Timber Framing

Module 1: Intro To Timber Framing (5 Days)
Module 2: Build a Timber Frame (3 Weeks)


What is timber framing? - Unlike stick framing (also known as stud or dimensional framing) which relies on nails, screws and metal brackets to hold the building together, timber framing relies on joinery to connect the framing members. The joints are cut, fit together, and then pinned with wooden pegs to hold them in place. 

This was the standard for most building before 1900 and was revived again in the 1970s. The oldest standing wooden buildings in the world used these methods. We have introduced this course because it aligns with the school’s vision of building for longevity and sustainability. 

Thinking of timber framing, it’s easy imagine huge heavy timbers, but the exact same principles that are applied to building a large barn can be applied to a shed or small workshop. The techniques are versatile encompassing wood that can be rough hewn or smooth finished. 

The goal of this class is to give you conceptual understanding of the design, history, and building process reinforced by the hands on experience of creating a small timber framed building. 

Class Description

This program has two modules:

  • Introduction to Timber Framing: A one week introduction to skills and concepts.  If you are new to hand tool joinery or new to timber framing, we recommend that you begin with this introductory week.
  • Build a Timber Frame: A three week timber frame build.

You can chose to take the intro module, the build module, or both.  

Note: If you are taking this as a vocationally certified class, you must complete both modules to receive your certificate of completion.

Introduction to Timber Framing: 5 days

New to hand tool joinery or new to timber framing? We recommend that you begin with this introductory week. You’ll learn: 

  • History of timber framing 
  • Design concepts 
  • Sharpening and maintenance of the tools
  • Joinery layout and cutting 
  • Applications of mortise and tenon joinery for framing walls and roofs
  • Building a pair of timber framers saw horses

The timber horse is a traditional joiner apprentice’s project for learning and practicing the methods you will use in timber framing. Plus you’ll be building an essential tool - these saw horses provide  a sturdy yet mobile base to do your layout, cut, and chop the joinery which work well in the shop or on site. 

Mortise and tenon joinery is the go-to joint for timber framing and much other woodworking. This versatile joint has many variations and applications. You’ll practice cutting these joints by hand to better understand the design considerations for using them in timber framing. 

Build a Timber Frame: 3 Weeks

You’ll be part of a team building the frame for a modest sized structure (probably a small barn or workshop) which can be raised in three weeks yet is complex enough for you to fully understand the design and build process. The footprint will be between 200-400 sq ft - it will likely be 8 posts. The design is currently in process. We’ll be posting drawings soon! 

Holistic Planning
The frame of a building cannot be considered in isolation. Joining and raising the frame is only one portion of the entire process. Anticipating the needs of subsequent steps is what separates the novice builder from the expert. 

From the very beginning of a project you’ll need to take into consideration: planning for the utilities, roofing, methods for constructing walls, siding choices, and pre-finishing the beams when left exposed. You’ll learn how to anticipate these needs and design the frames appropriately. 

Practical Processes
Contemporary buildings that utilize timber framing techniques also employ other framing methods for parts of the building. 

Like all classes at the school, what we teach is ultimately an application of a hybrid approach: rooted in traditional craftsmanship, but adapted to use contemporary methods (read tools) when it simplifies the process. We strive to teach you pragmatic methods without sacrificing quality. 


  • Site planning and preparation
  • Materials choices
  • Design orientation
  • Planning for workflow and production schedule
  • Ornamental style choices
  • Finish choices/standards
  • Production of Framing Members
  • Precision layout
  • Cutting joinery
  • Smoothing and pre-finish
  • Raising the frame: Assembly and Installation


There are required and recommended tools for this class. We strongly encourage you to bring as many of the recommended tools as possible. We are happy to answer questions about sourcing tools.  SEE FULL TOOL LIST


Intro to Timber Framing: open to all levels. If you are new to hand tool joinery or timber framing, we recommend you begin with this introduction.

Build a Timber Frame: students should have some experience with hand tool joinery including sharpening as well as using saws and chisels to cut mortise and tenons. This work is physically demanding. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about your ability to meet the physical requirements.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
This class takes place in Building 304 at Fort Worden - not the School Building. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Module 1: Introduction To Timber Framing (5 days)
Class size: 10

$750 for students attending Module 1 only.
$600 for students who also sign up for Module 2: Build a Timber Frame.

Materials Charge: $ 100

Module 2: Build a Timber Frame (3 weeks)
Class size: 10

Cost: $1800
Materials Charge: $ 20

Modules 1 and 2 (4 weeks)
Cost: $2400
Materials charge: $120
Note: To register for both modules, please sign up for each individually. Discount will be applied at registration.

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list. 

Scholarships are available for this course: