the dimension loss—shown in this PDF chart in the “After drying” row. This chart is a comprehensive report of all our test results.

Timber Drying Test chart (PDF)

A normal moisture meter gives only an indication of moisture, not a precise reading. Moisture varies even in different spots in one timber; accuracy requires taking several readings to arrive at an average read.  The most accurate measure comes from several readings plus measuring the weight difference after drying.

This moisture meter measures the weight difference before and after drying in its built-in oven. It also calculates for moisture content. This can also be done with an accurate scale and a microwave at home.

Since BH timber often splits lengthwise, kiln drying it may result in dryer timber since more surface area is open to moisture escaping. So we tested both BH and FOHC timber, for further comparison.

Our conclusions: if kiln drying, coastal Doug fir gives better results, but interior Doug fir may perform better in air drying. We have several test sets in air drying now; the full cycle will take two to three years, and we are measuring every couple of months.

Samples resting on their timbers after kiln drying.

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Building Wisdom June 2012

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From Daizen News


Nou aru taka ha tsume wo kakusu.

Direct translation—A clever falcon hides his claws.

Deeper meaning—Still waters run deep; cats hide their claws; who knows most, speaks least.

—Japanese proverb

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Daizen ideas, shared

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From Daizen News  June 2012

A new sharing venue, Pinterest, is a visual online pinboard to organize and share the things you love. Daizen now has two Pinterest boards—one for inspiring visual inspirations (called Nice Work) and the other, Daizen Joinery, for  interesting accomplishments.

Pinterest/Daizen/Nice Work

Pinterest/Daizen/Daizen Joinery

Update–as of June 6, Daizen now has nine pinboards!  The others include Stair, Garden/Exterior, Treehouse, Organic/Earth Building, Japanese Architecture, Places To Go, Fly Fishing, and a fledgling one for Methods.

You can “follow” either of these pinboards by clicking the red Request an Invite button. Or you can start your own Pinterest. It’s a feast for the eyes!

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A ring eclipse

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From Daizen News  June 2012

Dai just happened to be in Japan for an annular solar eclipse, where the moon passes in front of the sun, leaving only a bright ring of light. The next annular solar eclipse, also known as a ring of fire, will happen in 2023, so it’s a good thing Dai took this shot for those of us who may not have seen it.


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Why chamfer?

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From Daizen News  Jun 2012

Timber at true square has a very sharp corner edge. For better safety in handling and in daily life, we take the edge off. There are also reports that fires start and catch more slowly with a chamfered edge compared to a square, sharp edge. And chamfering is a nice wood detail for emphasis, almost like the details on a Greek column.

This timber has no chamfer on it. You can see how sharp it is (and uncomfortable to bump against).

Here are the possibilities for chamfering. In any style, the size of the chamfer is always variable, based on customer preference. By default, we keep the size within a conservative range—a chamfer of about ¼ in.

Daizen offers two different edge profiles—45° and round. There are three styles for each edge profile:

Ski stop.

45° edge ski stop.

round edge ski stop.

This chamfer stops before the joint. This is the most typical style in timber framing because it frames the post and beam joint area nicely.

Ski stop with joinery enhanced.

45° edge enhanced joinery, with reveal.

round edge enhanced joinery, with reveal.

This chamfer style exposes the joint more noticeably with a small reveal, and it still contains the ski stop finish.


45° edge through chamfer.

round edge through chamfer.

This chamfer style could occur at any edge  (with a few exceptions like the bottom of the beam where a post would meet it, as for window and door openings).

At complex joinery points such as a scarf joint, we recommend chamfering the joinery edge to enhance the look of the joinery. If the joint is not chamfered, and we achieve a nice, tight fit, the joint becomes very flat (both less dramatic and less visible). A chamfer here gives depth at the joint that enhances the look of the wood joinery.

Imagine this hip rafter focal point without through chamfering.

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