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TPWD News,, 512-389-8030

May 17, 2004

Framers Raise New Building at Freshwater Fisheries Center

ATHENS, Texas — The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center has a new fly fishing pavilion thanks to the efforts of the Timber Framers Guild of Becket, Massachusetts.

Four instructors and a dozen students from as near as Dallas, Texas, and as far away as Ontario, Canada, made chips and shavings fly for a week as they shaped huge southern yellow pine beams and joined them. The result was a 28-foot by 40-foot pavilion to anchor TFFC’s Wetlands Trail and provide a venue for fly fishing instruction and other programming.

The Timber Framers Guild erected a similar structure at the beginning of the Wetlands Trail in 2001. The workshops provide students wishing to learn timber framing a hands-on experience while producing a valuable structure for public use.

Students carry away a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as well as woodworking skills and knowledge. "I’m very tired, but I feel very good about having been part of this," said Don Lawler, a firefighter from Shreveport, Louisiana, as he stowed his tools after the last beam was put into place. Students pay a fee to attend the workshops in order to learn how to build their own timber frame structures.

The Timber Framers Guild is a nonprofit educational membership association, and community-service building projects are at the heart of their mission. "We develop and provide opportunities for adventure, education and accomplishment through community-service building projects around the world," said Joel McCarty, co-executive director of the guild. "Our partnership with TPWD-currently at three buildings and counting-is a testimony to the persistence of TFFC director Allen Forshage, who has proven adept at smoothing the way for these kinds of events. The guild’s educational mission goals have been well met by our Texas projects, and we’d love to do another in two years."

The Timber Framers Guild now counts some 1,800 men and women from all over the world among its members.

Timber frame construction uses a few massive beams fastened together with wooden pegs to support a structure instead of the many smaller pieces of lumber nailed together in conventional balloon frame construction. The construction technique was brought in colonial times from England to America, where an abundance of wood made timber framing popular until balloon framing was invented in Chicago in 1833.

Balloon framing allows houses to be built much more economically by relatively unskilled workers. These techniques developed on the back of technological innovations of the early Industrial Revolution, including the engine-powered sawmill and the wire nail. Renewed interest in timber framing arose in the 1970s as part of the environmental movement and has continued to grow at a modest but steady rate.

Information about the Timber Framers Guild and future workshops can be found on the Web ( The site also contains a day-by-day photographic record of the construction of the pavilion at TFFC.

LH 2004-05-17

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