by The Garland Mill Gang

Mill pond at Garland Mill Timberframes

Forty-plus timber frame enthusiasts, crisp New England Fall weather, good food, and even better camaraderie. Hard to spoil the soup with those ingredients. The Guild on Garland 2019 Rendezvous at Garland Mill Timberframes in Lancaster, New Hampshire, enjoyed the company of more than a few TFG long-distance runners and a goodly number of new and eager participants. Pre-Rendezvous sessions on architecture and engineering, an engaging compound roof joinery workshop, observation of a fully operating water-powered sawmill, and a high-performance home tour kept folks moving, though there was also time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Andrea Warchaizer (Springpoint, Inc.) and Janet Kane got the event rolling on Friday with back to back participatory seminars—informative, practical, and hands-on application of architectural and engineering concepts at the heart of every timber frame structure.

Chris Barstow from Specialty Timberworks in Bethel, Maine, presented a two-day workshop focused on how to get rafters and ridges to cooperate when roof planes collide using traditional tools and no complex math. He, along with Kyle Whitehead, Garrett Mcentee, and Reed Leberman led participants through the conceptualization, layout, and notching of a hip roof system for a small pavilion. Chris’ “unplugged” approach utilized mostly a simple plan view (as opposed to detailed individual timber drawings) and an intuitive step-by-step process to accurately reveal the joinery in-situ as the layout progressed.

“Go with what you know” was the theme. By focusing on the basics—plumb, level and the common pitch of a roof plan, hip or valley angle lines can be developed directly on the timber. Subsequent drafting steps can lead to drafting and visualizing almost all angles needed for a valley or hip system, such as valley trough bevel angle. Beyond plumb line layout, the top, bottom layout, and compound miter/bevel saw sets were all developed directly on the timbers using simple drafting methods rather than relying on the calculator or CAD modeling.

The learning as well as the notching proceeded from Saturday through Sunday morning. Timbers were fitted together, and though the frame was not finished, plans are being made to invite participants back to the Garland Mill in early 2020 to see their work through to completion. The specifics of this informal gathering will be made known in advance. The completed pavilion frame will be donated to the town of Lancaster in memory of Tom Southworth and raised and roofed community-style next spring.

Saturday afternoon was a flurry of activity, both out in the notching yard and in the shop, where Ben Brungraber (Fire Tower Engineered Timber) kept a packed house riveted on the endless possibilities, and complexities, of timber-framed structures.

The sawmill tour included many of the stories, history, and family lore that have surrounded Garland Mill from the mid-1800s through today.

Matt Hammon, a stalwart Guild member and crew leader at Garland Mill Timberframes, did double duty as nineteenth-century sawmill tour guide and co-inventor (with Makaio Maher of Green Timber Works) of a fun trifecta of Woodcraft Olympic events in which Rendezvous teams competed.

The sawmill tour included many of the stories, history, and family lore that have surrounded Garland Mill from the mid-1800s through today. On the practical side, the GMT crew illustrated how the rain and snow falling into the watershed to the north and east journeys to the pond and into the mill, ultimately providing the motive power to saw the floating logs into the timbers, braces, and boards. Sawmill demonstrations showed the various water-powered machines in operation, and participants were even encouraged to match wits with the edging machine to produce a clean, straight board from a tapered slab with bark on two sides. Quieter moments found everyone sitting along rollers and decks inside the mill listening to Dana Southworth answer questions about all aspects of sawmill operations, economics, and history.

Ben Southworth led an inspirational Sunday morning tour of his parents’ Passive Haus-standard high-performance home just across the country road from the mill. Advanced ventilation and heat-recovery systems, together with triple pane windows and no shortage of insulation, made this house an example of cutting edge technologies almost a decade ago when built by the family’s business, and the place still performs admirably today.

The “Guild on Garland Timber Olympics” were held in a small field near the Garland Brook and required teams of two to compete in axe throwing, log rolling, and a variation on the caber toss. Teams placing in the top three spots received jugs of locally produced maple syrup for their good efforts!

Food during the rendezvous came from various local sources including Lancaster’s own widely acclaimed Copper Pig Brewery, the Polish Princess Bakery, and the Granite Grind Restaurant. The most elaborate meal came Saturday night as the local regional high school’s culinary class delivered and served a menu prepared from scratch entirely in their own kitchens. Highlights were a handmade hot Italian sausage, chicken with maple BBQ sauce (yes, the school’s own maple syrup), and a warm apple crisp with fresh whipped cream.

We would be remiss if we didn’t thank our generous sponsors Foard Panel and Timberwolf Tools. The ongoing support of these two great suppliers is deeply appreciated and we know our members are grateful for the service, dedication, and quality provided by these companies.

Quality content, tasty refreshment, and good cheer carried the day(s). Long-time Timber Framers Guild friends Susan Norlander and Joel McCarty (former Executive Director) graced the gathering with their presence and good humor. Joel introduced the Tom and Harry Southworth Award—two year-long memberships in the TFG sponsored by the hosts in memory of their fathers. The soon-to-be new members’ names were drawn by Tom’s granddaughter Clementine and Harry’s grandson Robert under the watchful eyes of Sandy Bennett, Ellen Gibson, and Jim Rogers. After sharing fond recollections of the first generation of Southworth Garland Mill timber framers, Sandy let his intention be known of starting a memorial scholarship fund in their names to help keep the new members pump primed. Sandy doesn’t miss many gatherings of the Guild, and he sure left his (positive) mark on this one. Onward!

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