Historic Preservation

Posted February 25, 2016

Hands On: Historic Preservation Students Learn Traditional Joinery Skills

The Scissor Truss as an Example of Minimalist Design with Complex Load Distributions

This past fall, Historic Preservation students explored traditional wood construction through the fabrication of a close-spaced scissor truss assembly with lecturer Andrew Fearon. The model followed the roof framing of the First Parish Federated Church in South Berwick Maine, built in 1826, as recorded by timber frame scholar Jack Sobon in Timber Framing. Said student Preston Hull (MSHP '16), "There is a big difference between reading about wood and working with it.  However, everything we learned in the Wood Seminar complemented everything else:  looking at wood under a microscope helped us to understand its structure, and you can really feel that structure with a saw or a chisel."

Guest lecturer Richard Ortega, AIA, PE, presented case studies for scissor truss structural intervention and aided in the assembly and loading component of the workshop. Students used traditional wood-working hand tools to learn the form and function of traditional joinery found in timber structures and how to replicate wooden elements from patterns. "Building the truss helped me better understand the nuances of joinery and how the material properties of wood can be maximized to create strong, but lightweight roof structures", said student Alice Gilmore (MSHP '16) The model trusses were loaded to 600 lbs as modes of failure were discussed and correlated to actual scissor truss case studies involving structural intervention. Check out the time-lapse video of their project in the below YouTube link.

Truss Construction Time-Lapse. Published February 21, 2016.