parting thanks

After lunch on Sunday, there was a member’s meeting to get feedback on the program from the Apprentices and Journeyworkers. The group looked back at the year past and ahead to the coming year. Time tracking continues to be a challenge, but several solutions were offered. The pre-event exercises were well received and it was agreed to try and distribute quarterly rounds of “homework” to the apprentices. Rigging and raising was tentatively chosen as the focus for next year’s annual gathering, location yet to be determined.

Dinner and Jake Amadon’s graduation ceremony were out on the town, at a local Mexican restaurant that has been in the Old Town area of Fort Collins for many years. The food was almost as good as the camaraderie, as friends got a chance to really catch up after the many hours of classroom focus.

A debt of gratitude goes out to Adrian Jones and the Frameworks crew for shutting down their shop on Friday and sharing their ‘home’ all weekend. A big thanks goes to Jeanie Sutter for organizing the food and lodging for all the folks from out of town. The Timber Framers’ Guild has long developed a culture of contribution, and the Apprenticeship Program is no different, building on the willingness of members to share what they know as well as opening up their homes to traveling learners and friends. These contributions make it all possible.

Adrian Jones mugs for the camera

Adrian Jones mugs for the camera

a momentary shear in thinking

Journeyworker Chris Drake started the morning off reviewing the Timber Frame Engineering Council’s (TFEC) Standard for Design of Timber Frame Structures and Commentary. This publication represents the latest thinking in joinery design for wooden tension connections and guidelines for evaluating timber frame structures.



Reprising some of the concepts of moment and shear covered by Dr. Schmidt, Chris discussed engineering principles as they relate to common joinery decisions. One guideline found in the document relates, for example, to a common floor joist reduction.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 2.06.01 PM

Journeyworker Will Denton, of Trillium Dell Timberworks, asked for an explanation of a real world situation he recently experienced. In a design with 6×8 square-to-pitch purlins, the engineer upgraded the section to 8×10, but said that if oriented plumb to pitch, a 6×8 purlin would carry the load. Dr. Schmidt explained how the forces are transferred through a purlin in the two different cases, and why the orientation matters.


Dr. Schmidt on the capacity of plumb vs square to pitch purlins

After lunch, Journeyworker Curtis Milton led a review of homework delivered over the course of the two months prior to the event. Trade math, geometry, trigonometry, timber frame terminology and typologies, and a little bit of roof work were all part of this work. Some of the exercises covered topics necessary to an engineering discussion, and others were included as part of Year One Trade Sciences(in the Apprenticeship Curriculum) topics. Conversation flowed from the exercises to strategies for shrinkage and Hankinson’s formula to irregular roof math and how to geometrically construct a perpendicular above a point on the end of a line (think snapping out the wall plates on a second floor deck).


irregular roof homework by Tim Whitehouse





timber frame engineering principles

Dick Schmidt, Professor of Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, was the featured speaker today to discuss principles of structural engineering. The discussion began around properties of the material wood butchers depend on for their livelihoods, from the smallest macroscopic characteristics related to tree growth to larger properties of growth habit like tension and compression wood. The necessary discussion of the enemy we call shrinkage was well illustrated with examples from Dr. Schmidt’s firewood pile, as well as the tables of accepted values for the three axes of movement observed in the seasoning process.


Touching briefly on grading, effects of decay on strength, and the basic configurations of loading on timbers, Dr. Schmidt moved on to a building scale discussion of how timber frames handle loading, from snow and wind, to gravity and dance parties.

Dr. Schmidt has conducted various load testing of timber frame joints in his lab at the University of Wyoming and presented some of the results from this work. Much is contained in the Standard for Design of Timber Frame Structures and Commentary, but since the initial work on basic mortise and tenon connections, there has been research on long term load effects, cyclic loading, and the strength of pegged connections after a broken peg has been extracted and repaired.

A topic as technical and deep as structural engineering is clearly impossible to cover in a day, but Dr. Schmidt did an excellent job of covering a carpenterly breadth of material and conveying key principles to inform the joiner’s design decisions on paper and at the sawhorses.

Dinners, as all meals at the event, have been well organized by Jeannie Sutter, and tonight’s was no exception.

Jeanie Sutter cooking up something good

Jeanie Sutter cooking up something good

starting the day with protein

The second day of the 2015 Apprenticeship Training and Assessment started off with a light dusting of snow and fried eggs on a grill courtesy of Nate Long of Frameworks. JW Ryan Misiolek provided seasoning and Apprentice Willis Rozycki a watchful eye.


Nate and Willis cook breakfast


setting out the basics

The scene this morning would be familiar to many in the Guild family, as old and new friends gathered around the coffee pot, catching up on the last weeks, year, or hours, in the case of the Frameworks’ employees in attendance.  Curtis Milton, tireless ATC chairman, began the morning with introductions and the program launched right into an overview of the design process with Frameworks’ head designer, Dave Kaplan.

Our host company has a refined process to guide their clients through conceptual and schematic design into design development. Dave explained his approach to the initial phases of design and illuminated how he uses construction drawings to direct an engineer towards solving structural requirements in the manner that Frameworks prefers to build. To practice the exercise of schematic design, small groups formed to sketch out a bubble diagram of a basic one story, 1500 sqft house. 

Jake Amadon, as part of the teaching requirement for his apprenticeship, spoke after Dave about the interface between architectural and timber design. Continuing on the bubble diagram exercise, small groups gathered  to discuss incorporating a timber frame into the schematic design.  In the schematic design phase, there was a degree of uniformity in the room layout, but the timber design saw much wider range of solutions. After working through the exercise, each group presented their solution with a short explanation

Adam Riley, Jake’s supervising Journeyworker, was up next and walked the group through the basics of the relationship between timber frame design and engineering. Some of the topics Adam covered were when an engineer is necessary, how a project might benefit from moving away from the prescriptive path for load conditions, and his approach to balancing a client’s desire for wooden joinery against the requirements demanded by a high snow load.

Adam Riley

Adam Riley

With the three presentations, the stage has been set for Dick Schmidt’s presentation tomorrow on the basic principles of timber frame engineering.

the days are just packed

Here is the schedule for this weekend’s event. Day 1 is Friday, February 20. Look for outlines and content from the different presentations over the next few days.

Curriculum Focus – Year Three Trade Sciences


Goal – Establish a better understanding of the role designers play in successful timber framing projects and gain technical knowledge that will facilitate better communication with these professionals.

Prerequisite – Year One Trade Sciences


Morning — Identify and describe the various processes that are necessary for generating frame designs. (Dave Kaplan and Adrian Jones)

Conceptual Design
Architectural Design/Development
Engineering Design/Development
Construction Documents
Construction Process
Buildable Plans
Plan/Shop Revisions (SKETCH IT!!! – Make this an exercise.)

Afternoon — Identify and describe when a professional Architect is required (Jake Amadon)

Design Concepts – Architectural Focus

Identify and describe the general principals of frame design.
Identify cost-effective frame design.
Identify and select appropriate frame and truss types for specific applications.

Afternoon — Identify and describe when a professional Engineer is required (Adam Riley).

Design Concepts – Engineering Focus

Identify and describe the general principles of frame design.
Identify cost-effective frame design
Identify and select appropriate frame and truss types for specific applications.

Evening – Conceptual Design Quiz and Discussion


Morning – PROPERTIES & REACTIONS IN WOOD (Dick Schmidt, Ph.D.)

Identify and describe the parts and properties of hardwood and softwood.
Describe the various types of shrinkage that effect timbers.
Describe the effects of timber shrinkage on timber shapes and dimensions.
Identify and describe the process of rot, decay and insect attack in timber.


Identify and describe the various loads that effect timber framed structures and the cause of these loads.
Identify and describe the various load conditions of timber posts and beams.
Identify and describe how and why timber framed structures fail.
Identify and describe the various forces and stresses that act upon a timber framed building and its individual timber components.
Identify tension joinery.
Demonstrate how to calculate simple loads for timbers and frames. Demonstrate how to calculate simple loads for timber connections

Evening – Engineering quiz and discussion


Morning –TFEC 1-2010 (Chris Drake)

Relate code requirements to engineering concepts presented in the previous session

Afternoon – Blue Sky Session (Isaac McCoy-Sulentic)

Where things stand. What did we do this past year? What are we working on
Strengths and weakness of program. What are we doing well? What can be done       better?
2016 A&T Topic

Day 3 Evening – Graduation Dinner


Traveling along a line

Tomorrow is a travel day for the Journeyworkers and Apprentices to make their way to the Frameworks Timber shop in Fort Collins, CO. Hopefully, none of the apprentices are scrambling to complete their homework for the event. One of the homework problems was to circumscribe a pentagon on a circle using only a trammel, rod, and straightedge.

circumscribed.hexagonA simpler problem was to inscribe an octagon on a circle.



Developing lines of varying incline, from straightforward angles of 22.5, 30, 45, and 60 degrees to more involved constructions for 51 and 72 degrees, were also part of the tests on material from the first year of the trade sciences curriculum, a prerequisite for the more advanced third year topics of engineering that will be covered this weekend. The last task in the geometry section was to define the radius of the circle that intersects three points on a sawn curved brace. Apprentices were asked to provide both a geometric solution and a mathematical one.