Red Suspenders Timber Frames

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Getting Started

We knew that the timbers to be used in this project were larger than typical due to the significant span (over 50 feet) of the timber trusses. As such, it took some time and effort to locate the larger logs required to produce these timbers. John Box, our sawyer, has been working with our suppliers and other Texas foresters to locate these logs. We have located a tract along the Neches River in Trinity County that will supply the majority of the logs used in this project and if the weather holds, we should have little difficulty harvesting the logs we need.

Tim Working at his computer

Meet Tim Chauvin, president of Red Suspenders Timber Frames. Tim and Steve Lucchesi, of Hall, Barnum & Lucchesi Architects, worked together to determine some of the architectural details to be incorporated in the chapel timber frame. From these initial designs, Tim produced the "Shop Drawings" and all the joinery details that will be used to actually fabricate the chapel timber frame. Southern Yellow Pine was specified as the wood of choice for the frame construction

The shop drawings were submitted to Ben Brungraber, Ph.D., PE, for computer analysis. Ben's expertise in testing timber frame designs is well known in the industry.

The shop drawings received final approval from Ben, having passed all engineering requirements unchanged, in early January, 2002.

Meet Mr. John Box, sawyer, of Red Suspenders. John is a master at picking the right logs for timber frame applications. John's task is to locate Southern Yellow Pine logs of the right quality and size for the chapel and to produce the timbers needed to construct the chapel frame. John works from a "cut list" that Tim produces from the shop drawings. The specifications we require for logs are very detailed. As few as 1 in 10 trees on a parcel of land will be of sufficient quality to obtain the logs we specify.

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John checking his list
Log harvest


We work with many foresters and loggers who harvest from many different tracts of land. This tract, known as the Borders Tract, is located along the Neches River in Trinity County Texas, and is part of some 700 acres of forest land under active management. Southern Yellow Pine is harvested from the area on a rotating basis to preserve the health of the land and its natural resources. This tract has produced logs of very good quality in the past. The logs you see here were selectively harvested.

Access to the site is typical for a logging operation in dry weather. Heavy or continuous rains will halt most harvesting because it makes the site difficult to work. More importantly, soggy conditions are avoided because the heavy equipment could damage the land itself. Ruts and "wallows" created by heavy logging equipment on wet ground can cause erosion and damage the root systems of trees not harvested. Root damage can stress a tree and stunt its growth. It could also make the tree more susceptible to disease.

The Southern Yellow Pine trees you see behind the logging skidder are not ready for harvesting. The trees that meet our quality standards are located along the river bottom area on this particular tract.

Log skidder
Grading the log

John measures the diameter of a specimen Southern Yellow Pine log and counts the growth rings to determine the age of the tree. The more dense (closely spaced) the growth rings, the more stable the material sawn from the log. This tree is about 14" in diameter and appears to be about 64 years of age.

The logs we use must be straight, free of defects, like branches which will show up as knots in the timbers, have even and concentric growth rings, and taper uniformly from top to bottom. Only logs meeting these specifications will produce the quality timbers we require.