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Author Topic: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?  (Read 1329 times)

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Offline vtframer

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Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« on: November 16, 2017, 10:10:44 AM »
I have some completed hemlock sills and intermediate sills for my frame (24x36 footprint) and they've been stored for a few years under tin and they've started to twist unfortunately.  As I look forward to putting them together, is there any way to untwist as we assemble the deck by applying a twist in opposite direction (with a large peevee) as the tenon from the twisted piece is inserted into it's mortise?  My fear is that even if were able to untwist it (unlikely I would think), the stress on the tenon would be too great and it might break.  I feel frustrated because so much work went into these pieces...the good news is that the rest of the frame is in white pine which is very stable.

One thought I had was that for the sills that sit on the concrete I'll drill through the sill into the concrete, epoxy a threaded rod into the concrete below and wrench each piece flat.  For the intermediate sills that span from one side of the basement to the other, I'm not sure what to do...

Thanks




Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2017, 03:33:47 PM »
 :(

How much twist are you talking about?  Just a degree or two?  I have a few 4x11s that rotated quite a bit.

The best solution would be to cut them down into something smaller (release the perfect timber hidden inside that twisted one) that is usable elsewhere in the building and make new sills.  Sorry...
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Offline florida

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2017, 08:36:25 AM »
No, you can't get the twist out of a 2X4 much less a timber.  Cut them down to something smaller.
General contractor and carpenter for 50 years.

Offline Roger Nair

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2017, 12:12:54 PM »
Florida, I respectfully disagree, 2 x 4's can be untwisted and I have done that countless times by sistering, by toe-nailing and by driving ends into opposing housings.  However, the topic is heavy timber that will be far more resistant to twisting force.  My approach has been more like to plane out twisting surfaces, however internal surfaces of mortises is another matter and not an easy fix.  Perhaps, a kerfed segmented timber can be twisted and fastened to a foundation but with the danger of splitting built in.  I have not done this and am somewhat dubious.  Sometimes it is better to take the hit and start over.  Since I have no idea of what the degree of twist is, I'm not committed, and am just throwing comments to chew on.

In any case, the original post with bolts at each end does not seem a likely solution.
An optimist believes this is the best of all possible worlds, the pessimist fears that the optimist is correct.--James Branch Cabell

Offline flyingparks

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2017, 12:45:14 AM »
Put it together and plane it.

Offline Don P

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2017, 08:03:17 AM »
My wife more than me has probably tried to untwist more factory log cabin logs than you can shake a crooked stick at. It times we would have multiple lags lined up down a log working them fractions of a turn at a time to work just a 6x8 down. On one cabin with lefty and righty spiraled Virginia pine she had pinned on end down and was working 5 lags to try to flatten them together. I was sawing and over that heard automatic weapon fire. she broke one lag which we did often doing this but in this instance all 5 let go in a quick zipper. Others are a piece of cake.

A green timber did what green timbers do. You are in the position now of fixing those now drier timbers or going fishing for another green timber. I guess in hindsight if you are building green, overcut several of the larger dimension pieces so that if you do have to replace some there are partially dry pieces in backup. You're stuck now with the same roll of the dice.

Offline vtframer

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2017, 09:34:02 AM »
My wife more than me has probably tried to untwist more factory log cabin logs than you can shake a crooked stick at. It times we would have multiple lags lined up down a log working them fractions of a turn at a time to work just a 6x8 down. On one cabin with lefty and righty spiraled Virginia pine she had pinned on end down and was working 5 lags to try to flatten them together. I was sawing and over that heard automatic weapon fire. she broke one lag which we did often doing this but in this instance all 5 let go in a quick zipper. Others are a piece of cake.

A green timber did what green timbers do. You are in the position now of fixing those now drier timbers or going fishing for another green timber. I guess in hindsight if you are building green, overcut several of the larger dimension pieces so that if you do have to replace some there are partially dry pieces in backup. You're stuck now with the same roll of the dice.



Wow - i had no idea how strong the forces are.  did you use epoxy into the concrete to secure the rod?  How much were they twisted?  I really really don't want to re-cut.  In hindsight, I wish I went with white pine instead of hemlock :(

I'm really hoping I can make the threaded rod thing work.  Planing is not a good option because all the joist pockets will have to re-done as well.

Offline vtframer

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2017, 10:05:21 AM »
The reason I'm storing the timbers first before assembling is that I work full time - If i had the time I would have cut all of them at once and put them together.  and the twisting wouldn't be an issue.... oh well

Offline Don P

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2017, 11:10:57 AM »
Do you think a green assembled floor and girder with the same materials would have not twisted and stayed flat?

Offline vtframer

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2017, 09:54:14 AM »
Yes, because the joists and other members all being connected would hold the timber rigid while it dries.  It may twist a little but I would assume it would have been acceptable.

Offline DelawhereJoe

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2017, 04:05:17 PM »
Is there any possibility of steaming the board and untwisting it that way ?
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Offline florida

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2017, 04:18:21 PM »
Roger,
And I would argue that you didn't untwist the 2 x 4 at all. The twist is still there and if you removed the boards you had it screwed to it would still be twisted.
General contractor and carpenter for 50 years.

Offline Roger Nair

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2017, 07:46:16 PM »
Florida, I don't really want to get into an argument but from my point of view, whether a 2 x 4 is inherently straight or not, when placed in a frame it needs a proper orientation forced by toenailing or pinched by fireblocks or bridging.  From my pov its straight if it sights straight and lays straight when all is done but in a larger sense it's the frame assembly that matters most.  In words of my old foreman when asked about the quality of the delivery, he would look you up and down, then let out a stream of tobacco spit just before my feet and say, "It's wood ain't it, nail it."  We would then draw nail and toenail and do our best and get at the end straight plumb walls and level floors.  I never saw a load of perfect material but we could get very close without fiddleing around.  By the way, I never used screws when assembling 2 by material on interior framing.
An optimist believes this is the best of all possible worlds, the pessimist fears that the optimist is correct.--James Branch Cabell

Offline Hackermatack

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2017, 07:03:17 AM »
I have been working with wood since I was a kid and I'm now 66 so I guess that makes at least 50 years in the school of hard knocks. My experience is that smaller pieces of wood can sometimes be straitened without somehow relieving the stress but a timber used for a sill or carrier would be next to impossible. As has been previously suggested your best bet is to put them on a band mill and skim cut them strait. Even then you run the risk of releasing more tension and having them twist again but probably to a lesser degree. 2 years ago I was in charge of putting up a large timber frame building, the pine timbers had dried some and had moved some. We put every timber back on my mill and took a light cut sometimes on all sides sometimes just on the sides that would show. 8x8's became 7.5x7.5 and our 8 x 12's were trued to 7.5 x 11.5 it worked really well. We did it in assembly line style true them, mortise & tendon them, sand them and assemble.
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Is it possible to un-twist timbers?
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2017, 09:11:58 PM »
...whether a 2 x 4 is inherently straight or not, when placed in a frame it needs a proper orientation forced by toenailing or pinched by fireblocks or bridging.  From my pov its straight if it sights straight and lays straight when all is done but in a larger sense it's the frame assembly that matters most..."It's wood ain't it, nail it."  We would then draw nail and toenail and do our best and get at the end straight plumb walls and level floors.  I never saw a load of perfect material...

(Nor have I seen one, Lowes or reputable local yard, they all put out or send what the heck they have)

That was the motto at the house I helped frame yrs ago with a mason who was also a pretty good carpenter.  Make it work.  Use the monkey claw if you slip up (unintentional pun).

In framing the walls, the procedure with crooked stuff was line it up best you could, put in one nail, then whack until the 2x4 was back on the line and put in the 2nd.  Too far off meant a bad joint but I fear we let some lapse (drywaller hatred later not being taken into account).  Bill & I stayed irritated at how many boards we had to do that with.

Screws might have helped?  Power nailing, being able to knock in 2 nails in quick succession might have helped, too.  This was about 1982.

I do see the point of the later poster regarding larger timbers.  Many many more lbs of stress & weight in one place to be reckoned with all at once.  Maybe Timberlinx and their pull together modus operandi would change this?

Then again I can hear Don P's wife's machine gun.  Wondering what a Timberlinx splitting wood would sound like....

Don's concerns about green stuff, starting to worry me!


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