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Timber Frame Home Craftsmanship

Every timber frame home is reminiscent of yesteryear. Over the course of centuries, timber framing has evolved. Yet, one thing remains constant – craftsmanship. Let’s take a moment to learn about timber framing and and how it has changed over the centuries.

Chisel and Joinery

Traditional Timber Frame Home Fabrication

Transforming a round log into a square timber is where fabrication begins. The wood industry refers to the newly-formed wood as a cant. Traditionally, two people operating a whipsaw created the initial shape of the cant. Then, a craftsman used a broad axe to hew the cant and smooth rough edges.

Next, a craftsman cut and shaped the timber frame pieces from the cants. Creating the mortise and tenon joinery that holds the frame together was the final piece of the puzzle. This is one of the most difficult steps in the process. For the timbers to connect snugly and support the home’s structure, the mortise and tenon placement needs to be precise. With only hand tools to use, it took a very patient craftsman to get the cuts just right.

Riverbend Shop with Timbers and K2

The Evolution of Timber Home Fabrication

Today, advancements in construction technology and electric tools allow timber framers to create more intricate timber frame homes that meet today’s stringent building codes.

Invented in the late 1500’s, saw mills sped up the process of turning logs into usable lumber. In fact, saw mills still fabricate cants today. The introduction of computer-controlled (CNC) machinery in the late 20th-century made it possible to produce precisely-cut timbers much faster than hand cutting. CNC machines use digital files to create the cuts needed to fabricate the timbers. In addition, power tools and electrical drills have recently made it effortless to create the exact measurements needed for the mortise and tenon joinery.

A timber bent being pre-fit in the shop

Timber Frame Craftsmanship Today

Riverbend Timber Framing started as a traditional timber frame shop. If you visit the shop, you will notice truss patterns still hanging on the walls. The Riverbend craftsmen no longer use these patterns to create timber frame trusses. However, the craftsmen still learn and use the handcrafting techniques. Now, these techniques are enhanced by the use of CNC machinery and modern day power tools.

After the CNC machines cut each cant to size and carve some of the mortise and tennon joinery, further refinement is done by hand. Before leaving the shop, every Riverbend timber frame home is pre-fit and the final details are finished with hand tools. This step ensures the joinery is perfect before it is shipped to your build site.

Visit the craftsmanship section of our website for more information about Riverbend’s fabrication process and the decades of experience that have culminated into our seamless building system.


Love to Entertain? Add These Features To Your Layout

Having guests over for a party or a meal can bring much joy. But, it can also bring out the ‘pain points’ of your current home’s floor plan. Does having a kitchen where everything everyone needs is in the same corner sound familiar? However, if you love to entertain, there are some simple features you can add to your new timber frame home that will make hosting your friends and family a breeze.

Flexible Eating Areas

Flexibility is key when entertaining. From unexpected guests to an event suddenly becoming a formal affair having the right amenities for the situation is key.

Many families like to have a formal dining room where they can sit the entire family for the holiday meal. However, dedicating square footage to a large table that is only used occasionally is not the best use of space. A great solution is to have a dining room without walls on every side. That way leaves can be added to the table, temporarily expanding it into the great room.

You may also want a more informal eating space for casual gatherings. Consider designing a breakfast nook, island snack bar, or a special space in your sunroom. These extra spaces can also double as the kids’ table during parties or give everyone a seat when the number of guests is a few more than you expected.

A Large Pantry

If you find that one or two guests usually turns into a fiesta, you probably keep a stock of supplies to whip up a bite to eat on hand. Cabinets can get easily crammed, making it had to pull anything out, find something, or know when you run out of an essential ingredient.

Designing a pantry into your new home is an easy fix. If you want to save on square footage have a special cabinet pantry designed for the supplies and tools you frequently access.

Walk-in pantries take some square footage but can grant room for a few extras. With more room for storage, it can be easier to find items. In addition, you can store more than just food. Holiday plates, large accessory kitchen appliances, vases, and more can all have their own special place. Large pantries can have counters giving you more work space to prep a large meal. You can even add a mini refrigerator with snacks giving your guests a place to grab a thing or two without walking through the middle of your busy kitchen.

Built-In Bars

Built-In bars add a secondary place to prepare drinks and create convenience for you and your guests. Having a dedicated cocktail mixing area in the kitchen is perfect if you want to have guests serve themselves while you finish up the dishes.

However, you don’t necessarily need to put your wet bar near the kitchen. Add the space where your guests mingle, like your rec room or an outdoor space.

Secondary Entertaining Space

While many people entertain in the main living area of their home, you have an opportunity to create secondary spaces you are dreaming of when building a new timber frame home. Incorporate a theater room in your basement for movie nights, or if your home is the grandkid’s hangout, a game room could be the perfect addition to your layout.

If you do not want to add a large space to your layout, consider smaller spaces that still make it fun to entertain. Wine tasting and poker rooms don’t need to be big to create lasting memories.

A Floor Plan for Entertaining

The Melody Lane design concept by Riverbend Timber Framing is perfect for entertaining. This floor plan includes an open dining room that connects to a screened porch and a kitchen island with seating for four. The oversized pantry has plenty of storage and room for a second refrigerator. Downstairs is a game room for the kids and an entertainment room complete with a wet bar for the adults.

Not exactly what you are looking for? Many of the ideas listed in this blog can be integrated into any of Riverbend’s design concepts or into a custom plan you create with our design group.

A Timber Frame Home for Forever

Tips for Designing a Timber Frame Home for Retirement: Single Levels and Universal Design

Kalamazoo Residence, Single Level Living in a Timber Frame Home

It is not a secret that moving around gets a bit harder as we get older. If you are building a timber frame home to spend your retirement, whether you plan to retire tomorrow or in twenty years, forethought and preparation for the physical changes that occur in later in life will allow you to enjoy your timber home for longer.

Single Level Living

One of the major obstacles in homes is stairs. They can be difficult to get up or down, especially if you have to carry something. While you can retrofit stairs with lifts, it is easy to eliminate stairs altogether during the design process. If you have all the aspects of a home you need for day-to-day living on the same level (entry, bedroom & bathroom, kitchen, and laundry), stairs become obsolete.
Essential single level spaces

Containing your layout on a single level can be a smart choice. However, large ranch-style homes may not be feasible due to your property size or your budget. In these cases, there are practical reasons for including a basement or second floor.

Basements can give you the square footage you need for guest rooms, an office, or game room. They also work well on sloped sites and are a cost-effective way to gain the space you need.

Second floors are another great way to add square footage for a hobby room, bunk room, or storage. Since timber frames have naturally vaulted spaces, you can carve a loft into the space that is already in your home’s design.

If a basement or second floor is primarily used for something you will not need to visit on a regular basis, then these spaces are great additions for your retirement home.

Universal Design

Stairs are an obvious and predictable pain point in a home; however, you might consider planning for the unexpected too. While we do not imagine ourselves using a walker or wheelchair, the longer we live in our home the more likely we or a loved one may need special accommodations. To avoid costly renovations down the line, you may choose to design your home according to universal design principles.

single level grandview floor planUniversal design is a concept of creating buildings that are accessible to all people, regardless of their mobility. Creating wider doorways and hallways is one of the most popular practices of universal design. The wider width can better accommodate wheelchairs but are also handy for navigating through with a large laundry basket.

A timber frame home’s strong structure makes openness one of its inherent properties. Since many timber frame homes do not require the use of interior load-bearing walls, it is easy to create spaces where anyone can maneuver.

Other aspects of universal design include:

  • no-step entries,
  • level thresholds between different types of flooring,
  • sinks at varying heights and roll-in showers,
  • appliances and environmental controls at central heights to limit bending down or reaching up.

While planning for future health challenges may be uncomfortable, these design elements are a must have for retirement living.

Building a timber frame home for retirement, or secondary home that will become a primary residence, is common among Riverbend’s clients. Visit our selection of floor plans perfect for retirement to learn how you can adjust a timber frame home’s layout so you can live in it for many years to come.


Mountain Timber Frame Homes in 2018

Mountain-style timber frame homes blend into North America’s many landscapes. This architectural style reflects the rustic homes of the mountains, from the Rockies to the Appalachians. Characteristics of mountain-style timber frame homes include features that take advantage of panoramic views, capitalize on frequently sloped lots, and create seamless indoor-outdoor living. Ideal for modern living, mountain-style homes are built in many different types of settings.

Today, we are featuring three mountain timber frame homes that are scheduled to break ground within the next year. We are excited to see these homeowners’ dreams come to life with the timeless tradition of timber framing.

Timber Frame Home for a Large FamilyEdmon

Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Timber Raising Scheduled: December 2017
Custom Home Design
Square Feet: 6,896

Architectural & Floor Plan Features:

  • Prominent exterior timber framing
  • Four bay garage with dedicated ATV bay
  • Large outdoor living areas, including a wrap around deck
  • Screened porch with double sided fireplace
  • Walk out basement
  • Private office and homework nooks

Secluded Timber Frame Retreat

Location: Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Timber Raising Scheduled: May 2018
Home Design Inspired by the Mayson
Square Feet: 3,146

Architectural & Floor Plan Features:

  • Prow window
  • Walkout basement with flex space
  • Elevator
  • Covered deck and patio
  • Timber frame portico
  • Second floor dedicated to master suite

Chattahoochee River Valley Timber Frame Home

Georgia Timber Frame Home

Location: Columbus, Georgia
Timber Raising Scheduled: July 2018
Home Inspired by the Mountain View
Square Feet: 3,224

Architectural & Floor Plan Features:

  • King post timber frame trusses
  • Stone accents
  • Covered patio with fireplace
  • Three-car garage
  • Loft
  • Bonus space over garage
  • Master suite on main floor

If you are inspired by these custom home designs, explore our mountain-style timber frame home designs.

Want to break ground on your timber frame home in 2018? Learn more about our design process or contact us to start your dream home today.

Meet Riverbend in Person at an Event

While technology, like email and video calls, has made communication easier and more effective than ever, nothing can replace meeting the team who may help you build your dream timber frame home in person for some.

Riverbend Timber Framing offers many ways to meet your Client Representative, discuss your project, and get the information you need.

Home Planning Seminars

Twice a year, Riverbend holds a Home Planning Seminar at our Michigan office and timber frame shop. The half day event includes an informative presentation that covers all aspects of designing and building a timber frame home. Topics range from the materials used to build a timber frame home to our architectural design and construction services. Riverbend Client Representatives will be available to answer questions and discuss your project. In addition, they will also lead tours of Riverbend’s shop and a nearby timber frame home.

Where: Riverbend Timber Framing Headquarters, Michigan.
When: Twice yearly, Spring & Fall.
How to Attend: See when our next Home Planning Seminar is scheduled & request more information.


Timber Frame Home Raisings

Raisings are an exciting opportunity to see the beauty of a timber frame home. Meet your Client Representative on site for a tour and have your questions answered about the details of timber frame construction. Your safety while onsite is our top concern, so appointments are required.

Where: Across North America.
When: As they occur.
How to Attend: If you would like to see a timber frame raised, contact your Riverbend Client Representative to schedule an appointment at a private raising near you. Raisings open for visitors will be posted on Riverbend’s Event Page.

Client Representative Travel

Client Representatives frequently travel from our headquarters and regional offices to meet future timber frame home owners. Representatives hold personal meetings, Home Planning Seminars, and attend home shows across North America. Representatives are happy to review floor plan ideas or offer advice on your future home’s site placement at meetings. Seminars are great for gathering the information you need about designing and building your new timber frame home.

Where: Across North America.
When: Year-round.
How to Attend: Check our Event Page frequently for upcoming travel events. If you do not see an event near you, request to be notified of future events in your area.


Usually, Riverbend Client Representatives are able to travel to most locations throughout the year. However, if you are ready to start the design process, feel free to request a personal site visit to kick off your project.