Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Timber framers

Timber framers, it turns out, are a wonderful sort.

I've known this, of course. I married one. Many of my good friends are timber framers. My own timber framer happens to be my best friend.

The art and craft of timber framing has inspired me since I learned of it. It's a method of building that predates Christ, and there are historic and contemporary frames that take my breath away. The art of building, period, amazes me. Done right, a simple dwelling can be the perfect marriage of function, form, art, and craft.

I was at the Timber Framers Guild conference in Fort Worden, Wa. this weekend (where, incidentally, I also summer-camped as a 14 year-old twerp) and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. From the good company, the good beer, and the good information to the Utilikilts and the Carhartts, it was a weekend spent with the right kind of people. I wasn't the only non-builder present, though as a staff writer I was probably one of few participants who didn't have a hand somewhere in the designing, engineering, or constructing of timber framed homes. I know enough, however, not to confuse my mortises and my tenons or my rafters and my purlins.

I learned a little about drafting with Google SketchUp (thank you, Clark), a little about thermal bridging (thank you, Jesse and Richard!), and a little about treehouses (thank you, Jake . . . and yes, that's treehouses, one word). I have a new favorite soda (DRY juniper berry; thank you, Wade) and a new knowledge of the climate, geography, flora, fauna, and culture of places from North Dakota to Idaho and Georgia to interior British Columbia. I know more about the Freemont Troll than I ever expected to, and more about lumber grading and structural insulated panels, too. I narrowly avoided bidding on a four-figure auction item (compound dovetail hewn log structure—pictured above), though I did somehow manage to bring home a trio of buzzards that doesn't belong to me.

It was a good weekend, and I'm counting the months until TFG 2011 East. In the meantime, I'm going to play with wood! I probably can't outdo Frameworks, Teton, or New Energy Works in next year's slideshow, but I've been inspired.


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