Skip to main content

The Sand Bar at the Lake House in Canandaigua NY--Timber Frame and Enclosure by New Energy Works
The interior of The Sand Bar features a Douglas fir timber frame, painted a crisp white in honor of its nautical setting.

 

The Sand Bar, a lakefront libation destination, got new life this year through The Lake House—a hotel, restaurant, and event space in the Finger Lakes. Partnering with LeChase Construction and SWBR, we were excited to bring our timber framing craft and enclosure specialty to the project. The Lake House was redesigned by New York-based firm Studio Tack in collaboration with family-owned design house The Brooklyn Home Company for Bill Caleo and Doug Bennett.

The Sand Bar at the Lake House in Canandaigua NY--Timber Frame and Enclosure by New Energy Works

 

The bar opened this July, with safety measures in place, and allows visitors to sip and savor with clear views to Canandaigua lake. You can pull your boat right up and dock.

Currently under construction is the wedding & event space, which features a New Energy Works timber frame & enclosure as well. Below is a preview; we'll bring you a glimpse inside when it's finished.

The Canalside waterfront entertainment district in Buffalo NY, a popular destination for locals and visitors, will add another attraction this summer: a fully restored 1920’s carousel! The carousel will be housed within a gazebo-inspired timber frame pavilion with glass walls.

Image

“The timber frame is an 80’ octagon with a clerestory. A 1500 lb steel octagon ring in the center will allow timber rafters to connect and light to come down from the clerestory,” explains Owen MacDonald, our lead timber frame engineer for the carousel. “We’ll have plenty of equipment for the raising: a large scissor lift, all-terrain forklift, two large cranes…and lots of muscle.”

We’re excited share more of the story on our long-time banking partner, LNB (Lyons National Bank), and their newest community branch which we raised just up the road from our Farmington, NY shop.

Image
The first bent is raised for the new LNB Farmington NY branch, early 2020. Photo (C) Jim Kerins.
Image
June 2020 the new LNB Farmington branch is making quick progress.

While the branch is quickly heading towards completion, we wanted to re-cap some of the processes involved in getting there:

LNB has a focus on people and is always very involved in the local communities, ethos that parallel our own. The Farmington branch site includes a historic home that is being preserved and refreshed. A new timber frame, connecting to the historic home, will accommodate the bank’s main operations.

The story goes that in the early years of our company, aka the 80’s, the old shop suffered a collapse and upon thinking to scrap the remains, it was suggested by a couple we were building for that we should re-use the timbers for their home. It was, as stories go, an ‘ah ha!’ moment. Always having enjoyed reclaimed wood, we now had a bigger purpose for bigger reclaimed timbers.

Image
Since that 1980’s event, we have continued to make special projects from reclaimed timbers, including the roof system (above) our team crafted, joined, and raised just last week.

Reclaimed timbers bring additional texture, aesthetic, and a unique history to every project. This Summer we’ve had several weeks of reclaimed timbers in the shop, designated for a few raisings for residential projects. Remarkable and esteemed, we're giving them another moment in the spotlight:
 

Professional Photography: Susan Teare Photography

It's a very unique structure, with amazing views. The New Energy Works team took a complex project and made it look easy. The clients love it! They enjoy the sense of place and the level of craftsmanship in their new porch.” – John Steel, Steel Construction, builder for High on the Hilltop.

Image

The clients were determined to turn an existing timber frame home into their full-time residence with some general remodeling work and a significant rework on the kitchen and entry. They wanted to take advantage of the view of the Green Mountains of Vermont with outdoor living space. Following the natural topography and exposed bedrock of the landscape, a timber frame “bridge” and large screened porch was added. 

State College, PA: Homeowners Jim and Cheryl came to us with a dream home request: design and craft a home for two which could also easily accommodate much larger gatherings with family and friends. The resulting simple and classic cruciform plan for their hybrid timber frame home fits the couple while incorporating space—inside and out—for others.

a
Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

Jim and Cheryl, their children, and their friends attended the same university near State College in PA where game season is a great reason to join together. The couple found a site nestled at the base of a long rise to the mountains on one side, and open to expansive views into Nittney Valley on the other. “We wanted to take advantage of the views and offer additional space for intensive entertaining to flow outside,” explained Ty Allen, our design/build manager. “The result is nearly 2,000 sq ft of outdoor deck, porch, and patio space in addition to interior living areas.”

From tree to canal lock to restaurant: In a historic timber reclamation and upcycling story, 500-year-old timbers enter their fourth life (or third use) at Point of the Bluff Vineyards in the Finger Lakes Region of NY:

 

s

 

In the late 90’s our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, salvaged massive, 37″ x 42″ x 48′ Douglas fir timbers from one of the Welland Canal locks in Ontario, Canada. The trees culled for the timbers were 400+ years old when they were harvested and served the canal for nearly 60 years.

From the beginning–a bit history of on the heavy timbers:

x
37″ x 42″ x 48′ Douglas fir timbers from the Welland Canal Lock. The trees were at least 400 years old when they were harvested in the early 1900’s. 

 

The falls and rapids of the Niagara River presented a major obstacle for an uninterrupted waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to the American heartland. To circumvent the river, the Welland Canal, with eight large locks, was built. Initiated by local businessmen, the first canal was built in 1829. The present-day Welland Canal is the fourth to be constructed. The difference of 99.5 m (326.5 feet) between the levels of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie is now overcome with 43.4 km (27 miles) of canal.

 

x

 

During renovations of the third canal in 1927, Douglas fir timbers were installed in Lock N0. 8, one of the longest canal locks in the world. As the canal locks were updated/repaired, the wood was removed in the late 1990s and the enormous timbers, each weighing over 20,000 lbs, headed to Pioneer Millworks Farmington, NY yard.

 

In November of 2018 we had a community raising for the Mount Angel Abbey’s Benedictine Brewery. One hundred volunteers gathered early, listened thoughtfully to a strategy introduction and a safety meeting, and got it done.

The Benedictine Brewery in Mt. Angel, Oregon. Photo by Loren Nelson
The Benedictine Brewery in Mt. Angel, Oregon. Photo by Loren Nelson
c

Of the people who showed up to help, about 50 or so were from Mount Angel Abbey, the monastery at the top of the hill where we were working. We had our team and timber framers from companies who are part of the Timber Framers Guild from all around come to help. (You can read about that amazing day in a previous blog post, and we’ve included the raising video at the end of this post.)

d

This season, the Brewery has been up and running with plenty On Tap. We’re excited to be working with them again, this time extending their covered outdoor space to accommodate and shelter more folks:

As we’re looking forward to more of the holiday season, we wanted to share on a local community project we are thankful to have been part of: the Rochester Childfirst Network (RCN) Capital Campaign.

x

We practice the Triple Bottom Line business model of People, Planet, and Profit, putting equal importance on each with the belief that the mission of a for-profit business shouldn’t solely focus on profit. If sustainability is about benefitting people and planet in the long-term, community engagement is a vital component. We’re stronger when we work together. The RCN Capitol Campaign has rallied many companies and with good reason as this organization has been supporting the education and welfare of children in urban Rochester, NY since 1857.

d

The effort to revitalize and create “Natural Play” for the children of RCN an outdoor pavilion/classroom was conceptualized and developed collaboratively with support by local partners including Broccolo Tree & Lawn CareIDEX Health & Science, and Barton & Loguidice. The outdoor pavilion/classroom will act as the centerpiece of RCN’s backyard play environment, a new initiative to incorporate more natural, accessible play opportunities.

Marsha Dumka, RCN’s interim Executive Director said, “This new pavilion will provide endless possibilities for true outdoor learning for our children. During the raising the children talked about all the ways they could use the pavilion in the spring – talent show, play, art studio, classroom for messy STEM experiments, picnics. We can’t wait!”

The broad stroke design of this home harkens to sap houses and agricultural structures of the Northeast and the flare of mountain homes for a balance of rugged and modern aesthetics. Forms evoke the traditional, such as the clerestory and the cylindrical stair tower but are tempered within via the non-traditional great room space and helical, modern stairs.

x

 

Transom windows express the Northeast vibe but are combined with big expanses of glass reminiscent of western mountain homes.
Transom windows express the Northeast vibe but are combined with big expanses of glass reminiscent of western mountain homes.

 

“Often I find the most beautiful designs are when you can see the function of a structure. I enjoy thinking of a balance of the purpose of a structure and function, and how the builders achieve that goal,” shared Shannon, homeowner of the Circle in a Square project. “I enjoy seeing the inner workings of things. That’s why I love timber frame structures. Take a home and its many reasons for being; there is an endless way of accomplishing the goal. You need a roof and walls and other parts and ways for them to be held up and attached. The timber frame is probably one of the most unique ways of showing how that can be done.”

 

I recently chatted with Jennifer Palumbo founder/principal of Jennifer Palumbo Inc, a Boston-based interior design firm. It was a pleasure to discuss her perspectives on design and intentionality with textures and colors that include special consideration of the place of wood in any space focusing on our timber frame project on the Cape in MA. She shared insider insight into designing and living in the space:

 

c

 

I’m excited to know this is your family vacation home! 

It is! We’d been looking for a location to build a home and found the land in Osterville. I had dreamed of a barn structure in a beach location; it was my initial idea for years. Overall we knew we wanted a large open living space with a barn look and exposed beam work that would fit the beach location.

 

Jennifer Palumbo of Jennifer Palumbo Inc, a Boston-based interior design firm. She believes, “Any interior space can fulfill its function while encompassing beauty and timelessness.”
Jennifer Palumbo of Jennifer Palumbo Inc, a Boston-based interior design firm. She believes, “Any interior space can fulfill its function while encompassing beauty and timelessness.”

 

How did you solve the integration of barn and beach?

Flanders Park bordering Raquette Pond in Tupper Lake, New York in the Adirondacks is in the process of being transformed into an inviting outdoor performance area. Our craftsmen created a performance bandshell using a combination of custom finished solid and glulam Douglas fir timbers which were raised and joined on May 31, 2018.

s

 

Pete and Jake (left) guide a post as the crane lowers the second timber bent into place. Rick (right) readies another post base fastener.
Pete and Jake (left) guide a post as the crane lowers the second timber bent into place. Rick (right) readies another post base fastener.

 

“Raising a timber frame is an important and exciting event—it offers a chance to witness the culmination of months of painstaking effort of an age-old craft where the bones of the project come together,” explained Eric, the general manager of our Timber Framing group.

 

As the change of seasons approaches with Winter easing into Spring, we’ve noticed our calendars filling with celebrations, conferences, benefits, and parties. The locations vary greatly in size and complexity, but all offer a sense of community, warmth, and growth—we’re excited for the experiences they’ll provide. All of this scheduling has inspired us to share your existing timber frame event spaces and take a look forward to what’s ramping up in community building spaces:

 

The Lodge at the William Noah Allyn (Welch Allyn) Conference Center. Photo c Mary Buttoph.
The Lodge at the William Noah Allyn (Welch Allyn) Conference Center. Photo c Mary Buttoph.

 

Winter created a shimmer of magic for a couple at Deerfield Golf & Country Club.
Winter created a shimmer of magic for a couple at Deerfield Golf & Country Club.

 

Timber frame trusses allow for capacious or cozy clear spans within a structure. A minor number of posts are required allowing for infinitely adaptable spaces to fit a variety of needs and offering uninterrupted views across the room (and across the dance floor)—minimal posts, maximum personal interaction.

 

Kim Son Meditation Center, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist place of repose and worship, will be taking delivery of their 10 glulaminated and steel trusses very soon. The trusses are just over 60’ long, and 16’ high. As seen in the accompanying images, the community’s goal was to express a sweeping sense of structure and space, perhaps a bit like clouds moving across an overhead sky.

 

d

 

x

 

For us, the challenges were many: Glulam beams that are set into curved forms have a certain “memory” of once being many straight pieces of wood. This gives them a certain desire to spring back for the designed curvature. And they did. And because wood is such an individualistic material, it’s almost impossible to know and therefore calculate the exact amount of spring back to plan for. Because the beams are held together with large steel plating, we were able to wrestle the wood into place and apply over 1000 huge bolts in total to the trusses. When we stood the truss up for initial testing, There was zero spread over the 60’ of length.

 

s

 

The trusses will be partially disassembled before being loaded onto a few tractor trailers to head south to California. We’ll share more images of the completed project later this year. In the meantime, if you’re interested in truss design, we have a truss gallery on our site that might feed your curiosity. Or reach out–we’d be happy to chat.

After using Cross Laminated Timbers (CLTs) from KLH to form our fine woodworking shop we were excited to incorporate the big wooden panels into other projects. We’re working again with the CLT manufacturing, design, and engineering teams at KLH, this time to raise a complete CLT home in Scappoose, Oregon.

Our team has been raising/joining the CLTs this week. Here’s an animation of the planned process:

 

a

 

And a few current progress photos from the craftsmen on site:

 

s

 

h

 

h

 

j

 

What are CLTs? A quick description might be ‘giant plywood’. More specifically, CLTs are large structural wooden panels, typically consisting of 3, 5, or 7 layers of dimensional lumber, oriented at right angles, glued together. Using a crane and lulls, the panels will be lifted into place and fitted by hand. For this home project, each panel is 3.75″ thick. The raising will take our team 5-6 days, from mudsills to full enclosure.

Mike Beganyi, our New England representative spotted the beetle mallet during the raising of a frame in Stowe, Vermont.

 

s

 

Adaptable to all conditions, our timber framers raised the frame amongst sleet, snow, and the swosh of nearby skiers.

 

No stranger to the beetle, long-time timber frame craftsman Paul drove a few pegs home while pre-assembling one of the custom finished bents.
No stranger to the beetle, long-time timber frame craftsman Paul drove a few pegs home while pre-assembling one of the custom finished bents.

 

This slope-side home is another great project from Shope Reno Wharton being built by Sisler Builders.

Onlookers huddled in their coats and chatted excitedly on a cool breezy day in upstate New York while our craftsmen raised the frame for Jim and Tina’s home on Cayuga Lake. Multiple generations of the family were joined by a few guests at the site. Seeing the timbers come together and their home take shape brought plenty of smiles from Jim, Tina, their children, and grandchildren.

 

s

 

While there are very few flat build sites available around the Finger Lakes these days, the couple found a special spot on Cayuga Lake that is not only flat but includes a point, known locally as Allen’s Point. Open in a 180-degree expanse, our design group explained that the home’s layout is intended to make the most of the sweeping north, west, and south lake views. With plans calling for a modified “L” shape, the position of the home on the site collects those views as well as links together the north beach side with the south boat dock side of the property. (It also allows private spaces to reside in the long straight of the “L”, separate from the open public spaces.)

 

 

s

 

With the foundation in and first-floor framing in place, it was time to put the frame up. Raising days are momentous occasions, a culmination of years of dreaming and planning. We’re always glad to join these significant days as the excitement is infectious and there’s nothing quite like going from an open site to a full frame in the span of a day or two.

 

s

 

I had taken to saying this project was moving at “monastery time” for Mount Angel Abbey’s Benedictine Brewery. Meaning, of course, it was progressing at its own pace, and not overly concerned with a particular speed or efficiency the secular and commercial world might expect. It had been three years since Chris Jones, the project manager and enterprise guy for the monks and I had started talking, excited at the idea of doing a traditional timber frame raising with people from the monastery, the community of Mt. Angel, friends and coworkers, and more. I had this crazy vision of 50 or so monks in flowing red robes with pike poles and ropes.

On a recent Saturday, it (almost) all came true. No robes. This was likely a good thing.

 

d

 

One hundred volunteers gathered early on November 11th, listened thoughtfully to a strategy introduction, a safety meeting, and got at it. November in Oregon is dicey at best, but I really laughed as I watched the weather forecast. Here’s a screenshot from a day or so ahead of time:

 

d

 

I couldn’t help but acknowledge the amazing timing of sunny weather to some of the brothers. “We worked really hard on that one,” they laughed.

 

Of the people who showed up to help, about 50 or so were from Mount Angel Abbey, the monastery at the top of the hill where we were working. A willing and fun group. My son Jake, who was running the drone video, said he was surprised at how normal they seemed. Okay. I had to agree. Normal, with a bit of a prankster-ish edge, I’d add.

 

Earlier this week we spotted the elusive beetle mallet at the raising of Jim and Tina’s timber frame hybrid home on Cayuga Lake in New York:

 

d

 

Interestingly, though it looks like sunset, it was 2pm when this image was taken. The odd cloudy-yet-warm-and-windy Fall day and low angle of the sun created some unexpected light along the shore.

Timber framer Bruce made quick work of persuading a beam into place with this trusty mallet:

 

s

 

Where will this tool appear next? Perhaps in a town near you!

We’re excited to be working with Jim and Tina to create their family heirloom home in the Finger Lakes. While there are very few flat build sites available around the Finger Lakes these days, the couple found a special spot on Cayuga Lake in New York that is not only flat, but includes a point, known locally as Allen’s Point.

 

Views all around! Our build team has been enjoying the lake while completing the foundation and floor framing for the Allen’s Point home. They’ll continue readying the project for the timber frame raising taking place later this month.
Views all around! Our build team has been enjoying the lake while completing the foundation and floor framing for the Allen’s Point home. They’ll continue readying the project for the timber frame raising taking place later this month.

 

The home design took special focus on entertaining, employing a modified “L” shape for the home that allows private spaces to reside in the long straight of the “L”, separate from the open public spaces. At around 5,000 sq ft the plans include bunk rooms over the garage, two guest rooms, one master suite, and one guest suite meant to comfortably accommodate many.

 

As progress continues we’ll talk with our design group about other features such as a stone wall connecting the north and south ends of the home/property, a huge 2′ threshold into the entertainment areas, deliberate routes in and out of the home to the lake, and a continuous wrap-around porch. Before we get to that, we need to raise the frame!

On one of our typical cool, rainy, and windy Autumn days in upstate New York, I had the chance to chat with Laurie who was enjoying some sun and warmth down in Texas. We worked with Laurie and her husband Dan for over a year designing, building, and completing their multi-generational lakeside retreat home in nearby Canandaigua, NY. I asked Laurie if she would share her take on what it was like to build and decorate a custom timber frame home. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I know I spent much of our conversation nodding and smiling. Here’s what she shared:

 

“It’s a destination, a resort for the whole family. With NEW’s help we built the forever home in New York. The meaningful pieces are already there and we hope to pass it on to the next generation. To keep it in the family for decades.” –Homeowner, Laurie
“It’s a destination, a resort for the whole family. With NEW’s help we built the forever home in New York. The meaningful pieces are already there and we hope to pass it on to the next generation. To keep it in the family for decades.” –Homeowner, Laurie

 

Laurie and Dan (left) captured images as the frame came together for their lake home.
Laurie and Dan (left) captured images as the frame came together for their lake home.

 

Megan: So much is about the build site. Why Canandaigua? 

Combining solar with timber framing? We’re all in. We’ve teamed up with SunCommon, a solar energy company with locations in Vermont and New York to bring their latest innovation, the Solar Canopy, to life.

 

d

 

These structures are making solar even easier to add to businesses and homes. The canopies are great for over driveways, parking areas, patios, wood piles, or serving as new outdoor spaces. We like this project as an energy producer, gathering spot, and outdoor storage space–the uses are nearly limitless.

 

d

 

According to SunCommon’s calculations, a two-car bi-facial panel canopy generates enough solar power for the average Vermont home. Designed to take advantage of snow, they use glass solar panels on the Canopies that absorb light from both the front and the back thanks to Sunpreme bi-facial solar panels. If the Canopy is covered with snow on top, the underside of the panels will still produce power from the sunlight reflected off the snow-covered ground. Providing shelter, making the most of inclement weather, and offsetting energy demands–yes, please!

Mike Beganyi spearheaded the partnership with SunCommon and has been on-site taking photos of several of the Vermont canopy projects, including the first canopy opening with Vermont Governor Phil Scott at Hunger Mountain Co-op, a member-owned grocery and cafe.

 

d

 

“No fish and no gum today?”

I was sorry to disappoint Pete for our design discussion, but I was indeed empty handed except for my notebook and pen. I reluctantly shook my head. With his usual cheer and chuckle, Pete continued, “That’s okay, Megan. Next time…both.”

 

s

 

s

 

I had sequestered Pete on the porch this sunny afternoon to learn more about a large lake home project the team had designed. It was raised late last year on Smith Mountain Lake and, rumor has it, is steadily nearing completion.

 

An early rendering of the Smith Mountain Lake project.
An early rendering of the Smith Mountain Lake project.

 

“I can’t say I’m feeling very linguistic today,” Pete admitted. It turned out he had been doing sheer wall calculations, which meant crunching numbers, all morning. Regardless of a head full of figures and formulas, we managed a good conversation diving into details of the design/build for this family vacation home. I even learned a new term:

On New Years Day, 2015 a devastating fire claimed the St. Pius X Church in the Town of Chili, New York. As church leaders and hundreds of parishioners gathered the resounding desire was to rebuild. Fast forward to December 2016, and after raising the necessary funding to rebuild, the church’s future took shape. Hanlon Architects designed a large, open interior volume with visible timber framing. Working closely with Hanlon and the Nichols Construction Team, our timber frame engineering team applied their know-how to refine and finalize the timber truss design.

s

 

s

 

“With a 36’ clear center aisle, supported with hammer beam style trusses and 33’ long keyed beam rafters to support the flanking shed roofs, this is truly going to be a magnificently expansive space for many to enjoy,” shared Bryan Bleier, timber frame engineering project leader for the St. Pius X roof system.

 

s

 

“These are all ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions, right?

I chuckled at Bryan’s inquiry as we settled in for our Q&A interview. I assured him that all questions were going to be difficult and on the record. He grinned and I started with asking him a bit about his background followed by more rapid-fire questions. Here’s a look into Bryan:

 

On occasion, Bryan will bring pup Reilly into the office. Here she was just a few months old.
On occasion, Bryan will bring pup Reilly into the office. Here she was just a few months old.

 

Bryan has been with our timber frame engineering group since earning his degree from the SUNY Institute of Technology in civil engineering about five years ago. He had dabbled in construction prior to college and always had an interest in building materials/methods. While he didn’t know much about timber framing he was drawn to our company’s people and planet (he’s another in our line of avid outdoorsmen) ethos and found his love for wood grew exponentially once he started with us.

Quick to smile and offer help wherever needed, he’s become a leader on various timber frame projects and with our enclosure system layouts. Most recently he was the project leader for the St Pius X Church rebuild in Chili, NY. This huge roof system went up a week ago to the delight of many, including Bryan who was interviewed several times by local media about St. Pius X.

What’s your favorite word or phrase?
Right on. 

 

“I truly could not have asked to work with a better crew. It’s great to work with people so on-point. Hardly anything went by without someone helping to make the others’ job easier.” – Mike W, Timber Frame Champion on the Ann Arbor Legacy Home.

 

Thanks to Mike W, Timber Frame Champion on this project, for sharing his comments, leadership, and skills.
Thanks to Mike W, Timber Frame Champion on this project, for sharing his comments, leadership, and skills.

 

c

 

Raisings are often an exciting culmination of years of dreaming, months of planning, and hours of crafting. This Ann Arbor, Michigan home was no exception as our team was met with excited smiles and kind accolades from the homeowners Cindy and Bill and the builder, David (of Coppernail Construction). Our team of Mike, Jimmy, Taylor, and Randy from the McMinnville (Oregon) shop raised the frame amidst some rainy summer days in July.

A large hybrid timber frame and stick-built project, timber abounds in the great room, main entry, kitchen/dining areas. As a full-time home to the owners, this structure will also comfortably accommodate visits from their five children and many grandchildren within its nine bedrooms and seven baths. Plus they’ll have all-season fun with both indoor and outdoor pools.

 

s

 

Jonathan, our founder, and president, brought me into this bridge project about 5 weeks ahead of the annual Timber Framers Guild (TFG) conference. It is the beautiful realization of an offhand comment made at the Coeur d’Alene TFG conference in 2015 between Jonathan and Richard La Trobe-Bateman.

 

f

 

I was immediately excited to have the opportunity to work on this bridge having seen Richard La Trobe-Bateman and his minimalist pedestrian bridges presented at the 2015 TFG Conference. I was asked to coordinate the temporary installation of this 92’ long 19’ tall bridge on the rooftop plaza of the Edgewater Hotel in Madison, WI, from 2000 miles away using volunteer labor fitting in around the conference sessions. Right away I took to looking at Google Earth to understand just what I had agreed to.

 

d

 

“Roof top” turns out to be true though rather deceptive as the hotel cascades from street level down the hill to Lake Mendota six stories below. This did mean that every timber, bolt, and section of scaffolding had to be carried from the valet parking down, and then back up again; 22 steps to and from the build site on the plaza.

 

f

 

Our craftsmen are raising the frame for a large timber frame central hall for a project with Kurpinski Builder. Each timber has a multistep custom finish and a few have needed to be ‘persuaded’ into place. The best tool of the trade for this? The trusty wooden beetle mallet wielded here with gusto and precision by Matt.

 

r

 

Design Week Portland 2017 has come to a close, but not before New Energy Works threw an event showcasing residential heavy timber framing and solar panels. On April 26th, 2017 outside of New Energy Works SE Portland Studio in Oregon, a couple of our timber framers raised heavy timbers crafting an 18 foot by 10 foot carport structure.

 

Quinn, Darren, and Mike finish  up the frame.
Quinn, Darren, and Mike finish 
up the frame.

 

Zero nuts, bolts and screws. Just wood joinery.
Zero nuts, bolts and screws.
Just wood joinery.

 

After completing the frame, our colleagues at Syncro Solor came by and attached four, 345 watt,
solar panels to the top. Synchro Solar is a locally-owned, full service solar energy contractor serving Oregon and Southwest Washington that specializes in the design and installation of completely custom solar electric and solar water heating systems.

 

4 solar panels atop Douglas fir timbers
4 solar panels atop Douglas fir timbers

 

The event was from 2 – 4 pm. Our guests were a range of architects, builders, and artisans. We shared information about timber framing, cross laminated timber, the environment and what New Energy Works is all about.

 

A new home build in Pine Plains, NY offers an example of the design flexibility of heavy timber, showcasing contemporary and minimalistic timber framing.

Designed by Amalgam Studio, each bent is open and airy, blending timber and steel. We crafted the bents using double 4×10’s, sandwiching ½” steel plates at critical locations. Powder-coated steel tension tie-rod connections span the width of the home joining the posts together. They bring structural stability while keeping the frame light.

 

s

 

a

 

Prior to assembly, each stick received a custom ‘burned’ finish. Charring the Douglas fir creates a deep color tone and raised grain texture. We’re excited to use this old technique to bring a new twist to traditional materials.

 

s

 

This project is aiming for a few awards and possibly Passive House status. We’ll share more as Black Oak Builders finish out the project.

 

s

 

Special thanks to Ben Albury of Amalgam Studio for the great images and raising video.

The final (final!) Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels have been installed on our CLT project. Forming the front corner of the building these panels represent a piece of the flexibility of building with solid wood panels and speak to our passion for planet, forest, tree, and wood.

 

s

 

j

 

Our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, used ingenuity, software, and CNC tooling to draw, layout, and cut the “tree” design. Our timber frame and construction teams, including Jason, Kevin, and Jim, installed the panels on a chilly Monday morning. Roofing and final enclosure, including wood fiber insulation, are underway.

 

s

 

Read more about this build, the First Complete Cross Laminated Timber Project in New York State, in a previous blog post.

Residents of Indiana, Doug and Tammy have called Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan their second home for 18 years. The site they’ve enjoyed over those years includes lake frontage and views worth talking about. (Mike W captured the panoramic above from the peak of the frame on crisp day.) The couple frequented several timber home shows where they met New Energy Works Drake Ambrosino, and we’ve helped them bring it to reality this Winter.

x

 

s

 

We were told the weather is usually great in Grand Traverse, but that lake-effect snow is no joke near the water. While Darren, Mike, Anthony, and Noah were raising the frame, some tough weather hit the site. For nearly two weeks the temperatures ranged from just above zero into the teens with daily snow. The flakes didn’t diminish the team’s energy as they joined the custom stained Douglas fir main frame, front porch, and rear balconies.

 

a

 

d

 

d

 

We began raising the first complete Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in New York State on our main campus in Farmington, NY in late January 2017. A combination of mass timber, heavy timber, and CLTs, the 21,000 sq ft building will house our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and offer a bit of storage/shipping for our sister company, Pioneer Millworks. CLT construction is an economically and environmentally conscious alternative to steel and concrete construction, a material that is new to the U.S. building industry.

Many thanks to Adjusters International BLC. When our roof collapsed their team was unfaltering. They were there to explain the insurance policy, help the process along, and get us what we needed.

UPDATE: May 2017 – nearing completion:

 

Photo (C) Scott Hemenway
Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

 

s

 

Photo (C) Scott Hemenway
Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

 

zz

 

s

 

A tree for a mass timber project? What started as an idea branched into reality as our team selected a west coast Broad Leaf Maple tree to be a central post in our Cross Laminated Timber project. Mike W, one of our timber craftsmen and an avid nature lover, applied his skills and artistic eye from unloading the big Maple in Oregon to hand-crafting the joinery and leading the raising in New York. Along the way he formed an attachment to this “post” and named it ‘Atlas’. He shares his adventure with Atlas below:

 

d

 

This tree had a purpose, a destiny even. The 60-year-old Acer Macrophyllum Big Leaf Maple was selected by my co-workers Randy and Noah (from Randy’s land) for its particular size, shape, and branch structure. It would become a load-bearing post and not just any post – it will support a 30,000 lb gravity load and an 84 foot glulam beam line in our new Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in Farmington, NY (the first complete CLT building in New York State!).

Using some experience from previous projects, the support of my colleagues, and a little book knowledge I picked up at the Timber Framers Guild conference, I got started.

 

s

 

Jim & Rebecca came to us with a dream for a timber frame barn that would be a centerpiece to their hilltop property in Castle Rock, CO. What a spot to call home! Our timber frame team arrived from Oregon to spend three weeks on-site raising the frame and enclosing the barn – all while soaking in the scenery.

 

d

 

d

 

Over the next few weeks, the team learned that Jim had fallen in love with timber frames in Ohio and made it a goal to call one his own. That’s our kinda’ goal; our thanks to Jim & Rebecca for enlisting us to build this 80′ by 32′ rough sawn Douglas fir timber frame barn.

 

d

 

The barn doesn’t use any true trusses, but has plenty of traditional mortise and tenon joinery crafted in our McMinnville, OR shop by Darren, Mike, Jimmy, Todd, and David. A clerestory brings light into the structure while a ‘tower’ adds dynamic space.

 

f

 

Timber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.

The Olsen’s story, and the Welcome Home Series, begins with the land…

 

d

 

Part 1From Dream to Design
The Olsen’s begin designing their dream home on land they’d been spending vacation time visiting for 10 years. Harmony with the land and the family was a must.

 

d

 

Part 2: Laying The Groundwork
Breaking ground – an exciting day, especially with a few last minute modifications.

 

f

 

Part 3: Built to Last
Our team raises the frame and the Olsen family watches their dream home take shape.

 

f

 

Part 4: Worth the Wait
Weather delays…but not for long!

 

We’re excited to announce that we’re building the first complete Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in New York State on our campus in Farmington, New York. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) construction is an economically and environmentally conscious alternative to steel and concrete construction. The new building will house or fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and offer storage/shipping space for our sister company Pioneer Millworks.

 

g

 

“We’re extremely excited to bring this alternative building method to New York State. We see CLTs as the wave of the future and are investing in our Western New York campus to better position the region and our industry to ride the wave,” states Jonathan, our Founder and President. “The opportunities with CLTs are abundant for businesses and housing and offer dramatic environmental benefits. Wood is a naturally occurring and renewable resource which stores carbon. It has proved time and again to preform as well, and at times better than, carbon heavy steel and concrete.”

 

f

 

CLTs are large wooden panels, typically consisting of 3, 5, or 7 layers of dimensional lumber, oriented at right angles, glued together. This results in exceptional strength, dimensional stability, and rigidity. The pre-fabricated wall, floor, and roof panels can be installed quickly with little job-site waste. European countries have been utilizing the panels for multi-story buildings with great structural, financial, and environmental success.

 

h

 

It can be tough to keep up with the beetle but recently we caught one of these time-tested mallets on-site during our raising in Canandaigua, NY.

 

g

 

Taking a break on the deck.
Taking a break on the deck.

 

It takes some muscle to use this tool as Dave demonstrates.
It takes some muscle to use this tool as Dave demonstrates.

 

A pretty lake view was enjoyed by the beetle, our co-workers, and timber frame fans during the raising. This project used Douglas fir with a custom textured/stained finish.
A pretty lake view was enjoyed by the beetle, our co-workers, and timber frame fans during the raising. This project used Douglas fir with a custom textured/stained finish.

 

We’ve been working with Robert R Bauer Building Contractors on a family home on Smith Mountain Lake, VA. Our design team worked closely with the homeowners to create a plan that would provide a balance of private and common spaces, make the most of lake views, and fit local vernacular. Robert R Bauer Building has been keeping us up-to-date on the multi-day raising with some great images – check them out below:

 

s

 

d

 

f

 

f

 

f

 

g

 

f

 

f

 

We started this job in the end of the summer of 2015 when Dan Hill and Ryan Rojas from Arbor South Design-Build approached us about building a timber frame for their client’s lake cabin on Odell Lake, Oregon. Our crew had a great time working on the project. We had 3 of our long-time team members (myself, Todd, Jimmy) plus we added our new project engineer, Quinn, to the mix so that he could see all the intricacies of how one of these projects go together on the ground. (He’s now migrated to the office to start his frame joining education.)

 

Timber bents are pre-assembled on-site, stacked on the deck and ready to be raised for the Odell Lake cabin.
Timber bents are pre-assembled on-site, stacked on the deck and ready to be raised for the Odell Lake cabin.

 

Jimmy, Todd, and Quinn secured joinery while I manned the boom.
Jimmy, Todd, and Quinn secured joinery while I manned the boom.

 

Odell Lake is a stunning mountain lake with beautiful vistas and HUGE fish. The cabin is in an area of Historical Significance, which means that though the owners are building a new cabin they don’t actually own the land beneath. The cabins in this area are all on a long-term lease with the US Forest Service. Because of its historical designation, the site had to have an archaeological survey done to ensure that there weren’t any important artifacts the new structure was going to disturb. It was a gamble for the owners to take as this area had been a prime fishing spot for not only the last hundred years, but for millennia before. A few arrowheads and pottery shards were found but nothing significant enough to stop the project.

 

Find the Beetle: Honeoye Falls, NY

 

Our Beetle, the giant wooden mallet that is a vital timberframing tool, was last seen in the village of Honeoye Falls, NY taking a break in the sun.
Our Beetle, the giant wooden mallet that is a vital timberframing tool, was last seen in the village of Honeoye Falls, NY taking a break in the sun.

 

This week, our beetle was in Great Falls, VA assisting in raising a residential timber frame car barn. The 100′ x 60′ glulam king post structure will have a SIP roof enclosure with some beams that stretch over 64′. The material is Douglas fir glulams, conventionally kiln dried to create 60′ open span trusses. So far, there have been six purlin assemblies and the first four bents are erected.

Our West Coast timber frame champion Mike informed us that the starter bent truss weighed over 11,000 pounds and it was lifted without any struggle. It was “a thing of beauty”.

The architects of this project are Anderson Cooper Group Architects and Ehlert Bryan. The builder is BOWA Builders, Inc.

 

d

 

f

 

b

 

For this week’s post, you can find our beetle settled on a high slope overlooking the west side of Cayuga Lake. This lake home project represents one of the handful of projects that New Energy Works serves as the general contractors for. (New Energy Works takes on a few local general contracting projects per year near their Farmington, NY headquarters.) The interior frame is comprised of kiln-dried Douglas Fir, while the exterior presents fresh sawn Douglas Fir with kiln-dried curves. Two distinct bowstring trusses with steel chords are featured above the kitchen to support the second floor above.

And what a great raising day it was! We couldn’t say it much better than the homeowners:

“We’ll never forget the joy and excitement we felt sharing the experience with our whole family – we had all grandparents and children. This project is a family home, a place where we hope to spend lots of quality time. This was the first time we could really see the house taking physical shape…all the 3D drawings in the world, wood samples and inspiration photos didn’t hold a candle to walking through the unfinished lower level, experiencing the proportions, walking down to the lake and imagining our kids playing in the (freezing) water. We were proud to be there and know that this was our project – that our family is building this for our future and to see our hard work and NEW’s being brought together in such an amazing fashion!”

 

d

 

Our beetle assisted in raising a barn that will serve as a car workshop, steel workshop, storage, and an office in Palmetto Bluff, SC. Large 12 x 12 timbers throughout the structure will ensure the stability of the 100’ x 65’ building. The barn has a fresh sawn Douglas fir interior, a Western Red Cedar exterior, and a rough sawn texture with dark brown finish.

Architect: Rob Bramhall Architects

Builder: J.T. Turner Construction, Inc.

 

s

 

s

 

After crafting the frame for a large barn in our shop in Farmington, NY, our timber framers traveled to Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina to raise it. Over 500 timbers and timber components make up the frame with those on the exterior featuring a custom stain. After a few days of pre-assembly the raising started and moved along quickly. Check out the big bents pre-assembled and stacked/organized as the central core of the barn goes up in this short video (below). Thanks to Josh at J.T. Turner Construction for the video!

Timber Home Living magazine is covering the adventure of building a timber frame home from the ground up with the Olsen family. In this second installment, we raise the frame:

 

c

 

c

 

c

 

As seen on Houzz.com a project we raised in Madison, WI a few years back:

 

d

 

s

 

d

 

d

 

s

 

s

 

s

 

Timber Home Living Magazine is documenting each step in the design/build process for the Olsen family’s reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame home in Austerlitz, NY. Online and print articles will cover the home’s journey from architectural planning, to the frame raising, to enclosure, to completion.

Part 1, below, can be found in the October issue on sale now.

 

s

 

s

 

s

 

s

 

s

 

Drake Ambrosino came up to me after I gave a talk about business practices at a Timber Framers Guild conference a few years back, wanting to represent our work, in the Midwest. It wasn’t a model we had been using, due to the intensity of communication and service to our clients. Up to that point, our sales approach was that everything sold happened within the context of our own engineers, architects and designers. It’s still mostly that way. At the time, we were DIS-inclined to take Drake on his offer. Yet, there was something about his honest, humble and thoughtful approach that was, well, comforting. Like that uncle in the story who everyone loves: smart, funny, willing to help, and quick to pull out his mandolin at the campfire. So we said we’d see…

 

d

 

One of Drake’s projects in Gordonsville, Tennessee included a timber frame roof system with four valleys joined to four posts, four pairs of rafters, and four pairs of jack rafters. This complexity earned it the nickname ‘spider’ in the shop and on the job site.
One of Drake’s projects in Gordonsville, Tennessee included a timber frame roof system with four valleys joined to four posts, four pairs of rafters, and four pairs of jack rafters. This complexity earned it the nickname ‘spider’ in the shop and on the job site.

 

In honor of naming our blog, we wanted to post about The Beetle. No, we’re not talking insects. We’re talking about the giant wooden hammer that appears at every raising.

 

d

 

We have several beetle mallets around the shop all weighing in between 20 to 30 pounds, sized around 12″ x 12″ x 6″. This is one serious hammer (or mallet, whatever you prefer). A vital tool, beetles are used to help seat joinery together, shift posts or beams, and on occasion drive in pegs. The beetle has various names throughout the timber frame industry, most commonly the “persuader” or the “commander”.

(At my very first raising I was asked to pass the persuader over. Once I knew what ‘the persuader’ was, I reached for the handle with confidence and pulled. I was astonished when it barely moved. It was an oak beetle, weighing about 35 pounds, which is reasonable…if you’re expecting the weight of it. I was saved from a second effort by a nearby timber framer who hefted it up easily and handed it over.)

 

Master timber framer Mike Gullace makes handling the beetle look easy from the ground or on a timber. Notice the angle on the end of the beetle head? Part of crafting a custom beetle is in the details and some feel the angle cut helps achieve better weight distribution when swinging the hammer.
Master timber framer Mike Gullace makes handling the beetle look easy from the ground or on a timber. Notice the angle on the end of the beetle head? Part of crafting a custom beetle is in the details and some feel the angle cut helps achieve better weight distribution when swinging the hammer.