Get an Insider Look at This Home's Timber Frame Structure
An impressive timber frame is the backbone of an awe-inspiring home. Read on to get the scoop on how it’s done.
The joinery in the home is nearly all mortise-and-tenon peg joints with a number of dovetails. No steel bolts or plates were employed, though a few threaded rods and screws were used to ensure the home’s structural integrity across long spans. A groove cut into the top of the hammerbeam truss creates a recessed area to keep these additional elements
hidden from sight.
The central component of the timber frame is a 10-by-15-foot observation tower that offers commanding views of the property’s 170-acres and beyond. “That core went up first to create a wide space for the great room and provided us with the counterweight to project from there,” explains Bill Tabberson of Tabberson Architects in Muncie, Indiana, the home’s architect who won a nationwide Merit Award in 2019 for Design and Build Quality from the American Association of Licensed Architects for his work on the project. “From there, the frame spun off in all four directions, but it is extremely asymmetrical in the way the four wings work, and that is what generates the visually dynamic aspects of it,” he says.
The dominant portion of the timber frame that runs east to west and is comprised of a series of intricate hammerbeam bents that allow for a large volume of space in the center of the home. The trusses are not only visually stunning, they offer exceptional strength, allowing for the possibility of up to 24-foot-wide expanses without the need for interior, vertical support posts. The open center area allows for a spiral staircase to the observation tower, as well as an elevated space on the home’s second floor. “That second floor platform invites you to look below into the great room, as well as get an up close and intimate view of the timber framing,” explains Bill.
With the timber frame supporting the 26-gauge Mueller standing seam metal roof finished with R-50-rated structural insulated panels (SIPs), a rear wall of glass is interrupted only with enough framing to hold the windows in place. To avoid obscuring the views, drop-down shades in the great room and master bedroom were cut into the timber frame.
The structural timber frame is made of air-dried, coastal Douglas Fir, free-of-heart center. The timbers were inspected to ensure they were completely dry prior to fabrication, minimizing any potential for shrinking or twisting down the road. The main floor features 2-by-6-inch exterior wall framing. To support the weight of the home’s stone-clad wood-burning fireplace in the great room, the floor joists are spaced at 8 inches on-center, rather than the usual
12 or 16-inches.