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From Forest to Frame

  • When: October 28, 2017
  • Where: Cummington
  • Price: Free


From Forest to Frame

How big is a 250 year old tree? How would settlers of western Massachusetts have built their homes? Find answers to these questions by joining Timber Frame builder David Bowman at his home and workshop in Cummington, MA. Enjoy a workshop tour and woods walk to see specimen trees that date back to the pre-Revolutionary era. We will be joined by David Bowman’s forester Jeff Jourdain and Brian Donahue, MA Woodlands Institute president and Associate Professor at Brandeis University and co-author of Wildlands and Woodlands and A New England Food Vision and for a talk on the history of this property and forests in the region.

Timber frame construction is a beautiful and efficient form of building that was in widespread use in the United States until about 1900. Revived in the 1970s, this is a way to use local wood for building homes and other buildings (barns, libraries, workshops, etc.) It uses heavy square or round timbers made from the stems of trees, rather than lighter milled boards such as two by fours known as dimensional lumber. The timbers, retaining the form and grain of the natural wood, are joined using mortise and tenon joinery and secured with wooden pegs. The timbers are visible in rooms framed using them, unlike dimensional lumber frames, lending their natural beauty to the space. Hemlock and pine are typically used for the framing timbers, with other local species such as ash, cherry, birch and maple used for other features in the house (trim, stairs, etc.). In David Bowman’s workshop, 24 local species of wood were used. The timber frame of a building can be sourced as much as 100% locally as opposed to a traditional dimensional framed building which often has very little to no local material.

Learn about this sustainable building practice, how it has been used to make use of our forested landscape since European settlement, and what it offers contemporary home construction landscape in terms of beauty, low ecologically impact and reduction of carbon emissions contribute to global climate change.

This event is hosted by the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute (MWI), a non-profit dedicated to educating and supporting the community in responsible, long-term management of private woodlands. It is also made possible the Franklin Land Trust. There will be a short (1/2 hour), easy walk into the woods and light refreshments will be made available.

Please RSVP below by October 20 or email Melissa Patterson at or by phone at (413) 625-9151 ext. 114.

Read more:

“At Work with Timber Framer David Bowman”

Northern Woodlands, Winter 2006

“About Timber Framing”, Timber Framing Guild




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