Timber Framing Begins: Building the Strawtron House Platform

by ziggy on May 17, 2012 -- 3 comments -- Follow

Timber framing

Making wood chips... er, timber framing beings!

Today was a historic day in the “Strawtron” building timeline — we began timber framing and building our house platform. Yahoo! A few nights ago, we got our delivery of massive sill beams and floor joists, including some honking 8×12 white oak beams at 16 feet long each — requiring no less than ten people to carry them 30 feet into our newly erected “wedding tent”, the temporary shade/weather structure we constructed for our Timber Frame Workshop.

Tom Cundiff came out and guided us in laying out the giant 8x12s, and then we got to using our boring machine (a Millers Falls boring machine that we acquired last year through craigslist), hand saws, and chisels to start cutting two scarf joints. The photo above is our very first handful of chips, generated from the Millers Falls machine. Love that oak smell.

Timber framing crosscut saw

April saws some kerfs with the big ol' cross cut saw

Exciting times are in our future. The plan is to construct the floor platform (including the reclaimed tongue and groove flooring) prior to the workshop, so that we can focus on the most important part of the frame during the course.

It was a great day, full of work and excitement for what is to come.

Keep tuned in for more timber framing news and updates.

Scarf joint with mortise

Making a mortise in one of the sill beam scarf joints

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  • Lucy Jordan

    Brian/Ziggy and April, how exciting!! and the plans look like it will be a beautiful home, I wish I could have attended the workshop as it’s my life’s dream to build my own strawbale/cob home. I’m working on it….. 😉
    I wish you all good weather, good work and good times and I am looking forward to the next installment.
    Love and blessings

  • Nicofrog


    as a Cob builder ,I have little familiarity with Timber construction.
    looking at your amazing oak floor beams ,and the concrete posts that they sit on so level and true, I am wondering how you keep that all from being topply, Lets see ,maybe you don’t have earthquakes like we do in Ca. but maybe tornadoes of hurricanes? or someone bumping it with a truck?

    will there need to be some cross bracing underneath?
    here we have a strickt code situation,and even when “outside “the code ,we need to engineer sheer strength into the structure.Just wondering..???

  • Hey Nico:

    It’s true — earthquakes are largely a non-issue here. Tornadoes are more of a threat than anything. Trucks will not come near the house.

    The house will be very heavy, so gravity itself will keep it in place. (Between the frame, the straw bale walls with plaster, and living roof… this is a very, very heavy structure. We’ve got bigger problems on our hands if this house budges in severe winds!)

    There is no diagonal bracing in the floor. Building codes are nonexistent here, but our pro timber framer friend (and Timber Frame Workshop instructor) Tom Cundiff did all of the load calculations, so we’re well set up.

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