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Columns ~ Construction Details

Stave Construction:

Wood column shafts are formed of nominal 4" width staves. The thickness of the stave depends on the height and diameter of the column shaft. Each stave is connected to the next with the famous Koll's Lock-Joint, and is tapered to achieve uniform thickness throughout the shaft length. The staves are glued with the highest quality Type 1 waterproof glue, interlocked, and kept under pressure for a minimum of eighteen hours.

Stave Thickness:

Our experience in the construction of columns has indicated that the thickness of the stock used is important and must provide enough material for proper architectural design and strength. the nominal thickness of stock used by us is show in the following table:

Plain Shaft: Fluted Shaft:
Up to 10" Dia., 10'0" long 1 1/2 in. staves 6 in. to 20 in. Dia. 2 in. staves
Above 10' 0" long 2 in. staves 21 in. to 28 in. Dia. 3 in. staves
11 in to 24 in. Dia. 2 in. staves 29 in.and up 4 in. staves
25 in. to 36 in. Dia. 3 in. staves
37 in. and up 4 in. staves

Load-Bearing Capacity:

Columns may serve a decorative as well as a structural function. Load-bearing capacity can be estimated by us as necessary. Following are examples of load-bearing capacity:

Diameter Stave Thickness Height Load in Pounds
12" 2" 10'  6000
18' 2" 14' 10,000
20' 2" 16' 14,000
24' 2" 18' 18,000

Made in Halves:

To facilitate installation around structural supports, columns can be ordered in halves. On site, they are assembled around the structural members, aligned with dowels and secured with resorcinal glue. Care should be taken to avoid blocking or wedging between the inside of the column and the structural post. Detailed instructions are available.


All columns which are to be painted are factory coated with a minimum of two applications of primer and hand sanded between coats. All columns designated for exterior application are heavily coated on the inside of the shaft with asphaltum for moisture resistance. Inside of wood columns should not be exposed to water.


Detailed installation instructions are provided with each order. The following generally represents the installation sequence, and emphasizes important procedures that must be followed to ensure warranted performance:

For normal installation:

  1. Set plinth in place and test to make sure that top is level.
  2. Attach plinth to base.
  3. Attach cap to shaft. If necessary apply flashing at this point.
  4. Raise shaft and cap assembly onto the base and attach.
  5. Fasten top of column to portico beam.
  6. Finish the column immediately after installation with two coats of high-quality exterior enamel paint.

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New England Woodturners, Inc
Richard Swartwout, Jr.
Andover, CT

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