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Steel Connections and Timber Frames

By Caitlin on December 22, 2017

Today we’re going to look at how Steel is used in Timber Framing. While the traditional joinery techniques that are used in Timber Framing are strong and secure, sometimes steel connections are used to reinforce connections in particularly large structures or when there’s a heavy wind or snow load. Other times, steel connections are added purely for their aesthetic value.

Steel Tie Rods and Brackets on Modified Hammer Trusses for The Church of Saint Michael the Archangel.

From a purely visual perspective, steel connectors on a wood timber frame evoke a certain industrial style that some people enjoy. They definitely add a different look and feel to a traditional rustic timber frame, by channeling a vintage, industrial factory aesthetic. The steel connections can be galvanized or powder coated in a variety of colors to change their look and style further.

Red Steel Ties in an Industrial Timber Frame Building.

Steel connector plates also allow heavy timber to span great distances by supporting a large amount of structural load. The gusset plates are bolted together and connected to the timber with 3/4” and 1” bolts. Sometimes shear plates are placed behind the steel to increase the structural capacity of the connection. All the steel connections we use at Vermont Timber Works are custom designed and engineered to fit the requirements and specifications of each project.

Steel Plates and Bolts on an Arch in a College Cafeteria.

For all our steel connections, we work closely with a local Vermont steel fabricator that we have had a relationship with for years. unfortunately, We do not individually fabricate or sell custom steel plates or gussets here at Vermont Timber Works unless we are also supplying a heavy timber package. If you are looking for steel plates or gussets for your own project, you can try The online retailer, Simpson Strong-Tie. Or you can do a google search for local steel fabricators near you.

Steel Connector Plates on a Glulam Timber Frame in a Restaurant in Maine.

Questions about Steel Connections? Submit a question on our Ask The Experts page or leave a comment below.



  1. WesLor Enterprises has been fabricating Timber Steel brackets for over 7 years for along with a host of other one off custom items. Located in Upstate NY, we will install anyway, especially in the North East, or fabricate and ship direct to your site.

  2. Tom Coates says:

    I have a house in florida that needs some work. Thought about using metal brackets. I have a design in mind .Can you fab and provide engineering.
    Tom Coates

    • Caitlin says:

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for commenting on our blog. If you’re looking to add a Timber Frame addition to your house that uses metal brackets, give us a call at 802-886-1917 to speak to one of our Sales staff about what you have in mind. However, if you’re only looking for metal brackets, due to our current workload, we are unable to fabricate any steel components unless we are also fabricating the Timber Frame as well.

      Thank you,


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