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Thread: Fir down... covering it to create exposed timber look

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Fir down... covering it to create exposed timber look

    Hi,

    Potential customer asked about covering a fir down to make it look like an exposed timber. I built a custom bar for him a while ago and he likes the look of veneer.

    If I was to use veneer, I was thinking 1/4" mdf + veneer VS resawn lumber ~1/4" thick. I haven't done something like this yet. Maybe 1/2" lumber is more appropriate?

    Thoughts?

    20221121_194350.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Since you're considering veneer, I assume you're going for a highly finished look, rather than a roughsawn timber feel. But it'll be quite difficult to impossible get a good look using mdf and veneer - getting a mitered corner that long to not look hacked together will be really tough. Ditto with 1/4" solid wood. I'd go with the 1/2" lumber (actually, where I've done this in my own home, I've used 3/4" solid lumber, and would suggest you do the same for at least the bottom board), and relieve the bottom board an 1/8" or so - won't look truly like a solid timber, but the shadows will soften or hide the joint between the bottom and sides.

    I'd put the bottom up first, slightly wider than the existing beam to compensate for wave (which won't be as straight as you imagine), shimming as required to get a flat run. Then mount the sides, again shimming as necessary to compensate for imperfection in the existing beam, glueing and finish nailing (with a pneumatic nailer) the sides to the bottom and the existing beam. more than likely, there will be more wave between the existing beam and the ceiling.

    Things are lot more forgiving if your customer wants to go with a rough sawn or weathered look, but the techniques are the same.

  3. #3
    Box beam it. I like to do so with 3/4 stock, lock-miter corners. Remarkably simple compared to where it sounds like you're going. Easiest way to a real beam look.
    Some of the smaller router bit lock miter bits will even allow thinner 3/8-1/2" stock if you're going for minimal expansion of that existing beam. If you don't have one, MLCS will put you in the game for ~$50. You could have it milled and glued up in an afternoon...

    jeff

  4. #4
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    I give up, what is " a fir down"?

  5. #5
    I think there would be more suggestions with an expanded ,more clear, explanation of what the job is.

  6. #6
    Popcorn ceiling and faux beam... living in the 80's lol.

    Edit: sorry, that wasn't helpful. I would do what Jeff said, a few posts above.
    Last edited by John Kananis; 12-02-2022 at 1:44 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kananis View Post
    Popcorn ceiling and faux beam... living in the 80's lol.

    Edit: sorry, that wasn't helpful. I would do what Jeff said, a few posts above.

    That's not popcorn, it's knockdown. Also not helpful I guess

    Defiantly just use 3/4" boards and wrap it. Skip the veneer. Keep it simple. your life will be a lot easier and the customer won't care about the little bit of extra cost. I like poplar for these, you can stain/paint it so easily, can match pretty much anything and the seams are practically invisible with the right finish. You don't want it seams to show, you want it to look like one solid beam.

  8. #8
    Prefinished 1/4" paneling would fit the style- nail it on with those colored paneling nails. (sorry )

  9. #9
    I second Jeff's recommendation for the lock miter in solid wood. Done well the result will mimic a solid beam better than butt joints. Ideally you can source material long enough to span the ceiling in one piece. With veneer you will probably need an end splice, not a great look in a "beam". I often do miterfolds, but a lock miter allows for scribing the elements individually at the ends. If the wall geometry allows you can scribe, then clamp up and prefinish the assembly in the shop. I would leave a slight reveal at the ceiling rather than trying to fit it tight.

    If economy is important then butt joints with the sides overlapping the bottom slightly will be less labor.

    If you expect to use lock miters much and have a shaper, the best set I have found is this one. https://ballewsaw.com/freeborn-pc-28...miter-set.html It requires running a separate dado on one piece, but the setup is simpler as both pieces are run flat on the shaper table.

    I assume a "fir down" is what around here we call a valance or dropped ceiling section. In this picture I would guess the main element is a structural beam and the smaller one a mechanical chase.
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 12-02-2022 at 3:34 PM.

  10. #10
    "...a lock miter allows for scribing the elements individually at the ends. If the wall geometry allows you can scribe, then clamp up and prefinish the assembly in the shop"


    Exactly. I recently did a flat-pack, pre-stained version of these for a contractor to install himself, as it was a huge room full, which they were attaching via 2x6 material to a peaked ceiling. Able to cut to fit and assemble on the ceiling as they went. It was rustic/rough sawn, so they could clean-up and shape the outer edges with hand plane/ sander to suit and retouch on site after glue up. We simply used a semi-opaque exterior WB stain, as a fine, clear coated finish was not desired with the sawtooth marks.
    Client was thrilled - looked like they grew there.







  11. #11
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    I like to do so with 3/4 stock, lock-miter corners. Remarkably simple
    Putting a lock miter on 12ft. + long material is anything but simple unless you have a dedicated machine like this:

    https://www.easylockmiter.com/


    Sure, it can be done with router table and a bunch of aux. stuff, but that process is far from what I'd consider "simple"

    YMMV

  12. #12
    I agree that running material, especially long stock, on edge with typical lock miter sets is difficult. Using the Freeborn set I linked above is pretty straightforward although it does require running a dado in half of the pieces. You do need to be able to straighten long sticks and have a power feed on the shaper. The machine linked to looks like a good idea for a shop with a steady demand for this type of work.

    Another option is a plain miter folded up with packing tape. In either case you have to be able to mill long straight pieces accurately. Simple in concept but not easy.

    Simpler yet would be butted joints, but the glue joints would be more obvious. If the goal is simulating a solid beam, cleanly done miters are the way to go
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 12-04-2022 at 11:01 AM.

  13. #13
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    This one sent me down a rabbit hole.
    The folk etymology (no idea whether there's any truth to it) says that to "furr out" as used in carpentry is to add thickness and comes from the clothing industry where winter coats were made by adding strips of fur to the interiors, making such coats was described as furring them out. In subsequent times the term has morphed to furr down as a description for what in this part of the world would be a soffit. Regional spelling preferences give rise then to the "fir down".

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    This one sent me down a rabbit hole.
    The folk etymology (no idea whether there's any truth to it) says that to "furr out" as used in carpentry is to add thickness and comes from the clothing industry where winter coats were made by adding strips of fur to the interiors, making such coats was described as furring them out. In subsequent times the term has morphed to furr down as a description for what in this part of the world would be a soffit. Regional spelling preferences give rise then to the "fir down".


    Interesting.

    I recently learned that in earlier days of the US, when roads were poor, sleds were used, especially for heavy loads which were saved for winter. Sleds for different purposes were named-
    Tom for heavy stuff, also called a pung; Jack for medium, and Bob for light and people.

    From this we have the term bobsled.

    I thought "regional spelling preferences" was generous...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Thanks for the replies...

    Step 1) 4/4 lumber w/ locking miter
    Step 2) Shim bottom piece as necessary centered, flat and straight
    Step 3) Scribe sides to ceiling

    ?

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