Cruck Framing


laying out a cruck frame

Cruck frames use large curved timbers to transfer the weight of the roof directly down to the foot of the posts. Besides being structurally efficient and allowing the wall frames to be lighter, their soaring arches create a beautiful interior space. 

Usually, each pair of cruck blades is halved from the same tree. Since the exact curve is indeterminable until the cruck blades are made, many decisions about the rest of the timber frame design must be made during layout. 

Layout of the cruck begins

In this workshop, we will build a small, two-bent cruck frame, first determining how to choose the proper trees in the woods and learning how to halve them to produce the blades. Then, layout will begin, with the curve of the cruck blades determining the "packing pieces" necessary to support the purlins and ridge. Both scribing and square rule layout systems are used. 

Cruck frames are exciting to build because of the way they change throughout the layout process. The decision-making and possible solutions will be an important lesson from the workshop. The course will also include demonstrations on chainsaw safety and milling, hand hewing, and finishing. 

NOTE: Previous timber framing course or experience is recommended. 

Instructors

Jack Sobon & Neil Godden

Jack A. Sobon is an architect, builder, and teacher specializing in timber framed buildings.  Since 1980 he has devoted his life to understanding the craft of timber framing.  Using only traditional hand tools and often starting right in the forest, he has framed and erected over 50 structures.  As an architect, he consults on historic structures as well as designing new timber framed structures.  He was a founding director of the Timber Framers Guild and founder of the Traditional Timber Frame Research and Advisory Group, an offshoot of the Guild.  He has four books to his credit including his latest: Hand Hewn, the Traditions, Tools, and Enduring Beauty of Timber Framing.

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
  • Recorded Timber-Framed Buildings: An Illustrated Glossary by N.W. Alcock, M.W. Barley, P.W. Dixon, & R.A. Meeson
Jun 27, 2022 - Jul 1, 2022 $925

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