Timber Framing – the art of wood construction aka Post and Beam or Mortice and Tenon

By Otis Bradley

The art of timber framing, also called “Post and Beam” or “Mortice and Tenon,” is still alive!

  

 In today’s world of industrialized manufacturing, most builders have never touched anything other than dimensional lumber (meaning 2×4’s-  which actually measure 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ – go figure!). But long before factories spit out 2x’s, wood buildings were created out of timbers. Trees were cut – timbers were shaped using adzes, draw knives and hand powered drills to create large frames out of timber – called bents – which could combined lengthwise as well as for a second story to create buildings.

The frame below is a complex set of connections – notice the “distressing” of the timbers

 

Most timber framers today use electricity! and electric tools! not available by true timber framers, but the result can be a beautiful old world look.  The following examples show how today’s dimensional lumber is made to look like old timber.

The Truss

The truss is the part of the frame that forms the roof and is often exposed in the home.  Many different styles of trusses are used but a typical style truss consists of a bottom cord (tie beam), top cord (or rafter), king post and struts or braces.

Timber Framers pride themselves in the art of the joint !  Some of the basic joints are shown below.

 

Timber Sample 1

The following timber has a distressed finish made to look

Timber Sample 2

The following timber has a distressed finish made to look like the marks of an adze

Timber Sample 3

The following timber has a distressed finish made to look like the marks of an adze

 

Here is a truss shown after drywall or plaster is installed

 

This interesting truss is called a “Sister Truss”