Wood

Vertical Stripes Are Thinning

by Don Friedman on April 8, 2018


I don’t think I’ve used this picture before. Underside of a floor showing diagonal subfloor above and white stripes where the plaster keys came through the wood lath. Nothing particularly significant, just a nice view of the details and some 130-year-old wood in excellent condition.

Different Logic For Different Elements

March 27, 2018

Those are two views of the same rather boring industrial building in the Bronx, built in the first half of the twentieth century. The exterior walls are solid brick, with a reasonably nice hard-burned face brick as the outer wythe; the floors are very heavy wood joists supporting a wood plank subfloor. It’s a long, […]

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The Transition From Craft To Industry

March 1, 2018

That’s a late 1800s industrial building, looking up at the underside of an upper floor. The first thing that needs to be said has nothing to do with the point of this post: the joists are about twice as deep as they look like here. If you look closely, you can see the ledger strips […]

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The Details of a Technological System

February 20, 2018

This is an underside view of the heel connection of a heavy timber truss. The piece of wood at the top of the picture is the bottom chord, roughly 12 inches by 12 inches in section, and you can’t see the top chord above it. The bolt ties the two chords together, but the real […]

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Point and Counterpoint

December 3, 2017

In the recent discussion of wood skyscrapers (full disclosure: I think they’re a terrible idea) I have noticed any discussion of the extent of exterior maintenance necessary to prevent wood from acting like the biological material it is. A masonry curtain wall can go thirty years with no maintenance and not fail: a lot of […]

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This Is Ungood

October 18, 2017

From a few years ago, some rotting wood beams and a failing brick pier. In 1989, I performed a long and difficult site visit to check on a structure I won’t name (confidentiality is still in place, even after all these years) that had to be reviewed once per year. The fellow who had been […]

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Steel Trusses and Wood Purlins

May 19, 2017

No deep thoughts today, just appreciation for a well-designed roof. It’s an industrial building so finishes were kept to a minimum, and there was no requirement for fire-rating. The trusses are steel because they span about 50¬†feet; the purlins span 18. The end bays have diagonal rod bracing in the plane of the truss upper […]

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Worse Than Termites

January 26, 2017

That’s a nice early-twentieth-century partition: plaster on expanded metal lath (on the far side of the studs) full 2×4 studs, diagonal fire-blocking between the studs. And, yeah, a big chunk is missing from a stud where an electrician or plumber needed some room to work. We see more damage from guys with saws than we […]

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A Subtle Hint

January 24, 2017

That picture was taken in a mid-to-late-nineteenth-century industrial building, on the top floor with only the attic above. The exposed wood beam is about 8 inches wide and 12 inches deep but appears to span some fifty feet, which is obviously ridiculous. The building has a gable roof so the most likely bet is that […]

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Failure Portrait: Dramatic

October 6, 2016

No, that photo isn’t rotated 90 degrees. The floor above has failed and the bathtub has fallen through. You can’t see it from this angle, but the only thing holding the tub in place is the drain pipe. One of the difficult judgement calls that we face during field investigation is when a building is […]

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