Timber Frames

Timber Framing Terminology

July 26, 2023
Timber Frame Anatomy - Pavilion Plans

Somewhere during your research on the ins and outs of building a timber frame home, you've probably come across some fairly unfamiliar terminology. Upon first glance, some of the terms used to describe construction and raising processes can be very confusing. To help you understand some of what's being said to describe parts of the process, we've put together a quick little glossary of timber framing terms.

NOTE: By no means is this a comprehensive listing! The terms and definitions you'll find below are just some of the most commonly-used in the craft. If you'd like a more comprehensive list of timber framing terms and what they mean, please feel free to send us a message or give us a call today.


BEAM – Used to describe a horizontal timber standing in a structure.

BENT – Load-bearing structures that are joined on the ground and then raised to comprise the front, center, and back of a traditional timber frame structure.

BRACE – Timber supports that are placed diagonally in the corners of a frame to reinforce the structure.

BUTT – Refers to simple square-cut joints that connect by “butting” up against each other.

CHAMFER – A 45-degree routed edge that primarily serves as a decorative flourish, but can also serve as a safety measure to prevent injury related to coming in contact with sharp timber edges.

Timber Frame Anatomy - Home w. purlins

DOVETAIL – A decorative but functionally strong joint that fans out in the shape of a dove's tail and locks into a similarly-shaped pocket.

GIRT – Horizontal timbers within and surrounding bents that serve as a frame for upper levels of a timber frame structure.

GREEN – Used to refer to timber that still contains some degree of moisture. Most of the timbers used to construct your frame will be “green” timbers.

GUNSTOCK POST – A vertical support in a bent that allows formations of intersections between beams and other supports.

HAMMER BEAM – A tie beam used in open trusses to provide structural support to walls.


JOIST – Horizontal timber beams that bear the weight of flooring and serve as ceiling supports.

KING POST – A timber that serves as a crucial center point of intersection for other timbers in a truss.

MORTISE – The “male” connective end of a timber.

POST – Used to describe any vertical timber in a frame.

PURLIN – A horizontal reinforcement beam found at the top of a timber bent. These timbers support the roof deck.

Timber Frame Anatomy - Exploded Connection

QUEEN POST – A vertical timber used as one of two supports in a truss. Can be used in conjunction with or as an alternative to a king post.

RAFTER – A horizontal timber that's used as a roof support.

RECLAIMED – A term used to describe “recycled” timbers gathered from previously-standing structures for use in a timber framing project.

SUMMER BEAM – A beam used as a central weight support in larger open areas.

SPLINE – A thin piece of wood used as a way to reinforce timbers or splice them together.

Timber Frame Anatomy - Pavilion Plans

TENON – The “female” connective end of a timber, cut to match the shape and size of the mortise for structural support.

THROUGH JOINT – A joint in which a tenon passes completely through the mortise.

TREE NAILS – Wooden pegs used to reinforce or hold connection between a mortise and tenon.

If you'd like to learn more about the terminology used for timber framing, feel free to get in touch with us today! We'll be more than happy to assist you in your learning journey.

Book a free consultation

Bring your vision to life with a free consultation.

Book Free Consultation Call
veteran owned company
A proud veteran-owned company serving customers across the United States.
veteran owned company
Privacy Policy © 2024 Homestead Timber Frames All Rights Reserved
Website by Local SEO Partners
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram