May 152013

Last Saturday my wife Nan and I attended the annual pancake breakfast at the North Country School in Lake Placid—a wonderful private residential school and summer camp that is nestled in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks and has a working farm. While there, I re-visited “The Pavillion”, which we built in 2002–one of my favorite timber frame structures.

The Pavillion is a multi-purpose space, used for dance classes and performances, for art exhibits, and for camper, student and staff get-to-gethers and meetings. Large floor to ceiling mirrors grace one wall for the dance classes. It is a year-round building that is very easy to heat (it is insulated with Stress Skin Panels), and it replaced a previous seasonal structure. It is nestled in among large pines in the central area of the campus.

The timber frame utilizes 3 clear span, queen posted trusses to create a 28’ x 60’ interior open structure with no internal posts, hence its adaptability to function well for a variety of purposes. In keeping with the Schools “localvore” and sustainable priorities (such as, to use local products, materials, and services and to raise as much of their own food as possible) we utilized local rough sawn Eastern White Pine and Red Oak timbers. Three magnificent 9” x 12” x 30’ long second growth Pine timbers were used for the truss bottom cords. Nancy Bernstein of Amstutz Woodworking did a fine carving in the middle cord with the date and the logo for the school—a tree with its roots deep in the ground.

The roof is a Dutch Gable design—the roof has 4 hips, but at the ends of the ridge there are 2 small gables with windows to let in light. Additionally, the designers chose to install some special domed sky lights that diffuse light throughout the inside. Our timber frame design was eclectic, and we borrowed a Japanese “dragon beam with bow and arrow” to timber frame the 4 hips in the corners. A closet and bathroom in two of the corners of the building have flat ceilings below the timber frame roof so as not to break up the visual ability to see the whole timber frame.

It is a pleasure to return to structures we have built and see that they are functioning well and doing what that are supposed to do.


Feb 212013

Timber framing has a strong tradition in the Himalayan region of Asia. In October my wife, Nan, and I ventured to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

The most striking examples of timber framing are found in the Buddhist monasteries (photo 5995).

The Bhuanese also developed an elaborate system of timber framed cantilever bridges.  (other 2 photos).  This specific bridge was rebuilt about 10 years ago as a joint Bhutan and Swiss project.

More later……




Sep 102010

Our highly skilled work crew after erecting a Douglas Fir Timber FrameTwenty one years ago in September of 1989, my wife, Nan, and I and a small crew proudly raised our first timber frame. It was a very straight forward frame‚ a story and a half with dormers– crafted from local Eastern white pine. Thus was launched Amstutz Woodworking.

That frame (and the timber frame addition circa 1999, which boosted the house to a modestly sized 3 bedroom of 1800 square feet) has been home to Nan and I and our daughter, Annika, for 2 decades. My enduring pride in this home comes from how it has sheltered and nurtured our family and friends: it has been a great place to live in! This house is not new anymore, for it carries a patina of scrapes and dings from the tests of time, but every system, component, and material we used has performed with excellence.

Hundreds of clients have passed through this house, and I would like to believe many decided to hire Amstutz Woodworking because of the sense of hand crafted ‘home’ they felt here. After all, a quality timber frame is a lovely structure to live in! And without all of our clients, those of us at Amstutz Woodworking would not be able to practice our craft and profession. Continue reading »