Self Built Timber Frame

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Stush, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    There was post here few days ago from someone that was planning to build a timber frame home. I have been building my own timber frame for about 18 months and thought that I would post these photos. My frame consists of 160 pieces, of which I have cut 150. Looks like I should have the rest cut in the next few weeks and have everything up and enclosed before winter. What a long process this has been. I'll post more photos as I make progress.


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  2. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    That is an awesome craftsman job you are doing there, Ive put up full scribed log houses since 1991, but i cheat i use a power saw to cut away the log and saddle notches, but i always wondered how long it would take to do it by hand..... ok so i know it would take a whole lot longer with an adze, chiesel and mallet, but the custom fir is still done with pocket knife in the end that way i do it.

    I do so admire hand crafted houses over the "blow and go" tract houses everyone lives in these days.

    William
     

  3. Future Farmer

    Future Farmer Member

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    These pictures are absolutely beautiful. I've read a ton on timber framing, but I've never had the opportunity to watch someone actually cut the timbers or put them together. I'm so jealous! Your cuts look fantastic. I really like your sawhorses.
     
  4. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .......................You, obviously have put alot of effort into this project , not counting the investment in tools and plans and material .
    .............Just a few questions to help myself and others decide if this is a project that might be feasible for the uninitiated and cluless about this type of construction.....(1) Do\did you have previous experience that would enable you to feel comfortable tackling this type of construction?
    ......................(2)Basic size and cost of enclosed shop to facilitate adequate tools and machinery to make the cuts in the beams and did you also live on site ?
    .....................(3)Did you have timber on your homesite that you cut and had milled to supply your logs ?
    .....................(4)I saw lots of plans on the wall so i'll assume that this was a "designed" home for which you purchased the plans !
    .....................(5)Can an "average Joe" start and finish a project such as this one if he has the dedication and necessary timber ??
    .....................(6)Given the present cost of lumber and building materials in general do you have adequate timber to finish the interior of your home??
    .....................(7)I would love to build a project such as this one but I wouldn't want to start unless I thought I could finish....
    .....................(8)And finally , what is the approximate sq. footage of your home and what type of foundation will you build the structure upon?

    ..................I guess this sounds like 20 questions but your work and attitude is infectious and makes me want to investigate further.....this has GOT to be a fairly pricey project even with all of your labor.......thanks if you decide to reply......fordy..... :)
     
  5. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    Ditto to all of the above!
    Great job Stush! Looking forward to your progress reports!
     
  6. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    WOW !! That is fantastic! You are doing all that by hand???? :eek: :eek:
     
  7. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    Just awesome! Having spent the last 2 years building, I recognize the amount of work you have put into this. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Charlee
     
  8. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    :waa: :confused: :waa: :confused: :waa: :confused: :waa: :confused: :waa: None of the pictures showed up for me, how come????
     
  9. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    Are you behind a firewall? Some filtering tools will block the site hosting my pictures.

    To fordy and the rest with Q's, I will answer asap.
     
  10. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ..........Stush , I understand that you aren't just sitting around waiting for "future timber framers " to ask you questions . So , whatever knowlege you feel like imparting too us Wannabee's will be Greatly appreciated.....
    ..........Thanks for your time and the Great Pics of your beautiful handiwork...fordy.... :)
     
  11. savingup

    savingup Active Member

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    Wow, I am absolutely speechless. Beautiful work! Oh yea, post pics when the project is complete!
     
  12. jerneeon

    jerneeon Well-Known Member

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    That will be one solid house!!!
     
  13. desdawg

    desdawg Well-Known Member

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    Ya gotta love it. I don't know if I would have the patience. If I had a lot of patience I would be a Dr. :no:
     
  14. VonWolfen

    VonWolfen Well-Known Member

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    Now THAT is some worthwhile stuff!! I wish you could set up one of those online photo albums and completely document your effort. The site, standing timber, type of timber, your training, any mistakes, details..details. These efforts are really meaningful to many of us. Thanks!
     
  15. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    Fordy, et al, see my responses to the italicized below. FWIW, I priced this frame with several builders prior to tackling it myself. The lowest price that I got was $32K. The highest was over $50K. With wood, tools, building, etc., I have my frame built for less than $12K. It could be done for less, and I could easily recoup $2K if I choose to resell my tools. That is the frame ONLY. You still have to enclose it, finish it, etc. This was not about the cheapest possible living space. It was about doing it myself, doing it right, and creating a home that my great grandchildren can live in some day. Unless, of course, the DOT needs my place for a four lane someday! :no:

    1. Do\did you have previous experience that would enable you to feel comfortable tackling this type of construction?

    I have built “stuff” since I was a kid. I am now 34, and have constructed several smaller buildings, including the one pictured in the post above. I also have done a fair amount of furniture building, which I feel helped me in this undertaking. However, I did sign up for a week long timber framing workshop two years ago. The time spent there was invaluable. The cost was $150 and that covered five days of instruction. There were people of all abilities and backgrounds there and all were doing well by week’s end. I would highly recommend that anyone wanting to build a timber frame spend some time working with someone who has done it before. I took a week of vacation to attend this workshop. It was one the best vacation weeks I ever took.

    2. Basic size and cost of enclosed shop to facilitate adequate tools and machinery to make the cuts in the beams and did you also live on site?

    The size of my shop is 14’ X 36’. Odd size? Yes, without a doubt. It fit the space I had on my lot. I could have managed with a smaller space, but wanted to be able to work on my longest piece with the end doors closed. You wouldn’t need an enclosed space, but in PA the weather just plain sucks so much of the time that it was a necessity. The place that I went to for the workshop used old chicken coops with chicken wire sides. Of course, that was in NC, not PA.

    Price for the building? That can be variable. Mine is just a simple pole building with pre built trusses and metal roofing. Everything cost me about $2K, plus or minus a few hundred. I did all of the work myself and scrounged bargain for whatever I could. That price included that woodstove, wiring, lights, garage doors, etc.

    I DO live on the site. Very desirable to do so. If you were far from the site, your would have a much harder time doing this.

    3. Did you have timber on your home site that you cut and had milled to supply your logs?

    Yes, I have 60 acres of timber to cut, but I did NOT use it. The price to have it hauled from my site, milled and then hauled back was more than purchasing timber from a local Amish mill. My timber bill was $3500. That was for 10000 bf of white pine timbers cut to my dimensions.

    4. I saw lots of plans on the wall so I’ll assume that this was a "designed" home for which you purchased the plans!

    Yes. I purchased these plans. Best $900 spent. They include full blueprints and cut sheets for each and every piece to be cut. You can buy stock plans for less. Mine had to be modified to fit my existing foundation.

    5. Can an "average Joe" start and finish a project such as this one if he has the dedication and necessary timber??

    Yes. Without a doubt.

    6. Given the present cost of lumber and building materials in general do you have adequate timber to finish the interior of your home?

    My lumber all comes from a local mill. Prices there are still very reasonable compared to what you would pay at a HD and Lowes.

    7. I would love to build a project such as this one but I wouldn't want to start unless I thought I could finish....
    You can do this if you have the time, patience, and proper tools. At a minimum, the tools required are:

    •Timber framing chisels. A 1.5” and a 2” are all you need. $100 - $200 for both. Shop EBay for bargains and sharpen them to like new.
    •Good wooden or rawhide mallet.
    •A few good handsaws.
    •A good circular saw. My personal preference is a solid 8 1/4" worm drive saw, but that is just personal preference.
    •A good heavy duty 1/2" drill.

    In addition, I purchased the following specialty tools on the used market:

    •A Makita Chain mortiser. This was a $1000 dollar item (used!) and has been worth every penny. It makes cutting an individual mortise a 3 to 5 minute job as opposed to a half hour job.
    •A 16” Makita circular saw. This makes cutting beams a breeze compared to a handsaw. I picked one up on EBay for $125 that had bad bearings. For a few bucks and some time, I have a saw that retails for $700+.

    Both of these specialty tools could easily be sold after the project is complete to recoup your investment. If you take care of them, you will get almost all of your money back. I, however, have no intention of ever selling mine. They are too useful to consider getting rid of them.

    8. And finally, what is the approximate sq. footage of your home and what type of foundation will you build the structure upon?

    My house will be 32’ X 48’ for approximately 1500 sq feet per floor. My first floor has 9’ wall height. My second floor will have 5’ wall height and only covers 5/8 of the first floor. The other 3/8 of the space is open from the first floor to the roof. That gets me about 2500 sq ft of space on floor one and two, plus a 1500 sq ft completely finished foundation that I currently live in. In retrospect I would have gone smaller. 28’ X 44’ or even 24’ X 40’. It would have made the beam sizes that I had to work much smaller and consequently much easier to handle. My main beams are 16” x 8” in cross section and 30’ long (two pieces with a central scarf joint). They are back breakers at about 500 – 600 pounds each piece. Ouch!

    It is being built on a concrete block foundation. If you used concrete block, fill the block where posts will sit with concrete to provide additional strength.

    Enclosing the frame has many options. I am going with precut SIPs. You can use a variety of methods ranging from strawbale to traditional framing.

    9. Parapharsed: Did you cut this all by hand?

    Yes. With the help of the two power tools mentioned above. A CNC machine can cut a post like mine in about 7 minutes. It takes me about 4 hours per post.
     
  16. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .............Stush , I just wanted to tell you how much everyone viewing this thread Thanks you for taking the time to post your answers to my\our questions . I am going to be selling my place here in Texas and moving to WY in the next 8 to 10 months hopefully . I Hate the summers here which last about 5 months out of the year . I've got to buy a couple of acres, build a metal storage building (40 x 40) that'll hold a small 5'ver and all my tools , and maybe a small living area . My goal would be to get setup in WY. ....then ....acquire the timber as you have , get them fabricated, poor a slab and build a home as cash flow permits . I don't want anymore payments . This will probably take 4 or 5 years but I'm in no great hurry . It'll all be worth the wait in the long run.......

    ..................Can you post the Name of the firm from which you acquired the plans and the Name of the School that you attended for Timber framing....thanks for All your help , ...fordy... :)
     
  17. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    I am reluctant to do so for two reasons:

    1) Their class was bit disorganized. There are probably better courses out there, but the cost will likely be significantly higher.

    2) The plans and service after the fact have been troublesome. I have literally found dozens of dimensional errors on the drawings. I am seriously hoping that I did indeed identify them all. When the complany was called on these errors, their explanation was that someone with more experience would have no problem finding and correcting these errors. They were insulted that I would even question them. Funny thing is that for $1000, I would expect that the drawings would have been double checked for accuracy. One or two minor errors would maybe be acceptable, but not this many.

    For these reasons, I would rather they remain nameless, at least until I am done. If someone is currently working with a TF comapny and would like to know the company, I will gladly discuss this with you off the forum. For more info on TF in general and to locate first class workshops etc, check out:

    www.tfguild.org
     
  18. sed_nick

    sed_nick Guest

    http://www.northhousefolkschool.com/classes/Timberframe.htm

    The North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota offers classes on Timberframing. I know one of the instructors from previous experience. He is quite organized, knowledgeable, and a good teacher.
     
  19. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

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    WOW!!!

    I'm am just amazed at your pictures. I can't even imagine the work that has gone into all that. Your pictures are beautiful.