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The Sole of a Timber Frame?

Wooden timber framing mallets

What is timber framing?

Timber framing is a traditional method of building with large timbers, joinery, and has been used for centuries. All true, but incomplete. When I speak of loving my wife, I wouldn't list tasks, accomplishments, and length of time. I would speak more about the intangibles. The feeling of when she walks into a room or goes about her day. Similarly, timber framing, while very much a tangible craft, it also evokes varied feelings rooted in the task and growing to the finished product. Timber framing has a unique soul that connects with artisan, dwellers, and visitors alike.

Soul of the tree.

Timber frames are made from wood, and wood comes from trees. Obviously. This seems simple, but things somehow got cloudy over time. People have separated or disconnected the fact that lumber comes from trees in their minds. For example, my neighbor had a trees removed recently. A nearly dead, 16-inch diameter sugar maple, and a very large spruce that was making a mess on his roof causing it to fail prematurely. Me being me, I asked the tree guy if he would leave them long and use his tractor to load them onto my trailer. As he was loading the trunks onto the trailer, my neighbor came out and asked why I wanted “garbage” trees. As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Fast forward a week, I stopped at his house to show-off a load of beautiful, milled maple and some spruce. He was shocked that the lumber on my trailer had come from his trees.

maple logs on trailer

There is something special about wood. It is almost as though wood invites us to reach out and touch it and feel its texture and admire its grain patterns. We just need to accept the invitation. Trees are amazing organisms reaching toward the sky grabbing energy from the sun trees are just as amazing transformed into lumber. Trees rooted in the ground as well as those transformed into lumber provide beauty, shelter and privacy also . When timbers are joined to timber frame a simple shed roof or build an entire house, the essence of those trees lives on in the frame.

lumber comes from trees

Soul of the carpenter

There is a big difference between a carpenter framing walls on a production line in a panel factory vs a carpenter cutting a timber frame. Both require skill and precision. Yet, timber framers transfer a part of themselves into the frame. This comes from their pride and time they invest into the project. Cutting joinery is not about speed, it's about infusing your time, energy and passion into something that will be around for hundreds of years. If walls talk, timber frames sing!

lumber comes from trees

Soul of the timber frame

Timber frames are as real as it gets. Timber frames are honest and true. Timber frames proudly display their authenticity. The material is straight from the forest, untarnished. With pride and respect, the craftsman applies their knowledge and skill to transport the tree from one awe-inspiring existence to another. Timber framing is as honest as building methods get.. Timber framing bares its soul as it spectacularly shows you the post that is holding up the beam housing the floor joists. Everything is on display just like art. And like art, the beauty and the feeling that it invokes is in the eye – and soul – of the beholder.