Timber Framing

This traditional framing technique is enjoying a healthy revival - the post and beam frame is exposed on the interior and is compatible with large open floor plans. The traditional mortise and pegged joinery is a joy to make as well as to live with, and is stronger than conventional framing. Heartwood has incorporated timber framing in all of its building projects. In this class, we will lay out and cut the joinery for a complete frame and assemble it, followed by an old fashioned "barn-raising."

We will be teaching the square rule approach, a traditional method that allows one to easily use timbers of inconsistent dimensions or squareness, which is how they would come from a sawmill. Modern production timber framers use planed timbers and expensive machinery not readily available to many builders, while we will be using tools and materials that many carpenters already have or which can be found locally for a minimal investment yet give results of the highest quality. 

students working to put a timber frame together on raising day


Session 1 (June 13-17): Neil Godden, Ariel Burns, & Dave Carlon

Session 2 (July 25-29): Neil Godden & Kyle Murphy

Session 3 (August 22-26): Neil Godden & Dave Maynard

Fall Session 2022 (November 13-19): Skip Dewhirst, Seth Kelley, & Neil Godden

A furniture maker and timber framer, Skip Dewhirst has been actively pursuing his passion for woodworking and teaching for over 35 years. He was introduced to the joy of crafting beautiful things by hand at a young age by his grandmother and is fulfilled by helping others realize their own sense of accomplishment that comes from making something beautiful and strong. He has had the pleasure to teach well over 100 classes in furniture making, woodworking, timber framing, and natural building workshops at Rocky Mountain Workshops, Yestermorrow Design Build School, Dartmouth College, Rancho Mastatal, Bona Fide, and Mao Organic Farm.

Skip brings his dedication and passion to designing, building, and crafting with wood to the courses he teaches and the things that he builds. When he is not teaching, Skip can be found building timber frame homes and barns, in his woodshop making custom furniture or handmade instruments, or roaming the Vermont woods in search of wild mushrooms.

Neil Godden has been a timber frame contractor in western Massachusetts specializing in building traditional timber frames using primarily hand tools since 2000. Neil received his Civil Engineering degree from the University at Buffalo in 1996. Soon after, he completed an apprenticeship under master builder Jack Sobon and he has been in love with the craft ever since.

Neil demonstrates a passion for timber framing in all that he builds, and this is evident in the many timber-framed buildings he has built, and in the workshops, he has taught throughout the years. As an experienced timber framer, Neil enjoys sharing his knowledge and techniques for this time-tested craft.  Neil has been an instructor at the Heartwood School since 2005. He has taught at many Timber Framers Guild Community Building Projects over the years, including the Bayles Boat Shed Long Island Seaport and Eco-Center (Long Island, NY), Sunrise Mill hand tool workshop (Schwenksville, PA) and was the Project Manager for Champlain Canal Visitor's Center (Schuylerville, NY). Neil taught a cruck frame workshop at Pingree Campus of Colorado State University (near Fort Collins, CO). Neil also teaches a Timber Frame Workshop at the Hancock Shaker Village (Hancock, MA). Neil instructed with Jack Sobon in the summer of 2021, teaching a Square Rule Workshop on the Island of Gotland in Sweden.

Recommended Reading

Additional Reading

  • Hand Hewn by Jack Sobon 
  • Advanced Timber Framing by Steve Chappell 
  • The Development of Carpentry, 1200-1700, an Essex Study by Cecil Hewitt
  • English Cathedral and Monastic Carpentry by Cecil Hewitt

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