How To Style Wood Box Beams To Look Like Reclaimed Beams

Wood box beams are often easier to style than conventional solid core beams. The reason you are able to achieve a more consistent hewing is because the wood which you are shaping is kiln dried, and of a consistent quality. This means that there are less soft spots, no rotted chunks, wet pieces, etc… Shaping the wood can be a time consuming process. There are many different looks that can be achieved, including hewn, reclaimed, smooth, sharp corners, etc. The styling is always done after the beam Is assembled, but before the wire brushing of the joints, if that is called for.

Here is a breakdown of one technique:

Reclaimed Decorative Ceiling Box Beams

In order to create these from non-reclaimed wood, you should have some skill with styling wood before going in. The first step is to assemble the beam. Select good straight boards, so that the router joints will line up. This can be extremely difficult, and will require at least a dozen clamps to maintain a straight routing line, often more.

Make sure you have your board perfectly level and straight, route the joint, and then it is time to glue. Assemble the wood on the ground, as it will go together. Assemble the clamps around the three boards, so that as soon as the glue joint is assembled it can be locked in place until the wood glue dries. Decorative ceiling beams need perfect joints to achieve their consistent look, so this step is very important. It is best done with two people, but in a pinch you can do it yourself.

Once the joint is glued, assembled and clamped, it must set. Fortunately, in the dry hot Arizona desert glue can fully set in 1-2 hours. In many locales you will need to wait as much as overnight for the best results. Follow the directions on the glue, and tweak it by observing the results and adjusting. When the beam is dry, and still clamped, flip it upside down, and put blocks in reinforce the shape, and for fire safety. Cut the blocks to fit the interior, and then glue them in. Every 36″ is more than sufficient to reinforce the beam against twisting and checking. The wood needs to be hewn at this point, to give it a controlled twisting appearance. The problem with real reclaimed wood it is extremely difficult to control if it will look like charming rustic timbers, or a piece of junkyard refuse. The wood needs this, as no solid core antique beam would retain a perfectly straight shape. Fortunately, we can adjust the curve to match any style we wish, and achieve that exact look we want. The discussion on the art of hewing is a subject unto itself, which for the sake of brevity we will discuss at another time.

For a reclaimed wood beam look, you need to get the deepest gouges you can without going through, which is a matter of some practice and skill. Begin with an axe. Make your rough gouges every six to twenty inches. take a file and hand adjust the scrapes as necessary, for aesthetic looks. Again, don’t overdo this. You are removing odd chip, loose parts. We needed to be careful with the axe, so at this point you can even deepen some of the gouges by hand, to get a nice authentic effect. The wood you are working with is 1 inch material, and the

Next, do some scraping, to distress the wood. Do not overdo this effect, start with less and work up to more. Use the sharp point of the axe and make scrape between 4 inches and 20 inches long. Make them fairly deep, as you are imitating the axe strokes that once upon a time carved these timber from a tree, by hand. Then you are taking that effect and aging it 80 years. Some of the scrapes can turn into cracks. Use the file to widen the channel in some areas, and deepen them in others. This gives it more of authentic look. At this point, the beam is ready to be wire brushed. Wire brushing is great for the joints, it can smooth out slight differences, and create a seamless appearance. Overdoing it will have the opposite effect, so it takes a practiced hand to do it just right. Lightly brush the gouges to give them less of a freshly marred appearance. This makes them resemble time worn marks, but don’t overdo it, or it will ruin the look. In styling wood ceiling beams, less Is more. Proceed to wire brush all your joints. That is the basic technique. Now all that needs to be done is installation and finishing the beam, but both of those can be stories for another day. Thanks for reading!

Source by Joshua Jacoby