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east coast (or other) timber framing workshops compared  RSS feed

 
Paula Berry
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Hi--

I'm considering taking a timber framing workshop on the east coast.

I'm familiar with Heartwood (Massachusetts), Yestermorrow (Vermont), Fox Maple, Shelter Institute (both in Maine).

I'd like to hear from people who have taken timber framing courses at these or other places and to get some feedback. I think I have a preference just based on browsing websites, but this is a significant investment of time & money and I'd like to hear what others have to say.

Thanks a lot!

Paula
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Paula,

I'm a traditional timber wright, and also teach the craft from several disciplines, both Asian and European. I know of the all the schools you listed, including ones on the West Coast that are excellent. The ones you listed are all good schools, but teach pretty much the same thing. I know of an female class coming up, and many smaller programs as well. Only I and a few on the west coast focus on Asian modalities. What style are you looking to learn? What level do you aspire to? Do you wish to build professionally or for your own project. These are all important factors, that could help me give the best advice. Please feel free to contact me here, offline, or by phone.

Regards,

jay
 
Paula Berry
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Jay,

Thanks for repling to my question. I have looked at some photos of your work before. It is really beautiful.

Current Background/Skills:
-I'm a complete beginner when it comes to timber framing. I have some knowledge of basic carpentry, and I have some tools, although probably none that are really appropriate for timber framing. I have made my own furniture, but it's extremely basic.
-I have a degree in math so I should be fine with the calculations.

Goals:
-To be able to build a house for myself using mostly natural, possibly on-site materials. (We do not own land yet.)
-To work as a timber framer professionaly (maybe—I have to take the class and see how it feels). I have been obsessed with houses, natural building, permaculture, gardening, landscapes for some time. I know my passion lies somewhere in here. I’m still trying to narrow it down.
-To make furniture using timber framing joinery.

Aesthetic Preferences:
-I like the Asian approach. I like to make things as simple as possible. I like to work with natural materials in as natural a state as possible. I like low-tech when possible.
- Philosophically I would like to use the whole tree rather that going to a lot of trouble to square a timber.
- I like the idea of working in a way that is accessible to a person with basic tools and not requiring power mortising tools, cranes. I get the idea that if I worked for a commercial shop, they would have all of that equipment because they need to make a profit. I understand that and wouldn't rule it out where practical. At the same time, I would like to work more simply. I’ve been told I am a luddite.
-I’m not averse to working with square timbers. I still think it’s really beautiful.
-I'd like to stay away from SIPS and work with natural alternatives as infill materials between timbers. I like the econest company in oregon. I've considered their classes.
-Passive solar, thermal mass, masonry stoves, earthen floors...I like all that too.

I’d like to hear more about schools you can recommend.

Thanks!

Paula
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Paula,

I think in your case, I might suggest holding off for a while. If you aren't hard press to build yet, and don't own land, we have time to develop your skills sets with a slower approach. There aren't really any programs, (other than some I have taught to small groups) that go into any great depth of Middle Eastern or Asian methodologies. I would start you off with a series of books, and study. Maybe build a traditional knock down Armoire (timber frame style) and some other furniture, and then maybe some additional green woodworking methods.

Should you still have a hankering for a class, I have a female friend of mine, Sara Highland, that will be teaching a course in June here on the East coast, (http://www.highlandartisan.com/) she teaches "edge rule" layout, but loves Japanese work and understand much about some of their methods. We might even get a chance for a visit if I'm not on a job someplace. I will be teaching myself soon, but the new programs I intend to run are rather expensive. They are aimed at couples that want to build there own homes. The courses will cost between 8K and 12K, will last for about 30 plus days, and when it is all down they will have cut a small timber frame home approximately 5.4 m x 7.2 m (~18' x 24'). The cost will include everything except transportation of the frame back to it's new home. I will also teach small workshops on different techniques. If you have anyone with land that could sponsor a sight location, I could teach one the courses closer to you, which would offset some of your expenditure, but that is for the future, and really not necessary for you to acquire the skill sets you need. If you take your time you can teach yourself most of what you need, with a little guidance. Let me know what you would like to do, or what else I can assist you with on this subject. I have a number of young folks around different locations, that I am mentoring, so feel free to take advantage of that.

Regards,

jay
 
Ben Plummer
gardener
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Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b
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I can't speak to their timberframing class as I've only taken a couple carving classes but Shelter is a great place to visit. Luckily I live a few miles down the road from them, wish the local library had half the selection of useful books as they do. They sell good tools and have a sale every year around mid-December, both at their physical location and online. Might be worth keeping an eye on their website around that time for tools you can't find used and/or inexpensive.
 
Ivan Schierling
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Hello Paula,

I would very highly recommend taking Econest's Japanese Timber Framing course at Ashland, Oregon. Check it out if you haven't already at http://www.econesthomes.com/natural-building-workshops/overview/timber-framing-workshop/

Unfortunately, it says its full but I wouldn't let that stop you. Call or email Robert or Paula Laporte and tell them your interests and I'm sure they'd find a way.

I took this course in Spring of 2011 and found it very useful and motivating. Dale Brotherton is not only one of the finest Japanese carpenters in this country but an excellent teacher as well. Check out his work at http://www.japanesecarpentry.com

I hope these links help.

Ivan
 
Jason Fay
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Hey Jay

I live in CT and was wondering if you know of any work shops in my area for timber framing. Im also going to be heading out to LA and San Francisco this summer. I would make my trip longer if I know there was a work shop there as well

what are your thoughts

Jason

 
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