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Grindbygg Timber Framing Course: Day One

by Tara

I awake to the sound of water being pumped from our well, and the smell of coffee brewing. I smile. Outside, workshop participants are congregating in the camp kitchen we've set up, making themselves at home. Breakfast is eaten standing, or around the fire ring. Tyler and I are in charge of feeding Peter while he's here, so I scramble up some eggs, and invite Peter into our little camper for breakfast.


When 9:00AM rolls around (we'll begin at 8:00 from tomorrow onward, but today we're having a leisurely start), we all tromp down to the workshop site and find seats on the giant timbers we arranged on the concrete slab last week. To begin, Peter introduces himself and the project we're about to undertake. Once he's done, we all get a chance to introduce ourselves, and then it's time to get to work!

Peter Introducing Grindbygg Building

The first order of business positioning all the posts for easy access to their tops. When Peter points out what needs to be done, the gung-ho-ness of the group is amazing—some of the attendees jump right in, attacking the wood with so much excitement that I look on in awe and horror. Go slowly I think, everyone just chill out and let's think through this instead of using brute strength! I'm afraid someone is going to get their fingers squished, but maybe I'm just being sensitive from our recent injuries.

Peter & Bruce Rolling Post w/ Peaveys Arturo & Rachel Rolling Post

Guiding the timbers from one place to another is quite a feat. It takes six or eight people to move a single frame member (Head up, butt down! Ready? One, Two, Three!), and it's an exhilarating feeling to do so. It's amazing what we can maneuver with nothing more than a few sticks, some rope, and a bit of muscle.

Lifting Logs w/ Sticks & Rope

While the dog-pile of moving timbers takes place, I watch our friend Deanne calmly avoid the fray. She peacefully takes a shovel and begins carving stairsteps into the steep dirt slope that leads to the workshop. Her work is quiet and determined, and so much appreciated. We've been skittering down that bank for ages now, and it has never occurred to us to make stairs.

With the site staged, the rest of the day is spent cutting ears into the posts.

Peter Outlining Post Ears Chainsawing Post Ears Arturo Finishing Post Ears Kit Chainsawing Post Ears Deanne Chiseling Post Ear Trent Chiseling Post Ears Arturo Chainsawing Post Ears

They end up looking like enormous clothes pins!

Kit Chiseling Post Ears

We also cut flats on wall plates.

Level & Chalk Line Peter Measuring Wall Plate Curve Rachel Chiseling Wall Plate Flat Arturo Using Slick on Wall Plate Flat Tara Leveling Wall Plate Flat Matthew Chiseling Wall Plate Flat Rachel Leveling Wall Plate Flat

By the end of the day, I'm grimy and tired, excited, and totally overwhelmed. Everything is a lot more complicated than I had imagined it would be. As it turns out, there's a reason people build with dimensional lumber—it's easier! Even with sketches and diagrams, I'm having trouble visualizing what exactly we're doing and how it will all fit together. However, I remember feeling that way when we cut our little timber frame cottage, too, and I trust that I'll grasp it all by the end.

Grindbygg Frame Layout Drawing