I worked in France for a year in 2010-11, hosted by the centuries-old trades guild, Les Compagnons du Devoir. My first stint was with Ateliers Ferignac, a company specializing in historic restoration based in Hautefort, in the Dordogne region of southwest France. As a member of their structural carpentry crew, I travelled all over southern France to work on national historic monuments – chateaux, churches, houses – as well as to build new structures. I wrote an article about the experience, which appeared in the fall 2010 issue of TIMBER FRAMING, the magazine of the North American Timber Framers Guild. You can read the article here.
I then spent 9 months working for Paris Charpente, a 50-person carpentry and structural metalwork company that works in Paris and the immediate environs. My stay in Paris included several months at the Paris chapter house of the Compagnons guild. There, I continued my studies in the drafting and layout technique that they teach, called le trait de charpente, a type of developed drawing using descriptive geometry. At Paris Charpente, I worked on diverse jobsites, from Le Moulin Rouge to La Musée D’Orsay to private residences, large apartment buildings and government buildings. The work was in steel, in glue-lam wood, in true timber. An introduction to urban, industrial construction for this artisan-timber-framing country boy.