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The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts
Learn to Timber Frame

Craftsmanship, Simplicity, Timeless Beauty

Signed copies of Will Beemer's book can be ordered online!

A classic timber frame is as practical and beautiful today as it has been for centuries. In this beginner-friendly guide, veteran builder and Heartwood Director Will Beemer brings the historic craft of timber framing within reach by walking you through the process of building a simple 12'x16' structure — a starter project large enough to serve as a cabin, workshop, or studio — that can be modified to suit your needs. Along the way, you'll learn what makes timber framing distinctive, how to acquire and use local lumber, and the proper handling of chisels, saws, and other essential tools. Inspiring photos and instructive diagrams illuminate each step from preparing and cutting the timbers to the thrill of raising day. Hardcover; 192 pages.

Table of Contents:

Foreword by Jack A. Sobon.
Chapter 1: What Is Timber Framing?
Chapter 2: Getting Started; Using Ungraded Native Lumber - Timber Frame Engineering 101 - Ordering and Storing Timbers.
Chapter 3: Layout Systems; Mill Rule - Mapping - Scribe Rule - Square Rule.
Chapter 4: Tools; Tools for Layout - Cutting Tools - Boring Tools.
Chapter 5: Procedures for Layout & Cutting; First Steps in Layout - Laying Out the Mortise and Tenon - Cutting Procedures - Rules of Thumb for Joinery Design in Square Rule.
Chapter 6: The Tiny Timber Frame; Plan Drawings - Timber List - Sills - Joists - Posts - Girts - Braces - Collars - Door Posts - Tie Beams - Plates - Rafters.
Chapter 7: Variations on the Frame; Moving Doors and Windows - Adding a Loft - Changing the Roof Pitch - Overhangs - Making the Frame Smaller - Making the Frame Bigger.
Chapter 8: Raising the Frame; Equipment for Raising Day - The Raising Script.
Chapter 9: Foundations & Enclosure Systems; Foundations - Insulation and Enclosure.

"What a very easy to understand and well illustrated book on building a timber frame. I am but a humble woman, with a little experience in woodwork, but I marvel at the workmanship that is explained in this book - no easy screw and nail joins here, but proper mortise, tenons, dovetail and other joins. This building is a work of art, and will probably withstand whatever weather is thrown at it. It is lovely to see craftsmanship such as this passed on to the next generation - yes it takes longer, yes it requires patience but the end result is fabulous." — Leyla, Amazon Books 5-star review

"This new book exemplifies the disciplined approach that Will Beemer brings to all tasks, offering a solid background for the new‐to‐topic learner and then step-by-step direction to complete a small timber frame... For 30-plus years working with Michele, his wife and partner, Will has collected a body of work and a stable of spirited instructors at the Heartwood School to accommodate many different learning styles. Successfully. High quality photos and graphics, concise language and clear process will make this new book equally successful with the motivated self-builder who chooses to timber frame."— Timber Framing, Issue #119, March 2016

Click here to read the full review of the book from the March 2016 issue of the journal Timber Framing.

"This book is valuable because it guides anyone, aficionado or pro, through the design, tools, craft, and erection of timber frames. Architects and architectural historians can benefit from a read if they want to understand the timber frame phenomenon of the past 40 plus years. Newly hired workers in timber frame companies can benefit from reading it as an introduction to work. Young people in vocational carpentry programs yearning for something more than stick framing or modular construction can read it for inspiration and courage to as Beemer writes, “work with hand tools that can be carried in one tool box.” Homeowners can read it to familiarize themselves with terms and design in advance of interviewing timber framers for a project. Will has translated his practical hands-on experience into a readable form that gives the reader the courage to build."— Judy Hayward, Executive Director, Historic Windsor (VT), Traditional Building magazine, October 2017

More recent reviews:

"This was a really excellent book. I liked that it went into all the necessary detail to construct a small timber framed building and even provided variations on the base model for additional space or other considerations (such as storage for a large tractor). The approach to the book is very straightforward and I found all the diagrams helpful in describing some of the complexities of the craft."

"A beautiful, easy to read, well written guide on a timeless craft! AAA+++"

"Excellent resource for beginners. Very good instructions and excellent illustrations. I had a hard time putting it down when I opened it the first time."

"Bought this book for my daughter who is building a cob house. She loves it and got several ideas she hadn't thought of before. It's written in terms a non contractor has no problems understanding. I recommend this book."

"This is a great book for those who wish to understand timber framing and for those who wish to learn how to timber frame. As a builder, I appreciated the knowledge presented here and it will occupy an essential place in my construction library."

"Love this book!! It actually takes you step by step on how to build a small Timber Frame structure. I've started building a shed based on the one in the book and its been extremely helpful. Lots of helpful drawings, photos, illustrations and explanations. This book tells you everything you need to know to get started timber framing by building a small and simple structure. Highly recommend it!"

Learn to Timber Frame is $24.95 plus $8.00 shipping, handling and $1.56 MA sales tax (will be added to MA addresses only at checkout). You can send us a check or pay via Paypal below and we'll get your copy right out to you. We only ship to US addresses; for international or multiple copy orders please email us for a quote at

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