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Making Timber Framing Beam Horses

Last fall, we had two apprentices, Emma and Taylor, who wanted to work on a project, and had seen the plans someone had sent me for making beam horses. Sometimes, I've heard them called 'trestle ponies' or 'saw horses', and some people call them 'bunks' or 'cribbing'. Evidently, these things are called by a lot of different names.

However, the point is, it's nice to have horses that you can put your beams on, and keep them at the right height, and work on cutting, sawing or carving them, whether they are in the barn or outside.

I've worked on beams with rickety horses, and I've worked on ones sitting on horses that are solid and serious. Sometimes, you have to put together a few horses very quickly, and get cutting. Other times, you have time to make horses that will last for a long, long time.

Anyway, they got started cutting the different parts to the right lengths, and then doing the layout, the measuring, and placement of the mortises and the tenons. There was some design work, as we adapted the plans to suit the beams we were working with, which were made from hemlock, rather than maple or oak, which the drawings called for.

Well, we all got working on the final beams for Eagle House, as well as other projects around Hawk Circle and never finished them. So they sat in a pile in our back barn room, waiting.

They might have waited for a long, long time, knowing how things can go at a busy camp and nature center, too. But in the process of cleaning and organizing the shop in January, we made the decision to finish this set so we would have some extra horses for what we know will be a busy year coming up.

Raphael cleaned out the mortises, made a few more, and I made the pegs. We got them assembled and set up, and they look great. They are seriously sturdy. There are no nails or screws or lag bolts in any of this wood. It's all in the joinery and the pegs.

If you visit our shop sometime in the next ten years or so, look for them. I am pretty sure they will be around, supporting some seriously heavy timbers, and helping us build some amazing homes!

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