Reclaimed Wood Box Beam Specifications - E&K Vintage Wood
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Reclaimed Wood Box Beam Specifications

Box Beams are one of E&K’s specialties.  We offer all our solid beams in box beams as well as box beams that we do not offer in solid beams such as Walnut Box Beams and Weathered Grey Box Beams.  Box beams are made with skins that serve as the outer pieces of the beam.  These skins are put together to form a hollow “box” beam.  The box beam will look like a solid beam at a fraction of the weight and in some cases at less cost than a solid beam.

E&K offers Box Beams  as 2 sided, 3 sided and 4 sided. The box beams are sold already assembled into boxes. Generally, the 4 sided beam will come with 3 sides attached and the 4th side to be attached on site, if the beam or post is going to be wrapping something.  If it is not going to be wrapping something, then we can provide the 4 sided beam already assembled.   All pricing is based on 3 Sided Box Beams.  2 Sided Box Beams are charged at 80% of the charge.  4 Sided beams have an additional 20% charge.


Hand Hewn:  The beam has been made by hand with an Adze, a special type of axe that people used prior to the advent of large commercial milling operations.  The use of the Adze leaves distinct cuts in the wood as the round log was “hewn” into a square log.  A Hand Hewn beam is one of the most distinct products we carry.  It is a real piece of American history.  On average the Hand Hewn beams are 100 + years old.  Generally Hand Hewn is offered in Oak  or Mixed Hardwoods.

Rough Sawn:  The material has been cut by a band saw or circle saw and is still in its rough condition.  The wood has not been dressed or planed. The rough sawn beams we obtain for the most part are 50 – 100 years old. They have the rough texture and the circular saw marks are still visible on the wood.

Resawn:  Original surface has been sawn off in a resaw or bandsaw.  The saw marks generally are straight not circular.   Surface may be rough to the touch or smooth depending on how beams were sawn. These beams can be planed and sanded as well to get a smooth surface.

Weathered Grey:  This is material that has been turned to a grey color from exposure to the elements

Additional Surface Preparation by E&K

Natural: This is the term we use for beams that we do not sand.  We will brush the beams with nylon brushes to clean them off, but we do not sand off any of any of the original patina.  Thus natural beams have the greatest variation of look. Beams that were outside for a long time may be grey on parts or all of the beam.  A beam that was exposed on one side may have 3 brown sides and 1 grey side.  There is no charge for this preparation.

Sanded Brown:  This is the term we use for beams that we sand and brush down to the natural brown of the beams.  This process will remove all the Grey on the beams and will also bring multiple beams closer in look to each other.  This is commonly requested when clients have multiple beams in the same room. There is no charge for this preparation.

Stained:  We offer a number of different stain colors for beams from dark brown to grey to white.  The stains we offer are charged at $15.00 a sq.ft. for standard stains.  For custom stains the charge is $20.00/sq.ft.  The square foot number is based on the exposed surface only.  The sample stain colors will vary from beam to beam because each beam looks a little bit different.


The standard offerings for Box Beams are as follows: Hand Hewn we offer in Oak and Mixed Species Hardwoods and Pine, for Rough Sawn we offer Doug Fir, Oak, Mixed Hardwoods and Pine.


We make the box beam one of two ways, either by taking solid 1″ skins of the type of wood that we want to make into a box or by taking 1/4″ skins and adhering them to plywood, making engineered skins. Either way the skins are then attached with nails and glue and a miter joint to each other to make the box.

Generally, we use 1x or 2x lumber to get the material we need to make the box beam.  This allows us to not charge for the center of the beams.  This reduces the cost of the box beam.  It also allows us to use material that does not normally come in beam form, such as Weathered Grey barn siding.

For instance, to make a 8x8x20′ Oak Rough Sawn Box Beam we would take 1×8 or 2×8 Oak and cut it to one inch.  We would need 2 pieces seamed together to get the 20′ length needed. Our general rule is that we will use 2 pieces to make the length if the beam is over 13′.  Over 26′ we will use 3 pieces. For widths over 9″ we will use two pieces to obtain the width.

The exception to the above is with Hand Hewn Beams. There is no 1x and 2x Hand Hewn material, so when making a Hand Hewn Box Beam we must buy a solid beam and cut the skins off of the solid beam and put them back together as a box.  This means we must purchase the entire beam to make the box beam.  This increases the cost of the Hand Hewn box beams relative to solid beams.  But because we are purchasing the entire beam, we can in many cases provide longer lengths with no seam.

For beams that are greater in width than 9”, we usually will have to put two skins together to make the width. When we seam pieces together we are diligent in trying to find pieces that are similar in color, grain, saw mark direction in order to make the pieces seem like one single piece.  Though it is much easier to hide the seam if we are staining the beams.

See below pictures of two beams that have 2 pieces seamed together to make the sides. The first picture the material  is sanded but not stained and there is still some visibility of the seam, the second picture is of a seamed side with a stained beam.  The seam is almost gone.

Box Beam not Stained, Sides seamed together     box beam stained with seamed sides

With longer lengths we have to seam pieces together, since we use 1x and 2x material to make the skins, the max length of this material is anywhere from 10’ – 14’ depending on the type of material.  Therefore, we have to seam together 2 or more pieces to make lengths greater than 10 – 14’ depending on the type of material. Similar to when we seam together the sides when we seam together 2 pieces for length, we try to find close matches, so it looks like one piece.  Though it is always easier to hide the seam when we apply some stain.

The only exception is with Hand Hewn beams.  There is no 1x or 2x Hand Hewn material so to get the skins for a Hand Hewn Box beam we need to buy a solid beam and then cut the skins off.  This means we quite often have longer pieces then 10-14′ and can make longer lengths with single pieces.


Our standard sizes for box beams are 6×6, 8×8,10×10 and 12×12. These sizes are nominal sizes.  Actual sizes for the given nominal sizes are as follows:

6×6 – 5 ½ Face, 5” Sides

8×8 -7 – 7 ¼” Face, 7” Sides

10×10 – 9 – 9 ¼” Face. 9” Sides

12×12 – 11 – 11 /4” Face, 11” Sides

Beams that fall between the above sizes in face or side size are charged at the larger of the two sizes.  Example: 6×8 beam is charged like an 8×8 beam.  For beams over 12” in one dimension are charged at the 12×12 price plus $10 per linear foot for every inch above 12” on either side or face.  Example: 14 x 14 is charged the 12×12 price plus $40 per linear foot because the size is 2” above 12” on both the sides and the face.

Lengths range from 4′ to 40’+. Beams 20′ – 29′ in length are charged an extra $20 linear foot and beams 30 – 39′ are charged and extra $30 per linear foot.


Box beams can be cut into any size and assembled.  Our standard pricing is based on the same nominal sizing as solid beams.  Though if you want a rectangular box beam, we can make that and have all original faces.

Box beam height and width sizing is referred to as the sides and the face sizing.  Also, we refer to interior dimensions and exterior dimensions.  You can see in the below image the areas that are interior dimensions are measured as the empty space in the box.  The space between the two sides is the interior face and the space from the inside of the face to the top of the sides is the interior side dimensions.  The skins are generally 3/4″ to 1″ in thickness.  This makes the exterior face 1 1/2″ to 2″ larger than the interior face and the exterior sides 3/4″ to 1″ larger than the interior sides.

a diagram of box beam measurements

When covering an existing beam, these measurements can tell you what size to expect your box beam to be when covering an existing beam.

Example: If you want to cover a beam that has a 5 1/2″ face and 7″ sides  then we will plan on giving you at a minimum an interior face of 5 3/4″ and 7 1/4″.  This ensures that the box will cover the existing beam.  Knowing the interior dimensions then we can calculate the exterior dimensions.  If the interior face is 5 3/4″ then the external face will be 1 1/2″ to 2″ wider, so it will be between 7 1/4″ to 7 3/4″ wide.  The sides will be 3/4″ – 1″ taller than the interior sides, so the exterior sides will be 8″ – 8 1/4″.  These are the minimum sizes that the box will be if you just want to cover the existing beams.

When ordering Box Beams we request that the customer provide the height and width of the beams that are being covered, this way we know what size the interior dimensions must be at a minimum.

For additional questions about Box Beams please contact E&K Vintage Wood Sales at +1 (310) 306-6900 or