more timber framing

I worked a lot today on the shop frame. And took a lot of photos. Finishing up some leftover joinery; then some detail stuff. We’re using a method called “square-rule” joinery, where each timber is cut down right at the joints to a common thickness. In this case, 5 3/4″. That means each mortise gets a housing cut beside it. Here’s some of how I cut this detail.

I make a series of saw kerfs to break up the material to be removed. Angle the saw to cut down to the depth at the front shoulder; the saw is tilted so I don’t cut into the back of the timber, behind the joint.


Then sneak in there with the toe of the saw to even out these kerfs.

sawing pt 2

Here’s what it looks like after these steps.

saw kerfs

Then, using the chisel bevel down, knock these bits out.


Then pare them down to the required depth.


Sometimes I do this paring with the timber’s face held vertically, it’s easier to see the line I’m paring to that way.

When I’m done paring, I want this shoulder to be less than 90-degrees. That way nothing interferes with the joint closing at assembly.

under square

Then I chop a bit of a bevel at the mortise’s bottom end. A corresponding bevel will be on the tenoned piece.


The posts and one tie-beam have chamfers on their inside corners. After marking out the width, I start by shaving with a drawknife.


Here you can see that I just blocked the timber up so the corner is easy to get at:

chamfer pt 1

Then I dress it a bit with a smooth plane.  plane

The chamfer on the tie-beam has a “stop” I marked it out with a square & awl, then sawed down to the chamfer’s depth. Clean up with a chisel.


Then using a chisel bevel down, I cut a curve into the section behind the stop.

bevel down chisel

End result:

stopped chamfer

Then I got out the carving tools to finish off this timber – the first one I worked on, finished it last!



13 thoughts on “more timber framing

  1. I just discovered your blog I had no idea you had one, I like your work very much I’ll have to catch up to see what your building here. I love the carved design you did, aah the beauty of hand tools the freedom is gives you no more machine can ever do.

  2. Peter, This is going to be hte nicest shop on the planet! Really loving the work you are putting in to this.

    Was really great seeing you in Chichester I am pumped to do some spoon carving after watching the ease with which you were working on the one you showed us. Thanks so much! Wa sreally great watching your interaction with the kids, too.

    Keep up the great work, hope to see you again soon!

    David Taylor

  3. Love the “lambs tongue” at the end of the beam chamfers. They remind me of the ones on the Old Ship Church in Hingham, but I think those are ogee curves.

    Let me know if you need help. I love framing. I’m just up the road in Hingham.

  4. There is a 100 year old hardware store not far from me here in the middle of Texas that has huge timber columns supporting the ceiling- and every one of them features this same chamfer and lamb’s tongue detail on all four corners. They’ve been painted over many times, but the evidence of this hand work is still evident to anyone who knows. They are so consistent that I’m sure they were done by the same man, with this exact same method.

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