The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts
Timber Framing Curriculum

Converting Trees to Timbers

Tree Identification
Woodlot Management
Harvesting Timber
Grading, Hewing and Milling

June 26 – 30  


Timber framed buildings last hundreds of years if built and maintained properly and can be viewed as a more sustainable use of structural wood than light framing. The craft relies on a sustainable yield from the forest, and the proper management and selection of trees from local woodlands can provide numerous benefits now and in the future. In New England we are fortunate to have maturing forests which can provide an abundant variety of species.


In this course students will learn to visually grade timbers for strength and appearance and how to maintain a woodlot for future generations of builders and woodworkers. Architect, author and timber framer Jack Sobon will show us how he manages his own stand of pines for sustainable yield. We will learn various techniques to identify the species of hardwoods and softwoods on the stump, and how to estimate the volume of wood before the tree is cut.

We will demonstrate how to safely and efficiently cut trees and get them out of the woods. Special emphasis will be placed on the safe and proper operation of the chainsaw; it's versatility often makes it the best tool for the job at hand but it requires a thorough understanding of its use, maintenance, and sharpening.

This course will include The Game of Logging, a two-day certification course appropriate for landowners and woodworkers who want to fell their own trees.The Game of Logging (GOL) is widely acknowledged as the premier hands-on chainsaw and timber harvesting training program in the country. Top instructors across the country combine demonstration with participation to teach safety, productivity, conservation and cutting techniques. Level I focuses on introducing the participant to open face felling and the development of techniques to safely use it. Topics covered include personal protective equipment, chainsaw safety features, chainsaw reactive forces, bore cutting, pre-planning the fell, and understanding hinge wood strength. Level II focuses on maximizing chainsaw performance through basic maintenance, carburetor setting, and filing techniques. Limbing and bucking techniques are introduced, spring pole cutting is covered, and more felling is practiced.

Turning round logs into square timbers (called "conversion") will be demonstrated and practiced. This includes traditional hand tool techniques such as hewing, riving and adzing. We will have the opportunity to work alongside a variety of mills, including stationary circular sawmills, as well as portable chainsaw and bandsaw mills such as the Wood Mizer™.

Finally, because the method of conversion and level of finish determines the type of layout system which will be used, we will demonstrate the various ways of measuring and locating joinery on timbers which are round, curved, twisted or otherwise irregular.


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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