DARKE COUNTY — Wood shavings and sawdust were in the air Saturday at Historic Bear’s Mill as people gathered to learn the art of assembling a timber framed structure.
According to the organizers, timber framing is “an ancient building style that utilizes large timbers and handcrafted joinery to create beautiful and inviting homes and barns.” This manner of construction uses only wood pegs, no nails, to secure joints.
The free workshop takes participants — men, women and children — through each step, from raw timbers to handcrafted timber frame.
The timber framing workshop is conducted by Terry Clark, master carpenter and miller at Bear’s Mill. The workshop is sponsored by the Light Foundation.
Saturday was the third class of four. The first two took place at the Light Foundation’s Chenoweth Trails facility.
“We learned how to make pegs, cut timbers, replaced a bunch of old logs with new stuff,” said Clark. “Today, we’re going to actually be raising and putting together a timber frame.”
The new structure, measuring 24 by 24 feet, will not be a permanent addition to the Bear’s Mill grounds.
“We’re going to take it apart, take it down, bring in a new class, make new pieces, then put it back together again,” he said.
Nick Schuckman, executive director of the Light Foundation, said response to the workshop has been very enthusiastic.
“Everyone is having an amazing experience, having a lot of fun,” he said. “They get the full experience — learning how to make pegs, cuts. Today is the culmination of putting everything together.”
“We had a hundred people sign up. We could only take 10 but 20 people showed up,” added Clark. “And that’s good. That tells you they’re willing to do something.”
Though much of the work is performed using old tools and methods, there’s something to be said for the speed and precision offered by modern machinery. Jim Poeppelman offered his gas-powered “Wood-Mizer” sawmill to cut planks and beams from logs, making the process infinitely faster.
Clark believes the heavy interest for the initial workshop bodes well for future classes.
“With all the different ‘wood shows’ on TV, Darke County really has an advantage over anybody else. I don’t know anybody else that’s doing it. And that’s cool we can offer that to Darke County,” he explained.
Those interested in participating in a future timber framing workshop should contact Nick Schuckman by phone at 513-503-0948 or by email at [email protected]