The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts
Timber Framing Curriculum

Timber Frame Design & Joinery Decisions

June 11 – 15 

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

This course covers the architectural and structural basics for designing timber frame structures that are both functional and beautiful. It is geared towards timber framers who want to know where to place timbers, how to size them, what wooden joints to select, and why.


We will cover design and drafting principles required of professionals working in the trade and needing to be aware of the concerns of other subcontractors. You'll discover how to apply a timber structural grid to "bubble diagrams" and see how this grid then generates working drawings from which to estimate costs and schedule the construction. Blueprint reading and standards for architectural drawings will be covered, as well as drafting principles and techniques.

Principles of joinery and pegging design will be examined, and the various ways of communicating joinery specifications through callout systems. Basic timber engineering, including sizing beams, will also be covered. Determining the loads on joints will help you decide the capabilities and limitations of various mortise and tenon connections. We will look at the characteristics of the different wood species used in timber framing and the advantages of each.

Design, Drafting Model building

The course includes a history of the craft, the anatomy of a timber frame and the development of various frame styles and layout systems.


MONDAY morning
A brief history of timber framing; timber frame terminology.
Overview of the design process: developing a program; the 5 steps in designing a house.
Continue 16' x 20' hands-on timber framing project from previous week. Tie Beams, plates.
TUESDAY morning
10 Factors in timber frame design.
Construction drawings: what's included & how to read them. Joinery callout systems.
Designing the frame as a system; timber frame styles.
Continue hands-on project.
Wood Science. Timber grading and building codes.
Engineering math.
Computer-aided design with SketchUp.
Continue hands-on project. Braces.
THURSDAY morning
Sizing joists, rafters, beams. Beam deflection demonstration.
Continue hands-on project.
Thursday evening pizza party with wood-fired oven, fire-pit and music.
FRIDAY morning
Joinery and pegging design; where to use different joints Including scarf joints and why.
Estimating labor and materials.
Foundations, enclosure and other systems.
Continue hands-on project. Calculate center of gravity of bent for raising. Raise bents and walls.

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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