Plan the work and work the plan

Steve Lawrence, principle at Macdonald & Lawrence, was the featured presenter on Sunday. Steve took 5 projects that he has been involved in and covered planning, philosophy, and practice related to logistics, hand raising lifts, scheduling and budgets, crew management, public participation, and other aspects of site work.

Macdonald and Lawrence has executed some quite large projects, in one case requiring 500 hours of pre-planning. One salient point Steve made early on was that the purpose of any planning is to increase safety and decrease cost, and wether the project is a 12×16 frame or a 30,000 sqft building, planning and its effect scale proportionally.

Steve showed how his initial timber list morphs into a powerful tool that can provide information for shipping, site planning, and a host of other phases of a project.


Excel sheet organizing the Pemberton Downtown Barn timber from mill order to cutting and raising time

Using sketchup to provide animations of raising scripts can be a powerful tool for communicating a plan to a crew, and could even help to win a bid in a competitive environment.


Site plan for the Pemberton Downtown Barn showing crane lcoation and radius, pre-assembly staging, and building foortprint.

Placement of material on site at M&L is streamlined through the same excel document that was sent to the mill, making it simple to track material through the shop, on to the truck (or helicopter), to site, and in to final placement. If the enemy is shrinkage, material handling is its henchman.


Pre-assembly organized and ready.


Raising Case Studies

The afternoon consisted of two presentations by Journeyworkers Will Denton, of Trillium Dell Timberworks, and Ryan Msiolek from Cascade Joinery.

Will presented two recent projects that TDTW erected in the Chicagoland area. One was a theatre in Glencoe designed by Studio Gang Architects, and the other was the winning design from a competition for the Chicago Architectural Biennial, erected near Soldier Field along Lake Michigan.


Chicago skyline behind Project Horizon, erected by TDTW

The logistics of working in Chicago, union requirements, highly constrained site hours, and various timeline challenges were all successfully overcome by the TDTW crew and Will did an excellent job presenting lessons learned from these high profile commercial projects. Custom bases for hydraulic jacks, high precision joinery, heavy lifts, extra long glulam timbers, and lots of communication were de rigeur for these projects.


Writers Theatre in Glencoe, IL


screw detail from Project Horizon on Lake Michigan

Ryan presented a 140,000 bdft project erected in Fremont, CA. In the spirit of the weekend, the group divided up and discussed how to raise a  27,000 lb end bent and a 6700 lb truss. There were a range of options from the groups and a good discussion of lifting gear, rigging options, and center of gravity considerations. Ryan then presented how it actually went down, including the lift planning, engineered lift design, and solutions to parts of the plan that didn’t work as intended. It was a great example of at the shop lift planning and real world solutions.


27,000lb bent flying into place


last bent with horizontal strongbacks visible


Steve Lawrence offers his take on lifting a 27,000lb bent


After dinner, Darren Watson, from New Energy Works in McMinnville, OR showed how to use CAD software to extract information about complicated assemblies using one of the pre-event exercises. The power of the computers can slash the time needed to find the weight, center of gravity, investigate hook heights, and provide a  whole library of information that can facilitate efficient lift planning.

In classic Guild form, the discussion evolved into serious shop talk, though in a reflection of the the times, youtube videos were involved. There were contrasting approaches to steel knife plate work, a look at the MyTiCon Transport Anchor and other panel lifting plates, discussion of wage rates across the country, shop culture and process.


Adhesive Concrete Anchor Training

Long time TFG member Tom Haanen, PE, who worked as an engineer with Hilti for 30 years, gave the group a good overview of concrete anchors Saturday morning, focusing on adhesive anchors in vertical down installations.

Tom has recently taken the ACI-CRSI Certified Adhesive Anchor Installer training  and presented this information to the group. After a good discussion of general practices as well as some of the nuances of installing epoxy in less than ideal conditions, the group moved outside to practice installing threaded rod in a concrete lock block.


Tom Haanen speaking to the group



Total Station

In the afternoon, Doug Brinley from Kuker Ranken introduced the group to Leica’s total station surveying equipment. The tools available to the construction and surveying trades incorporate a dizzying array of advanced technology, and Doug gave the group an introduction into their capabilities.


Doug Brinley from KR (center) 

The two tools that were demonstrated have graphical interfaces and at the higher end, the user controls the laser entirely over bluetooth from a purpose made tablet (or iPad) running Leica software on a Windows platform. The applications to complex layout were immediately apparent and we barely touched the full spectrum of possibility. It was clear that the learning curve is longer than the typical optical tools commonly found on today’s jobsites. Fully integrated with BIM and CAD, these tools are powerful 3D instruments that our industry is sure to see more of in the coming years.


John Miller, Willis Rozycki, and Craig Aument discussing the possibilities.


Evan Shike from Trillium Dell Timberworks uses a laser plummet to level the tripod base


Leica’s prism detector

2016 Training and Assessment gets under way

The 5th annual Training and Assessment began Friday morning with Journeyworkers, Apprentices, TFG Executive Director Jeff Arvin, and timber framers from as far as Vermont, and as close as the host’s shop here in Ferndale, Washington, in attendance. The Cascade Joinery is graciously hosting the event in their shop, and as with much of Guild activity, our annual gathering depends on the contributions of time and enerrgy of our members.

Curtis Milton, ATC Chair, led the group in a review of the organization and its programming. Rick Collins, Journeyworker and TFG board member, brought forth a task, which came out of the recent board of directors meeting, of creating a “charge” for the Apprenticeship Training Committee. All the committees in the Guild are going through this process of focusing their work.


Jeff Arvin speaking to the group Friday morning

The discussion ranged from curriculum review and development, journeyworker to apprentice ratio, an evaluation of the mission statement, the creation of more levels of qualification in the program, and creating goals for the year that Rick could bring back to the board.

The engagement in the discussion was encouraging. We in the Guild and in the Apprenticeship Training Program are widely spread out geographically, and though we are in contact over email and on the phone, it is important to meet face to face, eat meals together, and work through the challenges and create opportunities to fulfill our mission.