Not All Timber is Created Equal


Timber Masters provides custom old world hand crafted traditional timber and new world German machining, with custom staining and custom timber. At Timber Masters, our timber quality is our highest concern. We use free of heart centre (FOHC) timber, which is higher quality wood and will give you the most stable, strong and beautiful product for your project.

Not all timber is the same. Our timber that is used for your project is #1 Western Canadian Douglas Fir grade slow growth timber, that is harvested for quality and stability and is not easy to find.


What is ‘Boxed Heart’?

Timbers can be ordered in a variety of grades, species and cuts. Boxed heart timbers ‘box’ the heart of the tree (known as the pith) within the edges of the timber - or we could say the timber is cut around the pith of the tree. Checking occurs with much more regularity in boxed heart timbers.

As the timber dries the shortest path to the pith will check. These checks tend to be wider and longer than those that occur in FOHC timbers. These checks can cause movement in the timbers such as twisting and arching as well as are more unsightly.

What are FOHC (free of heart centre) Timbers?

Timbers free of heart are cut without and pith of the tree within the perimeter of the piece. On occasion there will be some heart at the edge of a FOHC timber. Checking is very minimal with FOHC timbers, often resulting in a very clean frame. In order to cut FOHC, the raw tree is typically much larger than a boxed heart tree/timber.

Choosing the Right Timber

Although various timber frames may look alike, there can be a world of difference in quality and usage. Timbers can shrink, twist, check and release sap, which is why it’s important to pick the right materials when you buy. The materials you choose impact how your timber frame ages and here are three things to look for when it comes to timber:

  1. Timber Grade

  2. Timber Cut

  3. Moisture Content


An example of the high-quality tight-grain timbers used at Timber Masters.


Timber is a natural product so natural variations in grain, colour and checking are to be expected. Knots of various sizes are also to be expected.


An example of a shake occuring in a fir log, likely caused by a forest fire, or another natural occurence that caused the tree to become highly stressed.

What is Twisting?

As timbers dry they naturally twist and shift. We house all of our joints in order to minimize twisting. All of our joinery - including through tenons - allow for this movement typical of timbers, particularly fresh sawn.

What is Shake?

Shake is a timber defect. It occurs around the growth rings of a timber and is often found in older trees that grow in wet areas, or in areas where forest fires have happened. It may or may not be a structural problem depending on its depth. Unfortunately, shake sometimes can show up a year after the beam starts drying out and be completely invisible in the shop as we are cutting.

What is Checking?

Checking is cracking that develops along the radius of a log. Checking is a separation of grain that occurs as moisture levels change and the timber dries - a natural process. More checking will occur from the pith of a tree / timber than from the sap wood. it does not impact the strength or stability of the timber.