Glossary

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  • Accent Spindle

    Small spindles for trim use, such as in a Spandrel.  Often found on Victorian style homes.

  • Air-dried lumber

    Air dried lumber is wood that is allowed to dry, or “season”, naturally.  To help aid air drying, lumber is typically stacked with “stickers”, or small strips of wood between the boards to allow air to circulate.  While air drying is low cost, it can take a long time to dry depending on wood species, ambient temperature and humidity, and wind.

    We use a combination of kiln drying and air drying to take advantage of the benefits of each.  The result is a very stable product that will provide decades of trouble free enjoyment.

     

  • Baluster

    A vertical member between the top and bottom rails.  When a baluster is turned on a lathe, it is often called a spindle, and is what most of our customers are looking for on their porch or deck.  Sawn balusters a board with decorative scrollwork.  Balusters can be made of just about any material, but for porch and deck railing, we prefer authentic high quality wood of a species appropriate for exterior use, or High Density Polyurethane (HDP) for a synthetic alternative.

  • Batten

    Small boards that cover the gap between the vertical boards of Board and Batten style siding.  Battens are usually small strips of wood made of 1-by material, often Western Red Cedar or other good exterior wood.

  • Board and batten siding

    A style of siding made with vertical boards and smaller boards called battens covering the gap between the boards.

  • Building permit

    A certificate obtained from your local building department often required for major additions such as a new porch.  If you have a professional builder, he should take care of pulling permits.  If you plan on doing the work yourself, you will need to become familiar with your local building department’s requirements.

  • Cedar shingles

    Pieces of cedar, usually Western Red Cedar, tapered pieces approximately 16″ long.  Usually used for roofing or siding.  Cedar shingles make excellent roofing and siding, with a very long useful life.  They should be oiled after installation, and re-oiled every 5 years or so.  Shingles differ from Shakes in that they are cut, rather than split, from the log.

  • Classic Style Spindles

    Fast becoming a very popular design style, we’ve recently added the Classic spindle design because of strong demand for custom spindles of this shape.  This makes it easier to acquire this very elegant design.

  • Code, or Building Code

    Minimum building practices set by various governments and/or code bodies.  If you are having a contractor or builder complete the work, they should be well familiar with the applicable building codes.  If you plan on doing the work yourself, you will need to become familiar.  Visit your local building department for specific information about the building codes that will be applicable to your project.

  • Colonial Style Spindles

    Our Colonial spindles feature the simpler, straighter shape of the early Victorian era resulting in a very stately look for your porch.

  • Column

    Vertical support member.  Columns can be made of almost any material, but are most commonly of wood, steel, polyurethane, fiberglass, aluminum, masonry, and others.  Often they are made using a pedestal of wood or masonry, with a round, square, or tapered column on top.  Columns can be purely decorative or have a structural purpose of holding up a roof or second story.  When we use the term column, we are typically referring to a large stately support used on front porches.  Porch Posts have a similar definition and purpose, but are typically a square post with a “turned” portion somewhere in the middle, while columns are commonly larger and either round, square, or tapered.

  • Conservatory

    A glass room, typically with glass sides and at least a partial glass ceiling.  A conservatory could be described as a cross between a greenhouse and a porch, often containing lounging and dining furniture as well as plants.

  • Deck

    A outdoor structure attached to the house, usually elevated from the ground, that expands the living space available in the home.  At our house, the deck performs a very important job as the area where the pellet grill sears delicious T-bone steaks.

    Over the last couple of decades, the trend in decks has been towards composite and synthetic materials.  However the trend now is moving back to high quality exterior woods such as Port Orford Cedar.  This is because the suppliers and consumers of composite decking have found that many of the manufacturers’ materials have not lived up to the wild claims of “lasting forever”, “maintenance free”, or “colors will never fade”.  There are some man made materials that are excellent for decks.  And if done properly, a wood deck will deliver an authentic experience and still probably outlast the owner.

  • Douglas Fir

    A very popular exterior millwork wood species. And rightfully so. It is extremely strong, heavy, machines well, is exceptionally beautiful, and holds up very well to years of weather in all climates. Add that to the fact that it is one of the more cost efficient woods available and you have a sure winner for your porch!

    Douglas Fir Appearance Characteristics and grades

    For versatility and beauty, few woods in the world match the magnificence of Douglas Fir. Its light rosy color is set off by its remarkably straight and handsome grain pattern. It will “redden” over time when exposed to light. Its tough fiber it difficult to work with hand tools. However, it responds admirably to sharp power tools and machines to a smooth surface. It paints easily and can hold all types of stains and finishes.

    Moisture content levels are carefully controlled in the highest grades to ensure these premium products will meet the strict dimensional stability requirements of finish carpenters, furniture manufacturers and cabinet makers. When dry, it retains its shape and size and won’t check or show a raised grain. Additionally, Douglas Fir has an excellent performance record when used in exposed applications for exterior millwork without ground contact.

    Many designers and consumers agree the aesthetic appeal of clear, light, straight, vertical-grain Douglas Fir is unsurpassed among the world’s softwood species. The select grades are less abundant and considerably more expensive than lesser grades.

    Designers appreciate the rich visual quality of Douglas Fir texture and grain as well as its beautiful response to fine craftsmanship and finishing. A favorite wood for custom cabinets, furniture and millwork, it works easily and resists wear. When sawn to expose vertical grain, Douglas Fir is particularly handsome. When acclimated prior to installation, Douglas Fir retains its shape and size without shrinking, swelling, cupping, warping, bowing or twisting. The uniform grain and tough fiber holds stain well and keeps fasteners firmly in place.

    Douglas Fir Structural Characteristics and Attributes

    When architects and engineers look for the best in structural lumber, their first choice repeatedly is Douglas Fir. It is dimensionally stable and universally recognized for its superior strength-to-weight ratio. Its high specific gravity provides excellent nail and plate-holding ability. The species also enjoys a documented superior performance against strong forces resulting from natural phenomena such as winds, storms and earthquakes. It is truly the ideal structural and general purpose wood for framing lumber in residential, light commercial, multistory and industrial construction.

    These physical working properties, as well as to the moderate durability of its heartwood and its excellent dimensional stability, provide the reasons many builders use Douglas Fir as the standard against which all other framing lumber is judged. It is also tight knotted and close-grained, adding the bonus of beauty to its structural capabilities.

  • End grain

    When wood is cut across the grain, the end of the grain is exposed.  This can be seen at the end of a board.  The end grain of any wood gains and loses moisture more rapidly than the rest of the piece, which is why it needs to be protected.  Keep in mind that wood will always assume the moisture and temperature of the surrounding environment, which is good.  Problems arise when that change happens too rapidly.

    This is why we recommend priming the end grain of your spindles, balusters, railing, and other millwork before installation.  If you choose to have your millwork primed here in our shop, we spray a high quality oil based primer covering all surfaces, including the ends.  We use a very slow curing primer which means the protective oils seep deeply into the wood grain before setting up.  This means your millwork has the best possible protection against the elements and will ensure decades of trouble-free enjoyment.

  • Finger joint

    A method of joining two pieces of wood together.  A finger joint is stronger than a simple butt joint because there is more surface area for the two pieces to be bonded together with glue.  If done properly, a finger joint will actually be stronger than the wood around it.

    Wherever possible, we use solid single piece wood for our millwork.  However on wide products such as our 12″ Raised Panel Newels, it is not practical or even desirable to have a single board of that width.  So in these cases we use finger joints to join multiple pieces of wood together.

    When finger joints are used in a product, the result is a “paint grade” product, which means it works great if painted, but may look odd if stained.  With species such as Western Red Cedar, the color of one board varies greatly from one board to the next, and therefore you would definitely would not want to stain that item.  However with Port Orford Cedar, which is what we’ve chosen as our primary wood species, the color is so consistent from piece to piece that many people still stain products that are finger jointed.

  • Grain (wood)

    The fibers that make up the wood.  Grain is usually referred to by it’s orientation for the purposes of milling or caring for a wood product, or for determining the quality.  For example, we try to avoid exposing the end grain of a piece whenever possible because it doesn’t machine as well as the side grain.  Another example is that a board is of higher quality when it has a vertical grain structure (quartersawn), which will not warp, cup, or crack as easily as a board with a horizontal grain orientation (flatsawn).

  • Heartwood

    The wood in a log between the pith and the sapwood.  The heartwood is the best part of the log for our purposes because it contains less sap and is more stable and rot resistant than either the pith or the sapwood.

  • High Density Polyurethane

    Often called Urethane, HDP, or Poly, it is a synthetic alternative to wood.  It looks, feels, cuts, even sounds similar to wood.  It comes pre-primed and ready to install.

    DENSITY: Our poly products are made with high density polyurethane with an overall density similar to white pine at 14 to 18 pounds per cubic foot.  Our process provides a greater skin density than core density for increased durability.

    SURFACE PROPERTIES & FINISHES: All products are manufactured with a white or beige color coating.  Further, these products receive a primer finish coat before they are shipped to customers.  The combination of the integral shell-like skin, the barrier coat, and the primer top coat provide an excellent substrate for durable finishes.  Ultra violet rays do not affect properly coated products.

    FINISHING: All our Polyurethane products are shipped “double primed” with an exterior grade latex paint and are ready for use.  We recommend final finishing after installation is complete for the most consistent appearance possible.  A good quality exterior latex or oil base paint may be used on rigid poly products.  See “PORCH INFORMATION” for more information.

    MOISTURE RESISTANCE: Our polyurethane has a closed cell struture which provides protection from most solvents and renders it almost completely hydrophobic.  IT WILL NOT ROT!

    MILDEW RESISTANCE: All our poly products resist the growth of mildew and fungus and provides no nutritional value for other organisms such as small rodents.

    STRENGTH: The compressive strength of polyurethane products falls within the 800-950 P.S.I. range.  The tensile strength falls within the 550-650 P.S.I. range.  (The parts are not intended for structural use.)  The degree of flexibility of any given polyurethane product is determined by the size and shape of its cross section.  However, due to the inherent flex characteristics of polyurehtnae produts, they will follow some curvatures and uneven surfaces.

    synthetic product with a vast array of uses.

     

  • Installation Kit

    A hardware package designed to make the assembly and install of our products easier, faster, stronger, and better looking.  Hardware is included with our structural columns and porch posts.  For our newels and railings, we offer the installation kits as an optional accessory.

  • Ipe

    (pronounced EE-pay)  an exotic hardwood that is naturally resistant to rot and is extremely hard.  These natural traits mean Ipe millwork can last 75+ trouble-free years.  We use only stain grade, which means it is an exceptionally beautiful deep rich brown wood, and completely CLEAR of knots.  We source this fine wood only from responsibley managed forests to provide a truly renewable resource.

  • Joist

    Framing lumber used horizontally, or “on edge”, to which a subfloor or ceiling is attached.

  • Kiln-dried

    Lumber that has been put through a kiln for the purpose of reducing the moisture content and stabilizing the wood.  Wood that is directly from a live tree will be around 35% moisture.  For our purposes of making high quality exterior millwork, the wood must be dried to around 11% moisture before final milling into a usable product.

    Drying wood in a kiln results in a more stable, predictable piece of lumber than if it were air-dried only.  And while kiln drying increases the up front cost, the long term costs are reduced because less inventory is needed than if we had acres of wood waiting the long period required if it were air dried only.

    We use only kiln dried lumber to take advantage of the benefits, but additionally allow it to air dry, or “season” in our climate controlled wood storage before milling.  The result is a very stable product that will provide decades of trouble free enjoyment.

     

     

  • Laminated Wood

    A piece of wood made from two or more smaller pieces of wood glued together.  We avoid laminating wood for most of our products because we feel it results in a better product in most cases.  There are some situations where lamination can be useful, such as with curved railing.  By using multiple wood strips bent around a form and glued, we are able to produce a curved rail with no end grain exposed which results in a very smooth, beautiful rail.

  • Moisture Content of wood

    The percentage of moisture contained in the wood.  This is a very important consideration when working with wood.  Wood straight from the forest will be about 35% MC.  Most kiln-dried wood ends up around 18%.  For our purposes of making architectural millwork, the MC must be around 9%.  This is why we utilize both kiln and air drying.

  • Polyurethane

    Often called Urethane, HDP, or Poly, it is a synthetic alternative to wood.  It looks, feels, cuts, even sounds similar to wood.  It comes pre-primed and ready to install.

    DENSITY: Our poly products are made with high density polyurethane with an overall density similar to white pine at 14 to 18 pounds per cubic foot.  Our process provides a greater skin density than core density for increased durability.

    SURFACE PROPERTIES & FINISHES: All products are manufactured with a white or beige color coating.  Further, these products receive a primer finish coat before they are shipped to customers.  The combination of the integral shell-like skin, the barrier coat, and the primer top coat provide an excellent substrate for durable finishes.  Ultra violet rays do not affect properly coated products.

    FINISHING: All our Polyurethane products are shipped “double primed” with an exterior grade latex paint and are ready for use.  We recommend final finishing after installation is complete for the most consistent appearance possible.  A good quality exterior latex or oil base paint may be used on rigid poly products.  See “PORCH INFORMATION” for more information.

    MOISTURE RESISTANCE: Our polyurethane has a closed cell struture which provides protection from most solvents and renders it almost completely hydrophobic.  IT WILL NOT ROT!

    MILDEW RESISTANCE: All our poly products resist the growth of mildew and fungus and provides no nutritional value for other organisms such as small rodents.

    STRENGTH: The compressive strength of polyurethane products falls within the 800-950 P.S.I. range.  The tensile strength falls within the 550-650 P.S.I. range.  (The parts are not intended for structural use.)  The degree of flexibility of any given polyurethane product is determined by the size and shape of its cross section.  However, due to the inherent flex characteristics of polyurehtnae produts, they will follow some curvatures and uneven surfaces.

    synthetic product with a vast array of uses.

     

  • Porch

    Simply: A deck with a roof, attached to a house.  Usually made of wood or wood substitutes, but also sometimes of masonry or other materials.  Most porches are of the open air type.  If the porch floor is more than 30″ off the ground, codes usually require that a railing exist.  This affords the opportunity to show off fancy millwork such as spindles (turned balusters), raised panel newel posts, columns, etc.  Or, a porch may be closed in by screens to keep the bugs out or porch panels of glass or acrylic to help regulate temperature or wind.  These are often called “3 season” porches, and sometimes have infrared heaters, ceiling fans, rugs, and other items that make the porch usable for a greater part of the year.  Complete the porch in with windows and home-like heating and cooling, and it is no longer a porch, but is an addition to your home.

    So having dispensed with the boring definition, let’s describe the good stuff.  A porch is a place where:

    • friends meet
    • neighbors become friends
    • iced tea is sipped while absorbed in a good book
    • guitar playing is learned
    • the TV, smart phones, and other distractions are LEFT BEHIND
    • blood pressure is reduced
    • teenagers get in trouble for necking on the porch swing
  • Port Orford Cedar

    A creamy white softwood that we believe is the very best choice for exterior millwork.

    Why does Western Spindle use Port Orford Cedar when virtually all other companies are using Western Red Cedar?  Because it’s BETTER!  Port Orford Cedar enjoys the same exceptional exterior wood qualities as other cedars and redwood such as rot and insect resistance, but the parallels end there.  Port Orford Cedar is harder, heavier, stronger, tighter grained, and machines to a finer finish.  In fact it is 40% stronger than all other cedars and redwood.  That means Port Orford Cedar on your porch will not only look better, but will withstand abuse like other cedars could never.  Your porch will simply be in better shape decades down the road when using Port Orford Cedar.

    Characteristics and Properties

    The color of Port Orford Cedar wood can be described as a creamy white which allows for limitless options on staining, and does not have the “bleeding” problem often associated with the darker Western Red Cedar. Port Orford Cedar has a fine texture; the grain is straight and even. The wood has a characteristic pungent, ginger like odor and a somewhat bitter, spicy taste (although I can’t say I’ve ever eaten the stuff).  One customer described the aroma as similar to a man’s cologne.  Another said we should bottle the smell of our shop and sell it!

    Port Orford Cedar is moderately light in weight for its strength; however, it is stiff, strong, hard, and fairly shock-resistant. It shrinks only slightly during drying, dries quickly after wetting, and has little tendency to warp. It is easily worked with tools. Port Orford Cedar is highly resistant to decay. It polishes well and holds paint longer than most other woods.  Unprotected wood weathers to a light gray with a silvery sheen. It does not develop weather checks.

  • Portico

    A long covered entryway, similar to a porch in form, but in function serves to shelter the entrance to a home.  Porticos range from grand affairs designed to project power and formality, to simple structures that provide a way to get from the car to the door without be exposed to the worst of the weather.

  • Primer

    A coating used to prepare a surface for topcoat paint.  On our wood products, we use only premium exterior grade oil-based primer.  Our primer has a very slow cure time, which means the protective oils will soak deeply into the wood before setting up.  This gives our products the absolute best protection available.  When you order your porch products pre-primed from our factory, you have the piece of mind that your architectural millwork has the best protection available.  And you can install it right away, rather than starting a priming project in your garage!

  • Revival Style Spindles

    This is our most popular standard design.  It reflects the influences often found in the architecture of the late Victorian era.

  • Smoking Room

    Definition: A porch!    An open or screened porch is often the perfect place to enjoy a fine cigar or occasional indulgent pipeful.  Smoking is increasingly banished to the outdoors these days, but why stand out in the weather?  A gentle breeze through your porch is perfect for clearing the air during an evening smoke.  Or if the breeze is lacking tonight, a ceiling fan will keep the would-be second hand smokers happy.

  • Square Baluster

    Often called simply a baluster.  The repeating square vertical member of a balustrade.

  • Three Season Porch

    A porch enclosed with Porch Panels made with screens, glass, and/or acrylic to help expand the usefulness of the porch.  These panels are often sliding or swinging which helps regulate the temperature and breeze.

  • Tuscan Style Spindles

    Particularly popular in the southeastern U.S., the Tuscan spindle incorporates a more angular style found in Italianate architecture style.

  • Urethane

    Often called Urethane, HDP, or Poly, it is a synthetic alternative to wood.  It looks, feels, cuts, even sounds similar to wood.  It comes pre-primed and ready to install.

    DENSITY: Our poly products are made with high density polyurethane with an overall density similar to white pine at 14 to 18 pounds per cubic foot.  Our process provides a greater skin density than core density for increased durability.

    SURFACE PROPERTIES & FINISHES: All products are manufactured with a white or beige color coating.  Further, these products receive a primer finish coat before they are shipped to customers.  The combination of the integral shell-like skin, the barrier coat, and the primer top coat provide an excellent substrate for durable finishes.  Ultra violet rays do not affect properly coated products.

    FINISHING: All our Polyurethane products are shipped “double primed” with an exterior grade latex paint and are ready for use.  We recommend final finishing after installation is complete for the most consistent appearance possible.  A good quality exterior latex or oil base paint may be used on rigid poly products.  See “PORCH INFORMATION” for more information.

    MOISTURE RESISTANCE: Our polyurethane has a closed cell struture which provides protection from most solvents and renders it almost completely hydrophobic.  IT WILL NOT ROT!

    MILDEW RESISTANCE: All our poly products resist the growth of mildew and fungus and provides no nutritional value for other organisms such as small rodents.

    STRENGTH: The compressive strength of polyurethane products falls within the 800-950 P.S.I. range.  The tensile strength falls within the 550-650 P.S.I. range.  (The parts are not intended for structural use.)  The degree of flexibility of any given polyurethane product is determined by the size and shape of its cross section.  However, due to the inherent flex characteristics of polyurehtnae produts, they will follow some curvatures and uneven surfaces.

    synthetic product with a vast array of uses.

     

  • Wane

    Missing edge or corner of a board caused by cutting it to far off the edge of the log.  Wane often has bark left on it.  The existence of wane indicates a poor quality board, and usually contains mostly sapwood.

  • Western Red Cedar

    A good outdoor use wood because of it’s stability and rot resistance.  Western Red Cedar is rated durable to very durable for rot resistance.  It ranges from a light tan to dark reddish brown.  It is probably the most commonly used exterior wood in America, and is what most people are referring to when the say simply “cedar”.  It is a rather light softwood, with Port Orford Cedar being 40% stronger, denser, and harder than Western Red.

  • Yellow Cedar

    Often called Alaskan Yellow Cedar, this light creamy yellow softwood is a good choice for exterior millwork.  It has many similarities to Port Orford Cedar such as color, straightness of grain, hardness, strength, and rot resistance.  It grows on the northwest coast of North America.