For over 40 years the craft of timberframe has been at the heart of our company
We’ve come a long way since 1974 when Tedd took down his first barn and re-purposed it into a Cape Cod style house. We’ve mastered the compound layout and cutting techniques and evolved from simple historic mortise and tenon to modern fasteners designed with engineered analysis. Our shop is capable of any style of timberframe, including Japanese joinery.
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Timberframe Homes and Structures
Revival of a craft
In the 1980’s we brought in Japanese temple builders to train our team, in the 90’s we expanded our international training to bring in French and German master carpenters trained in the compound techniques needed for cathedral roof framing. Now, we employ a number of international employees that expand the in-house knowledge to the areas of the globe where research on modern timber design and connections are more highly studied than the USA. We maintain close ties around the globe, and now have industrial sized German CNC timber mills and planers in our shop that can work huge timbers with exacting tolerances. We can supply the whole timber frame, or if your project features just trusses or timber accents, we can do that too. Our knowledge of species and their structural and performance characteristics helps us choose the right wood for your project.
The aesthetic appeal of wood, its tones and aromas, its durability and dimensional stability all make heavy timber an excellent choice on many projects. Wood is a healthy material choice, creating memorable spaces and contributing to a feeling of warmth and well-being by lowering human sympathetic nervous system response, thus calming us in stressful situations. This health aspect is akin to “Forest Bathing,” the Japanese practice of taking a short visit to the forest as a cornerstone of preventative health care
Our timber frame homes and structures are more than beautiful sculptures connected with exacting joinery. We take pride in the fact that our timber frame homes and structures are carefully and thoughtfully planned with the finished home in mind. Every detail matters at Bensonwood, regardless of whether your home is an Open-Built hybrid timber frame home or a fully custom home. After the excitement of raising day has faded, we want you to be satisfied as you walk through your home and touch a post whose edges were carefully chamfered by craftsman.
Our Timber Frame Home History
For 40 years, timbers have been at the heart of our company. In 1974, Tedd Benson helped begin the timber frame home revival. He did it by building the first new timber-framed residence in New Hampshire in over 60 years. That would be the first of many timber frame homes. Bensonwood has built more than 650 frames across the US (as well as in Canada, England, and Japan).
Since 1974, timber framing has changed, we have adapted. Developing keyed beams in 1998, allowing us to span greater distances with shorter timbers. Our timber frames can now include engineered timbers as well as sustainable, locally-sourced woods such as hemlock and southern yellow pine. We have constantly evolved and challenged the status quo and have documented our progress in our innovation timeline. Need some timber frame inspiration?
“Bensonwood is actually a family of professionals. Each family member’s contribution is from the heart. The reason for the successful growth and reputation for Bensonwood homes is there, radiating from the timber frames. Your family of artisans makes a house a home.” – Bob M.
Building Our Timber Frame Homes
At Bensonwood we use off-site manufacturing to build all of our timber frames to ensure superior quality and craftsmanship. CNC timber milling machines rough-cut all joinery. A skilled timber framer then finishes each joint by hand. To finish the outer shell of the timber frame home we use our own wall and roof systems. We constantly refine our systems to ensure you get the best timber frame home as possible. Our wall and roof systems allow us to design and build hybrid timber frame homes and buildings, where structural exterior walls reduce the number of required timbers. Giving you flexibility in design and end aesthetic.
The timber that makes a Bensonwood frame can be either salvaged or standing-dead harvested timbers. An increasingly popular choice is engineered timber in the form of Glued Laminated Timbers, also known as glulam. Glulam timbers are made from smaller, faster-growing trees, and are sustainably harvested.
No matter if you’re building a traditional timber frame home or a 10×15 foot Walden Cabin replica, Bensonwood can provide you with the structural engineering and construction expertise to realize your vision in wood.
Timber Engineering and Structural Engineering
Our constant research and development efforts put Bensonwood at the leading edge of timber engineering, design, and analysis. With combined experience exceeding twenty-five years, our engineers are licensed to practice in many states and routinely work with architects nationwide.
The Building Information Model (BIM) our engineers develop with the Bensonwood architects is then elaborated on by the production team, under engineering supervision. Able to specify steel and concrete systems to supplement the full and ever expanding palette of wooden structural materials, like Glue Laminated Beams and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels, our Engineering Team knows how to best implement effective, creative, and efficient solutions for your timber engineering projects.
With talent, know-how and creativity, the engineers at Bensonwood routinely create structures and participate in design projects that are demanding and complex. Utilizing a peer-based design process, our timber frame engineers are well-known for designing striking spaces and are routinely sought out by architects to solve the most difficult timber structure challenges. As engineers, we welcome the opportunity to help you create a strong, sound, well-designed structure that is straightforward and buildable.
The Needed Timber Engineering Skill Set
If you put us to work we will:
Generate complete structural drawings, including foundation and floor framing.
Complete 3D systems analyses using matrix-based models for gravity, wind, and seismic loads.
Specify appropriate timber products and species, including engineered wood.
Analyze/detail timber connections based on the National Design Standard for Wood Construction.
Supply other building components that enhance timber system aesthetics, including panelized enclosures, windows, and millwork.
Generate accurate contracts with 3D drawings.
Provide schematic frame designs and pricing for feasibility studies.
Oversee component production: timber, panel, and steel.
Perform site visits to assist crews in assembly and to inspect structural work.
Provide scheduling to aid in site logistics and planning.
cruciform timber frame, timber engineering by bensonwoodA three-time client dared us to design a cross-shaped mountain residence, left, that would teeter atop two tall, but slender, concrete towers. All four arms of the structure cantilever into space high above the cliff-like mountain site. Huge peeled spruce logs were quartered and re-assembled to sandwich the cantilevering girders holding up this structure in the third dimension, thus accomplishing a sophisticated balancing act.
Our Timber Engineering Experience
With more than fifty large public structures across the country under our belt, the Beam Team at Bensonwood has the depth of experience you’re looking for. Our professional engineers, architects, designers, and project managers are committed to ensuring the successful completion of your building. Our goal is to help you accomplish the structural, aesthetic, and budget goals you have set for the project.
denver public library timber engineering The Denver Derrick at the Denver Central Library remains among our more remarkable structures. The 40’ tall octagonal tower, with its leaning posts, sits in the center of the circular Western History Reading Room. Architect Michael Graves wanted a centerpiece for the building, reminiscent of western images (look closely to see a wagon wheel balanced on an oil derrick). We assembled the 12” square posts inside a chaotic construction site, in close quarters, with just 1-3/8” to spare.
Architecture: Michael Graves & Associates, Princeton, NJ
Contractor: Turner Construction Co.
yacht harbor marina boston timber engineering by bensonwood
Yacht Harbor Marina, Boston.
A highly visible project with diverse structural systems, large dimension timber, and complex roof lines, the 14,000 square-foot Boston Yacht Haven Marina was built on piers at the end of Commercial Wharf. It is a stunning building, when viewed from Boston’s skyscrapers or approaching from the harbor.
Architecture: Carr, Lynch and Sandell, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Contractor: Modern Continental
sugarbush claybrook timber frame, timber engineering by bensonwoodLocated at the base of Sugarbush Mountain, Timbers Restaurant at Claybrook was built using rough-sawn Douglas fir glulams. The 90’ diameter building features a 50’ clear span, with the cupola topping out 40’ above the slab. The structure relies on three concentric compression rings to span the circle, with nine pairs of posts defining the tall cathedral space, and eighteen pairs of posts on the perimeter backing them up against the immense outward thrust imparted by the 24’ diagonal braces.
Architecture: Lemay & Youkel, Montreal
Contractor: Pizzagalli Construction
king arthur flour tower, timber engineering by bensonwoodFrom the early design stages, Bensonwood worked closely with the architects on the King Arthur Flour Retail Store. The result: a visually compelling, 44’ tall dodecagon containing a two-story spiral stair, topped by a cupola.
Architecture: Thornton + Smith, Thetford, VT
Contractor: Bread Loaf Construction Co.
Accolades in Timber Engineering
“Bensonwood simplifies my life (and the general contractor’s) by putting the whole package together. I can give them the work and walk away knowing I’ll have a great product.”
– Geoffrey Thornton, AIA, Thornton + Smith Architects
“Bensonwood is clearly the best timber frame company in North America on a host of levels—craftsmanship, material, and detail among them—but it is their passion and creativity that sets them apart from all of their competition.”
– Duo Dickinson, AIA
I knew Bensonwood was at the forefront of timber frame construction, so I contacted them to do the timbers in the home I designed for myself. They were open to using recycled materials. For me, they were the perfect fit.”
– Bruce Wharton, Shope Reno Wharton Architecture