Timber Framing Q and A

I recently put up a video on my YouTube channel offering to do a question and answer session on timber framing.  I have received several excellent questions and thought I would put some of them in writing here along with the answers for future reference.  This article will be put out in multiple installments as there is a lot of information to share.

I should also make you aware that I am not a timber framing guru by any means but I have spent several years researching timber framing in preparation for a build of my own.  Well after all of those years of researching, watching whatever I could find on Youtube and pouring over hundreds of posts on forums that the real professional framers frequent trying to get educated on the subject, I am in the process of building my own.

Now I am on my way to having my first project standing.  Along the way I have learned a lot of lessons on this style of building, many of those the hard way but the lessons have been invaluable.  Here I will share those lessons and hopefully it will help some of you be able to pursue your own frames.  So, lets start out with the first question.

YouTube user Frugal Drew asked:

“How many hours do you have in so far?  How long per cant and bent on average?”

To Frugal Drew:

This is a hard question to answer mainly because you have to account for the learning curve when starting out.  The first scarf joint I cut took me two full eight hour plus days to cut the joint…then another day to fix the butcher job I did on the first joint.  On the last one I cut it took me about three hours to do, keep in mind the joint on those beams are four feet long in a ten inch by sixteen inch beam.  The wall posts take me about four hours to cut from start to finish and the braces take about twenty minutes from layout to finish if I don’t get distracted…which by the way is a major malfunction of mine…kind of like a squirrel on speed… So total time for a complete bent is about twelve hours of actual joinery cutting.  Of course it takes me longer because of constant interruptions and other projects that always seem to pop up.

YouTube user John Kelly asked:

“What would be the best and cheapest option if you couldn’t afford cement?”

To John Kelly:

It all depends on what kind of structure you are putting up.  If you are building a pole barn using pressure treated posts then you can tar the posts and sink them into the ground.  It is not my favorite method but it can be done and I have seen them last quite some time built that way.  A timber frame is a different animal though.  Your posts are going to be spaced out more with less of them than a typical pole barn.  A timber frame is a structure that relies on all framing members to give strength to the other framing members.  This strength starts at the ground level.  If you can’t afford to pour an entire slab or frost wall then you should consider putting in substantial piers below frost level.  These piers should be poured in a way that they are wider at the bottom than the top to help keep them from heaving.  They also have to be deep enough to where they will not settle and throw parts of the frame out of whack.  The old frames of which there are many still standing throughout the world were built on dry stacked stone foundations with a sill plate running around the entire perimeter and the weight of the building was enough to keep it where it had to be.  Hope this helps.

YouTube user treetopflyersofva2 asked:

“…On the posts that are on the concrete.  Are they anchored?  Is there anything preventing direct contact?”

To treetopflyersofva2:

As of this moment the posts are not anchored.  When I am done standing the frame there will be angle iron brackets I will make that will attach to the posts and in turn will be anchored into the slab with expandable anchors.  As for direct contact the posts have pressure treated lumber attached to the bottom of the posts before they get stood up.


Here is a good point to stop for this installment.  I will be gathering questions from my viewers and answering them here from time to time in detail.  So until the next time, stay safe and be happy.


Jim the Tradesman




One thought on “Timber Framing Q and A

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  1. JimDAD07: If you need help with a question please feel free to share it with me, and I’ll help you if I can. One thing about post bottoms touching concrete, there should be a water proof membrane between the wood and the concrete, even pressure treated. You can just lift your frame up 1/8″ and slide one in before you secure it down.

    Jim Rogers Jim Rogers Timber Designs Vintage Tools NE Jim Rogers Sawmill 117-R Jewett Street Georgetown, MA 01833-1833 800-422-6250 (Toll Free USA only) (978)-352-9861 email: jrsawmill@verizon.net http://www.jrsawmill.com Skype name: jim.rogers17

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