North Carolina Timberframe Workshop

February 13, 2015

Read a great article about this workshop here!

It started one boiling hot summer afternoon, shingling a house in Central Vermont, with Matt saying “what do you think about teaching a timber framing workshop in North Carolina?”

I should say, it all really started when long-time Timberhomes employee Matthew and his partner Lauren were married in their hometown of Brevard, North Carolina, on their friend’s beautiful piece of land which was soon to be a working farm. Matt had long harbored thoughts of going back to contribute something beautiful and lasting to this place, and after loads of planning, hard work and team spirit: mission accomplished.

What was originally a small woodshed in concept grew into a horse barn for the friend/clients, who’ve been waiting for the right moment (and commitment level from their equine-loving, extremely awesome daughter) to build. The frame became too large to accomplish in a four-day workshop, and required extra professional hands. All four Timber Homes employees made the trek south, including one extra pinch-hitter pulled out of retirement. The company lent and rented a full kit of tools and workshop equipment including sawhorses, chain mortisers, beam saws, chisels y mas. Pre-course work began with a bang, with all five framers working for a week before the start of the course to build two thirds of the frame. We cut the scarfs and dealt with steel tension rods that will combat extra thrust in the center bents of this common rafter frame. The site was a busy ground zero for construction- neighbors, friends, and locals stopped by to see what was happening with all those downed white pines-  the timber was from the building site, and was sawn by a local sawyer with a portable mill as we worked. Friends of Matt’s pitched in to help when they could- we spent a lot of time in the Faulkner Woodworking shop cutting rafters and keeping warm.

The workshop was a BLAST. We’d originally set the limit at a dozen students but ended up allowing for 15. Almost all enrolled were professional builders looking to add timber framing to their skill set. The student body helped set the pace for the course- people were comfortable with the format of reading a set of plans, working with a partner, thinking through unforeseeable issues like a timber being too crowned or a site being muddy and cold. We zoomed right through early course material and were doing cutting demos by the end of the first day, with many timbers already laid out and ready to work in the morning. The atmosphere on the ground wavered between calm and focused, and a buzzing hive (typically after 10:00 coffee was on).

The climate of a ‘workshop’ is pretty unique, and comes from the sum of twenty or so people’s mental shift- everyone’s away from their typical schedule, and in a headspace that’s open and ready to learn. It seems easier to focus, and easier to enjoy the tasks at hand as jokes make their way out from those dark, dusty corners of our minds and positive attitudes help reinforce what’s being learned. It’s certainly not the easiest way to build a building, but all that magic will be wrapped up in the memory of the building ad infinitum, and people’s experience of the structure will be deeper even before there’s such a thing as an inside and an outside.

Stay tuned for more photos of the workshop in a future post, and pictures of the finished building. We hear there will be quite the bash once the barn is done….

Time Lapse video of the raising:


Timberhomes crew bow before a barn

Timberhomes crew bow before a barn

Happy framers in the shadow of barn

Oh my God! It happened!

Father and son with Timberframe

Matt and Papa Jo- our student, and our sage