English Tying Joint, where post, tie beam, & continuous top plate converge.

Hartford, Ohio - Backyard Cabin

     This 12' x 16' cabin was my first timber frame project, started back in 2003. A very traditional design with a background rooted in 19th century Shaker history, it was the defining influence in shaping my building philosophy. Many other timber framers began their careers using this frame as a starter project, and I am no different. The first timber frame book I picked up, authored by renowned timber frame traditionalist Jack Sobon, featured working drawings of this frame, and guided by Sobon's historical perspective on remaining faithful to the hand-tools, joinery and designs of our timber framing past, well, I knew which direction I was headed.
   This stout frame was crafted entirely in hardwood, with hickory, beech, hard maple & white oak being the primary species. It's footprint is small enough to fit in most backyards without being to obtrusive, and this frame would function nicely as a wood-working shop, an art studio, a garden shed, or even a rock-solid playhouse/clubhouse for the kids!

    Leading into the great room addition is a 10' x 12' covered entryway that is open on the sides and framed with rot-resistant, beautiful black cherry timbers. This entryway also features a roof system of decorative kingpost trusses, and the four posts are once again joined with the top plates and tie beams with traditional English Tying Joints. The clients wanted to maintain a rustic look throughout the framework, and opted to leave all timbers with their original rough-sawn appearance.
  A very special mention goes to Gary Clower, of Vienna, Ohio, who was the principal designer of the framework, produced great shop-drawings for me to work from, and then gave so freely of his time during those hot days of frame pre-assembly and then the raising. Also a big thanks to John & Sarah Woodall for their generous time-contribution and tremendous help on raising day. This beautiful frame could not have been "born" without you all!!

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Log walls up on a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin.

Columbiania County, Ohio - 24' x 32' Gambrel House Frame

   The photo's below are of a scale model that I built for this frame. And other than the few joinery pictures shown, these are, unfortunately, the only photo's I have of this project. 
   This 24'w x 32'l gambrel-roofed house frame required close to 750 mortise & tenon joints, including 8 scarf joints, and was crafted in a variety of hardwood species, including yellow poplar, white oak, red oak, and hickory. The gambrel-style roof was chosen to give maximum headroom while standing a minimal distance from a sidewall. Other design elements include a 16' x 24' upstairs sleeping loft, an open floor plan downstairs, and an 8' x 32' timber framed porch that features the same pegged, mortise & tenon wooden joinery as the main framework. This porch was framed in rot-resistant white oak and spans the front of the house. 
  Since the clients had this frame built over a full basement, they chose to have their floor system framed with large timbers as opposed to conventional stick-framing. The timber framed floor system was comprised of timber sill beams, and a massive posted-&-braced 10" x 10" x 32' red oak sill girder, from which 4" x 7" hickory floor joists joined the sills. The clients took a very active role in their house project, and did a great job in designing the exposed timber framed stair-box that leads to the upstairs loft. 

Handcrafted Traditional Timber Frames & Dovetail Log Cabins

Click on any photo below for an enlarged image.

Click on any photo below for an enlarged image.

    This project began as a long-distance building relationship between Tim and I, with emails and phone calls, but I was a bit fearful that his log cabin would come to a completion without us ever to have actually met.  But in mid-August, Tim and his wife Kim made the 12 hr drive over here to N.E.Ohio! It was great to finally meet them, and I am so grateful that they took the time to do that! I will share more photo's (as Tim sends them) of the finished log cabin as it gradually takes shape.

A Photo Gallery of Some Past Projects

 Williamsfield, Ohio - 18' x 20' Dovetail Log Cabin     
   A historic re-build of a circa 1800 log structure.

   

     This structure was originally located in Carroll County, Ohio, was purchased and dis-assembled some years ago, and has long been the dream of the owner, Lynn Peskoran to have it re-erected on her lot in Williamsfield, Ohio.  Lynn has put an enormous amount of work, both physical and mental, into this re-build. While not completely finished or re-erected as of winter 2018, it has been tremendously rewarding for me to play a part in helping her to see her dream realized.

   

Gustavus, Ohio - Another Kingpost-Trussed Great-room Addition!

    This frame is very similar to the previous one in size (a little longer @`24'wide x 34'-5" long) and design, but differs in a few other areas. White oak was the specie chosen by the clients for their great- room addition, and combined with the aesthetic additions of a hand-planed surface-finish to all timbers, and the decorative embellishment of a "chamfer" (about 1-1/2" wide) applied to the corners on all major timbers, this hand-crafted timber frame is both rustic and elegant! 
   The three historically-inspired kingpost trusses (see reference below) once again define this design, with their massive 3" thick x 13" wide x 15" long thru-tenons penetrating the tie beams. As this is a critical tension joint within the framework, additional support for the 1-1/2" pegs is supplied by two opposing hardwood wedges under the tie beams. These wedges are left a bit long and protrude beyond the 8" width of the tie beams, so as to provide a bit of "travel-room" to be pounded tighter as the tie beams shrink a bit in the ensuing years. 
   The eight 8" x 12" wall-posts exhibit English Tying Joints, with the historically-proven variant of this joint ( a "cog" instead of a lap dovetail; see previous frame photo) locking the top of the wall plates with the underside of the tie beams.  

Hartford, Ohio - Kingpost-Trussed Greatroom Addition
   
    This 24' x 32' timber frame is a "great room" addition to an existing house. It is framed entirely in eastern white pine and features an impressive principal rafter & purlin roof system, along with the focal point of the framework, the three eye-catching kingpost trusses that were inspired by structural elements of the raised bottom-chord trusses found in St. Johns Church (1807), Portsmouth, NH, and also Christ Episcopal Church (1769-74), Shrewsbury, New Jersey. In keeping with historically-based joinery, the joint chosen for the post/plate/tie beam interface is a slight variation of the traditional English Tying Joint, which employed a lapped dovetail joint where the tie beam engages with the top plate. Gary Clower (frame designer) & I both felt that a slight modification of the standard ETJ, where the dovetail is replaced with a "cogged" joint and of which an example was found on a 1770's barn in Adams, Mass was an effective, historically proven alternative. There are eight such joints in the main frame. 

   

 

   


      









Borth Lake - Antigo, Wisconsin   20' x 26' Dovetail Log Cabin
    

    My first dovetailed log structure! I've had such a strong interest in dovetail log building for many years, and this summer I finally got the opportunity to build one, to craft the log joinery and then do a trial assembly of the log walls in my yard. This 20' x 26' lake-side cabin, when fully erected, will sport a partial wrap-around porch (owner-built), and a 13' x 20' timber framed loft. The client chose to forego a heavy timbered roof system and instead will have a conventionally framed roof.  This project also featured massive 8" x 12" eastern white pine wall logs, (with a few of the longer ones sawn from hemlock), with handcrafted dovetail joinery locking the walls together. On the inside of all corner notches are Emseal gaskets, placed in a hidden vertical groove, preventing any air infiltration. Octagonal wall-alignment pins, cut from air-dried (10 yrs) oak planks, 1-1/4" in diameter and 20" long, are placed at approximately 4' intervals along the log walls. These stout pins provide lateral stability to short wall sections and aid in keeping long courses in line.

    Much handwork was involved using both the axe and drawknife in the removal of rotted sapwood from the logs (along with dodging and/or removing the many nails that had accumulated in a 220 yr old structure). New dovetail notches were cut on fresh log ends to replace the original steeple, or "v"-notches on the white oak wall logs. Due to various levels of decay in some of the logs that had to be cut out,  the re-build will yield a smaller 2-story, 18' x 20' cabin with a full 2nd floor, from what was once a 26' x 36' two-story log structure.   
   I did a partial trial assembly this summer, simply to reaffirm that actual notch heights matched up with the drawings and to test-fit a few notches. It looks like the structure will be going up sometime this summer. I will post updates and new photos as this project heads towards completion. 

   As this project gradually began to take shape, I became much more aware of the many small, but extremely vital details that comprise a correctly and well-built dovetail log structure. In that regard, I was very blessed to have come in contact with two legends in the world of dovetail log building, Higgs Murphy (Alberta, Canada), and Dan Somerfield (Sevierville, TN). I asked many, many questions, and both Dan and Higgs provided many, many very patient and very detailed answers. I am so grateful for all the time these two fine gentlemen spent sharing their vast knowledge and prior building experiences with me! 
    The pictures of the log cabin shown below illustrate much of the hand-tool crafting of the log joinery, the daily goings-on that take place in my shop, and also the trial assembly I did here in my yard. There are two more full log courses that will go above what I have erected in the photo's. Unfortunately I was not able to install those in the trial assembly. The client, Tim Ebert, will be erecting the structure himself, doing all the chinking, and also the vast majority of all finish work. 

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Click on any photo below for an enlarged image.

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    I've been blessed to have come in contact with various professionals during the course of my projects where these individuals have made immeasurable contributions of time and talents in seeing these endeavors through to the end. Jim Wakefield (Wakefield Construction ) wore many different hats during the design, fabrication, pre-assembly, and raising of this framework. Along with the client Ben Miller, who was so accommodating and was an immense help in many ways during the entire process, Jim (while functioning as GC on this project and also on the elaborate office's at the Miller farm), simply proved himself invaluable during the frame pre-assembly and then again on raising day. His skills, vision, patience, integrity and character played a major role in this frame turning out as beautiful as it did!