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Old 02-27-2012, 06:30 AM   #1
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


I'm in the design phase for a home I'll be building on acreage that I already own. Lots and lots of trees that will be turned into lumber. That's the first step. I've reached an agreement with a neighbor who owns his own bandmill and swingblade and has a solar kiln. He's connected with a certified lumber grader who will come out and grade the whole lot so that it can be used per building code. Trees are red cedar, yellow cedar, douglas fir and western maple.

The plan is to mill prepare the lumber 6-12 months in advance of construction. This allows the solar kiln plus time to bring the moisture content down to low levels.

Here's the benefit to me - I can get this lumber for "free" if I'm willing to work like a dog to help mill it and dry it and split it with the man who owns the equipment. I do though have to pay for the grading.

Now my questions.

1.) The ideal situation for me is to avoid buying OSB or plywood sheathing for the floors, roof and walls and use 1' dimensional lumber to sheath the whole house. Considering I can get it for free, this route saves some money.

a.) What are the structural/engineering disadvantages of going this route instead of relying on OSB?
b.) How much spacing should exterior sheathing have between each board to allow for expansion/contraction or is this not an issue? Same question for interior subfloor sheathing.

2.) Some of the largest trees are going to be reserved for very long span rafters. We can probably get 30 ft spans.

a.) If I have a gable end intersecting a perpendicular roof plane, the rafter lengths are going to diminish in size as they approach the intersecting roof plane. If the end of the gable requires common rafter spans, or the adjoining valley rafter spans, which exceed the span tables, is it common practice to mix and match, use lvl or glulam in the stick framing for the rafters that require lengths which can't be achieved with dimensional lumber and then transition to dimensional lumber for the rafters which can be accommodated within the span tables for the length, live and dead loads, etc or should this practice be avoided and instead should one aim for uniformity of material? Or is there a technique, perhaps sistering, which is a solution to solving the long dimension problem?

I should note that before construction begins, the whole plan will be going before an engineer for fine tuning, but I'd rather solve a lot of these issues in the early part of the design phase rather than at the end of the design phase. In other words I want to be able to visualize the framing process completely before I take it to an engineer.

3.) There will be a few porches/decks and one will have an 8-10' roof overhang. I've not yet settled on whether the overhang will have a lower pitch and marry into the roof's higher pitch or whether I will start the roof pitch at the eaves of the overhang and let it continue upwards at a uniform pitch.

a.) Anyone have any thoughts on these two alternatives? A uniform pitch does avoid having a seam with the roofing material at the point of pitch transition.

b.} If I do choose the uniform pitch option, what are the pros/cons of having the rafters begin on the roof eave, supported by an exterior porch column and again by the exterior load bearing wall and continuing on a few feet where the are sistered onto the bottoms of the common rafters which, of course, continue on up to the ridge versus having one long common rafter from porch eave right up to the ridge, span table and engineering permitting?

c.) I realize that beginning the pitch further out from the house results in a higher attic space and this isn't a drawback but a desired feature.

Thanks to everyone who can contribute their knowledge and insight to these questions.

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Old 02-27-2012, 08:52 AM   #2
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


Just a few comments. First, in my experience, nothing is "free", everything comes with a cost. I would certainly consider paying the owner of the trees a fair price for the lumber, in addition to your sweat equity in helping them mill the lumber.

As to using cut and dried lumber for sheathing, this used to be quite common. I have expected several houses built in the late 1800's that used full size 1 inch variable width lumber for sheathing, balloon framed two stories. The lumber was in outstanding condition. As long as it is properly installed and maintained dry by using an appropriate siding material, so far as I can tell the technique is totally good. Similarly for floor sheathing, diagonally placed 1x lumber used to be standard for floor sheathing, OSB and plywood were faster and less expensive so they replaced dimensional lumber, but it certainly can be used.

As for your concerns about "going beyond the span table", you say you are going to have an engineer in the process, so the span tables are no limitation, your engineer can specify any length dimensional lumber so long as they perform the appropriate calculations and submit them with your plans to the building inspector for approval. If you do not have an appropriately sized dimensional lumber piece, you can always mix in glulam or LVL lumber, however the computations become a little more complex because LVL and glulam have different properties than dimensional lumber (different allowable stress and different modulus of elasticity), so in certain circumstances additional calculations are required to demonstrate code compliance.

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Old 02-27-2012, 06:16 PM   #3
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
Just a few comments. First, in my experience, nothing is "free", everything comes with a cost. I would certainly consider paying the owner of the trees a fair price for the lumber, in addition to your sweat equity in helping them mill the lumber.
Thanks Daniel. Just to clarify, all of the trees are on my property so I'm the owner. The man with the mills is getting half the wood for doing the milling and drying.

Quote:
As long as it is properly installed and maintained dry by using an appropriate siding material, so far as I can tell the technique is totally good.
Anyone have wise words on what proper installation entails? I'm assuming that diagonal placing and nailing on every framing member is required. What I'm unsure of is the spacing between boards to accommodate contraction and expansion. Anyone know anything about that?

Quote:
Similarly for floor sheathing, diagonally placed 1x lumber used to be standard for floor sheathing, OSB and plywood were faster and less expensive so they replaced dimensional lumber, but it certainly can be used.
My concern had to do with the dimensional stability and rigidity that comes from ply and OSB. Does that add some added shear strength or some other engineering quality to the frame that dimensional lumber sheathing can't match. Just curious - is it only speed and cost which makes ply/osb the preferred choice?

[quote[ If you do not have an appropriately sized dimensional lumber piece, you can always mix in glulam or LVL lumber, however the computations become a little more complex because LVL and glulam have different properties than dimensional lumber (different allowable stress and different modulus of elasticity), so in certain circumstances additional calculations are required to demonstrate code compliance.[/quote]

Good to read. If I want a high pitched gable, I could see myself running into a situation where each gable span end might run over 30 feet in length and then the lengths would diminish as they approached the perpendicular roof plane. So mixing and matching is already done, putting LVL or glulam in place where I need long length and then substituting dimensional lumber for the places where the length is less and where the span tables indicate that lumber would be acceptable.

Any wise words on how to accommodate roofs over porches? Is the sistering approach best or should the rafter try to be one long rafter, from eave to ridge?
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:22 PM   #4
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


Plywood is going to have more shear strength then OSB hands down.
Second to dry out green lumber it is 1 year per inch of wood unless you have a real skookum kiln. tho bring the lumber to less then 9 percent MC. Also have them milled to Number one or better. or Japan grade. And your grader better have his stamp to stamp every piece of lumber. far as I can tell you have great plan so far.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:50 PM   #5
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by using sheet goods for sheathing your not only cutting the install time by half but the overal shear and racking strength of the complete assembly will go up by atleast 4x. adding construction adhesive into the mix of sheathing a floor and it becomes even stronger and eliminates floor squeaks. less joints makes it stronger also goes for walls.

if you do infact use boards you dont have to worry about allowing for expansion as the wood wont get to the lowest moisture content by air drying it. as the wood continues to dry out it will shrink even more.. which means it will have gaps in it. god only know how many old homes ive renovated which were built with t & g sheathing.. all the boards have 1/4- 3/8" gaps between them . also if you plan on installing tile anywhere you will have to put down a minimum of 1/2" plywood underlay before the tile goes down as any good tile installer wont warrenty their work if its installed on boards, their not stable enough to ensure the grout and tiles dont crack
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:50 PM   #6
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


pretty sure osb has better shear
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:46 PM   #7
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


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Originally Posted by AlexHouse View Post
Here's the benefit to me - I can get this lumber for "free" if I'm willing to work like a dog to help mill it and dry it and split it with the man who owns the equipment. I do though have to pay for the grading.
I built a 1200 sq' ft' house from the yellow pine on my land.
Milled it all with a chainsaw mill.

Before you're finished, the "work like a dog" will be quite an understatement.

When I started, lumber prices were quite high. By the time I got all the lumber dry enough to use, the bottom dropped out of lumber prices.

My advice; buy the lumber, or for goodness sake, at least buy the floor, wall and roof sheathing. That alone will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort, well worth the price.

(If your trees are anything like yellow pine, here's a tip:
Since you'll probably have to resaw quite a bit to get the bows out, just stack the filches without cutting to width. Then, when dry, cut to width and you'll have straight lumber.)

Arky
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:00 PM   #8
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


AlexHouse……..good for you, go for it.

I’ve been River, Bay and Beach Logging forever. It’s a lot of work but the satisfaction and pride that comes from turning logs into finished product is something few people these days will ever know.


The savings is debatable, it is a lot of work and framing lumber is pretty cheap right know. If you don’t have a mill, then the 50/50 split has always been the going rate around here.


For me I wouldn’t waste good stock on sheathing, there’s way to many other cool things you can do with that wood.


You don’t mention your location but if you’re in a dry climate then osb is fine imo and cheap to boot although I’d never use it on the roof.


I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish here other than turning your logs into lumber but for me it’s all about showcasing the trees into the finish.


Keep in mind that a band saw mill won’t always give you a perfect uniform thickness in your stock.


Good luck and post some pictures along the way.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:17 PM   #9
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pretty sure osb has better shear
Well I have to say this Plywood is code for out here on the Coast the pacific North west where the high humidity would destroy OSB in weeks. OSB does not have the holding strength for nails and screws. it is cheap junk of wood chips pressed and held with glue. were as Ply wood is sheets of wood laid at right angles and yes glued and pressed but is 95 percent stronger then OSB with the same thickness. a half inch sheet of ply wood will have greater shear strength then a half inch of OSB in fact to get the same shear strength OSB has to be 5/8 or greater Just some real facts.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:27 PM   #10
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osb beats ply in shear...sorry thats a real fact
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:35 PM   #11
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osb beats ply in shear...sorry thats a real fact


I think the regional thing applies here Tom.

Unless the stuff is covered up (now) and kept dry, 7/16" turns into 5/8" in no time. Then you can throw the shear stats out the window.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:52 PM   #12
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i understand
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:50 PM   #13
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osb beats ply in shear...sorry that's a real fact
Were We build on the coast and have a average rain fall of 120" per year OSB stand for OHBoards they swell and fall apart Oh and 120" equals 10 feet of rain per year and some times we get that in one month.
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Old 02-28-2012, 02:33 AM   #14
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Milled lumber suitable for home construction?


Thanks for the info everyone.

What I'm trying to accomplish is to build a house myself and to capture the satisfaction of doing as much of it myself as I possibly can. I built a $40,000 kitchen a few years ago - I built a veneer press, I used exotic veneers in the doors. I bought rough maple, put on the jointer, ran it through the planer, made door blanks, ran everything through multiple settings on the router, made the mitered doors, trimmed it all out with exotic wood like Bloodwood, built myself a spray booth, bought spay equipment, used aniline dyes because I wanted to pop the grain on the bird's eye maple that I featured in prominent places, then I made the crown molding from scratch, and so on and so on.

If I valued my time, the project was a money pit. But I counted the time spent on that project as an enjoyable hobby and so it turned out to be a huge money saver and I had a great time building that kitchen.

That's what I want to do with this project. One of the things I believe is important is the taking trees from my own land and making them into lumber. I don't mind the work of doing that. I don't mind the down time of waiting for the solar kiln and stacked drying time to bring the moisture content down. We all have different things that float our boats - I get a lot of satisfaction in hand crafting pieces of my house.

The reason I'm focused on the sheathing question is because as much as I want to use dimensional lumber for as much sheathing as I can I really don't want to build an inferior project from an engineering POV. The added time of using dimensional doesn't bother me nor does the added work. I'm completely neutral to those factors. If I can really get a 4x boost in shear strength then that is a monkey wrench in the gears of my preferred path and the case for plywood sheathing is pretty damn strong.

The trees that would be used for structure are Douglas Fir. Big ones. The cedar would be used for show.

As for the question of spacing in the boards, I'm assured by the guy with the mills and the lumber grader than the combination of time in the solar kiln plus a 6-8 months of air drying will in fact get the moisture content down to levels identical to kiln-dried lumber from a lumberyard. That puts my question on spacing back into play. That is if I do end up using boards instead of plywood. What would be the spacing needed between the boards to allow for contraction and expansion or does lumber dried by kilns also contract even further when buried into the shell of a completed home and isolated from the elements?
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Old 02-28-2012, 06:30 AM   #15
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120''=10'...got it

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