Last summer, Tara and I fell in love with timber framing, thanks to a fantastic course offered by North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. There, in an idyllic workshop on the shore of Lake Superior, under the instruction of Peter Henrikson, we spent nine days cutting the timbers for a diminutive 12'x16' structure that will eventually become our home.
Since leaving the class, we've kept in touch with Peter in the hopes of working together again. Inspiration struck this winter when he sent us an email about a trip he made to southwestern Norway. He was there studying an ancient timber framing style called Grindbygg, and he thought the thousands year old craft would be well-suited to our homesteading goals.
The assembly is very organic—dimensional lumber, complex shop drawings, and precise measurements are not required. It's possible to use roundwood timbers without any processing, and most of the joinery is achieved by laying timbers on top of one another and scribing the joints by hand. For a better idea of what that means, check out the archival footage I've uploaded below:
Original Source: http://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_video_5087
Recently, there has been renewed interest in preserving this building technique in Norway, and Peter is the first to bring it to the United States. This February he taught a grindbygg class at North House Folk School. There, he and 12 students raised a frame in this ancient style for the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum.
Two months ago, I was talking with Tara about building a small workshop to store our ever-increasing supply of tools. On a whim, I decided to call Peter and see if he would be interested in building a Grindbygg frame in Vermont. To our delight, he agreed to teach a course on our land this summer. Just like that, our imaginary plans for a humble tool-shed morphed into designs for a wood shop, pottery studio and smithy!
Preparations for this venture are already well underway. We've collected all the timbers for our posts and knee braces, and we'll be hard at work finishing our driveway in May. Once that is complete, we'll be grading the building site and preparing the foundation. If you're interested in joining us for the first-ever natural building course at Going Slowly HQ this August, stay tuned for my next entry!