by Jon Anderson
Over the years, I’ve built a few log structures and along the way, timber framing got into my blood. I love the beams, the posts, and the tight fitting joints made by a builder using mortise and tenon.
I remember the first time I viewed the clean lines of a timber frame structure. The frame was draw pinned together with Red Oak pegs that were cut by hand on a shaving horse—I was hooked. And, for framing, you don’t need fancy or high-tech tools—framing square, hand saw, chisel, and auger bit have performed quite well for hundreds of years.
When I decided to build a timber frame, I was clueless in regards to technique. Of course, like always, this didn’t stop me. Normally, I just plod blindly ahead (or in the case of the TV remote—I just mash every button randomly on the four separate remotes that are clearly critical to the operation of my cable system—something is bound to happen). However, in this case I decided to at least gain a basic understanding of the process, as there is a certain liability associated with handing big heavy things, like timbers. So, I read a few books that described traditional timber framing techniques and I took a framing class at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
For my first project, I decided a 10’ x 12’ timber framed shed would give me the opportunity to learn timber framing techniques and provide additional storage at the house (although now that the shed is complete, I still can’t get a car in the garage).
My normal approach to building is “wing it” which works fine for log cabin building where “close enough” and “moose hair” are appropriate units of measurement. For timber framing, a plan of some sort is required. I opted to learn Google SketchUp with Timber Frame Rubies and then used this software to work up my plan.
Because I have a small TimberKing 1220 sawmill at the hand-scribed cabin I built up near Hinckley, Minnesota. I decided to cut the timbers and haul them home. Maybe not the best approach because the cabin and sawmill are quite a few miles back in the woods. Cutting and hauling the timbers was certainly an adventure—an adventure that is otherwise known as Reindeer Games.
I cut the frame in my garage over the winter of 2010-2011. Well, actually, I cut parts over the winter and cut parts in the spring and cut parts a bit into the fall, too. Things never go exactly as planned. Then, in the fall, I recruited my brother, Petey, and we spent two days raising the frame.
After we got the frame installed, it didn’t take long to install the roof (twice), install the windows and door, and install the board and batten siding.
Overall, I was very pleased with the result and I certainly learned a great deal about timber framing that I can apply to my next project.[nggallery id=36]