Rants from the chaos woodshop #2: Radial arm saws and stick framing (for you Brian)

As Brian has many times hinted stick framing buildings is a fast perfectly strong and acceptable way to build. The size and speed with which these war time buildings was built was incredible and you won’t see a titanium super duper framing hammer or nail gun anywhere in the video. It’s all hardworking men and wooden handle 20oz hammers.

The secret to their success? The humble radial arm Saw. Ok well actually lots of them. I sacked my radial arm Saw off thinking I don’t need this,it takes up lots of room, it’s not as accurate as my mitre Saw. Well ok the last point may have some truth but having hogged up 75 150×25 dripping wet boards yesterday and having 100x 100×25 to go at in next day or two suddenly I see where the radial is king of the pack, for gang cutting the machine cannot be equaled especially that 16 inch Wadkin of mine.

Mine is old enough to have a long spindle for trenching and if I’m honest I have a spanking new adjustable groover head for it I’ve never used. Well I plan to change that the radial arm has had a reprieve it was up for sale not now , now it’s up for a full recondition and more years of hard work!


Tags: professional woodworking

Dreaming of a sawmill, feels like a museum. Thanks for looking Adam.

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Brian ...

Great film. What a versatile machine. I suppose it’s possible to ditch the table saw in a small shop. How long of an arm do they make these with? What would be the maximum ripping width?

Brian ...

Also, if you’re interested in this kind of production, you should check out the history of Levittown, Long Island, NY. “America’s first suburb”. I live in the next town (actually I’m in the Levittown school district). This gigantic development was built after the war to provide inexpensive housing to returning soldiers. Some innovations came out of this place, like in-floor radiant heating. There are thousands of houses with only a few different designs (and half of the variation from mirroring). Of course, over the decades every last one of them has had additions and alterations and I don’t believe there is a single original home left. All of them were built slab on grade. None have a basement. That made construction twice as fast and lopped a good amount of cost off the price.

Whitacrebespoke ...

I’ve just looked up the spec for my radial arm Saw and the standard rip width is 760mm mine has a longer arm so I think the width is an extra 265mm so yes a table Saw could be done with out.

To see this video in action it made me realise I’ve only scratched the surface of what mine can do.

As for homes it’s incredible that post war homes were going up at such speed yet in U.K. they were either prefabricated concrete steel and asbestos or brick when stick frames would have been quicker and easier. as well as being far easier to insulate.

Brian ...

Insulate? LOL nobody insulated back then. That’s not entirely accurate, but it’s not what we would think of in terms of actual r rating. The best thing that came to frame construction is 2×6 construction, which allow for a lot more insulation.

Whitacrebespoke ...

No back then they did not but the gone crazy on it in Europe past 20 years and a lot of places are suffering for it. Damp insulation sitting in cavities causing real issues in the building.

Brian ...

Insane exterior styrofoam cladding caused that gigantic apartment tower fire a few months ago. Gone crazy indeed! There is not a chance that crap would have been installed in NYC and likely no where else in the USA. But I can speak directly for NYC construction codes and that crap would never be looked at by an engineer, much less get past a plan examiner. There is a system of personal liability laid on the designer for any drawing he signs and certifies. Even if the designer approved it, it would still have to get approval from the department of buildings. If the DOB didn’t pick it up, the failsafe would be the fire department periodic inspections. They have the power to shut down a job and enforce their agenda. And failing all of that, if there were a disaster, the finger would be immediately pointed at the design engineer that put his name on the drawings and specifications. And that brings us back to why no engineer would ever allow it to begin with.

Whitacrebespoke ...

Funny it was an American product though. I took one look as it was happening and it was clear the cladding system was at fault the poor people up top stood no chance as if the fire did not the cyanide released by the burning insulation would. Yet still U.K. building regulations state that homes are packed with insulation and PU and fibre glass are the cheapest forms. Yet we all know how it burns.

The great fire of London was reported to have spread via the thatch and wattle and daub panels in the timber frames. Yet a recent documentary on that fire found wattle and daub panels to pass the highest possible fire testing. But damaged panels do not. Yet we have learnt no lessons since the 1600s infact we have all over the world clad lots of high rise and concrete buildings in highly flammable materials. I’m glad that American codes would not allow such stupidity. I’m also glad your fire service/department take such a massive role as after all they are the experts on fire. Here no such things happen and hence is why since the Grenfell tower fire 100s of multi-storey buildings have failed inspections into the cladding used.

I just hope in our crazy drive to insulate buildings we do not see another disaster on such a scale. The latest thing is to clad brick buildings on the outside then slap a thin coat of cement render on the outside. It’s a disaster waiting to happen on so many scales.

I’m just in the costing stages of a job for a good customer who wants a garden room my plan is to create a building that is fully breathable and with the exception of the slab, foundation walls and the tile membrane uses all natural materials. There’s going to be a big shift on where architecture leads us soon. I hope.

Whitacrebespoke ...

A friend recently told me of a system using 6×2 cill and head plates with 4×2 staggered studs that allowed there to be no thermal bridge in the walls of the building.

Whitacrebespoke ...

Funniest thing I’ve seen for a long time we’re the comments on a timber House being built in the form of a log cabin type building only using interlocking smaller regularised pieces. It was incredibly fast and green as all fast grown FSC timber. Yet people said it was not safe and it was a massive fire risk. Now these sort of people love bricks and mortar yet little do the know that their brick house if modern only has to have a 30minute fire rating and if pre 1970s no fire rating at all. Yet large section timber charrs as opposed to burning and is stronger in a fire for a longer period that steel or masonary.

Most timber homes are also clad on the inside with plaster board which in its self has fire retardant properties.

People over hear just cannot see past bricks and mortar yet screw piled ring beamed and stick framed there houses could be easier and cheaper to build and more easily customised. Equally as safe and substantial too.

Brian ...

I’m going to look into the staggered 2×4 construction. That sounds interesting.

Whitacrebespoke ...

I’m intrigued to it sounds like the answer to a lot of problems.

Brian ...

I just read a little bit about this staggered 2×4 thing. You might want to think twice about it. It’s going to be more labor and more materials. Weigh that against a wider wall (more insulation). Or even a double 2×4 wall on wide sill plates.

Also, something I was thinking about that a comment on a website seemed to confirm was doing what my buddy and I did to soundproof his garage (for band practice). We strapped the studs horizontally with furring strips and screwed the drywall to the centers (between studs). This was for vibration isolation but it’s probably a decent thermal break as well.

But for both sound and heat, more insulation is better and nothing does that like a large cavity to fill up. Also, rockwool is both fireproof and has a higher R rating than fiberglass. It’s slightly more expensive, but for one room you won’t even notice the difference.

Brian ...

By the way, the method we used to soundproof really worked great. It cut the noise in half. And we didn’t float the floor or anything else.