Scribe Joinery

A plumb bob

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. 

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.

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

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.

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. 

Scribed timber framing class with their finished project.


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. 

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.

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Aug 15, 2022 - Aug 19, 2022 $925

3 spots remaining.


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