Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Traditional timber frame 1

This video shows a group of students at a workshop in the USA building a traditional timber frame "post and beam" house using hand tools. Buildings like this are still being made (check out Carpenter Oak in the UK), but only for special projects. They require skilled craftspeople and large pieces of timber so are not practical for everyday houses... but can be very beautiful.

In contrast, a modern timber framed house is usually made from pieces about twenty times smaller in size! ....but that doesn't necessarily mean that a modern house won't last as long. The timber is used in a different way that allows for the forces to be carried by a larger number of smaller pieces. The wood is almost always a softwood like spruce, pine or fir which is dried in a kiln before it's used for building.

In this video it looks like the wood is a softwood, but post and beam houses are also often made from hardwoods like oak. In both cases, the timbers tend to be too big to be dried before use, so the connections must all be made to allow for the timber to shrink as it dries out as the building ages.

Check out "Traditional timber frame 2" to see the same sort of thing, but with modern power tools.

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