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Timber Framing at Going Slowly HQ

by Tyler

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.

North House Folk School Wood Shop Scarf Jointed Ridge Beams and Wall Plates Frame

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.

Norwegian Grindbygg Timber Frame

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!

Norwegian Grindbygg "Trestle" Frame Plans

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!

Measuring Log Diameter Tyler Lifting Log Triumphantly in our Truck (Collecting Knee Braces for Timber Frame) Tara Stripping Bark For Timber Frame Knee Braces w/ Draw Knife Draw Knife in Tree Bark Tyler Debarking Knee Brace Logs Tyler Honing a Draw Knife Debarked Knee Brace Logs
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March 2013, in Photos


Pretty cool! Your class should fill up quickly!
Posted by Sheila Poettgen on April 3rd, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Following your progress with great interest. Have you heard of Ben Law in the UK? Expert in woodframe buildings - lives in a beautifui one in Sussex. Check him out!
Posted by Jackie Thompson on April 4th, 2013 at 1:54 AM
Help! Your April 3 post is coming up totally blank. I don't think it's my computer...I would really love to read this post!
Posted by kanecamp on April 5th, 2013 at 9:47 AM
Hey Kane--

Thanks for the heads up! I think I know why. For now, if you reload the page it should work fine. Can you confirm?
Posted by Tyler on April 5th, 2013 at 9:49 AM
Should be fixed now.
Posted by Tyler on April 5th, 2013 at 10:10 AM
Yes! Fixed! Many thanks! I'm a retired teacher in Maine--I've finally finished your narrative of your epic journey through Europe and Southeast Asia, and watched your final slideshow with tears in my eyes. You are so brave! Ah, to be young again...
Nancy Kane
Posted by kanecamp on April 5th, 2013 at 11:56 AM
Sheila-- Lloyd Khan just posted about us on Facebook--things are picking up now :D

Jackie-- Ben's work was some of our earliest inspiration!

Nancy-- Thanks so much for saying hello--it's so nice to hear you've enjoyed our writing. Say, any chance you'll join us for the timber framing course we're doing this summer?

Posted by Tyler on April 8th, 2013 at 10:14 AM
I'd love to Tyler, just to watch--but my building dreams involve a solar house a couple of years down the line, and I probably won't be using this technique to build it (as wonderful as it seems to be).
Posted by Nancy Kane on April 16th, 2013 at 11:46 AM