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Thread: Please school me on Timber Frame construction

  1. #1

    Please school me on Timber Frame construction

    Good morning all!
    I didnt want to hijack the "Hall of the Mountain King" thread to ask this - Why do people build timber frame buildings? I know that sounds dumb, but it looks like it would be a lot more expensive and more time-consuming - especially for an out-building like a shop or garage.

    (Im a hybrid woodworker but use a lot of hand tools, so I get that old methods and skills are a joy in themselves. I could see myself really enjoy working on such a crew.)

    Thanks!
    Fred
    Last edited by Frederick Skelly; 06-26-2019 at 7:53 AM.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  2. #2
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    I think the answer to this will be as diverse as tastes in food. At its base I think it boils down to design: those that appreciate structure and exposed joinery will be the folks who like a timber frame.

    As to expense, it's definitely more expensive. And there's a case to be made that the structural aspect is redundant. You have the timber frame and then you infill the walls or apply SIP panels. Either the infill walls or the panels can support a roof and provide the structural element to keep the building standing. But that's no where near as exciting as a timber frame!

    I'm solidly in the I-love-timber-frames-camp. Throw in some live-edge elements to the frame and it's even better. Japanese temples are joinery nirvana.

    Full disclosure: I did spend a few years with a timber framing crew so I'm biased!

  3. #3
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    Why would anyone make a dovetail joint in the era of super adhesives, dominos, and metal fasteners? Or bother with a wood table top when plastic laminate is so much more practical?

    Timber frames are beautiful and strong, an opportunity to show off great materials and workmanship. When combined with SIPS they make for an energy efficient, well-sealed building. If you're cutting down trees to build your building you can incorporate them directly into the new structure. There's lots of examples that suggest they can last a really long time. They are also a lot more fun to build than nailing together a stud wall.

  4. #4
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    I'm certainly have no qualifications to "school" anyone on timber frame buildings, but I do have some observations.

    For me, one big advantage to timber frame (and it's simpler cousin post-and-beam) construction, is the roof and upper story loads are not supported by studs in the walls. That means you can put doors and windows anywhere without the hefty headers otherwise needed. Decide later to knock out an entire wall and open a space? No (structural) problem.

    My house is timber frame and I recently did just that - took down a wall to open up one space. I built my shop with post and beam construction - 6x6 posts with double and triple 2x10 beams to support trusses - I had the roof up and the interior in the dry before even starting on the exterior walls.

    PM66_2012-11-29_18-01-16_549_small.jpg

    My barn and every outbuilding on the farm is built with post-and-beam too, typical of course, of such buildings for a long time.

    The other big reason is the space and the look of the space inside with the exposed beams and such. Of course you can fake that to some extent in conventional construction.

    I've been told that timber frame buildings are also sturdier and more resistant to damage from earthquakes and extreme weather but fortunately I have not had to test that. The entire frame is secured by big mortise and tenon joints secured with heavy pegs instead of metal fasteners. Looking around where I'm sitting, I see 8x8 and 6x6 posts, 8x12 and 6x12 beams, and 4x4 diagonal bracing. The inside of the exterior walls that I can see and all ceilings (subfloor above) are 2x6 tongue-and-groove, just feels sturdy! Some interior walls are conventional stud construction, but as mentioned, none are load-bearing.

    One big disadvantage is where there are no studs it can be tricky to run electrical wiring! When I installed new kitchen lighting (the original was pitiful) I had to dig deep into the creativity well just to route and hide the wiring. To mount one fixture drilled a hole about 2' angled up through a 6x6 joist beam!

    Another challenge is insulating. In my shop I solved this by building non-load-bearing exterior walls with 2x6 studs.

    JKJ



    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    Good morning all!
    I didnt want to hijack the "Hall of the Mountain King" thread to ask this - Why do people build timber frame buildings? I know that sounds dumb, but it looks like it would be a lot more expensive and more time-consuming - especially for an out-building like a shop or garage.

    (Im a hybrid woodworker but use a lot of hand tools, so I get that old methods and skills are a joy in themselves. I could see myself really enjoy working on such a crew.)

    Thanks!
    Fred
    Last edited by John K Jordan; 06-26-2019 at 9:17 AM.

  5. #5
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    Because they do not have to follow seismic codes?
    Bill D

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    Why do they make ice cream in Vanilla and Chocolate? Why do they make Ferrari's when a Ford does the same thing?

    But in reality, it started before there were powered sawmills, more than a year ago, and so if you could cut down a tree and join them together after flattening the sides you needed very few tools. Woodmizers were not invented yet. Besides, its fun!

  7. #7
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    Larry brings up an important point about the history: lack of modern processing made them easier to build.

    Google 'cruck frame'

  8. #8
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    Probably because they can and like to show off.

  9. #9
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    When Mark Twain was In California he stayed for about a year, 1864-65 in a small cabin with some brother miners. This cabin looks pretty much like any modern stud wall garage but with a stone chimney on one end. This is were he was living when he heard the story of "The celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras county".
    So by then log cabins or post and beam construction was replaced. Sutter's mill,1849, was to be a sawmill.
    Bil lD.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=mark...pnGaYDxw2JqYM:
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 06-27-2019 at 10:48 AM.

  10. #10
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    The original cabin burned during the 1890s. The current cabin is a replica built in 1922. It was built to be a tourist attraction. Who knows, maybe they built it to be somewhat similar to the original.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    When Mark Twain was In California he stayed for about a year, 1864-65 in a small cabin with some brother miners. This cabin looks pretty much like any modern stud wall garage but with a stone chimney on one end. This is were he was living when he heard the story of "The celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras county".
    So by then log cabins or post and beam construction was replaced. Sutter's mill,1849, was to be a sawmill.
    Bil lD.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    The original cabin burned during the 1890s. The current cabin is a replica built in 1922. It was built to be a tourist attraction. Who knows, maybe they built it to be somewhat similar to the original.
    Well it is on "jackass road". In the little community of "jackass hill". So I would not doubt it is a lie.

  12. #12
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    How long do you think Levittown, PA is going to remain standing? Westminster (c 1399 AD) is still going strong.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    How long do you think Levittown, PA is going to remain standing?
    Having lived there for awhile in the early 1980s...it will likely be there for a long time simply because of the fanatical culture attached to each neighborhood and home model. But as long as Westminster? LOL Not likely, at least in current form.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
    Fine Homebuilding had a good issue about modern timber framing recently.

  15. #15
    Frederick Skelley,

    Gamble House Garage:

    Gamble house garage_7.3.19.jpg

    Alan

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