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Timber Framing
Traditional and Nontraditional Methods

      There are two types of timber framing. Traditional timber framing is an art that relies on skilled craftsmanship to shape precise, inter-locking joints that are strong enough to hold a structure together without the need for metal fasteners. The other type of timber framing is framing with timbers, typically fastening pieces together with metal bracts, wooden gussets, bolts, nails, or at least nail-like pins made from steel reinforcing bar or "rebar."

Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction       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 construction, per se, however, the log-building instruction includes innovative techniques that can be applied to timber frame construction. 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 traditional and non-traditional approaches to timber frame construction.

Recommended Guide Books

The Timber-Frame Home - book cover.

The Timber-Frame Home
by Tedd Benson

      Tedd Benson helped kindle the dramatic rebirth of timber framing in this country. Today Benson and others are combining centuries-old timber-framing techniques with modern building materials to create houses that are as beautiful as they are durable and comfortable. In this book, Benson traces the history of the timber frame and tells how to create a new house in the tradition of old-world craftsmen.

      Today's timber-frame house presents unique building problems. Where do you put plumbing and wiring if you don't have stud-frame walls? How do you incorporate glass into the framing to create dramatic views? How do you insulate a timber-frame home? How do you ensure that the building meets codes? In this one-of-a-kind book, a master timber framer shares extensive experience solving these problems. This new edition brings the latest advances in timber framing to life with hundreds of full-color photos and rendered drawings -- all the information you need to join the timber-frame revival.

      Timberframe shows that time-honored timber construction has unlimited design possibilities. Written by Tedd Benson, who is nationally known as the leader in timberframe design and construction, this vividly photographed book explores a variety of styles, from traditional homes to contemporary classics. Hardcover. 234 pages. Taunton Press. 1997. ISBN: 978-1561581290.

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Timber Frame Construction - book cover.

Timber Frame Construction
All About Post-And-Beam Building
by Jack Sobon & Roger Schroeder

      If you have only dreamed about the beauty of building with timbers, this book will open your eyes. It will convince you that this method is not only practical today for homes and other buildings, but is often less expensive than "stick built" construction.

      Timber frame builder Jack Sobon and writer Roger Schroeder offer this book for builders as well as those wishing to have the work done for them. Here is practical how-to for both beginners and experienced carpenters who want to try this method. Coverage includes: the basics of timber framing, how to design for strength and beauty, how to combine modern tools and time-tested methods, plus dozens of illustrations and photos that make it easy to understand. Timber Frame Construction includes plans to build a 12 x 16 garden tool shed, an appropriately-scaled project for the beginning timber framer.

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Build a Classic Timber-Framed House.

Build a Classic Timber-Framed House
by Jack A. Sobon

      The timber-framed home is attractive, affordable, and easily expanded to meet the needs of a growing family. With the step-by-step instructions in this book you can build your own classic timber-framed house--one that's enduring, and features a level of craftsmanship rare in modern construction. Following the traditional "hall-and-parlor" home design, architect and builder Jack Sobon carefully and clearly explains:

  • finding the ideal building site
  • creating the master plan
  • selecting the best tree species
  • hewing and milling timbers
  • assembling the frame
  • installing wall sheathing , windows, and doors
  • designing and finishing the interior
  • expanding on the plan.
      One of the best-known and most distinctive figures in the timber-framing revival, Jack Sobon knows how to make home building affordable with economical hand tools, by taking control of the processing of building materials, and through using local inexpensive supplies. The basic house design of this book is easily adapted to meet many different needs.

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A Timber Framer's Workshop - book cover.

A Timber Framer's Workshop
Joinery, Design & Construction of Traditional Timber Frames
by Steve Chappell

      Timber Framing has been a part of our building culture and an inspiration to mankind since the Middle Ages. As we enter a new millennium, it is designed to remain as one of building's most enduring forms, not only because of its intrinsic beauty, but because it is a pure and complete structural system.

      Steve Chappell is a builder at heart and a teacher by nature. His journey in timber framing began on the northern coast of California in 1970, when, by chance, he joined a group of individuals in the construction of a joined timber frame. The group was led by a New Englander who grew up playing in his uncle's barn. Inspired by the experience, he moved to Maine in 1973 to study the buildings first hand. Building, teaching, and writing about the craft has been his passion ever since.

      As the founder and director of Fox Maple School of Traditional Building, Chappell has instructed hundreds of individuals over the past 15 years through hands-on workshops from Maine to California, New Mexico to Alaska, and across Canada. He is the Editor & Publisher of Joiners' Quarterly, The Journal of Timber Framing & Traditional Building, a magazine he founded in 1983, in which he has written extensively about timber framing and traditional building. In this book, his nearly 30 years of experience and insight is evident through the subtle nuances that he conveys. His intimacy with the craft is ever present, and his passion contagious. If you want to understand traditional timber framing, read this book. Chappel portrays the craft, with all its nuances, the way it was meant to be.

Timber Framing For the Rest of Us
a guide to contemporary post and beam construction
by Rob Roy

Timber Framing for the Rest of Us  - book cover.

      Post and beam frame structures are integral parts of many building methods, but they require a high degree of craftsmanship, training, time and expense. Until now there has been no authoritative guide for how to use available alternatives.

      Time Framing for the Rest of Us is the first book to describe in depth the timber framing methods used by most contractors, farmers, and owner-builders--methods that use modern metal fasteners, special screws, and commonsense building principles to create post and beam structures in much less time. The book includes everything an owner-builder need to know about building strong and beautiful structural frames from heavy timbers, including:

  • the historical background of timber framing
  • crucial design and structural considerations
  • procuring timbers--including different woods, and recycled materials
  • foundations, roofs, and in-filling considerations
  • descriptions of the common fasteners

      Highly illustrated and practical, the book includes a detailed case study of a timber frame project, a useful appendix of span tables and a bibliography. Enabling "the rest of us" to build like the professionals, it will appeal to owner-builders, contractors and architects alike.

      Rob Roy is a former contractor with eleven previous books to his credit. He has been utilizing timber framing techniques for the past twenty-five years in the construction of homes, as well as in numerous outbuildings at Earthwood Building School, which he founded in 1981 with his wife Jaki.

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See also: Roundwood Timber Framing

Living Homes:  Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction.
Go to: Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction.

      Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel:

Green Prosperity: Quit Your Job, Live Your Dreams.
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids

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