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History of conventional wood framing- update[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
- Subject: History of conventional wood framing- update
- From: Charles Greenlaw <cgreenlaw(--nospam--at)speedlink.com>
- Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 15:57:41 -0800
A new story on "Balloon framing" appears in the spring 1999 issue of American Heritage of Invention and Technology, a quarterly magazine published by Forbes, Inc. Author Ted Cavanagh is an associate professor of architecture, at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he lives in a timber framed house of 1850 vintage that is mortise-and-tenon connected, the predecessor method. He says that our now ubiquitous house framing indeed "grew up on the old Midwestern frontier", but as an evolutionary development that adapted the products of mechanized sawmills and nail-making machines to techniques already in use in French and Spanish -developed Mississippi Riverbank towns. Balloon framing swept the frontier due to its speed and convenience, then spread out over the rest of North America wherever lumber was obtainable, and matured into settled routine and a part of our culture, but remains unused elsewhere in the world, according to Prof Cavanagh. There is also some space given to the structural merits of balloon framing: "...each nailed connection contributes to the overall strength of the building. Because no joint is more important than any other, there only has to be a statistical probability that any particular one makes a good connection. An individual joint may fail because of a rogue piece of wood or a poor nailing job, but the overall structure is redundant enough that the whole will maintain its integrity. This conception of many joints combining into an overall rigid structure is the major innovation." It will be interesting to see if the big CUREe/ CalTech inquiry into woodframe residential construction, still in start-up, can abide the intuitive and vernacular origins of this now-ingrained part of our building culture, with its redundancies and uncertain load paths. Will they avoid unnecessarily inflicting on it the usual engineering arrogance and insistence on conceptual elegance and analytic precision so often imposed by structural engineers? Charles O. Greenlaw, SE Sacramento CA
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