Red Suspenders Timber Frames

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Layout is the process whereby we transfer all of the dimensions and joinery detail onto the surface of the timber so that the crew knows how the timber is to be cut. Layout is very time consuming and is a highly specialized operation. If we make a mistake here, it will easily result in a specific timber being cut incorrectly. Precision is the goal.

Image Not Available Tim is studying the plans to make sure he fully understands how a particular timber is to be "laid out". You know this part is difficult if the man who made the drawings is studying his own work to ensure it is done correctly!

Tim is working in Braceland as Keith and Chet are using the Layout Barn.
Layout first begins with determining which side of the timber will face inward into the home. Think of it this way, only a small percentage of timbers will be visible in the home from all four sides. Most timbers will be either against a wall, ceiling or an upper level floor. Therefore, only the best sides of the timber should shown into the home. Wood is not uniform on all sides so it takes a bit of experience to determine which side of the timber will receive what part of the joinery. Image Not Available
Image Not Available Once a correct presentation of the timber is determined, the timber layout can begin. Here Tim uses a powered hand planer to ensure that the timber face is perfectly flat and uniform. He will check the "squareness" of the timber until he is satisfied that it will fit its assigned place in the frame correctly.

All of the angles must conform to the frame drawings if the joinery is to work as designed, so the crew must have square sides and flat surfaces to work with.

The stack of planned timber in the background will be the production goal for Tim during one day of layout.
Meanwhile, back in the Layout Barn, Keith and Chet are working on another set of timbers. You can see Chet's hand planner in the foreground next to the frame drawings. Keith is laying out the tenon on this particular timber while Chet looks on.

Chet will act as the "checker" for Keith, while Keith will check Tim's work for accuracy. During layout, the drawings on each timber are checked against the computer drawings by a second man to ensure the layout was done correctly. Therefore, no man will check his own work.

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Image Not Available Keith is a blur as he lays out the tenon at the opposite end of the timber. The printed list just in front of Keith is a timber list that clearly defines each and every timber used in the frames construction. As a timber is finished, it will be marked off the list so that the crew can manage the fabrication process. Later, we will see how the timbers are marked so that we know what timber goes where.
Chet is checking Keith's work to ensure everything was laid out correctly. Layout and checking are tasks that require a great deal of training and experience. It's not an assignment we give the newer crew members until they have had at least a year working in the shop and can fully demonstrate that they understand the construction drawings. Chet is just now getting up to speed with checking. Actual layout comes next for him. Image Not Available
Image Not Available Meanwhile, back in the timber shop, Doug Shaw is checking the checker... really. Building a timber frame home presents lots of opportunities for mistakes so precision is the order of the day. Doug rechecks Chet's work since this is his first experience working as a checker. The black outlines you see on this timber mean that the dimensions have been verified and cross checked with the actual plans. That way, we can know at a quick glance if the joinery details have been verified. So far, Chet's work has been spot on!
It will take Chet and Keith the better part of a day and a half to work through all of the timbers you see in front of them. Layout is just time consuming but nothing can happen until this part of the process is done.

From here, the timber shop is the next stop and we will look at the next step of the process in the next report.
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