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Timber Framing, What, Why?

The craft of building with wood is very ancient! There are numerous old structures still standing for more than 800 years both in Asia and Northern Europe. Those are examples of mastery,  high levels of knowledge and experience in all steps of the craft, from the harvesting of the trees to the finishing details. These structures have stood the test of time without resorting to screws, nails or any other type of metal fastener.

Timber Framing has been used to build from simple farm houses to very complex temples and cathedrals. In common they have the principles of being built with  few but heavy and big sized timbers that are interlocked by being fitted together in a puzzle like fashion, using proven and tested joinery techniques. This creates very unique, stout and aesthetically pleasing structures.

This versatile method allows for varied designs, big open spans, multiple wall infill techniques, particularly natural building methods like wattle and daub, strawbales, hempcrete, clay bricks or light- straw-clay.

It is in fact, an essential technology for sustainable building in the future, specially considering its use in combination with the non load bearing natural building techniques just mentioned, since a timber frame structure is unequaled in its resistance and durability

By properly selecting and harvesting a few timbers that will become the home for many generations after being turned from a log to a crafted building, we can in fact contribute to a regenerative forestry practice in contrast with the fast track consumption of low quality and ephemeral wood products.

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Full Scale Real Building/Step by Step Learning

Through the course of 8 days, together as a team, we will measure, cut, assemble and raise the frame from a preliminary design. Maybe you heard stories on how it used to be "in the old days", well this is it!

In the beginning we will have our plans, sharp tools and pile of timbers. By the the end a beautiful 5m x 8m Timber Frame.

You'll be guided through demonstration, step by step instructions and real time assistance with emphasis on how to use power and hand tools in a safe and efficient manner. Specifically, framing chisel, mallet, hand plane, hand saws, skill saws, auger bit drilling, chain mortiser and more.

This is a fully hands on workshop!!! You'll take back home a skill set that can jump start your magical journey in the world of crafts and give you the extra confidence to develop personal building projects

preliminary design

Journey Overview

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Dates : 20 to 27 of May 


Note: Arrival on the 19th latest around 19:00 when our program starts; night of 27th included, checkout morning of the 28th.

Location: Ericeira Area, Portugal

All-Inclusive / Residential Accommodation for 9 nights in a magnificent shared house in the countryside and three delicious daily meals are part of the workshop.

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Main language: is English, with Portuguese and Spanish translation

Fees: Early Bird, until 19th of April - 840 €

           Regular - 920 €


If you really want to take part and can't afford the workshop, get in touch. We do have a couple of spots open with special fees & conditions

Note: A specific set of personal timber framing tools will be required for this workshop, detailed information will be given to you upon registration.

Features & Program:

: Arrival Day/Evening :

  • Settling in & Introductions

: Day 1:

  • ​Fundamentals of trigonometry and geometry that are essential to understand and develop, sound, functional and beautiful structures.

  • The basic principles of timber frame design (names of the components of a frame and fundamental design rules);

  • Work site set-up/cribbing

  • Selecting & surveying timbers for joinery placement and position in the frame;

  • Study of our preliminary design/plan


: Day 2 to 6 :

  • Joinery lay out using Japanese “ink-line” /center rule method (useful both for square and round timbers)

  • Accurately lay out and cut all the joints necessary to assemble the Timber Frame, using a framing square, sharp knife and pencils. Mostly, it will be mortise and tenon joinery with some variations and options for the connection of specific members (ex: dovetail and scarf joints). 

  • How to properly and safely use power and hand tools, with an emphasis on learning how to use a sharp framing chisel and mallet.

: Day 7 :

  • Joinery pre-fitting & fine tuning (using combination square).

: Day 8 :

  • Group Raising techniques & logistics

  • Raising Celebration (please plan to leave on the 28th of May so you don´t miss the party!)

A variety of concepts, practical, theoretical &  empirical knowledge that will be distilled to you through the workshop, by the whole group experience and interaction with the facilitators.

This Timber Framing workshop is designed to be accessible, interesting & challenging for all levels of woodworkers, even the ones with no experience whatsoever.

Working in groups we will build up individual and collective confidence. The result will be that the participants will go home empowered to engage on a timber frame project of their own. Most importantly we aim to share a systematic and comprehensive method that has proven to work for a thousand years.

When all the pieces come together, the joints fit and the frame is up and standing due to the combined efforts of the raising crew, there´s an indescribable feeling of  reward, achievement and joy!

Typical Daily Schedule:

7.30 - Breakfast

8.30 - Morning Session

12.30 - Lunch

13.45 - Afternoon Session

17.30 - Relaxation

19.00 - Dinner

20.30 - Evening presentation or leisure activity 

(the last day - raising day - is typically a longer day and it will be probably  going until sunset )

Additional Features & Highlights:


Most of the program will take place in a 200 m2 indoor and outdoor workspace from the Onda Nova Crew. It is 5 to 10 min away from our accommodation. This will allow us to work confortably independently of weather conditions and keep our tools sound and safe. After we cut all the timber pieces of the frame we will then load and transport them to the building site not too far away and raise it. This is basically how we do it professionally for clients.

We will be in the Ericeira region very close to the Atlantic Ocean and there will be some free time for you to rest and enjoy/explore the area.



It is highly recommended to read at least one of the following books on the subject before engaging the workshop:


A Timber Framer´s Workshop by Steve Chappell – Fox Maple


Building the Timber Framing House by Tedd Benson with James Gruber 

Natural Building
The Instructor
Ruka F. - Timber Framer & Natural Builder
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For the past 15 years, Ruka has been passionately cultivating many skills and taking part in a diversity of building & restoration projects around several locations on the planet. Working mostly with timber, earth/clay, lime, straw.


This has allowed him to develop a very personal approach to the natural building crafts. Since every building project presents unique challenges, Ruka draws from the vernacular knowledge the base framework for his work and by integrating different techniques and methods he aims to make beautiful buildings that  are healthy, functional and long lasting


Timber Framing has come into Ruka´s path as a natural extension of his skills opening up extraordinary possibilities of design flexibility & craftsmanship. He feels very honored to have learned first hand from extraordinary masters and he´s fully dedicated to share his knowledge and passion.

Among the people with whom he as worked and learned Timber Framing from, Steve Chappell and the Fox Maple crew have been an incredible inspiration, source of knowledge and experience, that one can only look up too.

Ruka has facilitated several workshops for a variety of groups, from young children to adults from various cultural backgrounds and nationalities. For him its an intense and rewarding process since he feels that he learns at least as much as any participant and feels compelled to share and receive.

Away from the tools and job sites, he spends most of his time just above and under water, enjoying Nature or being mesmerized by music.

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