Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hand Hewn

I have a particular fondness for rough hand hewn lumber nurtured  actively during my childhood years by Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods.  Laura's father "Pa" Ingalls  built many a log cabin for his family with only a hand ax.  I actually do not know many such men who could do this now- certainly not my own amiable father.  My own Pa Hugo is a man of multiple talents including enjoyment of delicious raw sea creatures but none of his abundant skills involve any form of sweat-inducing manual labor.

My sweet husband could build us a cosy hand hewn cabin if he had the will.  However, I dare not ask him to square raw logs by hand in this age of power tools and milled lumber.  I need him to spend his precious time on my custom desk, tea cabinetry, wiring, plumbing, tiling, grouting, cladding, decking, window and staircase installation and more.  Thankfully we can rely on reclaimed barn beams to bring back this bygone era of hand milling.   The above stack of century old tamarack beams came from a farm in Washington state. Of course holding up a barn means that these here beams saw plenty of live-stock action.  When you wash the mud off them, they smell of hay but nothing as offensive as a young ripe shu.

Such a structural piece once set cannot be readily undone so you really must be sure of yourself.  I actually picked out my beam from the stack in an instant.  All those decades of scrutinizing wood grains and hand cuts apparently paid off so I knew what I wanted.  Only if I had such confidence with my puerh selection.   We lugged this beauty home pleased as punch.  When there is only one readily-accessible purveyor of a desired good,  it's important to want what they have in hand.


  1. Hster,

    What a prize! Tough old Washington larch. Lots of stories in the surface of that beam. Lots of skill and sweat. Having spent more time hewing logs than is advisable, I can attest to the effects of such work upon the joints. Good decision buying such a fragrant relic, I think, and not going at it yourselves. To Laura Ingalls Wilder! (And pa) Enjoy,


    1. Dear Israel,

      I've never seen the true Eastern tamarack but this Western larch has a lovely red hue. I will definitely post a photo once the drywall is complete. The original woodsman will never know how much I admire his work.

      Your teas are smelling more fragrant this summer.

  2. Oh, me too! Good job!