We handcraft all of our timber frames to suit the needs of each client. We use a variety of woods and finishes. We do not build standard post and beam kits. Instead, we match each clients’ need with a timber frame custom designed for them. Then ship the timber frame as a kit for the owner or our crew to assemble and raise.
The Fabrication Process
- 3D Design
- Shop Drawings
- Raw Material Arrives
- Hand Craft/Cut Timbers
- Clean Timbers
- Sand Timbers
- Apply Finish
- Assemble Trusses
- Load Frame for Shipment
- Raise The Frame
Scroll down the page to see the system and techniques we use to cut, finish, assemble, and raise custom timber frames.Have a Question?
Fabricating Vermont Timber Works Timber Frames
The process begins with a 3D design that we create from our client's plans and ideas.Design
Once preliminary drawings are provided by our clients' architects or after we complete a 3d preliminary design, the project goes to Richard, our estimator. He will often do a sketch and then will make a material list for pricing.
When the price has been approved by our client and a deposit received, we prepare detailed shop drawings. The shop drawing process takes place in two parts. First, preliminary drawings are provided for engineering review and material order. Second, we detail all the individual parts and their joinery for the fabrication team to use in the shop.
Raw Material Arrives
After a timber order is placed, raw beams are sent to us from the sawmill. This photo shows rough timber that is stacked in our shop and is ready for layout.
All of our frames are laid out and cut by hand. Pencil marks are drawn on each piece of timber to show the crew where each cut is to be made. Every beam is oriented for strength and crown appearance (the best side is placed in the most visible location).
Mike begins the cutting process by punching a mortise into a beam, but first, he double checked all of the layout person's marks for accuracy. He will do all of the notching and cut the beam to length.
Kellin cuts precise joints into a round timber column. The column is irregular in shape, but the joints have to be exactly positioned off of its center so the other parts of the frame can fit into it.
Mike uses a razor sharp chisel to precisely hone the end of a timber to the exact computer generated specifications.
Band Saw Mill
A framer uses the band saw to reshape a round column. Most of the timber we use is sawn at mills that we have been buying from for years. Occasionally we re-saw timber ourselves for small jobs, or use our precision band saw mill to rip angled faces on beams.
Todd uses a whisker wheel to clean up rough sawn timber. The timbers are cleaned after all the cuts have been made and before they are stained.
Cut & Cleaned Timbers Ready For Stain
This stack of douglas fir beams is ready for stain or urethane to be applied. All the joints are cut, the peg holes have been drilled and each timber has been individually marked on the end according to its exact location in the frame.
A framer applies natural minwax stain to rough sawn hemlock timbers with a roller. Stain is applied to every beam on all four sides and in all the joint pockets.
Arched braces dry after they received a coat of dark stain and a coat of urethane. Notice that all surfaces of the brace have been sealed. The final coat of urethane protects the timber and gives it a nice finish.
Assembling Trusses In The Shop
We assemble trusses in the shop when they are less than ten feet tall, and then ship them assembled, ready to be installed. We ship trusses unassembled when they are larger than 10 feet. If we ship large trusses to an outside contractor, we will pre-assemble the trusses in the shop to make sure that all the joints fit properly before we ship the unassembled parts. If the plan is for our crew to do a large truss installation then we will do the final fit on the job site.
Assembled Truss Ready For Shipment
An assembled heavy timber truss is prepared for shipment. Paper wrapped lumber packages, in the background, wait to be loaded on a tractor trailer.
A forklift places paper wrapped beam packages on a tractor trailer truck to be delivered to the job site.
Assembling Bents Onsite
Timber frame bents are pre-assembled on a deck before the raising. These bents are forty feet wide and over thirty feet high.
Raising A Bent
A crane lifts bents into place. Connectors, joists and purlins will be dropped into their places between bents.
Positioning A Bent
Each post of a bent is held by a framer as they guide the bent to its proper, final position. Come-alongs and steel guy wires will be used to steady and brace the bent while the connecting pieces are installed.
Lifting A Truss
A crane lifts a heavy timber wood truss off a stack of trusses. The truss will be flown to its position sixty feet up.
Installing A Rafter
A timber rafter is placed between bents. There are notches on the bottom of the rafter and on the top of the bent that fit together.
The Final Rafter
The last rafter set is lowered into place for a pretty little barn in Vermont!Assembly & Raising