Tag Archives: glulam columns

Making Your Own Glulam Columns

Should I Make my Own Glulam Columns?

I’ve been internet chattering back and forth with a gentleman named Chris, who is probably never going to order a Hansen Pole Building, but it is okay – we have thousands of clients a year who are knocking at our doors (figuratively) ready to place their orders.

Total Disclosure – I do not get paid, nor does Hansen Pole Buildings, LLC get any sort of financial compensation in return for my endorsement of a particular product or vendor.  If I like a product, I will tell my readers straight up about it. Same goes the other direction.

Here is an excerpt from our most recent discussion:

Chris: “And I was going to make the laminated posts gluing and baking them, I have a local lumber company (not Lowe’s or HD ) they have good treated lumber that can be placed in ground.”

Me:  “The most important things to me are people getting great buildings and good value for their investment.

I believe you trust in my judgment. Please do you and me both a favor and buy true glulaminated columns.

Here are just a few reasons….

The 2×6 they use to make them is nearly half again stronger than anything you can buy at the lumber yard;
They use glue which is designed to hold up – even under ground and in wet conditions;
In order to get a true glue bond, the wood must be planed, then glued within 24 hours;
They have the equipment to press them during curing – which keeps them nice and straight;
The time alone you save will more than pay for them.

There are plenty of ways to save money on your new post frame (pole) building kit – building your own glulaminated columns is not one of them.  If you want to save both time and money (and end up with a better building), spend a few hours browsing about the nearly 1200 articles I have written and/or the over 600 questions I have answered from my loyal readers.

Have an idea and want to know if it is practical or not? Run it past me…. I’ll give you the straight story, every time.

Nailed-Up Glulam Columns

Glulam Columns

Recently one of the clients of Hansen Pole Buildings asked us to compare our building, to one being quoted by another supplier.

One of the “features” of the other providers building was building glulam columns which were built out of three 2×6’s which were both glued and nailed.

Whilst our client believed these to be a true glu-laminated column (and the other supplier promoted them as such), this is not at all the case.

These particular columns are constructed with pressure preservative treated lowers, finger jointed on to a non-treated upper. So far, so good – the finger joint is far superior to columns which are butt end spliced either with no reinforcement, or with a steel plate at the splice. A successful finger joint is the most difficult part of the glulam column process, and these people have it down.

The manufacturer then spreads construction adhesive on the faces of each ply and uses a through fastener (stainless steel wire) to keep the plies together.

Therein lies, “the rub”. In concept the construction adhesive reduces the potential “slip” between the plies, making the column stiffer in the weak axis.

The reality is, construction adhesive is still only construction adhesive, and the potential for slippage between the members still exists.

In a true glu-laminated column, after laminating lowers to uppers with the same finger jointing process, each ply is face sanded. Fully water-resistant phenol-resorcinol adhesive is then applied, and the assembly is pressed together and cured in a temperature controlled environment.

The finished glulam column truly becomes a solid piece of timber. It resists warp, twist and cup far better than the construction adhesive and mechanically fastened column (as there is no potential for movement between the plies) and it is less flexible in the weak (skinny) direction as it is impossible to have between ply slippage.

I realize many consumers would not know the difference, but in my experience – a little research and a few “hard questions” gets the answers you may need to make your final decision.  My beef here is the company probably doesn’t know the difference, and is purporting them to be something….they are not.

Do you Need a Pole Building Bolt Stretcher?

One of our clients is currently constructing his Hansen Pole Buildings kit package, in Colorado.

Colorado is one of those unusual geographic locales in the United States where the availability of any pressure treated timbers larger than a 6×6 is pretty much….not at all.

It IS possible to get glu-laminated columns, however. In this particular case, the client has a 16 foot tall sidewall, which put the building into the “glu-lam zone”.

A three ply 2×6 glu-laminated column, measures approximately 4-1/8” in width towards the wind. At the top of the column, a two ply prefabricated roof truss must be notched into the column. Ideally, the double trusses are notched fully into the column, however in this particular case, the client notched away two of the three glu-lam plies (leaving the trusses hanging off the side of the column by about 3/8”).

This left 1-3/8” of column plus the approximate 3-1/8” thickness of the double truss. The trusses are connected to the column by means of a 5 inch long 5/8” through bolt.

Doing some quick math, with 4-1/2 inches of wood, only ½ inch of the bolt will project through the column, without any flat washers in place.  There was no “room left” for the double washers and nut.  This is where I talk about getting out the old “bolt stretcher”.

How to make this work?

Insert the bolt into the hole from the side of the column opposite the trusses, without a washer in place. On the truss side, use a washer and the nut. With a wrench on each side, tighten the nut on the bolt until the washer is recessing itself into the surface of the trusses.  The lumber will “give” leaving an impression for the washer to embed itself and yes, will create more “room” for the nut.

Take the bolt, washer, and nut assembly apart. Reinsert the bolt, placing a washer on each side, and again re-tighten until both washers are fairly flush with the surface of the column and the trusses.  You can put the “bolt stretcher” safely back in its carrying case!