Island Forge: Part 2 – Timber Frame

This series of photo essays will document the preparation, construction, and set up of a simple swordsmith style kajiba (鍛冶場, forge building) from the ground up. The main inspiration for aesthetic, form, and technique is the humble Japanese inaka naya (納屋) style of a century ago.

Joinery

The Western Red Cedar timbers were milled locally to requested dimensions and roughly hand planed on the inside-facing surfaces. The joints are mostly simple housed blind mortise and tenon, preparation of the timbers took approximately ten days.

Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
The rough surface from the sawmill was removed from the inside surfaces by rough scrub planing.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Laying out and cutting the joinery.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
A lovely smelling fresh cut Western Red Cedar puzzle.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
The stack of frame parts with all post tops labeled for assembly.

Assembly

The structure was assembled in one day, the first of three days of clear weather between snowfalls. Beginning with the north wall and working clockwise around the back, staked braces were used to support each post until the structure could support itself. The main tool for assembly was a large timber hammer cut from a cedar tree.

Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
First wall assembled and standing, supported by staked braces driven into the ground.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Working along the back wall in the morning light.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Though the tenon is 4″, the entire beam is supported by a housing.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
A rope twisted by a scrap of wood provides tension on the frame while the timber hammer is used to tap the joints together.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
The main beams to support the roof are fit onto stub posts on top of the horizontal frame members. Each is tapped in turn to seat the beam on the tenon shoulders. The outer two stub posts sit on top of wall posts while the inner two sit over open space.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
End of the first day, assembled frame ready for the roof. Ti5ber hammer visible at centre.

The next steps will be to frame and sheet the roof.


Timeline

Gathering materials began in Fall 2018, site preparation in December 2018, the lumber was milled in the first week of January 2019, the frame assembled February 5th, and roofed February 7th. Yakisugi siding and tsuchikabe walls installed during March, and interior wall finishing in April. The goal is to have it operational by Summer 2019.

Thanks to all who were involved in one way or another in helping facilitate this project, providing space, time, materials, assistance, advice, and encouragement.

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