A timber framer's toolbox
To make precision cuts and tight-fitting joints, a timber framer relies chiefly on artful handling of simple tools and subtle application of leverage and pressure. The tools shown below have been and still are the standard issue for any timber framer. Other essentials include a framing square, a combination square, flat chisels, a mallet, and a handsaw.
You may own some of the tools already. Specialty retailers (see the sources, at the bottom of the page) carry the others.
Today's timber framers do employ some power tools. Few hand-hew their beams, for example. Instead they rely on a motorized mill to process the logs. A router, circular saw, and power planer also are handy for trimming timbers and forming joints.
Corner chisel: Handy for cutting mortise corners quickly.
Commander: An oversize mallet (sometimes made on site with a piece of scrap timber) used for hammering joints together.
Slick: Looks like an oversize chisel but used as a plane for smoothing tenons.
Drawknife: This tool comes in handy for trimming bark off of logs and for dressing timbers.
Brace and bit: A quick-working tool for drilling out mortises and making peg holes.
Broad ax/hatchet: For hewing and dressing timbers, plus roughing out joinery.
To learn more about timber framing, or to find the tools used in the craft, contact the following sources:
General information and training
- Timber Framers Guild
- P.O. Box 60
- Becket, MA 01223
- 888/453-0879; www.tfguild.org
- Education, training materials, books, workshops
- Joiners, Quarterly magazine
- Fox Maple Press, Inc.
- 65 Corn Hill Road, P.O. Box 249
- Brownfield, ME 04010
- 207/935-3720; www.foxmaple.com
- Magazine, framing school, workshops, books
Tools and supplies
- Barr Specialty Tools
- P.O. Box 4335
- McCall, ID 83638
- 800/235-4452; www.barrtools.com
- Lee Valley Tools, Ltd.
- P.O. Box 1780
- Ogdensburg, NY 13669-6780
- 800/871-8158; www.leevalley.com
- 1177 Rosemar Rd.
- P.O. Box 1686
- Parkersburg, WV 26102
- 800/225-1153; www.woodcraft.com