How to Start Timber Frame Business
Timber frames for residential and commercial structures are becoming popular again for aesthetic and environmental reasons.
Starting this kind of business need not be impossible if you have a special interest in wood and in constructing timber frames the old way. Learn from our basic guide what you need to do to start this business.
Making timber frames is an old craft. It has been abandoned for awhile due to the emergence of modern materials and methods to build panels for homes and furniture. However, there has been a resurgence of interest in timber frames for two major reasons: aesthetic and environmental. Timber built houses has unique, old world charm that is classy in today’s modern world of plastics. Environment-wise, timber is a replaceable material and they can be reclaimed (not necessarily new). Plus, timber is durable.
Entering into the business of making timber frames for people who want old fashioned novelties need not be impossible for anyone, including those who at the moment do not have special carpentry skills. It should not also be impossible for people without substantial resources. There are people who successfully built a timber framing business as a couple or two-person venture. What you especially need is an ardent passion in creating timber frames like they are work of art. What you can do to start this business are the following:
- Learn skills in carpentry/mortise and tenon joining by enrolling in courses that offer them. Visit the Web site of the Timber Framers Guild of North American and the Timber Framers Guild to get information on trainings.
- Apply for apprenticeship in companies that make timber frames. This would require you to find a business that is willing to accept you as trainee. You’d increase the chances that you’ll be taken in if you apply at a company that won’t see you as a potential competitor in the future. You can allay such fear by finding apprenticeships somewhere far from your place of residence.
- Acquire the necessary tools of the trade: slick, framing chisel, adz, gauge, augers, drawknives, drift pins, and plumb bobs
- Visit places from which you can order timber like the local mill for green timber and large warehouses, port buildings, old buildings being torn down for reclaimed timber.
- Define what kind of timber you will be using. Will it be green, seasoned or reclaimed wood for residences, commercial buildings, or smaller items like windows and doors?
- A system or software to estimate work cost. Remember that costing for timber frame work is complicated. You should consider many factors like floor plan, frame design, kind of wood, finishing and accessories. You can consider charging per square foot. This too will depend on frame design, wood, and finish among others.
- Attend framers conferences to meet mentors, possible partners and prospective clients.
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