… by Rob Roy
First, a word about the “others” implied by “the Rest of Us.” They are no less than the skilled timber-framers using time-tested methods of creating beautiful, strong and enduring buildings throughout the world. At its best, timber framing done by traditional methods of joinery yields a quality of construction that spans the range from craft to art.
The use of timber-framing joinery, such as scarf, mortise-and-tenon, and rabbet joints, evolved during a time before metal fasteners were available, and its traditional use continued when metal spikes would have been expensive. Quality wood-on-wood timber framing continues to this day, and is a joy to see.
I have the highest regard for these traditional builders, but, with the advent of relatively inexpensive mechanical fasteners, most builders – contractors and owner-builders alike – rely on other methods of joining timbers, using truss plates, structural screws and bolts, pole-barn nails, and even gravity. The problem is there is a shortage of information about joining heavy timbers by using these methods. This is why I wrote Timber Framing for the Rest of Us in 2004 and have conducted two and three-day workshops on the subject most years since then. The book is a good place to start, and, if your interest is tweaked, come to one of our workshops.