The Raising

The day had finally arrived! After 6 weeks of hewing timbers, and several more weeks hand carving all the joints, our little frame was ready to spread her arms and reach for the sky! Needless to say I could hardly contain myself…my wife was far more pragmatic, thankfully she keeps me grounded.

This day historically would have been an event concerning much of a community. Women would begin before daylight preparing a mountainous heap of delicious foods, while men arranged long tables and endless chairs. Many burly hands would grasp white knuckled to thick ropes, as some men prepared to ride the tops of bents being drawn skywards, ready to thrust the first pegs into waiting tenons…

We would have none of this, for we were three, and one was the cutest 5′ nothing Peruvian wife, and another a small dog with a pink hand stitched dress…

We did not despair however tempting it was, after all, we had a stout lifting shear, a homemade tackle block, a capstan, and enough 3/4 inch manilla rope to lasso a good sized Russian Boar!


Each bent was laid flat on the foundation, tested again fro square and fit, then bored, pegged and lifted up into place.


Our lifting shear, with hand forged S hook, and hand maid tackle blocks


Our Capstan and snatch block


First bent is up and secured temporarily with a tacked brace


A small block nailed to the sill timber helps keep the post from slipping past its mortise.


Bent two is pegged to bent one, locking them together forever


Bents one and two up without a hitch!


Peg made from old tobacco stick goes in


Offset holes in mortise and tenon help pull the joint tight and keep it that way


Bent three is ready to go up


Setting the top plate down on its three post tenons. Half lap dovetailed wind braces will be let in later between the posts and top plate.

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23 Responses to The Raising

  1. Ron says:

    The crab and tackle are fascinating! Physics is a friend when there are only two. I remember when I was young see the Amish doing a barn raising there had to be well over a hundred people involved. Strange story. The barn was built to replace an old one knocked down in a storm. That one ended up burning down a few years later and know it is no longer a farm. By the way I think your dog may be slightly a diva 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. msjoy1234 says:

    Words escape me when I think how to say how proud I am of you two! It’s almost finished – your first building. Congratulations! Mom

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Veralyn Bridges says:

    Amazing work you’re doing. Love ya’ll.


  4. Very impressive sir. I like the cut of your jig.


  5. Did you consider a ‘raising party’?


  6. Also wanted to ask: looks like you put a little something on the timbers, what is it?


  7. iwyndstorm says:

    What are all the tools you use on a regular basis? Thank you! This is great!


    • mrchickadee says:

      For timber framing I would say;
      Two man crosscut saw
      Felling axe
      Framing square
      Snap line
      T augers 1.5″ and 2″
      Framing chisels 1.5″ and 2″
      Rip and crosscut saws
      Brace and bits
      Block and tackle/ rope
      Stones and files to sharpen tools

      With these simple tools you can build a nice house.
      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. ecucuz says:

    Just wondering regarding the bipod you used. Are the ends buried and then you brace it with rope to a surrounding tree? Did you find anything that you would change in using a capstan and bipod method?
    I’m hoping within the next two years to raise a frame and the main details i’ve found regarding this method have been your blog and Roy Underhills woodwright’s workbook. Also, keep up the good work you keep those of us still scrimping and saving encouraged as to what we may achieve with hard work and dedication!


    • mrchickadee says:

      Thanks for the comment. We used what is known as a “lifting shear”, which is essentially two stout poles lashed together at the tip, the ends are not buried (this aids movement) and ideally you should have a rope going from peak back to a tree and forward as a safety rope to another tree in front. Details of this method and set up can be had free online, search the “armies rigging manual” as a free PDF download. The capstan worked well, it was undersized however, I would use 4x4s instead of 2×4 material. We also found for our light frame the two of us lifting with only hand power was faster than the capstan. It takes time to set up for each lift. I would have made triple sheave blocks also as you get more mechanical advantage. If you are planning a larger build or heavier wood, like oak vs our poplar, Id go with the capstan, two people can lift a huge amount with one, especially if you have two triple sheave blocks. Just make sure your rope/shear and every component are sized on the safe end.

      We are flattered to be included as references along with Roy, I learned everything from him. I understand where you are coming from, not everyone is in a position to sell everything they own and move into a tent as we did. You will get there in due time, and Id love to see how things turn out!
      Also, if doing a house, I would not recommend wattle and daub if you are in an area which experiences cold winters, we will build future buildings with light clay straw or other more insulating infill.


  9. ecucuz says:

    Have you looked at using woodchip-clay infill? My hope is since I will be hewing the frame, the excess chips with the clay as an infill between a lath cavity, then either covered with a lime plaster or wood facing. Here’s a good link,, I originally found out about the method from Steve Chappell’s timber frame book. There’s also some info about it in this book,

    I like the idea of the wattle daub method, but similar to the wood chip-clay it’s not very insulating unless very thick and composed of an insulating fiber. I think strawbale infill has promise, but I think most people are put off by the task of finding very high quality, dry and custom-baled straw. Not to mention it is more expensive.


    • mrchickadee says:

      Yes, I should really post about all this, haven’t gotten around to it as of yet. Long story short, you are 100% correct, wattle and daub is a very poor insulation, which we found out swiftly, so poor in fact our masonry heater was practically useless, except for baking of course! We have since replaced it with a large wood stove, which works fine. I learned about straw clay/light straw infill after doing the wattle and daub, so it was too late for this build, but luckily this is only a workshop, for a house more insulation seems to be in order. The wood stove combined with bubble wrap applied to our single pane windows have renderers the wattle and daub workshop livable though, which is interesting giving its very high uninsulated ceilings, and basic lack of insulation in total. We find the clay does seem to have thermal mass properties that once warmed by a large wood stove make it quite toasty, even below freezing. My goal of a mass heater and very small wood usage were not met by this style however, so in future builds we will be going to a light straw clay infill. I had heard of wood chip infill, but have no clue how to implement that, you surely know far more on that topic, but it makes sense to utilize the leavings in hewing if possible. All in all, you are correct sir, and we have learned some serious lessons this year! (we do wander how they survived in wattle/daub buildings in europe for so long, perhaps a different standard of comfort was common in those times…)
      thanks for commenting!


      • I seem to recall reading that in earlier times it was not customary to heat the living space. This comment was in the context of kiln dried wood, the argument was that drying wood for furniture wasn’t needed years ago because the interiors of buildings were not heated (causing the wood to dry and joints to pull apart) as they are today. Haven’t really had a chance question or cross check….

        I will say that looking at the houses in Plymouth MA from the Pilgrim days there is no way that the fire place could provide an indoor environment we are accustomed to. For that matter even in my grandparents old farm house there was very little insulation and Dad told stories of snow on the beds in the morning having blown through cracks around the windows. I helped demo an old farm house of our neighbors and it was insulated with sawdust poured between 4″ walls. Over time it settled so the top foot had none. Safe to say that was not the warmest house in the winter. This was in central Minnesota where the temps are regularly -20F at night (average around 0) and highs are bellow freezing three months of winter. Of course none of these houses had running water, it would have frozen and cracked all the pipes…


      • mrchickadee says:

        Interesting, I wander if indeed that was practice in some locations. I have read in Roubo 1700s, wood was dried very well for all furniture work, sometime more than a decade, but there is the work of period (1600s) joiners using green riven oak to construct cabinets and such.

        We have a neighbor who was born in a log cabin, he remembers looking up and seeing sky light through the oak shake roof, but says it did not leak. He also recalls watching the family chickens hunt for termites through large gaps in the floor boards…apparently this kept many old homes insect free. There is a line we walk combining the past with modern practices, some things worked then that don’t now, some are still relevant. Our goal has been to utilize as much tradition as possible in our lives, and merge this with the few modern things we choose to keep with.


      • I think that the kiln drives moisture content lower than air dry (unless you live in Arizona :-). I did a quick search and found the article I likely was reading….


    • @ecucez have you started yet? Pictures posted? Would love to follow along….


      • ecucuz says:

        I haven’t started yet, still saving for that right piece of land. I did restart my blog recently though it’s nothing near as good as what you’ll see here.


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