Pole Building and Roundwood Timber Framing
Fast, Low-Cost Construction Methods
Building with round poles is a quick and low-cost alternative to conventional timber frame construction. Wood poles or logs can be debarked and used without shaping square timbers. And the joints can be fastened with bolts, instead of relying on precision joinery work. I really appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of traditional timber framing work, and I admire anyone who has the temperament and patience to cut precise-fitting joints. For my own work, however, I prefer the quick and get-it-done methods borrowed from butt-and-pass log home construction, as covered in Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living Homes does not cover timber frame or pole construction, per se, however, the log-building instruction includes innovative techniques that can be applied to roundwood timberframe construction, as shown with the horizontal beams and vertical support logs in the adjacent photo. The methods taught in Living Homes don't require any notching at all. Instead, holes are drilled into the logs, and rebar pins are sledge-hammered through each log to hold them together. Be sure to consult the resources below for other approaches to pole building and roundwood timber frame construction.
Recommended Guide Books
Roundwood Timber Framing
Building Naturally Using Local Resources
by Ben Law
Roundwood timber framing is a unique form of construction using poles in the round, rather than in the square, to create structurally stronger, lower cost and aesthetically beautiful buildings.
It takes its origins from the early traditional green wood frame designs of England, and the scribing techniques of the log builders of Scandinavia, U.S.A. and Canada, as well as creating jointing techniques unique to its own construction form.
It uses smaller diameter poles than traditional framing and a much smaller number of them compared to log building. It is suitable for framing in different climates and has the advantage of using construction methods that are suited to the use of local materials and semi-skilled labour.
This definitive manual marks the birth of a new vernacular for the 21st century. Over 400 color photographs and step-by-step instructions guide you through the building of anything from a garden shed to your own woodland house. This practical how-to book will unquestionably be a benchmark for sustainable building using renewable local resources and evolving traditional skills to create durable, ecological, and beautiful buildings. 172 pages. Permanent Publications. 2010. ISBN: 978-1856230414.
Pole Building Projects
Over 25 Low-Cost Plans
by Monte Burch
Pole construction can potentially save time, labor, and money, because it requires no foundation excavation, only limited grading, and fewer materials. Pole buildings allow the use of sites not suitable for other types of construction, and pole design offers excellent structural integrity and wind resistance. The poles transfer snow, wind, and building loads directly into the ground. Plus, the simplicity and ease of construction of pole buildings make them ideal for the first time builder.
Monte Burch's Pole Building Projects is a nicely organized book oriented towards beginners, with chapters covering tools, poles, beginning construction, wall framing, roof construction, metal siding and roofing, nonmetal roofing and wood siding, plus finishing details. The book includes more than two dozen plans for projects such as carports, patios, equipment sheds, barns, garages, animal shelters, livestock shade, mobile home covers, workshops, camp shelter, vacation homes, gazebos, grape arbors, and decks. With this book you can acquire the necessary skills to take on a small project or a big one! 200 pages. 1993. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 0-88266-859-5.
Low-Cost Pole-Building Construction
The Complete How-To Book
by Ralph Wolfe with Doug Merrilees & Evelyn Loveday
Low-Cost Pole Building Construction starts with a brief history of pole-building construction, then covers the essentials of wood preservative options, keeping termites at bay, plus choosing a site and deciding on a design for a quality low-cost house or out-building. The book is filled with numerous samples and plans for different types of homes and vacation homes.
The author emphasizes planting the initial poles properly, taking into account factors such as frost depth, soil type and moisture content. Solidly planting the poles will ensure a stable house over the long-term. The process of construction is detailed from setting the initial poles, right through to putting the roof on, with brief notes on special considerations for plumbing and electrical work. The many samples featured in the book are helpful to demonstrate the diverse options for pole-framed houses. 182 pages. 1980. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 0-88266-170-1.