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Recommendations for Columns and Beams


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I need to layout a structural grid of columns and beams, but it is not obvious to me what the best way to do this is. I would appreciate any recommendations you have to offer. I need to see these objects in 2D as well as 3D.

My columns are rectangular (but not square), so unfortunately the column tool doesn't seem to be an option.

Thank you to all who are able to assist me!

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Architect - draw the 2D form and create a Pillar (AEC menu)

Fundamentals - draw the 2D and 3D forms on top of each other in Top/Plan View and then create a Hybrid Symbol

If there is more than one column create a symbol anyway. That way you can modify all of the column instances with one edit.

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I generally use the framing member tool, with the "beam" setting for non-sloped beams and the column tool for posts. With these two tools you get the hybrid 2D/3D and the ease of adjustment throught the obj info window. If you need to have rectangular columns (non-square) you could make simple extrudes.

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I generally "rough-in" a frame design using the Framing Member tool, as Ron mentions; however, I simply use the Pillar command in VWA for posts (and attach record information for the Timber Schedule). Use the rafter setting for rafters and knee braces both (yes, I know, the brace top angle will be wrong, just keep reading); beams and purlins can be inserted with the same tool. One significant advantage of using this tool is the ability to create a Timber Schedule that will tally sizes and volume (board-feet for us imperialists). This helps when designing to a budget, and everyone has a budget.

Make sure to use the power of Symbols wherever possible: i.e. when one size of brace will be reused, even once, create a symbol and duplicate it. Also, be sure to use the power of Classes to keep things organized: i.e. have at least one class for Framing-Rough (we actually use Framing-Rough-4x; Framing-Rough-6x; etc.) and another for Framing-Final. See my note on "dressing things up" below.

The significant disadvantage is fine-tuning the members for "look". Knee braces frequently have a slight arch cut in the bottom face; tie- , plate- , and summer beams, as well king-posts, often have some embellishment or other.

We've toyed with the possibility of hiring someone to create a plug-in just for knee braces, but for now we do this: once the general frame design is pretty well roughed-in and quantities have been verified, one of our artsy designers begins dressing things up; usually one symbol at a time. Do this by drawing the final shape of a member (such as a brace) in place, extrude/add/subtract/whatever to get a realistic 3D version of the member. We will usually even include tenons and sometimes mortises. Class this as Final (see above); copy/paste the final member inside the symbol that holds the Rough version of the same member. For the "refined" members, there should now be a Rough element and a Final element inside the same symbol. You may need to edit the 2D component of the symbol for clarity.

As the design is refined, the affected symbol can be edited for Rough timber size as well Final appearance and/or joinery. The Rough elements (that were created with the Framing Member tool) will automatically feed the Timber Schedule accurate information, and the model (using the Final components) can quickly be used to create accurate shop drawings.

Finally, you'll want to build a library of joinery details that can be referenced in as req'd. That way one doesn't have to draw every detail in every frame. I've watched other draftsmen in TimberCAD and seen their presentation and shop drawings. . .I'd put our work from VWD up against theirs any day.

It seems Brandt's original query might have been directed toward steel, but hopefully the protocol outlined might be helpful. A wide-flange column could easily be modeled using the 2D Plug-in and then the Pillar command.

I've tried to be informative without being over-detailed. If something's not clear, please repost.

Good luck,

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These are timber frame houses wrapped in SIP or straw bale wall systems.

After (occasionally before) the timberframe is complete, we use VWA's wall and roof tool(s) to represent the SIP system. We've only done one straw-bale wall, and my memory is we used the wall tool for that as well.


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