Benefits of Roundwood Timber

Wood is a truly precious building resource. Finding new ways to preserve this resource, to be responsible with its use, but to still take advantage of the excellent properties of wood in construction is of great concern. The use of timber in building has a long and varied history, and there is growing interest in roundwood timber in home construction, the use of large posts and beams, with traditional wood joinery, and without the use of metal fasteners.


Roundwood timber framing uses whole poles, or whole trees for posts, beams, and other framing members. There are a number of advantages to this construction approach, versus the alternative option of milling and squaring timbers for a similar frame. In this post we look at a few of the benefits of employing the roundwood method, whether it be for a small family home, or a large building, roundwood construction is beautiful.

Roundwood 2In a typical timber frame construction, trees are milled down to square dimensions, obviously, the original tree needs to be larger than the final post or beam, resulting in waste of the material. To be able to produce larger dimension or longer timbers, older and straighter trees are necessary.

This can be an issue as you wish to source materials locally as these older and straighter trees can be difficult to find in certain areas. However, if using the roundwood timber framing method, the tree can be used in its entirety. That means no milling (saving energy in the process), and less waste as a result. Using roundwood is a more efficient alternative, and helps to preserve the older and taller trees in the forest.

Ben-law-timberframe 1Selective harvesting makes sense

Trees are slow growing, especially many hardwoods, and it could be decades before a tree is considered a useful timber. Once that tree is cut, it’s gone. Ben Law  ( see video here) has revitalized the interest among natural builders for an effective approach to growing and cultivating trees specifically for roundwood timber frame construction, creating forests that can continually sprout back new material for future projects.

Ben Law’s stunning woodland house was featured in the popular BBC television series “Grand Designs” and has shown many people around the world that there are a myriad of ways to work with the woodlands to create building materials, fuel and food.

Sustainable and smart

Rengenerative coppice forestry promotes the growth of strong, quick growing trees that once coppiced (or cut at a certain time of year), can send shoots back and continue to grow new poles.

Coppicing is an English term for a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again.

Roundwood 3Black locust is a good example of the type of tree suitable for the purpose, easily coppicable, quick growing, yet incredibly tough, all in all a perfect wood for building. Using coppicing techniques, it is possible to cultivate a sustainable supply of material for building on the same land for long periods of time, without simply cutting down a host of trees.

Strong and beautiful

Roundwood is tough, using whole trees leaves the wood grain intact, resulting in stronger posts, and a long lasting frame. It also opens up the door to beautiful creative opportunities. Exposed roundwood timber frames are gorgeous, they enrich a living space, and provide ample opportunity to get more creative with incorporating natural elements into an interior design. There is nothing more natural or organic than beautiful roundwood beams, leaving these timbers exposed in a home is inspiring and connects it more fully to the environment it came from.

Roundwood indoor – It’s really you

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