Blog — Timber Frame RSS





Echoes

Hewing a log with an axe creates a sound like no other. After peeling some bark and snapping a chalk line, the hewer stands atop the log and chops notches down its length all the way to the line. In a freshly felled pine, this impact sounds a wet resonance, accentuated with the harmonic ring of axe steel. Get a number of carpenters together, put them in cool, echoing woods, and the rhythmic music of hewing is magical. That is what I best remember about the Charpentiers sans Frontières project here at the M&T shop back in 2019. Dozens of axes ringing at once, sometimes falling into step, sometimes drifting out, different tempos and beats reverberating. For Joshua and me,...

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A Timber Frame Built by High Schoolers

Justin Dietrich is an M&T reader and woodshop teacher in Lincoln, Illinois. Inspired by timber framer Rob Hughes and the CSF timber-frame project here in Maine, he decided to explore the possibility of working with his high-schoolers to design, build, and raise a timber frame in a local park. Dietrich was kind enough to share their experience with us. “I decided to use just my "Advanced Woods" students on this project, as these students had already taken my “Introduction to Woods” course where we build a picture frame, a box, an end grain cutting board, and turn a bowl on a lathe,” he said. “Right before our Christmas break (2021), we began prepping for the timber frame project.” After getting his...

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Not A Straightforward Way to Build a House

The house project is getting real now. The “tiny house” cottage in which my family will live during the 1810 house restoration is closer to “ready” each day. Today we were installing the last of the outlets and trimming windows and doors. The only large item that remains inside is the kitchen installation. Mike C has already done the prep work for the small utilities addition which will house the bathroom and washer and dryer. We should be making good progress on that tomorrow. We are as of this writing less than three weeks away from moving in and I’m just starting to feel a bit nervous about it. It’s not that we’re behind schedule, but we are facing at...

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Spring is Always Like This

Mike U and Mike C assemble a railing for the cottage. Well… spring is officially here. Not only have we passed March 20th, but we’ve had our seasonal soggy mess (mud season, we call it) and freeze/thaw ground heaving. But also around this time, things begin to come to life. This year is no different. This 1810 house restoration project has been progressing steadily but slowly over the past few months as we’ve been finishing off our small timber-frame cottage for living in during construction and coordinating untold details and people to get everything lined up where we need them to be. Friends and family ask me how the house is coming and I’m embarrassed to not be able to show...

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Wacky Stuff, if You Ask Me

This week, Mike and I began working out the repair strategies for my 200-year-old timber-framed home. There will be a number of interesting scenarios to figure out, all of which we’ll be talking about on the Daily Dispatch as they come up. But before we could even get there, we realized that the design of the frame was so unusual to our eyes that we didn’t know what the proper terminology for the members should be. We’ve got a pile of books in our library, many of which I’ve been reading here and there over the years, but there are some designs that just don’t fit the standard models depicted. I’ve never professed to be a timber frame expert, but every...

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2x4s and Planned Obsolescence

Author Michael Pollan might be known for his bestsellers on humankind’s relationship with food (such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma or The Botany of Desire), but before he penned either of those books, he wrote about building a house. Specifically, he envisioned a Thoreauvian writing cabin that he would build with his own hands, although he was (in his words) "a radically unhandy man.” My wife found a copy of A Place of My Own in a secondhand store, and I’ve found it entertaining – especially in light of the barn we’ve been dismantling over the past week-and-a-half. Pollan takes his reader through a brief history of building in this country, discussing both architectural styles and construction methods. His cabin was of...

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May it Live on

  These days, even Monday morning is all about heavy lifting. I met Mike U and Mike C at the worksite with a U-Haul bright and early this morning to haul the timbers and sheathing back home. It truly was a backbreaking way to start the week, but a rewarding one for sure. To my mind, piles of ancient timbers awaiting restoration are an embodiment of Ruskin’s vision for artisans to “build for ever.” Timeless craftsmanship of this sort is worth preserving.   When a frame well into its third century of use can be given a new life of sheltering the next generation, we participate in historic continuity – “tradition,” if you will. My children will live and grow...

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Now Just Hauling

  We got it all down by the end of the day. All went well until the last wall, which was lowered slowly but awkwardly. We’ll be in for a little repair but nothing too catastrophic. Thankful to have it all down. Now just hauling the timbers home and worksite clean-up. – Joshua  

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Intense.

This week has been intense so far. We have all been pushing the available light hours this week trying to get this barn frame disassembled in an orderly and efficient manner. On Tuesday, I pulled sheathing while Julia, Eden, and our friend Rachel de-nailed the boards as they came off. I also began taking down a few of the addition’s sawn rafters. As progress moved along on the barn, Mike C was back at home negotiating an Issue Eleven freight shipment debacle. Delay after delay. Wrong phone numbers. No one knows what’s going on. The driver left. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. But MC is persistent and was finally able to get them to deliver yesterday morning and got it all...

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