The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts
Timber Framing Curriculum

Using Natural Forms

June 18 – 22  

This course is currently full but there are 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 third week of our Timber Framing Intensive
but may also be taken separately.)

Scribing is an art as much as a craft, requiring a good eye and a steady hand. It involves laying out and transferring joinery intersections from one timber to another using plumb bobs, levels and marking devices instead of tape measures and math. This traditional method is useful for incorporating out of square, curved or oddly shaped pieces into a timber frame as well as for complex roofs.

We will practice various methods developed by a number of cultures and adapted and modified in modern times. This requires only a plumb bob, sharp pencil, a good eye, maybe some dividers, and steady hands. Accurate visualization of the pieces in the finished frame is critical during the setup and "lining" process, and this will be stressed early in the course prior to actual scribing and cutting.

Milled but naturally curved pieces can be joined to other timbers using the English or French scribe method; double bubble pen scribers can work with fully round members; “mitered” joinery can be developed by scribing which has the ability to carry great loads by producing bearing faces perpendicular to the forces affecting the joint.


MONDAY morning
Scribe layout principles.
French/plumb line scribe. Establishing feather marks and lining timbers.
Continue hands-on 16' x 20' timber framed project, incorporating scribed elements.
TUESDAY morning
Floor drawings for layout; "picking" joinery up from drawing (piquage).
Joining flat-to-flat, out of square materials.
Continue hands-on project.
Joining round-to-flat (out of square) materials.
Continue hands-on project.
THURSDAY morning
Joining round-to-round materials.
Use of bubble scribers/dividers to transfer joinery.
Continue hands-on project.
Thursday evening pizza party with wood-fired oven, fire-pit and music.
FRIDAY morning
Scribing posts to natural irregular rock bases.
Continue hands-on projects as necessary.
This course officially ends after lunch this day.

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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