Thanks to strides in automation, workers no longer have to carve wooden beams by hand. While handcrafted materials add a personal and artistic touch, that aesthetic flourish is frequently abandoned in favor of the greater efficiency offered by automation. That being said, the demand for hand-crafted wooden beams hasn’t disappeared. If you’re someone who desires that personal touch, here are some signs that an antique wooden beam is hand-hewn.
Inspect the Grain Pattern
The first sign of hand-hewn wood beams is in the grain pattern. The best way to expose the pattern is by putting it in full, natural light. A wooden beam that’s been manufactured will have a pattern that matches up with other wooden beams of the same stock, but a hand-hewn beam will have a unique pattern. Think of it as a fingerprint; no two hand-hewn beams are exactly alike.
Check the Edges
Another good sign that an antique wooden beam is hand-hewn is if the edges are rounded and feature imperfections. If a wooden beam has straight edges and tight corners, then it’s been produced with a machine—it’s not possible for such precision to be made by hand. Therefore, if the beams aren’t perfectly straight and don’t have any perfect right angles, then you know it’s been made by hand.
Weigh the Timber
A cursory test you can do to indicate the authenticity of a wooden beam is simply testing its weight. Because of their imperfections, a handmade wooden beam will feel heavier than manufactured beams. This indication can be difficult to judge if you’re unsure how much these beams should weigh, but it’s a worthwhile method for those who know how to do it.
Look for Marks
Take into account the tools used in the manufacturing and handcrafting of wooden beams. While automated processes use precise, mechanical log cutters, handcrafted wooden beam are made using tools like axes and adzes. As such, they’ll have lots of nicks and marks. This is one of the easiest ways to identify hand-hewn beams from automatically cut ones.