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North House Timber Framing Workshop: Day One

by Going Slowly

Before class this morning, we talked with our instructor, Peter, and negotiated some changes to our little house to make it more livable—a slightly taller loft area, longer gables and eaves to protect our intended straw bale walls, and two feet of extra width. He was happy to oblige our last-minute requests. Sweet!

Class began with a tour of the shop: a gorgeous timber frame building overlooking Lake Superior, with cool breezes coming in off the water through huge double doors. What an idyllic work space!

North House Folk School Wood Shop

Peter then gave us a basic primer in how to carry beams with an awesome timber cart, showed us how to translate our plans from paper to wood, and demonstrated how to use both a vintage, hand-cranked Millers Falls beam drill, and its modern equivalent: a Mikita chain mortiser.

Measuring a Timber Tyler Laying Out a Timber For Our House Tara Laying Out a Timber For Our House Tara Laying Out a Timber For Our House Tara Boring a Hole w/ A Millers Falls Beam Drill Peter Demonstrating a Chain Mortiser

After the overview was out of the way, we got to work on the first timbers of our hand-built home-to-be. Being totally new to woodworking (Tara) and moderately new to woodworking (Tyler), we worked slowly and asked a zillion questions. By the end of our first full, overwhelming day of working on our house, we were covered in sweat, sawdust, and smiles, exclaiming to one another every five minutes: I'm so glad we're here!

After quick showers back at camp, we finished the day with a pizza party thrown by the Folk School. Apparently, they fire their huge, homemade stone-and-earth oven every Saturday to kick off the start of a new week of classes. Yum!

Earthen Oven Baked Pizza @ North House Folk School