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Tools

Hand Crafting Timber Frames

At Vermont Timber Works we still hand crafts all of our frames using classic timber framing tools like framing chisels, mortising machines, beam saws, peg drills, slicks and more.

While many other timber framers have started using automated equipment for fabrication, we have found that it is still better, and more accurate, to use hand tools.

For design, we use state of the art computer CAD programs and develop detailed shop drawings. Then we use cutting tools to fabricate each timber individually and precisely.

Scroll down the page to see some of the tools we use to fabricate custom timber frames.

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CLASSIC POST & BEAM TOOLS

The following slides detail the different tools used to handcraft timber frames, from the beginning stages when the timber is still in log form, up to the final steps of using chisels and mallets to cut beam details.

Logs going up the conveyor to the Saw Mill

LOGS GOING UP THE CONVEYOR TO THE SAW MILL

We buy our hemlock and pine timbers from local mills in Vermont and New Hampshire and our douglas fir timbers come from Oregon. In this picture, bark is being stripped from logs at a saw mill.

The Saws at the Mill

THE SAWS AT THE MILL

After their bark is stripped off, the raw logs are cut into square timbers. After being cut, the saw mill bands the timber together, loads it onto a tractor trailer truck and then ships it to our shop.

Timber Layout

THE LAYOUT

The timbers are brought into the shop laid out by hand using the CAD generated design drawings. Accuracy is assured by a triple checking process. We use traditional measuring tools for the layout, like a framing square, bevel squares, etc. It is the most exact way since every timber is unique.

Timber Tools Big Saw

BIG SAW

Beam saws are used to cut the timbers to length, and to do angle cuts and compound cuts as shown here. Other hand tools used for cutting include japanese style pull saws, left handed worm saws, and a large band saw to cut curved beams.

Timber Tools Drill Press

DRILL PRESS

A hand held drill press is the tool used to bore the holes for pegs and bolts.

Cutting a Detailed Joint With a Small Saw

CUTTING A DETAILED JOINT WITH A SMALL SAW

Smaller saws are used to do the finer cuts.

Applying Urethane

APPLYING URETHANE

All timbers are finished on all sides, including in the pockets and on the ends, before leaving our shop.

THE ADZE

For a truly authentic look, hand hewn timbers are hewn the old fashioned way - by hand.

The Slick

THE SLICK

A slick is used to clean the surface of a hand hewn beam.

Wood Specifications

FABRICATED TIMBERS READY TO SHIP

Finished timbers are labeled according to their unique location in the frame.

CHISEL & MALLET

Razor sharp chisels are used to shape the custom joinery.

FRAMING CHISEL

The final work is done using hand tools like chisels and mallets. A well honed chisel is sharp enough to shave with.

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