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How to Hand Hew Beams | Hand Hewing Styles

Master woodworker Roy Watson joins Gary Campbell for a conversation regarding a unique log order featuring the ancient craft of hand hewn  beams and wood. They discuss what differentiates the antique style from the scallop style and just what wood profiles you can apply hand hewing to.





Gary & Roy Discuss the Stylistic Differences between Hand Hewn Techniques, Antique and Scalloped

Gary Campbell: We’re here with Roy Watson and today he’s been doing a hand hewn beam log order for us—antique style versus scallop. He’s almost done with this job. So we’re just here talking about it.

Roy Watson: It’s been a pleasure doing it. The years that I’ve worked for you, I’ve certainly enjoyed it.

Gary Campbell: Roy, whether it comes to logs or post and beam, or siding or even trim, tongue and groove or shiplap, can any of that be hand hewn?

Roy Watson: Yes. I have hewn a half inch by four inch pieces for window trim.

Gary Campbell: So, could you show us how the scallop style goes?

Roy Watson: I can, yeah.

Gary Campbell: So that’s the antique hand hewn style. This is for the scallop, a different style.

Gary Campbell: You can really see the difference with the scallop style. It looks almost like potato chips slices being knocked off the surface. Whereas when you use the antique adze, it looks more flat, choppy, and splintery. It’s definitely much more rugged using the antique adze versus the scallop.

Roy Watson: Yeah. Back in a hundred years ago, they didn’t have saw mills. So for their logs, they split them with a wedge and they squared them up with the foot adze. And that’s where they got this look from.

Gary Campbell: Folks, if you want hand hewing, you can have it. You know, we offer that. We could do it on anything you want as far as wood goes.

Roy Watson: I’m available to do it. All you have to do is place the order and I’ll do the best I can do every home. Just like I’m going to live in it myself.



An example of a hand hewn beam used as a mantel.

Other Examples of Hand Hewn Beams



Hand Hewn Dovetail 🕊 Corners are a Reliance Timber speciality! The process includes cutting and shaping wood with hard blows using a heavy cutting instrument, such as an ax or chisel. At Reliance Timber, we have two experienced masters (Abel & Roy) who work with different hand hewn techniques to make unique, top quality products for our clients.



Looking for texture and an added element of interest to the siding of your home? Our Scalloped Hand-Hewn Siding is the perfect solution


Check out all the other products that Reliance Timber offers.

Hand Hewn Beams — How Do You Know the Real Deal?

Because there’s been such a rise in the popularity of reused beams, some unscrupulous dealers are selling knock-offs as the real thing. So how do you know you are being sold genuine hand-hewn beams?

1. Examine the Beam in Good Light

A beam needs to be carefully inspected in natural light. All grain patterns need to be visible so you can confirm if it has the unique markings that show it is a hand-hewn beam.

Rough sawn beams have a finer texture and a more smooth and blended finish.

2. Look for the Marks of an Adze

The adze is about 10,000 years old and was initially made from elk antlers. This versatile tool leaves marks on hand-hewn beams that are very distinct. 

A genuine hand-hewn beam will have adze or ax scoring cuts, with no two pieces being the same. The hewing adze cuts will be visible in the rough surface of hand-hewn wood structural beams. 

3. Test the Weight

A hand-hewn beam is always heavier than a rough sawn beam that a machine has cut, so make sure you pick it up and check the weight. 

4. Check the Edge

The edges of a hand-hewn beam will not be smooth or straight. They won’t have any right angles or sharp edges as they were cut by hand.

Hand hewn beams

Hand Hewn Beams– How They Add Timeless Beauty

Hand-hewn beams have made a comeback for very good reasons; they are beautiful, long-lasting, versatile, and highly individual. 

At Reliance Timber, we are passionate about fine-crafted timber, and we spend our lives sourcing and producing the finest timber beams available. We use high-quality timber sourced in North America, much of it local to North Carolina. 

We are the timber experts, and we have the perfect hand-hewn beams for your home. Contact us today at Reliance Timber.