Basics of Building

This course presents the basic techniques and principles of house building, timber framing, and carpentry. 

The course includes:

  • The concepts of plumb, level, and square and how they rule the framing process as well as how to track and measure them to keep your projects in "good shape."
  • Measuring angles and using basic construction geometry with the framing square for building roofs and stairs.
  • Becoming competent with both hand and power tools to be able to measure and cut to within 1/32 of an inch.
  • Good use of the many tools you would find on a house building project, including those for measuring, marking, cutting, shaping, attaching materials, and deconstruction. 
  • The all-important techniques of sharpening edge tools and hand saws.
  • Tricks of the trade to make your work easier and safer.

Course information

students at Heartwood discussing tools and tool use

Morning sessions will cover hand and portable power tool use, tool sharpening, joinery, conventional stick framing, and shop tools. 

Afternoons will be spent working on a timber framed project and applying the skills and techniques learned in the morning sessions. 


Neil Godden & guest instructor TBA

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

Journal of Light Construction - Field Guide

Aug 29, 2022 - Sep 2, 2022 $925

13 spots remaining.


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