The modern rustic look has made a comeback, and with it, the post and beam construction technique has reappeared. Whether it is the old-time feel of the log cabin or the more modern open rafters with the huge support beams, the heavy timber framing can help you find what you want in the look and feel of your home’s creation. Here are some things you may want to know about post and beam construction from the past to the present.
Once, not so long ago, the mortise and tenon type joints were fashioned by hand and then pounded into place as they slipped into one another. The holes, or notches, were fashioned by hand and took many hours to construct, and this building method is attributed to the early Greeks. Now computers are used to tell machines to drill or cut the wood out to create the holes that fit over the tenons; however, the Amish populations still use the old traditional ways and make their homes beautiful works of art.
Just as the ancient people did, the solidly constructed homes used no nails to secure the mortise and tenon, more commonly called the post and beam. Additionally, no nails are used in the construction of a home’s foundation that employs the use of the post and beam construction method. Instead, the timber is fastened with hidden fasteners, metal braces, and sometimes wooden pegs.
Allowing the wood to shift naturally with the earth and to breathe as nature intended is one of the major themes of the post and beam construction. Although wooden pegs have been used for hundreds of years to prevent the wood from working off the tenon, for the most part, the wood is free to move quite a bit as cold weather expands the timbers and the summer heat compresses the wood.
Some of the most beautiful homes built today still utilize the post and beam construction methods to support large open spaces in what used to be the rafter section of homes. Few things are as amazing as seeing a 2,000-pound beam overhead as it supports a roof.