Live Edge Timber

The Perfect Timber

Part three of Introduction to Square Rule joinery series

Back to the Beginning

Let’s go back the original issue of what to do with timbers that vary in size and regularity, i.e. dealing with imperfect timbers; a question you might have considered was why not just use "perfect timbers" whose dimensions are known. Some modern timber framers do and these timbers are known as S4S, but the availability and practicality of acquiring these timbers is often cost prohibitive and/or impossible. The difference in material costs between rough sawn and S4S timber could easily be a factor of 4 or more. Imagine the machine required to accurately dimension an 1/2 ton 8 x 14 x 20′ timber, imagine the building that houses the machine and imagine the utility bill and imagine …. well you get the point. They do exist, but not many, and they certainly did not exist historically when timber framing was widely practiced as a trade. So how did the craftsman of the past solve the problem of creating accurate and sturdy frames if they could not produce perfectly dimensioned timbers? Because lets be honest it would be a lot simpler; at least in so far as cutting joinery is concerned.

Laying out a timber

Introduction to Square Rule Joinery

Understanding square rule joinery is a multi-step process that begins with understanding the goal, the obstacles to reaching that goal, the concept that overcomes these obstacles, and finally the implementation that makes the concept a reality. You can’t simply begin cutting joinery without first knowing how and perhaps more importantly why the steps are important. This series is meant as an overview to help conceptualize the process and you may find that going through the steps multiple times sheds even more light on what is a simple but powerful concept.
Diagram of a common rafter timber frame. Shows walls, aisles, common rafters and plates.

Timber Frame Anatomy – Common Rafter system

The second in a series of articles exploring some common types of timber frame configurations. Considered by many the common rafter and long plate system is consider by many to be the traditional style of American timber framing. Roof joinery is a little more involved than with the principal rafter and common purlin system. Assembled and raised as wall-lines this configuration lends itself to a hand raising.
An example of Principal rafter and common purlin timber frame configuration with timbers and parts labelled.

Anatomy of a simple timber frame

[glossary_exclude] [/glossary_exclude] The principal rafter and common purlin system The first in a series of articles exploring some common types of timber frame configurations. Considered a modern style of timber framing, the principal rafter and common purlin system has several advantages that beginner timber framers will appreciate. The joinery is, on a whole, simpler than in a common rafter system.
Joint between timber post and timber tie

Timber Frames vs Post and Beam

What is the difference Very often the terms are used interchangeably but not necessarily correctly. The difference is very slight, and essentially boils down to specificity. Post-and-Beam construction refers to all types of construction where a limited number of posts(vertical members) support beams (horizontal members); as opposed to stud construction where repetitive vertical members are used (Platform framing is in common use today, but balloon framing would also fall under the category of stud construction). Post-and-beam would include both heavy timber and lighter framing, pole-buildings are technically post-and-beam. But