Timber Framing and Thatching — Upcoming Work Days — Saturdays & Sundays June–July, Free (Space is Limited)

This year we’ll be building a timber-frame compost and garden hutch, and we’d like to invite you to come join us to get some hands-on experience. Timber framing was the dominant wood-based building method for hundreds of years before modern stick framing was developed to take advantage of smaller, cheaper pieces of wood. Instead of nails driven into 2×4s, timber-framed structures use joints and wooden pins to hold large beams together. This structure will be thatched with locally produced wheat straw.

In this series of work days, participants will learn about basic timber-framing concepts, such as overall layout, choosing between joints, working with chisels, and more. This is free because unlike our usual workshops, we do not have a professional instructor. We have volunteers with some experience, but it is a learn-by-doing situation.

Workshop Details

We’ll spend some Saturdays and Sundays in June, July, and August working through various aspects of timber-frame construction. The approximate schedule is:

Sat. 05
Creating TimbersHewing and dressing logs, cutting to size.
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.LTI
Sun. 13
JointsCutting joints
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.LTI
Sun. 27
Foundation & FinishingFinish the foundation and any outstanding items
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.LTI
Sun. 11
RaisingAssemble and raise the bents.
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.LTI
Sun. 08
ThatchingPutting down base layer
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.LTI
Sat. 14 August
ThatchingPutting down upper layer
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.LTI

RSVP by filling out this form. Space is limited and we will keep a waiting list. Also, participants must fill out this liability waiver. We’ll be in touch by email after you sign up. You do not need to come to every weekend to participate, but we would like to know which weekends you’ll be attending to free up space for others.

Donations are always welcome to help defray the cost of our workshops and programming. We are a member-supported organization.

Please wear clothing appropriate for the weather and activity: mask (see below), close-toed shoes, gloves, long shirt and pants, etc. Please bring your own beverage and snack, as we cannot provide them due to the current pandemic. We will be outside, but in case of inclement weather on a Saturday, we may reschedule for Sunday. We will have tools for you to use, but you are welcome to bring your own tools, to be used at your own risk. Be sure to label your tools.

The workshop will take place at the Low Technology Institute (11927 W. State Road 59, Cooksville, Wisconsin) (25 min south of Madison) on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.


Due to the ongoing pandemic, we will be taking precautions against spreading the virus among ourselves. First, this event will be entirely outside. “Outdoor restroom visits” will be encouraged. We will assess the vaccine status of participants and follow CDC guidelines. Masks may be required, but perhaps not by then if everyone is fully vaccinated. Hand sanitizer, etc. will be available, and tools can be cleaned between users. We’ll be encouraging folks to spread out and avoid clumping together. Bring your own snacks and beverages and please consume them at an appropriate distance from others.


Scott runs the Low Technology Institute and has built a timber-frame chicken coop on the property. You can see videos of that build here and here. He comes from carpenters on both sides of the family and has worked informally. Todd is a professional carpenter in Madison with a passion for handworking wood. Chuck, who runs a family tree farm and immerses himself in traditional technologies, will also be joining us some weekends. Between the last two, you’ll be able to learn more about hand tools than you’ve ever wanted to know.


You can see the design here. Participants will also have digital access to timber framing books to read before and during the work days.

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