Square rule timber framing

Square Rule Timber Framing

The Course

A hands-on workshop learning how the North Americans were fabricating timber frames in the nineteenth century. Their system had evolved from the “melting pot” of European carpentry cultures combined with the straight timbers available from the virgin forests. However the roots of the new system can clearly be seen in the scribe rule practiced in Sussex in the 18th century. Students will line out and cut the timbers for a small frame that will be reared on the last day.

Square rule framing introduces students to a more contemporary framing method and design compared to the oak framing from scratch workshops. The workshop uses a range of local timbers, and the techniques used enable all the timbers to be calculated for length and bevels before cutting. This system embodies standardization and interchangeable parts as an integral feature. There is no test fitting of the joints and the first time the timbers go together is when we erect the frame! Most of the carpentry joints we will use are derived from the familiar English ones, but with some interesting variations.

The workshop techniques are related to a number of books published by North American authors such as Sobon, Schroeder and Benson, but also to local practice.

The Tutors

Joe Thompson of Sussex Oak & Iron is carpenter in residence at the Weald & Downland Living Museum. He teaches a range of historic carpentry courses at the Museum. He has developed a keen analytical eye and a scholar’s passion for following and interpreting the evidence along with a natural skill in teaching.

Participant Information

The course will be limited to 8 participants, and is suitable for everybody, from complete beginners to experienced carpenters.

As most work will take place in the unheated Gridshell workshop, warm and practical clothing should be worn and a pair of steel-toe safety boots are required. Stills photography and note taking is encouraged. Video photography is not permitted.

Fee & Refreshments

£575 per person for the workshop. This includes tuition, tools and materials, teas and coffees. Please let the Museum know if you have any dietary requirements. Lunch is available in the Museum cafe and at local pubs.

Book course



Mon 31 October 2022–Fri 4 November 2022






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