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Author Topic: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'  (Read 604 times)

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Offline BDarned!

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Hi There!

My wife and I have dreamed of  Timber frame home for years, and are approaching 'do it' stage.  we're 5-10 yrs from retirement and thinking build small now to enjoy, add on more at retirement.   I've got a pretty complete library of TF books that I've read (Beemer, Cappell, Benson, Soban, Pirozzolo).  I went to the TF class a Tillers in Scotts' Mi this spring and learned a lot (a ton!) from that.  I used to build stick builds as an apprentice rough stick framer, and I've made a bunch of furniture.

I'm trying to figure out if it makes sense for me to get a design, order the Timbers and begin cutting them on my own, taking what time it may.  If I had to guess I'll need most of a year (guess) to build the 24x36 Hammer Beam Cape (modified with high posts) in Chappell's workshop book.  During this I'll be doing my day job 40-60 hrs/wk too.

Questions:
1.  Is taking a year from timbers delivered to ready to raise OK, or am I asking for trouble with drying, checks, twist etc?
2.  If I hire a crane and 2-4 capable laborer/carpenters can I get the frame raised?   If not, what would it take? 

3.  Seems like Sketchup is a favorite for designing each piece and the assembly.  Anyone know if FreeCad is any good?  We might also be able to access SolidWorks.  Any tips?  If we get Sketchup do we need to go to Pro or Studio to be capable
4.  Or... do I hold off several years, save more $$ and pay a framer to build and dry in, then take it from there?  If I go this route, I want to be part of the frame cutting and raising team.  Anyone have any experience going that route?

Thanks
BDarned

Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2021, 05:05:42 PM »
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Offline BDarned!

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2021, 05:53:52 PM »
Thanks, I read the thread.  That gives me a good sense of the site prep details I'll need to go through too!

Offline ShimodaLife

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2021, 07:34:10 PM »
Absolutely, you can do it yourself, in a given amount of time. I just finished my "practice TF," in the form of a tiny house that will eventually become a shed. I used Beemer's book, adjusted the size, and built an 8x10 frame on the weekends. It took me 3 months to cut the joints, working at a friend's empty parking lot. Then it took another 3 weekends (5 days) to truck the beams to site and raise it. I'm still working through the finishing touches (roofing, windows, siding, floors, deck...), and that will take more weekends. But no issue doing it myself. Just look through my profile, or see my recent post about Beemer's design, to see links to the build. Now, I'm waiting for the architect's plans to get started on my "real TF" house (still 4 months away from that, I figure).

Get started now, and you won't regret it.

Cheers,
JT
Completed my Timber Frame Tiny House as practice for the soon-to-be-started TF Real House. Tracking all on my Shimoda Life Youtube channel.

Offline everythingwood

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2021, 12:38:33 AM »
Of course you can do it... I built a 24x34 timber frame workshop in about 8 months.  I had the basement poured then I decked it, covered it with tarps, and spent the winter cutting joinery in the basement. I had a raising party with about 25 guys and erected the frame in one day.  Of course there was another month or so of sheeting, which was board and batten siding (it's a workshop, not living space), and finishing.  If I had to guess I probably spent about four hours a day after work and 8 to 10 hours on the weekends.  It really cut into my reality-TV time but those are the sacrifices we have to make :D.   

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2021, 02:19:35 PM »
If you hire a crane for a few days keep in mind you will be under a time crunch of trying to get it up in the few days you have the crane for.

Depending on the height of your frames I would build the simplest gin pole that will get the job done and buy a chain hoist.  That way you can set your frames at a pace you are comfortable with and make sure it is done right, rather than rushing it.

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2021, 03:01:57 PM »
If you hire a crane for a few days keep in mind you will be under a time crunch of trying to get it up in the few days you have the crane for.

Depending on the height of your frames I would build the simplest gin pole that will get the job done and buy a chain hoist.  That way you can set your frames at a pace you are comfortable with and make sure it is done right, rather than rushing it.
To make sure every joint will go together on raising day, either with a crane or home made gin pole, is to test fit every joint before hand. Trim as needed and make sure it is labeled both halves of the joint. If you've had it together once, you know it will go together again up in the air.
Good luck with your projects.
Jim Rogers
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
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Online ljohnsaw

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2021, 07:56:11 PM »
Have you looked at this thread?  
https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=66160.0
Well, I guess I'm the poster child for taking a long time to build a timber frame. :-\ ::)

As far as Sketch Up goes - you can do anything you want with the free/cheap stuff in terms of creating your frame.  With the TF Rubies, it will be able to create your joints but does take a bit of learning on how to get them working every time.  Basically, you add to the end of the beam the tenon as well as the reduction for the housing.  Slide that into the adjoining timber and you're done.  When you tell TF Rubies to "create shop drawings", it will make the mortise/housing for you in the adjoining timber.

Now, if you want to make up working drawings (i.e. PLANS) that you would submit to the building/planning departments, you need the full-blown version that comes with Layout.  That is where you apply dimensions to the drawings (orthographic - top, front, left etc.).  You will also get "shop drawings" that you will base your actual cuts to the wood.  You can never have too many dimensions on your shop drawings...

Referring to my plans, I placed my braces as far as practical from the joint for maximum strength but put them at an even foot or 6" distance to make it easier down the road.  Also, my frame is based on the 3/4/5 triangle so measurements are easy(er).

I had no real guidance on the species of wood to use.  I wanted to use Ponderosa (the best available to me) but I have a LOT of red/white fir.  I cut a LOT of that and found it to be almost more trouble than it was worth.  I lost maybe 15% to twist?  I still have some big beams stacked up from a few years ago that look a bit twisted.  I did mill a bunch of rafters from (Ponderosa) pine logs that were just too small (IMO) and ended up twisting/crooking.  Probably will cut down to make bracing or girts.  Last year a got a really good load of big pine.  Made some nice beams that are still good and a lot of FOH brace stock that is arrow straight and not a single check in the lot.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/32" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline dougtrr2

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2021, 07:54:23 AM »
Not a timber framer at all.  But based on other life experiences I would recommend starting with the least visible portions first.  As you are doing this project I would assume your skills and workmanship will improve.  By leaving the most visible portions for the last, they will presumably look the best.

Doug in SW IA

Offline addicted

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Re: Reality Check - Can a person build their own frame 'part time'
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2021, 08:16:34 AM »
Yes you can.
We started with a chicken coop. Then a 24x36 barn. It took a year for the sawmill to deliver the timbers but that gave us time to put in a road, clear the site, pour a footing and lay a few rows of block. Storing and moving timbers over an extended period of time isn't without its challenges. Theres lots of info here that will prevent more work later on if not stacked correctly. We raised the barn ourselves using ropes , block and tackle ,and a back hoe. Since we didn't hire a crane we were able to test fit a bent then raise it and repeat vs test fit everything then raise everything with a crane. The other lesson we learned and are still learning is that most building materials are designed for the normal short stick build time frame. Having building materials sit out exposed to the elements for much longer than designed can be problematic. We are now in the process of building a house. Same procedure so far. Saved  a bunch of money by doing more work ourselves but extended the time considerably. We've had our basement and main floor deck covered with a tarp for over two winters. Managing tarps is my other part time job.


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