TFG Community Building Project

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Completed timber frame structure

Photos by Daniel Girard

The Timber Framers Guild (TFG) is dedicated to promoting, supporting and advancing the craft of timber framing through education, research, and programs. TFG Community Building projects are one of the ways the Guild accomplishes these goals. 

The 2016-2017 Community Building project was a timber frame raised in Schuylerville, New York. The new Champlain Canal Region Gateway Visitor's Center sits on the site of the Revolutionary War's Battle of Saratoga. Here, British General Bourgoyne surrendered and his soldiers laid down their arms, marking a turning point in the war. 

This community building project, led by Neil Godden, began in September 2016 with a two-week workshop to cut the main frame. The volunteers were split into groups to cut different parts of the timber frame.

Ethan helped cut the anchor beams and ties, while other groups cut posts, braces, rafters and plates.

Three more workshops followed to cut the timbers for the walkout basement, raise the basement timbers, and lay the subfloor.

Etahn volunteered at Guild raising

In June 2017 the main frame was hand raised using an A-frame and ropes, led by Cindy and Grigg Mullen.

Grigg, a professor of civil engineering at VMI, directs the school's timber framing club and leads the annual philanthropic building projects, specializing in hand raising. Ethan was impressed with the ease that twenty or so people were able to pull the bents vertical using a mechanical advantage. Most timber frame raisings rely on cranes unless there is not room on the job site for the machinery.

TFG Community Building Project Raising

Ethan from MoreSun at TFG raising
Hand raising a timber frame using an A frame
TFG community building project raising
TFG raising first bent
Raising a bent by hand
Timber frame being raised

A crane was used at the end of the second day to place the rafters.

Lifting a beam at timber frame raising
Setting a beam in timber frame raising

Ethan described the awesome feeling of accomplishment, working for the community and using traditional techniques. The volunteers spanned all levels of experience, from professional timber framers to community members interested in learning about the craft.

Sixty to eighty people were on site during the raising. Some of the memorable moments for Ethan were being up on the frame landing rafters, looking down, seeing kids running around in hard hats and folks sitting in lawn chairs eating BBQ. (And evidently Mike Jones' daughter has a "wicked arm," tossing tools up to her dad!) The long intense hours and hard labor, combined with getting out of his comfort zone, made this an educational and fulfilling experience for Ethan.

Volunteers at completed TFG raising

Each community building project introduces timber framing to a new audience. The TFG is "committed to connecting with communities and people, sharing the story of timber framing, and learning and teaching through doing." And as Ethan found, there is a wealth of new skills and knowledge to be gained, even by experienced timber framers. 

At MoreSun, Stephen has always encouraged our team to take advantage of what the Timber Framers Guild has to offer. Forging lasting industry relationships and participating in projects and workshops has proven to be extremely beneficial in many different ways.  We appreciate everything the TFG does to promote timber framing and its members! Want to learn more about the Guild?

You can find more about this community building project and others, as well as information about timber framing on the TFG website