By Autumn Peterson, Heritage Natural Finishes

A successful TFG–Girls Build collaboration in Oregon: 24 girls aged 8-14 came from Portland, Hood River and Bend to attend for the day. We all had a blast! 

The next generation is important to the Timber Framers Guild as an organization and the teaching of kids is right in line with our vision and mission. The Guild has always put sincere efforts into creating learning opportunities for people of all ages, and for kids we’ve always tried to include a children’s workshop at our conferences, hoping to pass some skills and exposure in timber framing on to the next generation.

This post highlights programs done in 2018 – and is a model for Timber Framers Guild programs in a a post-covid world. Please contact the Guild if you’d like to host an event (

Many of the girls lost interest in sawing the big timbers but had a great time carving various shapes they could easily take home. Mission accomplished: lots of smiles, learning how to use tools, work together, and enjoy nature, all without a screen!

Girls Build

We started off with the huge success of the Girls Build event in June 2018 at our Timberline Conference, where twenty-four girls aged 8-14 were bussed in by GirlsBuild, a non-profit Portland-based organization, to work on building timber frame picnic tables designed by Andrea Warchaizer (Springpoint, Inc). We had a fantastic group of volunteers, instructors, sponsors, and all-around help to pull off this energetic and highly successful event.

Our crowd of TFG instructors and volunteers did an amazing job working with the girls and I want to thank Rene Allen, Beth Carey, Julie Hildebrand, Amity Calvin, Pat Schmidt, and Arwyn Anthony for your good mentorship and management on that hectic day. The day before, while the instructors spent the day laying out the timbers to be cut, Kaj Enderlein spent the day milling up logs for one of the tables, and always-generous Pioneer Millworks milled up and donated timbers enough for three more tables (which we were able to auction even in their incomplete state!).

One of our timber framing instructors, Beth Carey, works closely with one of our eager campers. 

Many thanks go out to the following for supporting this project from the beginning: Andrea Warchaizer, Jennifer Anthony, Kaj Enderlein, Jonathan Orpin (New Energy Works), Darren Watson, Jonathan Taylor, Bill Sturm, Jim DeSantis (Silver Creek Timberworks), Bert Sarkkinen (Arrow Timber Framing), Christina White, Scott McClure, Mike Laine, all of the previously-mentioned instructors, and of course the staff at Girls Build, Katie Hughes, and Carey Lein, and the amazing staff at Timberline Lodge (and the Snow Cat driver who carried all our timbers up through the snow!), and our awesome Guild staff. It takes a village to be sure and everyone’s help and enthusiasm made for some amazing memories for us all.

Clearwater Farms Kids Build

The Guild ran another successful project on Lake Simcoe in Ontario, Canada, in August 2018. While the raising was taking place, I got to join the kids at their week-long summer camp on-site and create a two-day Wild Wood Workshop for them. And they truly went wild, diverting from our planned timber bench project to inspired scouring of the off-cut pile left from the barn build next door to make their own creations. Kids ages 8-10 spent a committed and enthusiastic two days learning about tools through building creative sculptures and various carving or furniture projects purely from their imagination from the oddly shaped off-cuts.

Many thanks to those who contributed to help make this learning opportunity happen: Brice Cochran (Timber Frame HQ) designed and provided our timber bench plans (which we’ll save for another older group of kids), Northcott Wood Turning donated all our pegs, Rob of Black River Timber Frames milled and hauled up our timbers and brought boring machines, and Guild member Davies Allen generously made a financial donation which went to pay for more tools, fasteners, and general supplies for our camp. Truly awesome people, making magic happen!

Our Children’s Workshop at the Virginia Beach Guild conference

Event organizer and instructor Autumn Peterson enjoying being a human clamp for this enthusiastic worker bee. The girls were most proud of their end cuts, spent time decorating them with markers and stickers, carrying armloads home on the bus back to Portland! 

In October 2018, the Guild hosted a children’s workshop at the Virginia Beach conference, led by TFG board of directors member, TFG Company member, and veteran children’s workshop instructor/organizer, Stephen Morrison of MoreSun Custom Woodworking. For this one, we went back to the old model of children’s workshops: cutting a complete playground frame of the same design as the Roanoke (Virginia) conference.

Working with Eric Newman, founder of the Roc Solid Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting children with pediatric cancer and their families, Guild members and kids built the frame over the course of the conference. Eric was a featured speaker and the conference and is himself a pediatric cancer survivor, which inspired his vision to build hope for every family and child facing cancer. We sold the structure as a fundraiser at our conference auction to a local organization.

Group Photo by Carolina Timberworks, others by Doug Pollack.

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