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Oct 04, 2023

The History of Timber Frame Construction

Tags: Timber Frame

Timber framing has a long-standing history, with evidence of timber frame techniques being used as far back as 200 BC. For centuries, timber frame was done entirely with hand tools and block and tackle. However, timber frame techniques have developed over a long period of time to allow for the construction of grand structures utilizing existing machinery and tool technologies. Nowadays, true timber frame structures are somewhat of a rarity. But when you can find them, true timber frames are still a sight to behold.

Historical Craftsmanship

Many cultures have a rich history of timber frame construction. Of course, there are many timber frames in Europe, including grand churches, inns, and residences that are centuries old. In Japan, timber frames were constructed when builders found that it was easier to build typhoon-resistant buildings with quality joinery and timbers that are inherently more elastic than rigid stone alone. Starting in the early 1600s, European settlers brought timber frame knowledge to America, where it continued to thrive well into the 1800s.

The End of the Timber Frame Boom

During the industrial revolution, timber frame construction took a turn for the worse as mechanized sawmills began mass-producing small, uniform, easy-to-handle boards. These technological advances caused construction techniques to shift from timber frame to light frame (or stick frame) construction, allowing construction to take off.

However, starting around 1970, historically-minded carpenters began resurrecting the traditional timber frame craft with woodwork joinery. A niche market began to grow for these traditional structures, which still continues to this day.

Timber Frame Reborn

Today, there are incredible timber frames being built by craftsmen using tools across the technology spectrum. Some practitioners use only simple, traditional hand tools. Some companies have fantastic CNC machines that can create nearly perfect frame members. Many builders today use a combination of traditional techniques and modern tools.

Timber Frame at Marks Lumber

Marks Lumber embraces that combination of technology and working with our hands. We rely on Computer-Aided Design (CAD) in our timber frame process, although timber pieces and woodwork joints are generally created by hand with the assistance of modern tools.

Our focus is on being a premier provider of custom timber frames as well as post and beam-constructed products. Contact Marks Lumber in Clancy, MT today to learn more or for a quote on our circle sawn lumber, siding and flooring products.

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