How to Assemble a Timber Frame

Written by kathleen odenthal
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How to Assemble a Timber Frame
Could you assemble the foundation of your dream home? (timber framed cottage image by Chris Lofty from

Timber framing is a method of construction that utilises a combination of large timbers and mortise and tenon joints. These particular joints are ideal for timber framing because when they are installed, the builder will leave about 1 inch of room since a large timber usually changes shape depending on the season and the climate. Timber framing requires a good deal of concentration and focus, but it is much more cost effective than outsourcing to a construction crew.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • Mallet
  • Chisel
  • Timber
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Hydraulic crane

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  1. 1

    Decide if you are going to design your own blueprints or if you are going to consult an expert so you can be guided through the design process. Draw up the blueprints and calculate the quantity of materials you will need to complete your project, as well as how much you would like to have at one time. Compare quotes and then purchase your raw materials. Apply for all necessary building permits to avoid any hold ups during construction.

  2. 2

    Use the mallet and chisel to size down the materials until they match the measurements designated in the blueprints. If you would like designs in the timbers, use the mallet and chisel at this stage to add details to the wood.

  3. 3

    Get together with your assembly crew. Secure the mortise and tenon joints in place by pounding wooden pegs into holes that have been drilled into the timbers. Use a ratchet-puller if you are having difficulty getting the joints in the right place.

  4. 4

    Guide each piece of the frame into its proper position by using a hydraulic crane. With the crane holding the timber in the correct position, slide the piece of wood into the proper joints to secure each timber's place in the building's frame. Use a ratchet-puller to make sure the timbers are as snug as possible within the joints. Once all of the timbers are connected to their joints, the frame is complete.

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