Timber Framed Shed

timber frame tiny house

by David Stiles

A New York Times writer once asked an Amish farmer, “Why did you build your barn walls five feet thick when you only needed to make them one foot thick?” The farmer’s simple answer was, “Why not?”

The same question could be asked of anybody considering timber-framing a tiny house rather than stick-building it out of 2x4s. Using only a wooden mallet, a saw, and some chisels to make the time-consuming mortise joints can take five or ten times longer to complete the building. So why do it? The answer is simple: satisfaction. Knowing that you’re building in the time-honored fashion of craftsmen from past centuries, and completing a frame that is much stronger, more durable, and uses less wood, is very satisfying.

timber frame

Having written several do-it-yourself books on sheds, cabins, and workshops, we were asked several years ago by an Amish community to design a shed that they could sell to the public. They invited us to visit their farms and see how they worked. The weekend that we spent with them was truly amazing; like being transported back two centuries. We saw them loading up a horse-drawn wagon with timbers for a barn-raising the next day, just like in the movie Witness.

timber frame tiny house

We named our design “The Perfect Shed,” it has the perfect proportions (discovered by the ancient mathematician Euclid) of the ‘golden ratio.’ Having designed sheds for 30 years, we think the size is perfect too. It is 10ft x 12ft – neither too big nor too small. The shed is insulated throughout, with electric wiring inside the stuccoed walls, a sleeping loft, and room for a small kitchen. We think it would make a perfect studio, home office, music room, hobby workshop – or even a self-sustaining ‘eco-shed’ with a wood-burning stove, composting toilet and solar electric supply. We have plans for building it using 2x4s as well.

timber frame and horse

To put our design to the test we teamed up with an artist/craftsman named Toby Haynes who comes every year from Cornwall, England to help us with construction. We built our own timber-framed Tudor cottage as you can see in the photo and even had a community barn-raising where neighbors – including the children – pitched in.

timber frame cottage

perfect shed

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Marykay - May 7, 2014 Reply

Beautiful craftsmanship ! Nice to see pride still exists.

    Lauren Neher - May 25, 2014 Reply

    Pride in craftmanship always exists, it can be harder to find as the population increases, but it is always there, in the hearts of people who really care…

Jon - May 7, 2014 Reply

LOVE the Tudor look. Here is something I stumbled across to enable the post and beam construction without the same degree of complexity: http://ctpostandbeam.com/

I have not used it, but I have to admire the T-Rex concept.

Awesome Tiny House!

Pam - May 7, 2014 Reply

could we see interior?

Noah - May 7, 2014 Reply

We are building a very similar (2 story) Modular Post and Beam Tiny House using huge 8″x8″ posts and beams!

check it out here: http://www.frontierfortress.com

Bob H - May 7, 2014 Reply

Very nice, make it about 16 x 20 for me. Great look & feel.

Razmine - May 7, 2014 Reply

I love the Tiny House concept. If it could be combined with a Tudor look – especially using sloped roofs and tiny turrets – I’d buy a Tiny House in a minute. Wild horses couldn’t stop me, lol.

    Peter Haney - May 10, 2014 Reply

    Dear Razmine,
    Yes, this is a very attractive building. However, you don’t need wild horses or a large bank account to purchase one of our highly discounted 12’x16′ workshop timber frames AND have a hand in building it. Please see our website, http://www.rockymountainworkshops.com and review the menu for details. Hope to see you in Colorado someday.
    Peter Haney, Workshop Organizer

K'Anne Zubin - May 7, 2014 Reply

What a lovely Tudor concept. The size is good. I’m definitely interested in seeing more of these tiny houses.

Shell - May 7, 2014 Reply

Oh, how cute is that! Thanks for sharing it with us. : )

Jeremy Little - May 8, 2014 Reply

Would love to see the layout of the inside. Great Looking shed!

Mike Ward - May 8, 2014 Reply

Just discovered your great blog Kent, loving the ‘small home’ angle you have – portable/modular buildings are a passion of mine here in the UK so its nice to see some examples of how people put their own spin on them – keep up the good work 🙂

sc - May 10, 2014 Reply

what is this guy talking about? 10 by 12 feet is not golden mean. the golden ratio is 1.618 so it should be 10 by 16.18 feet.

Lisa - May 12, 2014 Reply

Gorgeous! The quality of the craftsmanship speaks for itself. This is dessert for the eyes! Thanks for sharing this.

David King - May 13, 2014 Reply

If only I had skills like this. I imagine you have to devote years of full-time work to it before you can hope to create something as special as this.

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Catherine Todd - April 28, 2016 Reply

This is a wonderful small Tudor-style timber frame house and exactly what I have been looking for! Where can we buy this in kit form? (Did I miss this in the article?)

Catherine Todd - April 28, 2016 Reply

Where can we purchase the plans using 2×4’s you mention in the article?

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Joseph Crowe - March 11, 2017 Reply

I have a question about your use of the golden ratio. I ask because if you meant that 10′ x 12′ was your reference model, that does not conform to the golden ratio. A 10′ x 16′ shed would be much closer. That said, nice work.

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