Wood

Functional And Sort-of Boring

For a very long time, the New York City Building Code has required that the portion of floor directly in front of a fireplace, somewhat confusingly called the hearth, has to be of non-flammable construction. That way, if sparks or pieces of wood fall out of the fireplace onto the floor, they don’t immediately start …

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Construction History: Problem Solved, But…

One of the great innovations in US building technology was the nineteenth-century development of balloon framing for wood construction. It was, in simple terms, the substitution of a great deal of industrial infrastructure in the creation of wire nails and regularized lumber 2xs and 3xs for the carpentry skill required to make mortised joints. The …

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An Extreme Rarity

That picture was taken in a theater attic. The diagonals on the upper right are portions of the timber-framed roof; the wall separates the auditorium area from the lobby. It’s the thing embedded in the wall that is rare and odd. In short, that’s the end of a long-span steel truss (over the auditorium, on …

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Failure Portrait: Decay

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. That’s what wood looks like just before it falls apart completely. It’s possible to stick a pocket knife into that mess with basically no resistance. There are fancy ways that this could be repaired, most involving some kind of epoxy impregnation. The thing is, this …

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