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Author Topic: Long Sills
Ken Hume
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Posts: 431
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Post Long Sills
on: April 18, 2015, 06:13
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The tree felled for use as a long sill was manouvered into log pile No 1 using ash pole levers, ropes and pull lift.

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This 30 ft log was then was easily debarked using garden spades taking care to leave a short length on the end where pulling rope was attached in order to provide grip to be able to pull the log onto the hewing bunks. Once debarked the friction forces needing to be overcome in order to pull the log are considerably reduced.

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The peeled log was manouevered into position onto the hewing bunks ready for positioning and dogging. Given that this is a 30 ft long log weighing about 500lbs it is remarkable that 2 fit men could quite easily achieve this feat using nothing more sophisticated than a $40 pull lift purchased from from Home Depot and continuous fibre loop slings.

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Once positioned on the bunks the size of this hewing endeavour begins to hit home.

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The butt end of the log was examined to determine approximately what size of sill could be achieved acknowledging that the top end of the log (28" girth) would be slightly smaller and contain more wane.

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Ken Hume

Ken Hume
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Posts: 431
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Post Re: Long Sills
on: April 18, 2015, 07:26
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The first hewn side of the long sill log took about one hour to score and hew.

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The second side of the log was more difficult to hew because this side contained more knots because this was the side of the log that faced outwards towards the light away from the woodland that hence contained more larger branches.

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Having hewn two good sides back to reasonable heartwood the third side was hewn but contained more surface sapwood and wane.

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The finished log (3rd side down) demonstrates how a significantly good, 30ft long, single piece long sill can be hewn by 2 men over a 4 hour period.

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Few current day sawmills would be capable of producing such a long continuous timber and so employing hewing conversion is still a very relevant technique.

The major observation made about the process of felling and hewing to make to make timber-framed building within a few yards of the original position of the tree in the woodland is that this might well represent the ultimate in sustainable building techniques and so when compared with building with brick typically the timber felled would be needed to kiln dry and bake the clay bricks and so it does beg the question if suitable trees are available why building with brick is considered to be sustainable and eco friendly.

Ken Hume - Oxfordshire Woodland Group

Ken Hume
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Posts: 431
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Post Re: Long Sills
on: May 1, 2015, 06:49
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The second long sill is a bit more of a challenge than the first since this log has now lain on the ground for over a year and hence has dried out making hewing a more difficult prospect. It also appears to have a slight bend over 4 - 5 ft at the top end of the log.

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The first side was only partially hewn to create flat spots at the butt end to facilitate its turning using the strap and pole log turning technique and to enable the log to stand in a stable fashion on the bunks once turned for inspection and decision making about how best to hew the log. The log was rotated so that the outward curve at the top end was facing down.

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This log is not a perfect choice from which to make a long straight sill (like the first) but since it has the necessary length and girth to produce a sill with 3 good sides (4th side facing in) hewing proceded to produce the second flat face which was both flat and fair.

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The log was rotated onto the second face revealing that quite a lot of timber will need to be removed from the butt of the third face.

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Ken Hume

Ken Hume
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Posts: 431
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Post Re: Long Sills
on: June 4, 2015, 06:56
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Having hewn three complete sides of the 2nd long sill the bend at the top end has now become much more evident.

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The log was scored and then rolled to re-hew the whole of the 1st side which contained a large number of difficult knots especially towards the top end of the log. Good use was made of the Wetterlings knife edged broad axe which was used to cut through difficult grain around knots

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Rolling the 2nd long sill revealed that the top end bend was not so obvious and hence it might just be possible to use this sill providing it is laid out in this position (flat plane) using some clever joint design and / or by scarfing a new 5 - 6 ft end onto the long sill.

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Now that the log has been hewn flat on all four faces it is much easier to reliably pull a string line along each face without the string becoming snagged on bumps and knots along the length of the log and establish a more reliable measure of straightness.

Ken Hume

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