Weston Middle School

Technology/Engineering Course Materials

Weston, Massachusetts
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Grade 7 Design-Construction

 Final Project - Timberframe House Construction Links

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Class Notes




Additional Material

  • Set out construction photos, display, Timberframing books
  • Set up video ( This Old House- Weston)
  • Set up cardboard/handyboard, laminated plans
  • Introduce Timberframing Unit
  • Will teach house construction and tool use
  • On board: Parts of a house:

  • Footing- spreads out Dead Load- footing area depends upon soil compressive strength- demonstrate with brick on sponge rubber

  • Foundation- keeps wood away from soil, and supports structure- show photos

  • Optional: Demo with Wonderboard

  • Framing-structure of building- beams and posts
  • Insulation and Sheathing
  • Utilities, Interior finishing
  • We will use a type of framing called post-and-beam or timberframing
  • Timberframing video(segment) from This Old House- using prefab insulated foundation slabs


  • We will build houses in partners, on a scale of about 1:16
  • Attach standard sill plan(handout) to cardboard
  • Other plans are possible. However, you may not begin building until you have drawn plans to scale of the sill frame and the bents, and they have been approved. A better option is to build the 'starter' home, then add chimneys, additions, porches, decks,etc.
  • Write Titleblock in corner with Sharpie- Names,Date, Scale
  • Write directions- NSWE

from Building the Timberframe House by Tedd Benson and James Gruber

  • Demo: Marking and Cutting wood with miter saw
  • Cut wood for sills to plan

  • Lesson 2:
  • Set out construction photos, display, Timberframing books
    Set up glue guns
  • On Board: Sill Plan with terminology- summer beam, joists, sill
    Max unsupported span of wood beams- 20’
    Mark and cut- use try-square; cut with miter saws or mini or large dovetail saws
    • Handout: Timberframe Terminology
    • Glue gun technique and safety
    • Timberframing requires accurate measurement- 3 cross pieces should be sanded to be same lengths
  • Cut wood for sills to plan
  • Gluing order: Glue joists to summer beam; glue on end sills, then long sills
  • Hot-Glue down Sills, joists

Optional Demo:

  • Timberframe joinery
  • Joinery Details from Benson and Gruber (pdf)


    Lesson 3:

      • Prep: Draw Bent on Board- posts, girts, knee braces (rafters)
      • Draw Miter Saw on Board- stop block
      • Set Up Miter Saw
      • Get Glue guns set up

    In timberframe construction, once the sills are finished, the bents are constructed and raised as a unit

Parts:Posts, Girts(horizontal beams), braces, rafters

Building Efficiently: Cut all identical pieces at the same time, using stop blocks- 4-6 posts, 6-9 girts, braces

Fastening Miter saw to bench

Demonstrate how to use stop blocks for repetitive cutting

Braces: Make one 45 degree piece, then use it as a stop block
In mass production, each station makes a certain piece—more efficient, but less interesting

Lesson 4:
  • How do you do repetitive cutting( ask)?
  • Finish bents- cut similar pieces one after the other
  • Add Girts

Options for Roof Truss Framing

Saltbox, cantilevers,etc.

  • Attach end trusses,(temp) purlins
  • Measure and cut rafters; join with 1/8"pegs
  • Finish bents
  • Cut connecting girts( cut at least 10)-
  • Demo: Cutting multiple pieces- line up ends, tape
  • If not quite right length, sand/use ‘cheater’ blocks( glue on first)- girts rest on them
  • Top-most girt is called ridge-pole
  • Lower ones in roof- purlins
  • Second floor has summer-beams, joists
  • Try using natural sticks for knee-braces

    • Topping- out ceremony with pine-bough-tradition
    • Once purlins in place- use thinner beams as rafters- demonstrate

Topping-out ceremony- an ancient custom

House in Salem, MA- Similar to Frame House

Lesson 5:

  • Prep: Cardboard squares 4x8 cm; cut stringers; cut treads
  • On board:
    • Rough-in Framing for Doors- headers, cripple studs
  • Do partial flooring; floor joist on 2nd or 3rd floor; vinyl flooring
  • Stairs: Using Stringers- tread/riser; rise+run= 17”; cutting top and bottom of stringer


  • Bottom sits on floor, top goes against joist

  • Insulation/ prefab wall paneling
  • Sheathing

  • Add Model Solar Panels:
    • Passive Solar- Uses windows, orientation of house to collect heat- like a car on a sunny winter day; stores heat in thermal mass
    • Active Solar Heating- uses fluid pumped through reflectors or black panels to collect heat

    • Photovoltaics- convert sunlight directly into electricity

  • Super Insulation
  • Optional Add-ons:
    • Chimney
    • Porches

    • Dormers

• Cantilevered Porch

The Science Source, Inc.

Bensonwood Homes

The Heartwood School

Timberframer's Guild

Vermont Timberworks

Slideshow: Salisbury Island Timberframing


Saltbox Bent




Hartwell House




Vermont Timberframe

Revised January 2011 by Jonathan Dietz, dietzj@mail.weston.org