The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts
Timber Framing Curriculum
The Basics of Building

June 4 – 8 

This course is currently full but there could be cancellations as the date approaches.
If you'd like to get on the waiting list please contact our office.

(This course is the first week of our Timber Framing Intensive
but may also be taken separately.)

This course presents the basic techniques and principles of house building, timber framing and carpentry. It is the first course in our four-week Timber Framing Intensive, but may be taken as a stand-alone course. It fulfills the recommended prerequisite for those less-experienced who want to take the other courses in the Intensive.

The course includes:

  • the concepts of plumb, level and square, how they rule the framing process and how to track and measure them to keep your projects in "good shape"
  • measuring angles and using basic construction geometry with the framing square for building roofs and stairs
  • becoming competent with both hand and power tools to be able to measure and cut to within 1/32nd of an inch.
  • extensive practice with power tools such as the table saw, portable circular saw, compound miter saw, as well as hand saws
  • all tools for measuring, marking, cutting, shaping, attaching materials and deconstruction that you would typically find on a housebuilding project. We will also present the hand tool kit required to build a house, which can be carried in a single toolbox.
  • the all-important techniques of sharpening edge tools and hand saws
  • "tricks" of the trade to make your work easier and safer

Morning sessions will cover hand and portable power tool use, tool sharpening, joinery, conventional "stick" framing, and shop tools including table saw joinery such as dadoes, rabbets and mortise and tenons for cabinets and finish carpentry work. Afternoons will be spent working on a timber framed project and applying the skills and techniques learned in the morning sessions.


MONDAY morning
Fundamentals of wood framing systems - on-center spacing, orientation of members, terminology and house anatomy.
The nature of wood how it affects how we cut, shape and fasten our materials; shrinkage effects and how to handle them.
Measuring, marking and cutting.
Introduction to timber frame layout and project plans.
Cutting a timber frame mortise and tenon joint.
TUESDAY morning
Hand tools for building: measuring, marking, cutting, shaping, fastening, deconstruction.
Plumb, level and square - how they rule the framing process; how to find them; how to measure them.
Begin hands-on work on 16' x 20' timber frame project. Sills, wall girts.
Shop tools for building: table saw, compound miter saw, portable circular saw, portable power plane, pneumatic tools, chain mortiser
Continue hands-on project.
THURSDAY morning
Basic construction math - finding areas, estimating materials, measuring.
Construction geometry - how to measure angles and draw complex shapes; traditional drawing skills for carpenters and builders.
The framing square and its use for making stairs and roofs.
Continue hands-on project. Posts. Making hand-riven pegs.
Thursday evening pizza party with wood-fired oven, fire-pit and music.
FRIDAY morning
Finish carpentry techniques and tools; joinery for trim and cabinetry; dadoes and rabbets.
Shop tools for truing and embellishing materials; jointer, thickness planer, router.
10 rules for finish work.
Continue hands-on project. Assemble floor.

Tuition: $800 per person, $1500 per couple; includes lunch.

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Heartwood School

Johnson Hill Road

Washington, MA 01223

Phone: 413 623-6677


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