Joints and joinery are literally what make a timber frame, a timber frame.
Timber frames are buildings that utilize heavy timbers (generally 6”x6” and larger) in a skeleton-like frame that forms the supporting structure. And the joinery is what distinguishes timber frames from the other construction method that uses heavy timbers: post and beam construction. Instead of fastening butt joints with metal connectors, the principal members in a timber frame are joined with elaborately carved connections and secured with wooden pegs.
So, the two distinguishing features of a timber frame are (1) large-size timbers that create a structural frame and (2) carved and pegged joints that secure the timbers together.
At Timber Frame HQ, we devote a lot of time and a large part of the website to examining timber frame joints and joinery in detail. That is because they are so fundamental to the strength and character of this age-old building method.
We examine most of the possible connections and their variations. We show you three dimensional drawings of many joints, both assembled and exploded, and solid and transparent. That way you can really understand the shape of the joint and how the timbers interlock. Where applicable, we show you where the pegs or other connectors go. And we often include an interactive three dimensional model, so you can rotate the views and really get a good understanding of how it all works together.
We explore different ways of joining posts to beams, many examples of roof joinery, different types of knee braces and struts, and methods of floor framing. We delve into compound joinery and scarf joints, among other things.
In addition to showing you the strictly traditional timber frame joints, we also touch base on joints that utilize modern technology. Sometimes a joint is in such a place in a frame that the forces acting upon it require extra strengthening with metal connections. And sometimes adding some metal keeps you from having to remove too much wood in cutting joints that are close together.So we examine joints that incorporate connectors such as structural screws and barrel bolts.
We give you lots of information to understand the complexities of timber frame joinery. We do not, however, show you step-by-step how to cut the joints. There are many videos online that show that process. And truly, if you are a beginner with a thirst for learning the craft of timber framing, you would benefit by taking your education a step further and attending a school or workshop.
So, dive into our exploration of the joints and joinery used in timber framing- we hope it helps you on your journey to understanding and practicing this venerable craft!