Timber Framers Guild

Last updated
This covered bridge near Guelph, Ontario, Canada was a Guild project in 1992 Guelph covered bridge.jpg
This covered bridge near Guelph, Ontario, Canada was a Guild project in 1992
Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, Golden, British Columbia, completed in September 2001, is the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge.jpg
Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, Golden, British Columbia, completed in September 2001, is the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada

The Timber Framers Guild (the Guild) is a non-profit, international, membership organization established in 1984 in the United States to improve the quality and education of people practicing the millennia-old art of Timber framing buildings and other structures with beams joined with primarily wooden joints. Today the stated goals of the Guild are to provide "... national and regional conferences, sponsoring projects and workshops, and publishing a monthly newsletter, Scantlings, and a quarterly journal, Timber Framing " [1] In 2019, the Guild purchased the Heartwood School, which had been established in 1978 to teach skills and knowledge required for building energy-efficient homes and now focuses on timber framing, serving beginning to advanced students.


The Guild is not like medieval guilds in that the emphasis is on education rather than control of this traditional trade. The Guild is not directly associated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, but works closely with similar organizations. Overseas collaborators have included the Carpenters Fellowship in the U. K., Compagnons du Tour de France in France, and Zimmerman in Germany (a German language site). Originally the Guild was named the Timber Framers Guild of North America but the "North America" was dropped in recognition of the Guild's international presence.


Membership in the Guild does not necessarily reflect competency but an interest in construction, learning and/or teaching. Members are not required to practice timber framing. Most members build new timber frames, but many members restore, rehabilitate, preserve and/or study historic timber-framed buildings. The Guild also has institutional members, primarily corporations, and other partners include public agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. The philosophies vary widely with some members being innovative and designing buildings of the future, some use computer-controlled machinery to cut frames, some work only with traditional hand-powered tools. Some members use metal connectors rather than traditional wooden joinery.[ citation needed ]

Sub-groups within or associated with the Guild

The TTRAG group produced survey guidelines for recording historic timber-framed buildings.

The TFEC has developed a Standard for the Design of Timber Framed Structures as a "...supplement to provisions of the National Design Specification for Wood Construction..." [3] to assist engineers in this design specialty.


The Guild has held annual conferences and meetings since the 1980s at locations across North America. It also convenes regional meetings, workshops and community-building projects.

Apprenticeship Program

The Guild created a training program for apprentices to learn the art and science of traditional timber framing from mentors called journeyworkers. [4] This program uses a formal curriculum which is being revised.


The Guild publishes a newsletter for members, a respected journal Timber Framing, and books on the specialized topics of traditional timber framing. The Guild also lists other relevant books, software and a Glossary of timber framing terms. An important record of historic timber frame joints found in the U.S.A. is Historic American Timber Joinery: A Graphic Guide which was partially funded by a grant from National Park Service and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training and thus are available for free download. [5] This guide is expanding as new types of joints are found and recorded.


An online, public forum is managed for anyone to search for past discussions or ask questions. [6]


The current Executive Director of the Guild is Dr. Eric S. Howard, a nonprofit executive with 30 years of leadership in sustainability and education. Prior directors include Mack Magee, Jeff Arvin, Joel McCarty, Brenda Baker, and Will Beemer.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joinery</span> Where pieces of wood are fixed together in an assembly

Joinery is a part of woodworking that involves joining pieces of wood, engineered lumber, or synthetic substitutes, to produce more complex items. Some woodworking joints employ mechanical fasteners, bindings, or adhesives, while others use only wood elements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barn</span> Agricultural building used for storage and as a covered workplace

A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes. In North America, a barn refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain. As a result, the term barn is often qualified e.g. tobacco barn, dairy barn, cow house, sheep barn, potato barn. In the British Isles, the term barn is restricted mainly to storage structures for unthreshed cereals and fodder, the terms byre or shippon being applied to cow shelters, whereas horses are kept in buildings known as stables. In mainland Europe, however, barns were often part of integrated structures known as byre-dwellings. In addition, barns may be used for equipment storage, as a covered workplace, and for activities such as threshing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carpentry</span> Skilled trade

Carpentry is a skilled trade and a craft in which the primary work performed is the cutting, shaping and installation of building materials during the construction of buildings, ships, timber bridges, concrete formwork, etc. Carpenters traditionally worked with natural wood and did rougher work such as framing, but today many other materials are also used and sometimes the finer trades of cabinetmaking and furniture building are considered carpentry. In the United States, 98.5% of carpenters are male, and it was the fourth most male-dominated occupation in the country in 1999. In 2006 in the United States, there were about 1.5 million carpentry positions. Carpenters are usually the first tradesmen on a job and the last to leave. Carpenters normally framed post-and-beam buildings until the end of the 19th century; now this old-fashioned carpentry is called timber framing. Carpenters learn this trade by being employed through an apprenticeship training—normally 4 years—and qualify by successfully completing that country's competence test in places such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and South Africa. It is also common that the skill can be learned by gaining work experience other than a formal training program, which may be the case in many places.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mortise and tenon</span> Woodworking joint

A mortiseand tenon joint connects two pieces of wood or other material. Woodworkers around the world have used it for thousands of years to join pieces of wood, mainly when the adjoining pieces connect at right angles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barn raising</span> Collective construction by community

A barn raising, also historically called a raising bee or rearing in the U.K., is a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community. Barn raising was particularly common in 18th- and 19th-century rural North America. A barn was a necessary structure for any farmer, for example for storage of cereals and hay and keeping of animals. Yet a barn was also a large and costly structure, the assembly of which required more labor than a typical family could provide. Barn raising addressed the need by enlisting members of the community, unpaid, to assist in the building of their neighbors' barns. Because each member could ask others for help, reciprocation could eventually reasonably be presumed for each participant if the need were to arise.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timber framing</span> Traditional building technique

Timber framing and "post-and-beam" construction are traditional methods of building with heavy timbers, creating structures using squared-off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs. If the structural frame of load-bearing timber is left exposed on the exterior of the building it may be referred to as half-timbered, and in many cases the infill between timbers will be used for decorative effect. The country most known for this kind of architecture is Germany, where timber-framed houses are spread all over the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jettying</span> Medieval building technique

Jettying is a building technique used in medieval timber-frame buildings in which an upper floor projects beyond the dimensions of the floor below. This has the advantage of increasing the available space in the building without obstructing the street. Jettied floors are also termed jetties. In the U.S., the most common surviving colonial version of this is the garrison house. Most jetties are external, but some early medieval houses were built with internal jetties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Natural building</span>

A natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those that, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. Natural building tends to rely on human labor, more than technology. As Michael G. Smith observes, it depends on "local ecology, geology and climate; on the character of the particular building site, and on the needs and personalities of the builders and users."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Framer</span>

A framer is someone who frames, or someone who constructs frames.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cruck</span> Curved timber used as roof support

A cruck or crook frame is a curved timber, one of a pair, which support the roof of a building, historically used in England and Wales. This type of timber framing consists of long, generally naturally curved, timber members that lean inwards and form the ridge of the roof. These posts are then generally secured by a horizontal beam which then forms an "A" shape. Several of these "crooks" are constructed on the ground and then lifted into position. They are then joined together by either solid walls or cross beams which aid in preventing 'racking'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Framing (construction)</span> Construction technique

Framing, in construction, is the fitting together of pieces to give a structure support and shape. Framing materials are usually wood, engineered wood, or structural steel. The alternative to framed construction is generally called mass wall construction, where horizontal layers of stacked materials such as log building, masonry, rammed earth, adobe, etc. are used without framing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Butt joint</span> Techniques to join two pieces of wood together

A butt joint is a technique in which two pieces of material are joined by simply placing their ends together without any special shaping. The name "butt joint" comes from the way the material is joined. The butt joint is the simplest joint to make since it merely involves cutting the material to the appropriate length and butting them together. It is also the weakest because unless some form of reinforcement is used, it relies upon glue or welding alone to hold it together. Because the orientation of the material usually presents only one end to a long gluing or welding surface, the resulting joint is inherently weak.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Purlin</span> Structural member in a roof

A purlin is a longitudinal, horizontal, structural member in a roof. In traditional timber framing there are three basic types of purlin: purlin plate, principal purlin, and common purlin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sill plate</span>

A sill plate or sole plate in construction and architecture is the bottom horizontal member of a wall or building to which vertical members are attached. The word "plate" is typically omitted in America and carpenters speak simply of the "sill". Other names are rat sill, ground plate, ground sill, groundsel, night plate, and midnight sill.

Traditional trades is a loosely defined categorization of building trades who actively practice their craft in respect of historic preservation, heritage conservation, or the conserving and maintenance of the existing built environment. Though traditional trade practitioners may at times be involved in new construction, the emphasis of the categorization is toward work on existing structures, regardless of their age or their historic value, with a specific interest in replication or conservation of the original results and craft techniques.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timber roof truss</span> Structural framework of timbers

A timber roof truss is a structural framework of timbers designed to bridge the space above a room and to provide support for a roof. Trusses usually occur at regular intervals, linked by longitudinal timbers such as purlins. The space between each truss is known as a bay.

A post is a main vertical or leaning support in a structure similar to a column or pillar but the term post generally refers to a timber but may be metal or stone. A stud in wooden or metal building construction is similar but lighter duty than a post and a strut may be similar to a stud or act as a brace. In the U.K. a strut may be very similar to a post but not carry a beam. In wood construction posts normally land on a sill, but in rare types of buildings the post may continue through to the foundation called an interrupted sill or into the ground called earthfast, post in ground, or posthole construction. A post is also a fundamental element in a fence. The terms "jack" and "cripple" are used with shortened studs and rafters but not posts, except in the specialized vocabulary of shoring.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American historic carpentry</span>

American historic carpentry is the historic methods with which wooden buildings were built in what is now the United States since European settlement. A number of methods were used to form the wooden walls and the types of structural carpentry are often defined by the wall, floor, and roof construction such as log, timber framed, balloon framed, or stacked plank. Some types of historic houses are called plank houses but plank house has several meanings which are discussed below. Roofs were almost always framed with wood, sometimes with timber roof trusses. Stone and brick buildings also have some wood framing for floors, interior walls and roofs.

cadwork informatik AG is a multinational software company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. It develops and markets software products primarily for the construction industry. These products include timber industry products in computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) as well as products in building information model (BIM) and virtual design and construction (VDC). These products are suitable for designers, structural engineers, construction engineers, civil engineering draftspeople, building contractors, and in the case of BIMTeam VDC, the construction crews.


  1. "About Us". Archived from the original on 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  2. "Timber Frame Engineering Council". Archived from the original on 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-09-12. Retrieved 2012-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "NCPTT | Timber Framers Guild Apprenticeship Program". Archived from the original on 2013-02-26. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  5. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2012-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Timber Frame Forums - Forums powered by UBB.threads™". forums.tfguild.net. Retrieved 17 April 2018.