Joinery is a very old tradition that originated in Europe, the Middle East and Asia hundreds, possibly thousands, of years ago. In its purest form Traditional Joinery is a beautiful thing that utilises only wood to make connections without resorting to mechanical fasteners or adhesives.
Traditional Joinery is the classic way to connect timbers in post and beam homes and timber frame structures using mortises and tenons that are held fast with hardwood pegs.
Let’s talk about some of the basic components of traditional joinery.
A joint is the area where two separate pieces connect. In timber framing, there are many different types of joints and connections. A frame can be completely constructed using traditional joinery by making cuts in the wood so the two beams can fit together like puzzle pieces. Female and male cuts are made in the timber. The male cuts of timber are inserted into the female cuts to create a connection. The connection is held secure with hardwood pegs that are hammered into the joint.
A Mortise is the female part of a joint. It is a notch, hole, or cut in a piece of wood into which a Tenon is inserted. A Tenon is the male part of a joint. It is the cut end of a timber that fits into a mortise.
Hardwood pegs are used to further fasten mortise and tenon connections.
Timbers that are connected using mortise and tenon cuts with hardwood pegs are traditionally joined. The geometry of the joints carries structural loads and the hardwood pegs hold the joints secure. Traditional framing requires no nails, steel, or any metals. The way the wood is connected creates a secure, strong frame that can stand for hundreds of years.
Here at Wanaka Joinery and Glass we work with a variety of materials and employ both traditional and contemporary techniques. We like working with our hands but we put our minds into each project to figure out the best approach. We believe that traditional craftsmanship lies at the heart of modern design and this balance comes through in our work today.
Thanks to Vermont Timber Works for the pictures and descriptions.