BEAUTIFUL BEAMS
Family Handyman|Winter 2022
NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW THEY'RE FAUX
MIKE BERNER

Magicians never reveal their secrets, but I'm a carpenter, so I'll tell you one of mine. You know those beautiful ceiling beams you see in rustic, industrial and farmhouse interiors? Most of them aren't real!

This is good news-it means you can get the look even if you don't have exposed beams. You can add depth and character to any room by building your own. You can stain them, paint them white or choose a weathered, decades-old look. I'll show you how to make beams for any home.

AUTHENTIC, SEAMLESS BEAMS

For this project, I'm going for a real-beams look. Using a method called miter folding, I'll transform a pair of 1xbs and a 1x8 board into a hollow beam. The miter seams will be invisible, and each beam will look like an actual solid piece. You'll need a table saw or a track saw to pull this off, but your beams will look as if they are actually holding up the ceiling.

1 FASTEN CEILING CLEATS

First, locate and mark the position and direction of each ceiling joist around the edges of the ceiling. Then, avoiding ceiling fixtures, mark where the beams will be positioned. Keep their spacing even and ensure each beam will be attached to a joist. The beams can be installed across or along the ceiling joists. Next, attach 2x6 cleats to the ceiling joists where you'll place the beams. I used a pair of 2x6 boards to wedge the cleats into position while I fastened them to the ceiling joists.

2 CHECK FOR FLATNESS

While you're installing the cleats, check to see how flat the ceiling is. Hold a straightedge along the 2x6 cleat. Take note of any gaps more than 1/8 in. between the level and the ceiling. This will come in handy when you scribe and trim the beams to get a perfect fit.

3 CHOOSE THE RIGHT BOARDS

Begin the actual beam building process by choosing the material that suits your style.

HARDWOOD: Choose the straightest boards possible at a length that will span the entire room. Bowed boards will be trouble when you're cutting and assembling. Sight down the edges and put only straight ones in your cart.

FINGER-JOINTED BOARDS: Built to be straight, these are a great option if you'll be painting your beams.

I VENEERED PLYWOOD: Perfectly straight factory edges ensure crisp corners, and strips are easy to cut and assemble. But lengths are limited.

RECLAIMED LUMBER: Go this route to nail the rustic look, but expect extra work to get a straight edge. You'll need to send one edge of reclaimed boards through a jointer, use a table saw with a jig or use a track saw.

4 CUT THE LONG MITERS

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine