The American pioneer needed little more than his axe and trees to provide for many of his needs. From cradle to coffin, trees provided his shelter, his barn and his final resting place. The broadaxe and adz had one purpose. That was to make felled rough logs into servicesable building timber. The process was called hewing. Every beam has its own style of axe marks. Each beam is literally one of a kind.
Beams are mostly pine and hemlock in soft wood, or miscellaneous hardwoods like oak, elm, ash, maple or beech. Softwood tends to run straighter; hardwood may have some twist or bend. Because of their old age and increased patina (coloring enriched by time), and the axe marks, they are all look similar. Therefore, mixing the wood species is aesthetically pleasing to the eye for most decorating projects. The farmers mixed the wood species in most every barn so not to waste any natural resource close at hand. Han Hewn Beams are the oldest form of antique beams from barns. Once the water mill was invented, sawn beams began to appear in some buildings.
Remember the beams were trees first before their new life began. Mortise holes or notches are part of thier structural history and are necessary. You can expect cracks or checks, as this is a part of the natural drying process. A good craftsman can patch or repair mortises or notches. Turn notches up when possible or turn them away from the traffic flow. Patch or plug the mortise with a cut from the same beam. Some beams will have multiple nail holes on one side, due to its first life in a barn. This nail hole side is usually placed up and away from view.
The hand hewn beams range from approximately 4x4 to 12x12 (or larger) to rectangular sizes (5x6, 6x7, 6x8, 8x10, 10x21 & up ). It is very unusual to find extremely odd sizes (example 6x12, 4x8 ect.). Old beams are former trees, and trees taper as they get taller. Expect some variance in girth from one end of the beam to the other. Beam girth could vary up to an inch or so in the same beam, and more so in pole rafters. Do not expect any beams to be an exact true size. A nominal 8x8 could be 7x7 or 7x8. We can keep them close, but we cannot select any perfect twin matches.* Many individuals hewed the beams. Therefore, the hewing marks will also vary. Hand Hewn Beams can be split in half to create a thinner beam look. Split beams will have hand hewing on three sides with one wider face now having a new, fresh saw cut. They should not be used on edge unless used as a rim beam or header. Beam sizes split may measure approximately 3x6, 4x8, 5x10, 6x12 depending on the original beam girth before cut in half or slabbed. Lengths can be split up to the 22 foot range. Mantles are sometimes requested as split 6x6-3x6 or 8x8=4x8). A minimum of 3" thickness is required for structural integrity of the slab. Mantles are always hand selected for the best possible look. Please be specific in the decorating look you require for your project. If in doubt of any beam size, use a cardboard box folded to the size you require and hold it up in place to see porportions.
Beams are shipped just as they come from the barn.
The final coloring of the beams depends on wood type and if the beams were exposed to wind, rain or sun over time. Beams are usually brown tones once prepared for installation. Once the beams are acclimated, either wrap them in clear plastic before they are installed - especially if they will be near fresh plaster or paint - or cover and tape off once they are installed. Leave them covered until the construction is finished. To hide lag bolts or screws use plugs cut from the beams or use barn pegs.
Barn pegs are also available for beam accents for hanging stockings, dried flowers, or coat hooks.
Beam samples will give you the idea or beam hewing, but each beam shipped will have its own individuality and character.
Although we try to match beam lengths to those requested, we might have to ship to extra footage to meet your beam length requirements. An overage estimate will appear on your quote and any unused overage will be credited once the order is pulled and the actual footage used is known.
If a finish is desired on our wood products, test the wood first using a cut-off piece before applying it to the actual wood.
Beam patina (coloring) will deeped over time on its own. Take that into account when using a finished or stain.
Conklin's makes every effort to insure the material we purchase is as free as possible of any infestation. Due to the nature or reclaimed/recycled lumber, we cannot guarantee every board and beam to be free of insects/bugs native to wood. Some insects remain dormant for years. If any of our customers are concerned, we suggest contacting an exterminator in your area. Any treatment or extermination would be at your expense and discretion. We do not treat our beams or boards because the warranties are voided once the beams leave the state. Conklin's has had an excellent track record to date with less than 1% bug sightings.
New shippments arrive regularly. We do not manufacture or produce the hand-hewn beams. All beams are authentically old. We maintain a large inventory, but due to the demand, please contact us 4 to 8 weeks in advance of your project deadline. We will be glad to help you creat the warmth and beauty only authentic antique hand hewn beams can bring your home or project. The final finished look of your project will be imperfectly, perfect!