I have some carpentry experience and am very excited about timber framing. What's a good way to grow my knowledge and ability to timber frame?
You might try:
Go to a regional meeting.
These are located throughout the U.S. We offer three to six of them per year, hosted by someone who lives in the region. They are one- or two-day affairs at minimal cost. At a regional meeting, you can talk with practicing timber framers, building a network. You can also attend short topic-based seminars like compound joinery, hewing, historical preservation, and so on. Sometimes there are tool swaps or tours. Fun elements include tricky games to play with hammers or mallets, and someone may bring out a guitar. The food is pretty good.
Take part in a project.
Guild community building projects are a massive multi-person effort to create a timber-framed building structure for a non-profit organization. They've been all over the U.S. and in quite a few other countries. The projects are part-volunteer and part-paid workshop. You'll get to know more about the town where the project goes up, with lodging and food handled by the townspeople. Sometimes tours are offered. It's a highly rewarding way to learn by doing, with plenty of opportunity to increase your skills. Even more, the collaboration you'll enjoy with other, more seasoned volunteers takes you way past networking. Projects can last for a few weeks or well over a month. Some are multi-part and span years.
Attend a conference.
At our yearly conference, there are close to 40 or so in-depth sessions, demos, roundtables, and other opportunities to learn. Pre-conference workshops allow a full day or two to really dig into an aspect of timber framing—engineering, business, Japanese timber framing, and stairbuilding are some topics of recent pre-con workshops. Friends from regional meetings or projects are likely to be there, and long-standing conference features like joint busting, the trade show, bookstore, Friday member slide show, children's workshop, and benefit auction will pique your interest.
The Traditional Timber Frame Research and Advisory Group (TTRAG) hosts an annual conference, on a more intimate scale, usually somewhere in the Northeast. If historical timber framing is your interest, these more informal,
Become an apprentice.
We're talking high-octane, here. Apprenticeship is probably the most intensive way to get into timber framing. You complete a pre-assessment, contribute fees, work with a company sponsor, and complete an extensive curriculum under the guidance of journeyworker timber framers and in a work context. The Guild's Apprentice Training Program is U.S. Department of Labor–certified and will result in your becoming a recognized timber framer. Our apprenticeship program follows models that have existed for centuries in France and Germany, and similar models are being developed in England.
And, of course, to learn about all these opportunities,
Join the Guild.
You can join as a student, a family, an associate (not a timber framer but professionally affiliated with timber framing), or a company.