“Architects can do some amazing things with these Brazilian hardwoods, because of their size, shape and strength,” says Rick Paid, president and owner of Amazon Timber Frames. “And since the beams in a timber frame are exposed, the incomparable beauty of these woods is a major design element.” ATF’s timber frames make it easy for architects to design homes with more open interior spaces, because great distances can be spanned with such large timbers. This can be used to dramatic effect – with massive cathedral ceilings, expansive windows, and soaring fireplaces, for example – aside from the obvious practical aspects. In addition, the structures are very energy efficient. The panelized system used for exterior walls and roofs has a very high insulation and safety rating.
Although timber frames have been around for thousands of years, their popularity declined in the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century, partly due to a demand for quickly-built, low-cost housing. As a national trend toward quality over quantity slowly began to take hold in the 1970s, this type of construction experienced a revival and has been steadily gaining new fans ever since.
As the only company in the world producing exotic wood timber frames, ATF has set a high standard for itself, providing start-to-finish logistics for every project, whether commercial or residential. If needed, the company can provide design services or a design referral. It is also possible to convert a conventional home plan to a timber frame. After the customer has chosen which wood or woods will be used, the next step is preparation of the timbers in Brazil. ATF’s entire skilled workforce in Brazil consists of former boatbuilders, who are experts in handcrafting timbers. Using adzes, chisels, wooden mallets and planes, they produce results unmatched by any machine. “Boatbuilders make the best timber framers. Boatbuilding requires highly evolved precision joinery not often seen in timber framing," says Rick Paid. "Our people are simply the best craftsmen on earth. They are truly artists. Brazil has a proud history of boat builders that dates all the way back to 1690, when the Portuguese settled the country. With the resources available and these talented native craftsmen, even difficult effects, such as curves, can be achieved. We’re also proud that we are helping to preserve this traditional trade.”
When the complete timber package is ready, it is shipped down the Amazon and across the ocean to a major coastal port, where it is transferred to a truck and continues its journey to the building site. So far, all of ATF’s customers have been in the U.S. – some recent project locations have included Hawaii, Michigan, Ohio and Washington State – but delivery to other countries is also possible. The head of ATF’s operation in Brazil, Bruce Korson, personally travels to each building site to supervise the “raising” (an industry term for putting up a timber frame), and the same skilled workers who craft the timbers in Brazil are sent to the job site to maintain the quality through the final assembly of the frame.
With its intricate and very specialized mortise-and-tenon joinery, a timber frame structure can cost 15 to 20 percent more than other types of homes, and using exotic woods may increase the price even more. Customers also need to have some flexibility in their building schedule when they choose to have an ATF timber frame. But for those who want only the highest quality and the most beautiful, unique materials in the world, it’s all worth it.
Exotic Hardwood Flooring and Lumber
Rare Earth Hardwoods, Inc. makes finished products for other commercial and residential applications, including a wide variety of domestic and exotic hardwood flooring and lumber products, including many specifically for the timber frame industry.
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