Author: Susan

Timber framers, log builders at Asilomar

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from Daizen News  1 May 2012

In late April, the Timber framers Guild and the International Log Builders Association held a joint conference at the Asilomar conference center, on the Pacific Ocean just south of Monterey, an old YWCA camp designed largely by Arts and Crafts architect Julia Morgan and built with beautiful redwood timber.

There were lots of valuable seminars, too many to list here, but the keynote speaker—John Francis (the Planet Walker)—is well worth following on TED and  YouTube. He stopped using motorized vehicles for 22 years and stopped speaking for 17 years, as a protest statement following an oil spill He now shares his philosophy about the difference one person can make

in this world.

To find out more about Timber Framers Guild, please visit

For more about International Log Builders Association, please visit



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Ask the expert: Sherpa

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from Daizen News  1 May 2012

We started using Sherpa fasteners in 2008, experimenting to determine their viability. Now, Sherpa is a must-have fastener in Daizen’s timber framing.

Many connections work with wood joinery, and we do not push ourselves to use Sherpa, but when we see a challenging situation (like a long spanned beam to receive a floor joist normally in a dovetail or simply a housing), we use Sherpa so as not to take any wood out of the main beam, thus keeping it at maximum strength. Dai asked Maik Gehlof, Sherpa’s manager of technical support, to explain the Sherpa to us.

Q.  Maik, can you give a brief history of Sherpa and describe how they are used in today’s market in Europe? I use it not only structurally, but also for stairs and railings.

A.  Hi Dai, Sherpa was born from the need for a connector that is easily installed and assembled.

In 2005, the Austrian company Harrer needed a connector solution that just wasn’t available, so they came up with their own: the first Sherpa. Made of steel, it worked just as well as their successors today made of cold-rolled aluminum. Steel had some drawbacks; it’s not only heavy, making the connector harder to handle, but it also rusts and is much harder to machine than aluminum. Optimizing the Sherpa connector started right at its birth and will continue on with every new generation.

Today’s European market is a very competitive one. Structures get larger, wackier, and more dependent on their connections, while having very tight budgets and timelines. The Sherpa connector is tailor-made for this.

Sherpa is a standardized system with a known set of parameters, so it’s easy and fast to design with them. As you mentioned, Dai, you are able to keep main beams at their full cross-section, so they can be smaller, saving resources and money. Since Sherpa connectors are pre-installed in the shop’s controlled environment and even the screws are labeled for easy verification, pre-manufacturing is fast and efficient, which Europeans are very keen on as it controls both cost and quality. Onsite, crane time is minimized, as there is no need to line up bolts or maneuver very heavy beams into place.

All told, you have a product that allows you to save money at several stages, but foremost it gives you a way to budget and schedule a project accurately. That is what the European competitive market is asking for and what the Sherpa connector is able to deliver.

The shape of the connector resembles the traditional dovetail, offering numerous advantages that Sherpa connectors borrow and improve on since there is no short grain to fail. This image shows the cuts along the long grain.

You are absolutely right, Dai, on the multitude of uses for the Sherpa connector. We have a dedicated series of connectors—the assembly series—designed for projects like stairs. And, of course, a Sherpa connector in the hands of a creative person can result in very interesting structures.

—Maik Gehloff

Below, an unusual use for Sherpa–table and benches.

A closer look at the connections and their curious symmetry.

Here’s how Sherpa connectors go together (YouTube).

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NOTICES: Distributor wanted. Display for sale.

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from Daizen News  1 April 2012

Things are in flux at Daizen, and you may be interested in these opportunities.

Distributor wanted.

Daizen is looking for a distribution partner. We are a Shuswap- and Okanagan-based operation; for any area outside this region, we want to engage a partner to distribute our product. To discuss this, please reach Dai, [email protected], 250/679-2750. To learn more about Daizen Joinery, visit the Daizen website.

Display for sale.

Our splined, curved-peak trellis display is for sale—we’ve used it for a year and are thinking of a new display design.

Post distance is 8 ft. 4 in. x 12 ft. Roof size is 14 ft. 7½ in. x 20 ft. All recycled western red cedar, 4 coats of stain. This is meant to use as trellis; it’s not engineered to place a roof on top. For details, please email Dai, [email protected].

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In progress: a curved dome

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from Daizen News  1 April 2012

We’re in the process of erecting a dome for a sun room in a house. Daizen is one of the few sources in B.C. that produces grain-matched, bent, structural timber on a regular basis. To do this, we have developed an entire system, including our proprietary heavy duty clamps.

There is a huge difference between bending a curve and a cut-out curve. Curved beams that are bent retain their continuous fibre, which is what’s required to withstand a compression and tension load. But cut-out timbers simply cut a shape out from a larger timber. This approach is not only limited in size; it can also disconnect most of the fibres entirely, eliminating its usefulness as structural timber. Also, a cut-out curve may split, especially if it is not cut out from free-of-heart-center (FOHC) timber, again limiting the size potential.

A curved beam truss, or a dome as in these pictures, is a structural member, feasible only by bending. In a setting of mostly right angles and straight lines, bent structural timber is not only functional—it’s also refreshing in its roundness.

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Wood textures: it’s all in the touch

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from Daizen News  1 April 2012

Even if two houses had the same floor plan, there are ways we could deliver a different feel to each frame. These include joinery design, of course, but also the finish surface of timbers. Finishing timbers seems such a, well, surface task. But when someone comes into a house and feels the wood of a post (and many people do this instinctively), the touch of the surface evokes one of their deepest responses.

Stain color has a lot to do with the timber surface, but the final texture is also key in delivering the result to match what you are

looking for. Daizen has five different timber surface finishes to respond to the variety in demand. From smooth to rough, they change the feel, literally, of the total frame.


The most common finish. Our timber is normally dressed in our four-sided planer to be exactly square and dimensional, but for the stain to penetrate into the fibre, the timber surface will require further treatment.

Super fine

Depending on how fine a finish is desired, it may be applied along with a finer-grid sanding, or we may use a hand planer to achieve the surface. This is our standard for “high-touch” applications like stairs or for anyone looking for finest surface quality.

Comb finish

We raise the grain, for a patina effect to this finish. This is a great finish for those who want a bit of rustic feel yet desire a clean finish as well.

Rough sawn finish

Sawmill surface, for a true rustic feel. Rough sawn timbers are the only ones we can’t put in the planer, so the surface planes may not be totally square (common in traditional timber framing). This adds to the rustic feel. Joinery may be somewhat less tight in this finish, although structural integrity is never compromised.

Adze finish

The classic traditional finish, evoking a time before electric tools. We raise the grain, to give depth. A great finish for those who want a bit of rustic feel yet desire a clean finish as well. The faceted texture gives a warm, handmade feel.

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Design-build tip: the staircase

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From Daizen News 1 March 2012

We have built many different styles of stairs in the past. Here’s one we recently installed.

The challenge in building a staircase is not the actual fabrication; rather, it’s getting it to fit well into the house. Over time, the walls, ceilings, and floors of existing houses tend to move out of plumb and square. Even on a new house, those planes usually have a period of settling that occurs even before the residents move in.

Two things to consider:

  • If the stair is “hung” from the wall, the wall surfaces must be square and plumb to very exact tolerances, a task that is not trivial even on a new house. Following the plan closely and measuring carefully, sometimes after the frame has settled a little, is key.
  • Another option is for the designer to be aware of potential settling and design the stair as free-standing. A free-standing staircase can add much interest to the design, as well as saving the client money, since less frequent measuring is needed. The greatest cost savings comes if we can eliminate the staircase-measuring visit entirely!

Other Daizen staircases

For a closer look at these staircases and the houses they fit into, you can download a full-color PDF by clicking the link in the right column on the Daizen website.

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Free Tickets!

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From Daizen News 1 March 2012

For the upcoming B.C. Log Home, Timber Frame, and Country Living show in Abbotsford March 10 and 11, we were given 10 tickets to give out to you. This is quite a show—besides the builders, the over 100 exhibitors include amazing artists in wildlife bronze, stone sculpting, and other media; furnishings and collectibles; marine items; resorts; and other surprising


Call us (250.679.2750) for your free tickets—on a first come, first served basis.

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