SEASONING TIMBER, the act of preparing it for building, by expelling the natural sap.
Added to the other defects of modern English building, particularly that of the metropolis and its immediate neigh bourhood, is the improper state in which timber is used.
The major part of our best timber is imported from the north of Europe, and is immersed in docks, and lies there floating till it is sold for immediate use ; the consequence of this is, that the timber (though even it may be previously seasoned) becomes swelled to much beyond its former and its ultimate bulk ; is hastily framed together while the very water is running from it ; and very soon after it is so con verted, it shrinks to such a degree, that every tenon becomes loose, every joint strains falsely from the shrinkage, and every ceiling and quartered partition cracks by the opening, diminishing, and distortion of the wood.
Some persons fancy, that to immerse timber in water seasons it ; however this may be, (and it may well be doubted,) it does not render it fit for use, but the very reverse of it. Timber for ordinary purposes should be shrunken to its smallest limits before it is worked up ; the least possible change should occur in the timber after the work is framed and adapted ; for all the oblique joints of it, by shrinkage, become perfect, each bearing-timber then hangs straining upon a single point, instead of upon a flat direct abutment ; thence many of the struts and other bearing-timbers rend by the weight, hanging merely upon their angles.
In very many eases, dry-rot is engendered in our hastily constructed buildings, by the quantity of dock-water pent up in the timber, by its mortises and other joints, by the plas tering, by the brickwork, and by many other causes. While our timber is at the saw-pit, the water not unfrequentiv streams from it, and though it may appear choice and close when first selected and wrought, the sun and air in a very fo• days malice to render it coarse, open, full wholly unlit for good work.
Our specifications are very strict in the requirement of the perfection and proper seasoning of timber, but these pre cautions are almost useless. The builder can hardly procure,
at any price, timber which is not in a dropsical condition ; and twelve months, in general, are sufficient to diminish in bulk, and to split our carpentry, alike whether it be framed for the palace or the cottage—for the public or the individual.
After timber is felled, it should be piled up perpendicu larly in an airy dry place, with proper interstices to admit a free eirenlati(et of air ; and thus both rain and the exces sive heat of the sun being excluded, the timber will dry with out shakes or fissures.
Some persons, however, prefer to keep the timber as moist as they taut, by immersing it in water, to prevent its cleaving. In this case, when the boards have laid a fortnight under water, they have them sot upright in an airy place during the heat of summer, and turned every day ; by this practice, new-sawn boards, it is said by those who are the advocates for the soaking-system, will floor much better than those which have had many years dry-seasoning.
We arc, as we have said, opposed to this practice ; but to prevent all possible accidents, when floors are laid, let the edges be shot and brought to a joint, or nearly so; lay them down the first year, and finally fasten them the next, they I then remain without shrinking, provided they be kept dry.
The following particulars should be attended to in season ing wood. The sudden decay of the timber is generally ' owing to the sappy nature of the exterior surface, which is by no means capable of being remedied by any application of paint previous to its being seasoned ; on the contrary, it has been proved, that such application is actually injurious, since it hinders the free admission of air and heat, which would have the property of extracting that sappy quality which so much contributes to decay and rottenness. \Vhen this prac tice is adopted, the sap strikes inwardly, and, making its way to the heart of the wood, the substance is presently contami nated and destroyed.