10′ x 12′ Timber Frame

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.

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robin yates - January 27, 2012 Reply

massively over engineered to say the least! However this cabin is going to be there for your grand children. I am impressed by your self taught skills, good luck on your next project. A open framed barn with a glass roof and walls maybe ?

    Mike - January 28, 2012 Reply

    Probably not. If you sliced all those beams up into 2×4’s and 2×6’s for conventional framing, there’d be about the same amount of wood.

    Linda - October 28, 2012 Reply

    When learning a new technique, you need to start somewhere! Of course, he could have used 2×4’s and 2×6’s. duh. When learning a new skill, it’s important to start small. I’ve never known a child to use Shakespeare when learning to read, when Dick and Jane will suffice.

Ozark Nick - January 27, 2012 Reply

That’s awesome!

Niall - January 27, 2012 Reply

In his defense over engineering timber structures is somewhat sustainable – by offsetting carbon emisssions. Love the oak frame!

    Niall - January 27, 2012 Reply

    Sequestration.. not offest.. too early in the morning.

Peyote Short - January 27, 2012 Reply

This confirms what I’ve been learning about post and beam. It’s hard.

Annie Blair - January 27, 2012 Reply

Hey he can come and “over engineer” MY tiny house, ANY time!

Love that!

    Nerida - January 27, 2012 Reply


Mark A - January 27, 2012 Reply

Really nice. You should be proud.

tinycottage - January 27, 2012 Reply

just one question….

when will the kits be available?

nice job!

Jon Anderson - January 27, 2012 Reply

The frame is Aspen from my property up north. Over engineered? I went with “big enough” wanted to make sure my neighbors had something to talk about. I succeeded.

    Dave - January 27, 2012 Reply

    Come on, over engineered comment? Do you really think while he was sawing his own timbers and cutting mortise and tenon joinery that he didn’t know he could build this out of 2x4s?. Hang up the nail gun, and honour the craft. Way to go Bro.

    LT - November 30, 2012 Reply

    Great job! We had a big barn up in Frazee with post and beam construction. I would give my eye teeth to have a miniature version of it.

    Very beautiful work!

MJ - January 28, 2012 Reply

A fun and informative read, with excellent photos! One thing I really enjoy about this site is ‘meeting’ people with a passion who DO something with it. My arms got tired just thinking about the work, but oh so beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Gneen - January 28, 2012 Reply

I have to agree with Annie! That is a beautifully done project. I hope to build my own tiny house one day as a guest home in addition to my questionably “Tiny House” less than 700 sq ft cabin. My question is, how small qualifies for “Tiny”? The guest house will probably be 10×12 like this one featured, but I had trouble with Lincoln logs as a child and still do, so will get help! No chance it will be this well done, but I will strive for using this as an example! Way to go!


Bill Rockhill - January 28, 2012 Reply

“The skill the “pure” skill is what should be revered here, any DIYer can build with 2″x4″ from a big box, to make your own lumber and “form” it into something that will literally last hundreds of years is way off the charts as far as green, just for the fact the house will fall down before the “Frame”.Congrats on entering into a “world” few dare to go “Joinery”. From one that frames with timbers to another “welcome” Dont look back, because the rest becomes mundane. The oldest wooden structures are “Timberframes” . Thanks Bill Rockhill Bear Creek Carpentry

bob adams - January 28, 2012 Reply

I have been waiting for some timberframes to be featured. Great job Jon!

Toot Sweet - January 29, 2012 Reply

Mortise+tenon joinery is the bottom-line.Some which are dozen of centuries old can still be observed.I personally think there is nothing classier on a technical point of view.Now that’s one nice work Jon!!!!!

James - January 29, 2012 Reply

Great job Jon!
You are a inspiration and a true Minnesotan woodsman.
I have a small piece of heaven eight miles east of Grand Marais. Would love to have a workshop like what you’ve built – I just need to do as you did.
I’ve been a huge fan and (when my pocket affords)supporter of the North House Folk School since it first opened.
I’m sure the tongues are wagging in Pine county!
It’s no Fleet Farm kit! You have much to be proud of.
James Sandwick

Pepper - January 29, 2012 Reply

I love timber framing! This is so impressive – I loved all the wonderful and detailed photos. Checked out your blog and links to resources too. Thanks for sharing everything!

Neil - December 31, 2012 Reply

Nice work.

Alex Liebman - March 7, 2014 Reply

Jon –

Do you have plans or want to advise on construction? I run an urban farm in the Twin Cities and would love to build something similar on some of our lots. We could barter vegetables?

Please be in touch.


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