Structural Oak Beams are another string to our bow. These can range from fresh sawn (Green Oak) to air drying beam. Currently we have sizes 150 x 150mm, 250 x 250mm and 300 x 300mm in Air Drying stock. These vary in length from 3.00m to 6.00m.
We also have a number of older beam stock that is more suited to aesthetic use, mantlepiece’s, decorative Oak etc. These are very grey but can be planed to bring the brightness of the timber back. They generally have a lot of character in them and may well be a little twisted. That doesn’t mean their not beautiful, they are and in the correct place will, undoubtedly enhance the surroundings.
The popularity in using Oak has returned, thankfully, it is stronger than steel, it is stronger than bricks and mortar, and it is certainly more pleasing to the eye. But it is a living material, and it will continue to crack, split and creak well after your builders have finished installing it. That is the Oak continuing to dry out.
But does Oak beam ever really dry out? Well we are sure that it does not. In the 1970’s a small church which nestled under the downs close to Midhurst was deconsecrated and pulled down. Materials salvaged from the church were sold off and the purchaser of the Oak Beams from the roof brought them into our sawmill at Midhurst to be resawn. Jim West, who looked after the mill at that time asked what finished sizes were required as he would have to make allowance in the resawing for shrinkage.
The new owner looked aghast at Jim and said “these beams have been in the roof of that church for three hundred years and before that they were in a warship. They are as dry as a bone, they will never shrink.” Jim said O.K. but I would like you to be here when we saw them and to check the measurements as they come off the saw. This he did and took the beams away on his lorry a satisfied man.
A number of months later Jim had another visit from the beam man who said that he had come to apologise because he had not believed the “expert”. All of the beams had now shrunk in their cross-section from the resawn sizes.