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  • Writer's pictureNorthern Timber Crafters

Finished Textures of Timbers

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

In other posts we have discussed how timbers are sought out in large part because of their natural beauty and the feelings they evoke. While we typically focus on factors such as the design and sizing of the timbers, there is another variable that can have a dramatic effect – the texture of the timbers.

It drives us crazy when we hear that timber frames and timber features can only be used in certain architectural styles. The exact opposite is true. When the correct design, sizing, and textures are selected, the addition of timbers enhances and further defines almost any architectural style. Everything from a rustic cabin in Wyoming to a proper colonial in New England can benefit from the beauty of timbers.

Below is a list and photos of the four different textures that we offer. You will notice that the different textures take stain and oil very differently. With this in mind, it is ideal to have the final shade and color for your project selected when you are considering your preferred texture.

S4S (Smooth)

S4S simply means that all four sides of the timbers have been surfaced. This results in full visibility of the grain of the wood. The downside to the smooth surface is that it provides the least absorption for pigments in stain and oils. This texture is classic in a way that allows its use in multiple architectural types including anything from Sante Fe to Colonial.

Example of S4S with No Stain

Example of S4S with Stain


When the timbers are cut, a bandsaw blade will leave consistent and shallow cuts across the length of the timbers. A slight pitch to the teeth of the bandsaw blade results in surface fibers being pulled from the face of the timber that results in a slightly fuzzy surface. This surface texture will mute the visibility of the wood grain but is exceptional at holding the pigments in stain and oil, resulting in much richer and darker tones after finishing. This texture is popular for mountain homes as well as exterior applications.

Example of Resawn with No Stain

Example of Resawn with Stain

Hand Hewn

The hewn texture results in rolling irregular shaped cups in a random pattern across the timbers. The edges of the timbers will be irregular as a result from this shaping process. These uneven edges contribute to the timber's rustic and handcrafted appearance. We have commonly used this texture for Western and rustic style projects.

Example of Hand Hewn with No Stain

Example of Hand Hewn with Stain

Reclaimed Imitation

Our custom process removes the softer parts of the wood's grain, highlighting the grain pattern and giving the timbers a unique and aged appearance. In addition, there are slight radial markings that appear similar to a weathered circle sawn texture. The result is a tactile and visually interesting texture that retains the wood's natural characteristics while enhancing its visual appeal. This texture also enhances the wood's ability to absorb stains and finishes, creating a more multi-dimensional color effect. This texture doesn't necessarily lend itself to a specific architectural style but more so any project focused on heavy nature-based textures and colors.

Example of Reclaimed Imitation with No Stain

Example of Reclaimed Imitation with Stain

Reclaimed Imitation and Finish Example

We recently had a client approach us to craft over 600 feet of box beams for their modern mountain home in Northern Idaho. They wanted a highly custom look that included our reclaimed imitation texture. In addition to the reclaimed imitation texture we also stained the beams with multiple coats of stain in order to achieve a perfect balance of grey and brown. After stain we torched the beams to accentuate the knots and provide additional depth of color. The outcome is a one-of-a-kind look that truly makes this home extraordinary.

Copyright (c) Northern Timber Crafters – All Rights Reserved. 2023.


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