Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The family spent a couple weeks in Europe this year, mainly in Munich Germany and Zurich Switzerland.

I wanted to see some great, old timber frames while I was there. Unfortunately, we really didn't have the opportunity. Hopefully next time we will visit the Swiss Open-Air Museum, Ballenburg.

However, I've included some pictures below of a couple half-timbered buildings and some closeups of braces and joinery.

This first building was near "downtown" Basel, Switzerland. I was able to get up close to the timbers to see that they were of a hand-hewn hardwood. Most timbers in half-timbered buildings are coated with literally centuries of paint or oil to protect the timbers. This one was relatively exposed, enough to clearly see the broad-axe marks on the timbers.

The braces look like half-lap dovetails, let-in from the outside and pegged with square pegs. Its possible that the pegs are round and the ends are left square. Interestly, the craftsmen left the peg ends proud by about a 1/2 inch. The brace fits so perfectly here. They undoubtedly used scribe-fitting and probably shaved the brace to fit during raising. The infile material is flush with the timbers where they meet, but then stick out another 1/2" with a nice ornamental stripe.

This building appeared to be a residence in Zurich, Switzerland. The pictures quality is not high due to the relative darkness at dusk. The most interesting feature of this frame are the gable-end rafter braces, which appear to be largely ornamental and not structural.