Tag Archives: Timber Technologies

All Columns Are Not Created Equal

Back in 2000, I had the pleasure of working with Dale Schiferl when we were both with Gruenwald Engineered Laminates, Inc.™ (https://gruen-wald.com/) , manufacturers of (among other things) glu-laminated columns for post frame (pole) buildings.

glulam columnDale and I both moved on, Dale to open Timber Technologies, LLC, the manufacturer of Titan Timbers™. Dale and his business partner Tom have been featured previously in my articles – one in particular which drew more than passing interest from readers: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/titan-timbers/.

Hansen Pole Buildings uses a fair number of Titan Timbers and I happen to have them in my own home.

This morning Dale sends me an Email:

“When my potential customer out of Spokane sent this to me, I started asking myself some questions like, Why do they build like this?  You’re the first person I thought of who might understand it and how to design around it.  Give me a call sometime.  I would love to pick your brain.”

Attached to the email was a reduced page from a post frame building plan designed by Spokane, Washington engineer Daniel Wambeke.

And even though I was out of the office at the time, I felt compelled to get right back to Dale:

“This is fairly typical Western U.S. design. I wouldn’t do it exactly this way, but the general concept is the same.


You have fewer holes to dig, fewer pieces to handle and it is generally less expensive. It allows for wider doors to be either placed at time of construction or retrofitted into sidewalls than say 8′ on center columns.

We’ve taken and used our improved version of this design in every state in the U.S. – in many cases, it works with clients just because it is different.”

From Dale:

“Thanks for getting back to me.  Have you had experience with this engineer in the past?  I set up a distributor in Spokane and they are stocking mostly 4ply 2×6 to affectively replace 6×8 Hem Fir #2 in that market.  The problem I am having is that 4ply 2×6 is stronger in bending than a 6×8 Hem Fir #2 but when I am asked to size Titan Timbers in some of these buildings to replace 6×8 Hem Fir, I cannot make them work.  So sort of a paradox for me in getting my product in the market place.  The customers have no motivation to change if what they have been using is stronger and I tell them they have to go to 4ply 2×8 Titan.” 

 My response back to Dale:

“Wambeke used to be our engineer, but he was not registered in enough states for us. I can run some numbers for you when I get back in the office, however your 3 ply columns should easily replace a 6×8 and probably a 6×10. What are you using for FB values on the 6×8? I’d like to see Wambeke’s numbers, as it is possible he is calculating based upon full dimensions, which is not realistic. He also may be ignoring the incision factor.”

 In order to help Dale out, and get more of what IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) is a better product into more post frame buildings, I ran these numbers for him:

I am no engineer either but this should help you out on the columns…
6×8 is 5-1/2″ x 7-1/2″

Sm = 5.5 X 7.5^2 / 6 = 51.5625

Fb = 575 X 0.8 (Ci = the adjustment for incising) = 460

51.5625 X 460 = 23,718.75

3 ply 2×6 glulam  is 4-1/8″ x 5-3/8″

Sm = 4.125 X 5.375^2 / 6 = 19.86

Fb = 1900

19.86 X 1900 = 37,738

In bending your 3 ply 2×6 glulam is 159% stronger than the 6×8 column.

6×10 Sm = 82.729y

Fb = 675 X 0.8 = 540

82.729 X 540 = 44,673.66

4 ply 2×6 glulam Sm = 26.48

Fb = 2000

26.48 X 2000 = 52,966.14

In bending your 4 ply 2×6 glulam is 118% stronger than the 6×10 column.

My guess is still that the engineers there are using full sawn sizing and ignoring Ci – either one of which is a no-no and could cause the loss of an engineer’s registration. Your best bet is going to be to educate the engineers, as they are the specifiers.

In markets where true glu-laminated columns are available, they are certainly a consideration both in ease of use, as well as performance.

And to my readers…

Among many other things, educating folks about pole buildings and using the building codes as the basis for my calculations, is just one of the many things I do on a daily basis.

Nail Laminated Columns

Ohio Timberland Products, Inc. Nail-Lam “PLUS” Columns

Eric, the managing partner of Hansen Pole Buildings, asked for me to write specifically about these columns, which we happen to neither supply, nor recommend.

Is It A Glulam?On their website (www.OhioTimberland.com) are extolled the “advantages” (at least in their eyes) of these nailed together columns over true glu-laminated columns:

  • Nail-Lams can be easily notched in field for truss connections.
  • No more need to worry about possible long term delamination of plys.
  • Nail-Lams are generally more economical than glu-laminated columns.

I’ve previously written about a very similar product, manufactured by another company: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2015/04/glulam-plus-columns/

The difference between the two being the connection between lower and upper members of individual plies. The UFP (Universal Forest Products) columns utilize steel connector plates, while the Ohio Timberland columns use a finger jointed splice (become finger joint educated at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/05/finger-joints/).

To get more information of the differences between glu-laminated and nail-lam plus columns, I went to the expert, my friend Dale Schiferl (https://www.timber-technologies.com/). Here is what Dale has to say:

“Not all laminated columns are created equal.  I have seen about a dozen different ways to “laminate” a column in the past 20 years.  Everything from truss plates, to nails, to finger joints, to butt joints, to construction adhesive with nails, to gusset plates, to screws, to wire rivets, to bolts and totally glue laminated.  I have also seen a wide array of lumber utilized, from the highest grade of MSR and Select Structural lumber to the lowest grade and species of #2.  Unlike other structural wood components, column manufacturing is like the wild west, standards are not enforced. Basically everybody does what works best or cheapest for them.  It should be important that specifiers and builders understand there are “standards” to how columns are built up, be it nails or glue, and they ask for some verification that the products they are using follow the standards.  The standards were established thru testing by smart people like Dave Bohnhoff and Harvey Manbeck  and thru efforts of the NFBA.  It does not make it ok to build up a column however one chooses just because the standards are not enforced.

I have seen many nail laminated columns used incorrectly on open sided sheds or free standing axial columns.  Nail lam columns require lateral bracing to work correctly, be it girts or face plates.  When a manufacturer adds construction adhesive to a nail laminated column it does not preclude it from being laterally braced.  This is something that specifiers or builders should be aware of thru discussion with their column manufacturer.”

As to my own humble opinion of the Ohio Timberland “advantages”, I offer them here:

Notching for trusses – glu-laminated columns can be ordered without glue in the upper portion of the column. There is no worry about inadvertently cutting into steel through fastener.

Ply delamination – the waterproof adhesive used in a true glu-lam virtually precludes the possibility of delamination. The construction adhesives used in nail-lam plus columns – not so much.

Economy – more product economy comes from the distance a product must be delivered from, or its availability from stocking dealers, than from the raw price of the manufactured product. Quality true glu-laminated post frame columns are available from manufacturers in South Dakota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – allowing for better availability than from a single source in Ohio.

The biggest proof – Hansen Pole Buildings has a track record of only offering the best available products in the industry at competitive prices. We’ve never offered nail-lam plus columns to our clients!

Titan Timbers vs. Nail-lam Columns

Timber Technologies Titan Timbers vs. Littfin Truss Nail-lam Columns – The battle continues

One of the exhibitors at the 2014 NFBA Expo was Timber Technologies, LLC of Colfax, WI.

Timber TechnologiesTimber Technologies is a full-line glulam manufacturer of Titan Timber columns and beams for post-frame buildings. Their Titan Timbers are straight, strong, reliable, easy to cut, screw and notch because of the glue laminating and finger jointing process. Multiple plys and lengths are engineered or designed for specifications with higher design values than solid or nailed columns. Titan Timber columns are .60 CCA pressure preservative treated in the region which is in contact with the ground.

To find out more about Timber Technologies and their products, they can be visited on their website at: https://www.timber-technologies.com/ or follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimberTechnologiesLLC

The loyal readers of this column may be familiar with the ongoing discussions between myself and Bob Mochinski, Sales Manager of Littfin Truss Company of Winsted, MN in regards to the strength values of glu-laminated and nail-laminated columns. Littfin Lumber Company started in 1962 and began as a supplier of building materials to local contractors and the general public. Their website can be visited at: https://www.littfintruss.com/ or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Littfin-Lumber-Co/157090240997823

For those who want to know more about Jack Littfin (one of the pioneers of the Wood Truss Council of America – WTCA), I found this article of interest:


Yes, I know, lots of background here, but I want readers to be able to form their own opinions of the columns produced by both Timber Technologies and Littfin Truss.

The discussions referenced can be viewed in the comments section of a prior article written by me: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/08/nail-laminated-posts/#comment-52247

Besides manufacturing their own nail-laminated columns Littfin Truss also happens to be a reseller of Timber Technologies Titan Timbers, so things start to become very intertwined.

Both of the owners of Timber Technologies, Tom Niska and Dale Schiferl, were at the NFBA Expo and shared with me their latest “toy” which should put to rest the arguments. I would encourage readers to sit back, grab some popcorn and view this entertaining video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91nUG_n4Hwk

Dale had emailed Hansen Pole Buildings with the link to the video, and here is an excerpt from it:

“Because you are a quality supplier and care about the quality of products you sell, we felt you needed to see the truth behind some of the rhetoric our competitors are putting out there.  

There are certain nail lam manufacturers that may be telling you and your customers that their product is stronger.  The basis for this claim is they do not plane the column after nail laminating it, therefore leaving more section equates to a stronger final product.  I was always told nail lams were difficult to plane because when a nail is shot into the cross sections of the lumber, it hits a knot and diverts through the laminations leaving it exposed.   These exposed nails are not planer friendly. 

After hearing this many times over the years, Tom and I realized this claim could be put to a test.  As you will see in the video, Timber Technologies has a piece of testing equipment used to determine certain design values of our final product.  This testing frame was used in an I joist manufacturing plant for the purpose of determining their design values, and we realized it would work nicely for this head to head strength demonstration.    We have always believed at Timber Technologies the strength of Titan Timbers comes from using quality lumber and the laminating process.  We thought you might like to see the evidence of this with your own eyes. 

We welcome all competitors to bring their best products to our testing facility; we welcome the opportunity to show our strength.  They don’t even need to bring a video camera, we will have ours set up and ready to roll.   We are also looking into more demonstrations against butt jointed and gang plated nail lams.   We will send out email links as these videos become available on YouTube.”  

The gauntlet has been thrown down, it will be interesting to see if there are any takers!