describes and explains the basic
principles of framing a structure with heavy timbers using
methods such as metal fasteners like truss plates, screws, bolts and
barn nails -- about which little has been previously published.
timber framers employed wood-on-wood
joinery using mortise-and-tenon, scarf and rabbet joints to create
strong and aesthetically pleasing buildings.
As this guide points out,
the use of metal fasteners can make timber framing more accessible to
and owner-builders without sacrificing strength or beauty.
|Rob Roy, the
author, has been exploring
alternative construction methods through his EarthWood Building School
in West Chazy, New York, since 1981. He and his wife, Jaki, are best
for their cordwood masonry skills. A sunroom addition to their
house, constructed in 2002, was built as a case study to demonstrate
document the joinery principles outlined in this book.
the case study, Roy's book
provides a basic background on timber framing, some advice on procuring
timbers, and specific instructions and alternatives for foundations,
height, fastening and trusses. Detailed plans are not provided and more
experienced builders will have to look elsewhere for answers to
For those with
the time, experience and
money to afford it, a traditional timber frame may still be preferable.
But "for the rest of us," this book offers a good introduction to the
and a foundation for do-it-yourself construction.
Framing versus Standard Stud Construction
residential framing in North
America today is done with stud construction -- a light "stick frame"
often referred to as a platform frame, conventional frame or western
A "balloon frame" popular about 100 years ago, is a special type in
the vertical members, now known as studs, were quite long, spanning
first story right through the second story. This is uncommon now, with
most stories built independently using the ubiquitous eight-foot stud.
is typically fabricated with framing lumber having a thickness of just
1 1/2 inches (3.8 centimeters). Vertical support studs are placed
the perimeter wither 16 or 24 inches (40 or 61 centimeters) from the
of one stud to the center of the next one. Prior to 1924, frames were
with full "two-by" material. A two-by-four actually measured two inches
by four inches. Much of this material came from small local sawmills,
in truth, the dimensions of a two-by could vary up to a quarter inch.
local sawmills I work with today are almost always within an eighth of
an inch of the true dimension, and, very often, they are spot on.
nominal "two-by-four" today is
actually 1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches. All two-bys bought at large
suppliers such as Lowe's and Home Depot are 1 1/2 inches thick. The
depth of a two-by-four is 3 1/2 inches (8.9 centimeters), and the depth
of a two-by-six is 5 1/2 inches (14.0 centimeters) After that, the true
depth is three-quarters inch (2 centimeters) less than the nominal
so that a two-by-eight is 7 1/4 inches (18.4 centimeters) deep ad a
is 9 1/4 inches (23.5 centimeters) deep. Sometimes, you can buy "heavy
timbers" at large building suppliers, such as six-by-sixes, but these,
too, lose one-half inch in the planer and have a true dimension of 5
inches square. It is important to know the difference between
(full dimensional) timber and "finished" lumber, more commonly
to the Book