Layout barn

Once we have the timbers sawn, dried and planed, we begin the actual work on the timber frame. The frame design was determined some time prior in our Design Studio, where a computer-generated timber list showing each timbers dimensions and location in the frame was produced. This list, along with a complete set of frame drawings, is the basis for all subsequent work on a frame .
Layout is the process by which the information from the frame drawings is transferred onto the faces of each timber so the actual cutting can begin. Before marking anything on a timber, the layout leader visually grades the piece of timber. All defects are noted, as well as which faces are visually most pleasing.
After taking into account at least eight variables, he determines the placement and orientation of a timber in a frame. Then notations are made in pencil on the timber that describe each joint. Each mortise, tenon and peg hole is marked in pencil on each timber surface.
A second equally skilled joiner, called the checker, comes along and verifies each decision that the layout leader has made. If they are in agreement, a dark marker is used to highlight material that is to be removed by the cutters in the Timber Shop. If there is any discrepancy, both joiners get together and iron out the difficulty before the process resumes. Tolerances of 1/32" are what we typically expect of ourselves and this expectation is taken seriously by everyone. Since we deal with a massive structure in which each piece is fabricated separately and never assembled until it reaches the job site, it pays to be precise. When completely laid out and checked, each timber makes its way to the Timber Shop where the individual joints are precisely crafted.
After each and every joint on a piece is cut, the timber returns to the Layout Barn. That information is noted on the layout leader's drawings and timber list as completed and stored until all timbers in the frame are done.

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Layout Barn
Layout Barn

Doug working in the Layout Barn
Doug working in the layout barn

Boring the peg hole
Boring the peg hole

Final Checking

Guide lines on the beams

Layout Beams

Ready from finish
Ready for finishing

Ready for shipping
Ready for shipping

Finishing Stage
Once all timbers are crafted, we move into the finishing process. Typically each timber is planed with a large handheld electric planer, and then a clear tung oil-based finish is applied by hand.
In addition to the smooth planed and oiled finish, we have other finish treatments for different desired looks. For a more rustic look we sometimes skip the initial timber planing and leave the marks and finish from the sawmill visible. This creates a more rustic feel to the finished frame. For a weathered surface texture we sandblast the visible surfaces of the completed timbers. Sandblasting removes some of the softer spring wood and leaves the harder summer wood intact. This creates a surface that shows the grain pattern in three dimensions. It is quite pleasing to both the eye and touch.

Embellishments Even though an unadorned timber frame is quite beautiful in and of itself, it is sometimes appropriate to add embellishments. These may take many forms such as subtly curved braces, decorative chamfers on timber edges, carvings of dates, sayings or images into timber faces and carved acorns or finials on the ends of timbers. We have done all of these and enjoy the opportunity.

In addition to clear oil, we sometimes apply a pigmented stain. These darker pigments in the oil finish help accentuate the woods natural grain pattern. Another option is whitewashing or bleaching, which lightens the wood while allowing the grain to show through. This is particularly effective when the balance of the homes decor calls for bold colors. Once again, options are only limited by your imagination.
Once the finish and embellishments are applied, the timbers are ready for packaging and shipment to the site. We wrap each bundle of timbers with a plastic wrapper and band each with wood skids to protect the finish and prevent damage to the frame during transit.

Carved Date
Carved Date

Carved teardrop
Carved Teardrop

Teardrop on Octagon Teardrop on Octagon

Chamfers with Stops Joinery Detail Chamfers with Stops Joinery Detail