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Timber Frame to English: Definitions of Industry Terms; A-K

There may be times during the build process when certain terminology is used by industry people that we might not understand. This happened to me more than once when my husband and I were building. I could have used a “cheat sheet” of terms, so thought I’d assist any of you who might feel the same way.

Here are a few terms which caused me to request a translation. As this is just a smattering of hundreds of terms used, please let me know if I missed any you’d like to know! Post and Beam Barn

NOTE: this post will be presented in two parts due to its length. Please see July 11, 2009 for L-Z.

Anchor Bolt: A bolt set at the top of the foundation; used to secure the wood structure to the concrete foundation.

Apron: The bottom piece of window trim below the sill or stool.

Beveled: A corner created not by a right angle intersection but by an additional angled surface.

Butt End: To butt means to join end to end. The butt end refers to the flat end of a piece of wood.

Chamfered: The decorative quality of posts may be increased by cutting off a small portion of the square corner leaving and angled (beveled) surface. The chamfer cut extends through much of the length of the posts but stops short of the ends.

Chase: A groove or channel for carrying electric wires.

Clerestory: A substantiallywindowed wall. The glass is often above a lower adjoining roof.

D: Abbreviation for penny. Penny is a weight measure used to categorize nails.

Downlap: To extend a material down and over the material below. For example, siding may downlap a concrete foundation. Opposite of uplap.

Ell: An extension wing generally at a right angle to the main house.

Flanged Door or Window Unit: The flange refers to a nailing fin on the edge of the unit which is used to attach the unit to the structure.

Flush: Set in a level or even manner so as to be in alignment.

Frieze Boards: Boards which form an ornamental band at the top of a wall.

Gable End: The side or end of a building where the top of the wall slopes with the top of the roof.

Jig: A device used as a template or form.

Keyed: In many of the on-site operations, the positioning of the first member absolutely dictates the position of those to follow. These latter members are said to be “keyed” to the first member.

Knee Brace: A timber at a forty-five degree angle which adds support to two timbers which meet at a right angle.  Timber Frame Barn

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. I grew up in New Hampshire and have always admired timberframing. The use of the majority of the tree in all its beauty is environmentally and structually sound. If we think this is the way to build quality homes in the future then we need to make these homes more affordable for the average person. I now live in Virginia and would not give a plug nickel for the structually inferior stick build 2×4 exterior wall homes I see here. We can niche market timberframe homes in this economic down turn. Now is the time for solid marketing of a quality built smaller home on a two or better acre lot. This is what the market and the public in general will be wanting in the future.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Chad. I hear you and whole-heartedly agree when you say post and beam is the way to go for true and total quality in a home.

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