Fundamentals of Scribing

Scribing is an art as much as a craft, requiring a good eye and a steady hand. It involves laying out and transferring joinery intersections from one timber to another using plumb bobs, levels, and marking devices instead of tape measures and math. 

A plumb bob

This traditional method is useful for incorporating out-of-square, naturally curved, or oddly shaped pieces into a timber frame as well as for complex roofs. In this course, we will learn to join round timbers to both square and other round pieces, and out-of-square timbers to other out-of-square faces on adjoining pieces.

We will practice various methods developed by a number of cultures and adapted and modified for modern times. This requires only a plumb bob, sharp pencil, a good eye, maybe some dividers, and steady hands. Accurate visualization of the pieces in the finished frame is critical during the setup and "lining" process, and this will be stressed early in the course prior to actual scribing and cutting.

Student and instructor working together in the scribed timber framing class.

Milled but naturally curved pieces can be joined to other timbers using the English or French "plumb line" method; double bubble pen scribers can work with fully round members. The goal is to develop joinery that provides adequate bearing capacity while making the timbers look as though they "grew" out of each other. We will practice all of these methods in this course. 


Adam Miller and Evan Sachs.

Adam Miller is an independent carpenter specializing in timber and log framing.  He enjoys sharing knowledge learned from his own research and from work with others.  Adam finds special joy in the layout and cutting of curvilinear work, both geometrically and organically derived.  A long-time member of the Timber Framers Guild and Carpenters' Fellowship, Adam often presents at conferences and has edited Timber Framing, the Guild's technical journal, since 2018. 

Evan Sachs is a timber framer and furniture maker based in northern Vermont. He has a passion for hand tools, joinery, and utilizing natural curves in his work - whether for a house frame or a table. 

His life as a woodworker began working alongside a fine furniture maker, building custom solid hardwood pieces. After discovering his interest in timber framing, his work has brought him to preservation carpentry, custom high efficiency home construction, and building timber frame structures around New England. He also has had the great pleasure of timber framing internationally with Carpenters Without Borders in France, and returned to hand hew timbers for the restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral. 

When not in the workshop or on site, Evan can be found enjoying time out in nature and pursuing his passion of making hard cider from wild apples. 

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