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Vermont Timber Works Blog

Hammer Beam Truss Designs

By Sandy Connolly on November 18, 2013

The traditional hammer beam truss design is open and fabulous.  However, structurally, it can be an engineering challenge, which is fine, because Jessie is always up for a challenge!

Traditional Hammer Beam Bent

Traditional Hammer Beam Bent

We get a lot of questions about the home pictured above.  Who wouldn’t want this hammer beam timber style in their great room? The trusses are open and spacious.

What allows for the spacious hammer beam design, sans tie rod, is the building, which extends to the left and right, creating a buttress.  The buttress is important because it prevents the truss from pushing out.  (Pushing out would be bad. Very bad).  

Traditional Hammer Beam Iso

Traditional Hammer Beam Iso

If in your design, a buttress isn’t happening, then you can add a solid bottom chord (like our new logo!) or a steel tie rod.  Both options will resist the push, and hold strong.  Strong is good!

Tie Rod Needed?

Tie Rod Needed?

The modified hammer beam is pretty fabulous also, a bit stronger, but still often needs a tie rod.

Modified Hammer Beam with Tie Rod

Modified Hammer Beam with Tie Rod

Not in the case below, however. This project is in Stowe, VT.  Can you say snow load?  I was surprised by the design, but once I saw the frame, it made sense.  To maintain an open design, and keep the building safe for heavy snow loads, there is a combination of appropriate timber sizing and hidden steel to re-enforce the joinery.

Modified Hammer Beam Trusses

Modified Hammer Beam Trusses

If you had your choice of the traditional hammer beam (upper picture) or the modified hammer beam style, which would you choose? Do you like the steel rods?  We look forward to your thoughts!  And, as always….thank you for stopping by 🙂

Also, If you like the truss designs in this post, or have any timber work questions, we encourage you to get in contact or ask an expert!

7 comments
  1. Haha I like the post title! & I prefer the traditional hammer beam, but they’re both beautiful.

  2. Jessie Adams says:

    I’m always up for a challenge!

    • Sandy Connolly says:

      Yes you are and that’s why you are the best. We are proud to have you as our VP and will hold on to you tight!

  3. Emery says:

    Modified hammer beam for me! But, I agree with Margaux, both are beautiful.

  4. Chuck says:

    The traditional hammer beam indeed. IMO, the steel rod adds to the beauty!

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