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Pioneer Timber Framing

Timber Frames



What is a Timber Frame?

A timber frame is the skeleton of a building made with heavy squared timbers. Many American Pioneers would build a log house first, and later on when they were a little more established build a timber-framed house or add a timber frame to their log house. Most historic log and timber frame homes are covered both inside and out so you never see the timbers. However, most of the old barns we see across the US are timber framed, and when we step in those big doors we step back in time. All their hard work and craftsmanship is there on display. The next time you are in an old barn take a close look. They are a testament to the
integrity and craftsmanship of the pioneers before us. The locals here in Southern Ohio call them peg barns.

In a timber frame, big square timbers are held together using ancient time tested mortises, tennons and wooden pegs. Each timber is marked, sawn and drilled for it’s specific function in the frame like a giant jigsaw puzzle. There are no precut studs or trusses in a timber frame. One timber may take half a day to complete all of its different mortises, tennons, etc. When all the timbers are ready, they are taken to the site and pegged together in large units on the deck. The large units are called bents and they are raised one at a time, usually in less than a day. The pioneers used manpower, oxen and lots of ingenuity to get the bents up in the air. When all the bents are in place they are held together with either connecting girts or top plates. Then rafters or trusses finish out the roof framing. A bare timber frame is a functional work of art.

Why Do All That Work Today?

1. It brings us back to the way things used to be.
2. Big timbers are beautiful.
3. They are strong and we like our buildings to protect us.
4. Using natural, local, or reclaimed material supports both the environment and our community.
5. There is great satisfaction in working with your hands.
6. An ordinary out building all of a sudden becomes a conversation piece.
7. They last generations.

What We Do?

We try to capture the pioneer spirit in a number of ways. We use the same early American joinery techniques found in many of the old houses and barns you may have seen on grandpa’s farm. We use the resources the land has to offer. Locally grown timbers or reclaimed lumber produce an affordable frame that will last generations. A Pioneer Timber frame is adaptable to rustic cabin retreats, big barns, workshops, outbuildings, garages, pergolas, porches and additions. We have made frames from poplar, white oak, eastern red cedar, sassafras, and antique salvaged timbers. Every frame is unique and one of a kind.

Give me a call and we can talk about your ideas. 

©2011 Pioneer Timber Framing/Nathan Adkins
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