Green Douglas Fir for Barn Framing

Green softwood lumber is fine for framing an outbuilding. August 29, 2006

I have a customer who wants me to saw 4 x 8 beams from fresh felled Doug Fir logs. He wants to use the beams for a roof over some long rows of horse stalls. They will be set on posts and tied with metal brackets that are through drilled and bolted. The roof will be 2 x 4, also from these fresh logs with sheet galvanized metal roofing so there will not be much weight. He plans on using the lumber within two weeks of being cut from these fresh felled logs. I have told my customer that this may not be a good idea and that he should air dry the lumber first. I have warned him of the potential of the lumber deforming, etc. He says he doesn't think that it will be a problem because he has used fresh lumber before. What do you all suggest I tell this customer? I am not sure what he is facing. I need some input from the group. Will the lumber stay stable? Will it hold nails? Will the whole shed row of roofing twist, warp, cup, split and jump out of ground?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
Would 1/4 sawing Douglas Fir increase stability?

From contributor B:
For barn construction, the lumber should be fine. I custom saw rough framing lumber for outbuildings all the time, that is used green - especially if he is through bolting the beams. Tell him to use good ring shank nails as well. There will be some movement in the structure, but nothing unreasonable for an outbuilding in my opinion.

From contributor C:
The timber frame industry routinely uses green Douglas fir and Oak for that matter in building homes. It simply takes too long to dry the dimensions used. There is generally no problem with it but proper joinery is important.

From the original questioner:
Thanks! I guess I just keep hearing and seeing so many posts on the site about the drying process that I was gun shy. I spent the day looking at ranch outbuildings that used green lumber everywhere. I saw some 70-80 years old that never were painted or in any way preserved. Most looked pretty darn good.

From contributor D:
I agree with the others that the material will serve the customer well. Where are you? It seems rare on this forum to see some one using Douglas fir and using the word ranch. I am in the middle of Oregon and fascinated by the majority of posts that talk about maple, walnut, sycamore and other trees I'll never get to mill. It is ponderosa pine, juniper and fir logs for me.

From the original questioner:
I am in the Sierra mountains north of Truckee on Hwy 70 between Quincy and Portola in California. I probably have the same timber as you have. I just purchased a Timberking B-20 fully hydraulic. Yes, no hardwood around here either. I am jealous of all the posts talking about all the exotic woods we will never see. I did try a California Live Oak three weeks ago. When they say that these oaks aren't usually worth the effort, they aren't kidding. I used up 8 band blades (yes, eight blades) and kept sticking the blade half to three quarters of the way into the log and pulling it off the drive wheels! It usually took me 45 minutes to get it out of the log and reloaded again! Sure am glad this was for me and not a customer. Not only would I have not made any money by the hour (maybe $0.50/hour) and probably less than 15% of the four 26 x 20 logs turned into usable lumber. My wife says I can never cut one of those up again - it took me two days to calm down and stop mumbling to myself.