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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.