How to Make a Hollow Wood Beam

Hollow wood beams are often preferred over solid beams because they are lighter and more resistant to cracking.
Solid beams are prone to cracking.Solid beams are prone to cracking.
Built properly, hollow beams appear to be solid. Many lumber yards do not carry large solid beams, and if they do, they are expensive. Due to the cost and logistical factors, many opt to make hollow beams. It is much easier to work with 3/4 or 1 inch thick wood than to work with a large solid chunk of wood. In addition, many miter saws cannot cut much over 2 inches.

Step 1

Rip three boards to the desired width.

Step 2

Always glue wood joints.

Set the two legs on edge on a flat surface and set the face board on the legs. Check for a good fit. If the boards fit well, apply glue to the edge.

Step 3

Hand nails leave larger holes to fill than a nail gun.

Nail the face board to the leg every 8 to 10 inches with 2-inch,18 gauge nails. If you are nailing by hand, drill pilot holes and use 6d finish nails.

Step 4

Apply glue to the edge of the other leg and nail the face to the leg.

Step 5

Clamping makes a stronger and tighter joint.

Clamp the face to each leg with wood clamps. Place the clamps 12 to 16 inches apart. Keep the clamps on for at least a 1/2 hour before removing them.

Step 6

Remove the glue with a chisel after it sets up.

Scrape off the excess glue with a chisel and sand the joint smooth with a palm sander.

Things You Will Need

  • Table saw
  • Jointer or power hand planer
  • Finish nail gun (some require a compressor also)
  • 2-inch, 18 gauge nails (nail gun)
  • 1 1/2-inch, 18 gauge nails (nail gun)
  • Hammer
  • 4d finish nails
  • 6d finish nails
  • Glue
  • 8 clamps, 4 each
  • 3/4 inch chisel
  • Palm sander with 100 grit sand paper

About the Author

Doug Berthon is an enrolled agent and owns ProActive Tax & Accounting LLC. He earned his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Metropolitan University in St. Paul, Minn.