Collaboration with a timber framer

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Timber framing is a method of building that uses large timbers, typically 5 x 5” or greater, as opposed to 2 x 4” or 2 x 6”, modern stick framing. Vertical members called posts and horizontal members called beams, are joined together with specific joinery, most commonly mortise and tenon, and secured with a wooden peg or pin through the joint. Unlike modern stick framing, which evolved here in the U.S. to build buildings rapidly, timber framing is done without nails.  With the advent of modern stick framing, timber framing became an almost lost art form in the U.S. but experienced a major revival during the back to the land movement in the 1970’s. The Heartwood School, here in the Berkshires, served as a hub for the revival of timber framing, and the founding of the Timber Framers Guild. It is important to recognize that many cultures throughout history have used timber framing methods, and in certain places, such as Japan, timber framing of temples has a long and continuous history.  

We are lucky here in the Berkshires to have many talented timber framers and timber architects. Jack Sobon recently designed a home for a family in Windsor, that East Branch Studio has been collaborating on building. Dave Bowman, a master sawyer and timber framer based in Cummington, headed the crew which brought Jack Sobon’s design to reality. This house involved many crotched braces and posts that give the home a very organic feel. All of the timber from this project was harvested from the homeowners property, and almost 20 different types of wood were used in the frame.  This type of local resource use is a powerful way to not only support our local Western Massachusetts woodlands economy, but keep our timber framing knowledge strong here in western mass, and reduce our carbon impact by minimizing transportation and processing of wood products.  

Here at East Branch Studio, we look forward to continuing to work with local timber framers, sawyers, and loggers, to support a sustainable and thriving woodlands economy, while keeping the craft and art of timber framing strong here in New England.