August 10, 2009

Mesquite Wood Lintels

With a wall thickness of the studio up to 2-feet in width, I wanted to utilize another local resource, 'Mesquite', to span and support loads above each window opening. Prior to the addition of the Mesquite wood, the previous blog (see the July 15 entry) documented the first step of casting a concrete lintel above the rough window frame. Visible in the photo below, the face of the concrete lintel will eventually be finished with an artistic ceramic tile design.

The first step was to cut 36-inch lengths of mesquite from trees on my property. Mesquite is prevalent in the Arivaca area and selectively cutting branches from various trees ensures the sustainability of this renewable resource.

The next step is to strip the bark off the logs using a 'draw-knife' (shown in the photo at right). The photo shows the progression until the log is stripped bare of bark, sanded and coated with Tung Oil.

The close up photo (left) shows the beauty of mesquite and the richness of the wood grain brought-out by application of the Tung Oil.

Mesquite wood is extremely dense, strong and durable; thus ideal for this structural application. In addition, its striking beauty and a local (southwestern) resource makes it ideal in any natural building aesthetic.

The process is a lot of hard labor. It took two days to cut, prepare and 'cob' in the wall these four mesquite lintels.

Other uses for Mesquite include harvesting pods as a food resource and exquisite furniture made right here in Arivaca.

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