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Fine Homebuilding

Finishing Touches
A tradition everyone can admire
March 2001

It doesn’t matter if you’re a nail gunner in the condo jungles or a carpenter of exquisite detail. There are simply some projects that grab everybody’s attention. On the high prairie west of Denver, Colorado, a group of timber-framers raised a barn of epic proportions: 148 ft. long and about 40 ft. wide. Designed by architect John Diamond of Salt Lake City, Utah, the barn’s complicated frame was designed by Ed Levin and Ed Shure and erected by Timmerhus Inc. of Boulder, Colorado.

According to Shure, the project required approximately 20,000 man-hours to complete, mostly within the short window of a high-altitude summer. The tight schedule fostered cooperation between builders and fabricators that went beyond the boundaries of a normal job. This ark of a timber frame has joinery as intricate as a Shaker blanket chest and an interior that outshines most living rooms.

The fact that the owners chose to build a timber frame and not a prefab steel building certainly gave this company a place to ply its trade, but what does that mean to the rest of us? We’re still digging through the piles of wet lumber to find straight 2×4.

Maybe it’s something larger. Timber-framing is nearly as ancient as the concept of the house itself. Although now relegated to special projects, the ongoing practice of this craft weaves a thread of tradition into the carpentry that we all practice wherever we go, whatever level of technology we achieve.

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