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I'm not cold- you're cold: a New York timber frame raising

What can I say about my first timber raising event?  Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to watch some timbers fly on a sunny February day in Western New York?  Honestly, if it wasn’t a sunny day, we’d probably be discussing first aid tips on recovering from frostbite - so it’s a win so far. Raisings, it turns out, don’t stop for cold or snow- timber framers don’t have time for that. 

raising timbers

Tucked away on a private road along Canandaigua lake, the property had an excellent view of the waterfront and ample access to any desired water-related activities.  If it wasn’t frozen, I’d probably been tempted to stay a while and cast a few lines.

raising timbers

Having spent some time with the ironworkers union, I have seen my share of buildings and structures raised.  Arriving on the job site immediately sent me back to the days of rigging beams and panels for the crane operator to raise and send to the waiting journeymen perched upon the steel. Timber frame raising seemed quite similar in comparison.  The job site was well organized and strategically laid out so that the sequence of the raising could be followed.  With each timber having a specific joint or connection point, the last thing you want the ground guy doing is sending up the wrong beam. Our timber framers stay with the project from day one- so they have a bit of an intimate knowledge of the joints and special quirks of each beam.  It helps with job efficiency and overall organization, eliminates any real “surprise” when arriving at the job site when you already know the material inside and out.

me on site

Surprisingly, one thing that did stand out was the distinct lack of noise and welding fumes. The precision nature of wood joints coming together, the craftsmanship of the timber frame requiring only subtle convincing to fall into place as designed.  Stark in contrast to the often hammer-filled pings of the wrench or pin impacting the steel as it coerces it into place and aligns the holes for the bolt to be inserted.  

In all, the raising went smoothly, blessed by decent weather (it is still February in New York after all). Early this week the bough was tacked to the top in celebration of a job well done, and to honor the trees by which the timbers originate. A long-standing tradition in our timber framing community. Construction continues and the next phase of the enclosure is underway. Soon the homeowners will be able to enjoy their lakefront dream home and all the water has to offer for generations to come.