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The Differences Between Hand-Hewn and Rough-Sawn Beams

Before lumber and steel were mass produced, large timbers were used to support homes, schoolhouses, warehouses, and more. Though these timbers are no longer necessary in the modern age, hand-hewn or rough-sawn beams can bring an authentic and rustic touch to a home. What are the differences between hand-hewn and rough-sawn beams, and which should you pick? Let’s explore your options.

Hand-Hewn Beams

Hand-hewn barn beams are changed from the natural round shape of timber so that they’re roughly rectangular in shape, with flattened sides. When hand hewn, these timbers can be two- or four-sided.

Before lumberyards or sawmills, these beams were carved by hand using broadaxes and adzes. Such craftsmen had unmistakable expertise. The time and labor left behind unique marks in the beams, further adding to their authenticity and creating a sort of character that modern beams cannot achieve in their uniformity.

Hand-hewing is a lot less common these days as an art, which only further drives demand for hand-hewn beams in the reclaimed lumber markets. Getting your hands on hand-hewn beams will add undeniable value and appeal to your home, as they provide something distinctly unique yet elegantly simple.

Rough-Sawn Beams

The major difference between hand-hewn and rough-sawn beams is that rough-sawn beams are squared using mechanical tools rather than by hand. Rough-sawn beams are almost always reclaimed from old and abandoned buildings such as barns or warehouses. This not only has a positive effect on the environment but also provides a unique aesthetic that only such aged timber can achieve, much like a fine wine. Rough-sawn beams are not refined or finished; instead, they maintain their rough imperfections to provide texture and a unique, rustic aesthetic to a home.

Tips for Choosing Beams

When you’re looking for either of these types of beams, the most important factor to consider is how they were used previously. For example, reclaimed lumber that has been painted in the past may contain outdated lead paint. It’s more common for rough-sawn beams to be painted, but exercising caution is a good idea. Furthermore, with demand rising, a lot of imitators are trying to sell low-quality timber, so you should always buy from a reputable brand to ensure you’re getting the quality of timber you expect to be buying.
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