I started Three Elements Timberworks in 1999. Before that, I was framing during the days and timber framing during the evenings and weekends. I stumbled across some old photos from the mid 90’s. (Wow, am I really that old?) It was a shock to see how much things have changed. Here is a brief (ridiculously brief) synopsis of our story; where I started and where we are now. Oh, and don’t miss the video at the end. It’s my favorite part   🙂 .

My first timber frame project was a shed I built in Gunbarrel CO. The design came out of my head. No shop drawings. The joinery came out of what was my favorite book at the time.

Building the Timber Frame House: The Revival of a Forgotten Art: by Ted Benson


This was the first piece of timber framing I ever cut. It was a practice piece. Note the hand tools. Skil saw, framing square, Hole-shooter, 1-1/2″ chisel and a corner chisel. I built the saw horses myself. Taught to me by Tom Brown, my first boss when I started framing in college.


Timber posts, Timber frame shed

Here are the posts with the tenons cut on one end. You can see Ted Benson’s book in the bottom left corner of the photo.

Here are the knee braces. This was before I figured out to make templates. I laid each one out individually. There are 2 kinds of braces. Standard tenon braces and half lapped dovetail braces.

Test fitting my first bent.

Raising my first bent.

The frame is raised. Now for the trusses.

Transporting the truss from the shop (client’s garage) to the job-site (backyard). Notice the collar tie has a half lap dovetail straight out of Ted Benson’s book and at the peak is a tongue and fork joint, also straight out of Ted’s book.

“Booming” the truss into place.

The first truss is set, plumbed and braced.


All the trusses set and braced.

Full frame raised.


I took a timber frame workshop in Pingree Park CO back in the mid 90’s. We built this structure using only non-electric hand tools. The workshop was put on by Peter Haney and Will Beemer of Rocky Mountain Workshops at the CSU mountain campus. It was a great time and it fueled my “timber frame fire”.

Here is the old fashioned version of a mortising machine.

This is how you cut arches without electricity. Once you get it close with the adze you clean it up by hand with a spokeshave.

This was the last project I did before I started Three Elements Timberworks. I cut it all by hand on the job site. It is a structural truss with no steel. It uses all traditional joinery. Again, mostly from Ted’s book.


You are probably wondering why this trip down memory lane. Three Elements Timberworks has gone through a lot of changes since 1999. It started with me working by myself on a job site, to having an outdoor shop with a crew of 7 carpenters and 3 designers to an operation that cuts almost everything on a CNC machine. It is a long story that I won’t bore you with here. If you are interested in the whole story give me a call, or send me an email. I will be happy to tell you about it, over the phone, over lunch, or over a beer.

Check out the short video below illustrating some of the changes we have gone through over the years.