Aged-in-Place Trusses in a Hingham Kitchen Renovation

To enhance the modern-rustic aesthetic of our renovated Hingham kitchen, LDa worked with Mike Handrahan and Mitch Powers of Michael Handrahan Remodeling to create non-structural trusses built up from dimensional lumber and then wrapped and finished to evoke the antique timber beams of a beloved farmhouse in southern France. 

The trusses were built up from three 2x6s, following the shape of the existing ceiling, with a flat bottom chord and two diagonal web members.


To find the right surface texture and character for the trusses, we worked with Pat Hunt of Hunt Custom Milled Floors to source aged spruce beams from Tom Mann of Mann Lumber.  Tom milled the beams into ¾” thick boards with mitered edges.  We requested boards with stable checking, or long cracks, for covering the vertical faces of the bottom truss chords, where a solid beam would exhibit checking from expanding and contracting over many years of seasonal change.  We also liked the knots.







We experimented with having Tom hand hew the boards, but found that when we tested the finishing on the hand-hewn boards, the texture looked inauthentic.  We decided instead that the boards would be hand-gouged and wire brushed once they were in place.




Pat put us in touch with Gregorio Hernandez of Wood Touch-Up Master, an architectural finisher extraordinaire.  Based on our description and a photo of the French farmhouse beams, Gregorio created three samples with variations in color and texture for approval.  He blends colors, oils, and bleach (but holds his recipes close!), employs wire brushing and hand scraping, and even creates deep knots to mimic true aged timbers.  This sample shows the right color but the wrong texture.





Gregorio produced a second sample that was right on the money.  He even carefully textured the corner joints to match the chamfered corners of a solid beam.





Meanwhile, the spruce boards were wrapped around the 2x6s by our talented carpenter, Keith Johnson.  The mitered joints were biscuited to ensure a tight connection, which was crucial to creating the look of heavy timber members.












When the trusses were completely wrapped, it was time for Gregorio to work his magic.  The entire kitchen was tented to protect the new ceiling, cabinetry, countertops, and floors.  Gregorio and his team hand textured and finished every surface of the spruce boards wrapping the trusses. 









The end result is a spectacular testament to a client’s clear vision and to a fun and successful collaboration among talented team members!

~ Carter Williams, AIA, LEED AP, Architect