Timber Framers


Connolly & Co.

Edgecomb, ME


Downeast Barn

Tim Bernard, Auburn, ME

Shelter Institute

Woolwich, ME

Island Carpentry

Georgetown, ME


Walpole, NH

The Timber Frame

Cutting the timbers
Cutting the Timbers photo credit: John Connolly

In March, the timber frame company started cutting my frame. The timbers are cut to size, and all the wood joinery is cut. During assembly, it goes together like a giant, heavy puzzle. The only cut made on site is the bottom of the vertical poles (as they fit into a pocket in the floor). The timbers were also sanded and oiled at this time. I kept threatening to steal their sawhorses.

pile of timbers
Pile of timbers photo credit: Topher Belknap

What arrives at the site is several large piles of timbers. The picture (partially) shows on the top left, the ridge beams, below that perimeter beams and floor beams. The wood is white pine, second and third growth, much of it box heart (i.e. from the center of the tree); these were not huge old trees. Every piece is marked as to where it goes and in what orientation.

lifting the bent
Lifting the third bent photo credit: Del Merritt

The timbers are constructed, on the ground, into bents which are then tilted into place. Traditionally this was done with massive amounts of labor, now a crane is the usual method. They are lifting the third bent in this picture, and you can see some of the connecting beams are already in place (held by straps) waiting to be joined. The fourth bent is lying on the deck, and will be installed next. You might also be able tell from this picture that it was a beautiful day, sunny warm but not hot, a day that reminds me why I want to live in Maine.

The frame is held together with oak pegs. Traditionally, these would wittled green wood, which would help squeeze the joints together as they dried. For mine they used lathed dry oak pegs, they seem to work fine. I hang all sorts of things from them inside.

Crew in the frame
Crew in the frame photo credit: John Connolly

The entire raising process took two days with 5-6 men, and 1 crane. They were climbing nimbly around on the structure as it was being moved into position. It looked scary, but also fun. Here is a picture of the whole crew standing in the completed frame. Thanks again guys!