We had the pleasure of working together with Charpentiers Sans Frontieres (Carpenters Without Borders) and Mortise and Tenon Magazine to help organize and execute a nine-day, hand-tool only project to create a timber frame for a blacksmith shop and teaching space. Thirty five carpenters from six countries converged at the Mortise and Tenon shop in Sedgwick, ME to hew, join and raise the 16×25 frame. The timber for the frame was horse-logged from a neighbor’s woodlot, as well as being felled right on the job site in Sedgwick. The frame, which Goosewing designed, is a typical New England-style three-bent dropped-tie frame with log joists and rafters, a pentagonal ridge and step-lap joinery at the plate. The American framers on the crew taught the Europeans our system of square-rule layout (which was invented around 1800 in the US). The only non-New England touch was the use of naturally-curved hardwood braces, which gave the French framers a good chance to teach us Americans their plumb-line scribe layout system known as picage.
Charpentiers Sans Frontieres is an organization dedicated to the preservation of intangible cultural heritage, namely the technical and historical knowledge and skills needed to repair and recreate wooden architectural heritage. Their mission fits very well with Mortise and Tenon Magazine’s efforts to promote pre-industrial, human-powered woodworking in the 21st century. Both are dedicated to the notion that a group of skilled craftspeople working together can accomplish amazing things without the use of power tools or complex technology. We’ve been honored to be a part of this work!