Search our Site...

Timber Framing History Part IV

Posted on Oct 26, 2018

Over the past several weeks, we have been exploring the history of timber framing. From Ancient Rome to the Baby Boomers, the crescendos of timber frame building have gracefully ebbed and flowed to present times. And, while traditional techniques, such as the use of mortise and tenon joinery, remain an important standard of good craftsmanship, there have been a number of modern innovations along the way. It is possible that more advancements in timber frame construction have been made in the last 40 years than in all the previous centuries combined.

Canada Timber Frame Home Riverbend
Riverbend Home in Revelstoke

As the fourth and final article in our History of Timber Framing series, let’s take a look at three modern advances that Riverbend uses in timber frame construction. Exactly what advantages do these innovations offer to today’s timber craftsmen and, more importantly, what do these technological advantages mean for your timber frame home?

Did you miss Part I in this series? You’ll find it here. Catch up on Part II here. Read Part III here.

The Use of CNC Machining

CNC is an initialization of “Computer Numerical Control”. It refers to a manufacturing process whereupon a pre-programmed computer automatically controls the associated machining tools. Created over time during the 1940s and 1950s (Baron Machine Company, n.d.), CNC machining is used in a variety of complex machinery today, including grinders, lathes, mills, and routers. The advantages Riverbend’s CNC machines provide to our craftsmen are numerous. In addition to the astonishing speed, our computer controls exact positioning and velocity. Our CNC machine produces timbers that precisely match their specifications. This means your timbers are not simply custom fabricated for your home, but that they are perfectly manufactured for it and it alone.

CNC Machine at a Riverbend Facility

Here at Riverbend, we start with a CAD drawing and then create a code for our CNC machines. This program is then loaded into the machine and we conduct a trial run, sometimes referred to as “cutting air”. Trial runs are important to us because mistakes in speed or tool position can cause costly damage. Cutting air is important to you because it ensures greater efficiency during the fabrication of your home’s timbers. The Short Sleeve and Tie Club has more reading about CNC machining, as well as videos, here.

It’s important to note that while CNC machinery and modern day power tools offer significant advantages to homeowners, these modern inventions do not replace Riverbend’s craftsmen. Our artisans still use centuries old techniques and hand tools to complete your timbers’ last details. Each timber is beautifully finished by hand.

The Use of Structural Insulated Panels

If you have been a friend of Riverbend for any period of time, you’ll know that we have previously written about and referred to Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) on several occasions.  This is because almost 30 years ago we were able to seamlessly incorporate the ancient technique of timber framing, known for perfect-fitting connections, with the innovation of SIPs, also known for perfect-fitting connections. The result was, and remains, a robust, energy efficient, structural shell.

The use of SIPs offers several benefits to builders and customers alike. Building walls and roofs with SIPs takes less time than stick frame building. Less building time equates to decreased labor costs which saves you money. Even when a builder is unfamiliar with the use of SIPs, the benefits of use remain. That is why we offer technical assistance (TA) for the SIP installation as well as different Structural Shell construction services.

Thermal Imaging Shows Differences between SIP and non-SIP homes

Building with SIPs is an advancement in timber framing that additionally benefits you and the environment. Because a well-built, energy efficient home has the ability to significantly reduce energy usage, thus you will see a reduced cost on your monthly heating and cooling bills.

The Use of Cranes

In part one of this series, we wrote about the tradition of timber frame raising and the (quite necessary!) involvement of neighbors and even entire communities. Raising a timber frame required a lot of people. These days, cranes are utilized in the raising. However, cranes cannot do the job without skilled workers alongside. As with other technological advancements used in modern timber framing, the human touch is found everywhere.

timber frame raising riverbend
Riverbend Timber Raising

Riverbend clients see their timber frames raised with a combined effort between crane and crew. Our own full time installation crews travel to Riverbend home sites. There, our experienced professionals work alongside the crane to speed along the installation. The use of cranes during modern times is certainly faster than people-powered raisings. Another terrific benefit? You can still enjoy this festive event without having to do the heavy lifting.

A Final Thought

We know it’s important to you that your home endure, and is handed down to future generations. This is not something we take lightly here at Riverbend.  We know it is a big decision for people to move from the dreaming stage to actually building the home. We also know there is an investment of more than time and money. There are emotions as well. At Riverbend, you receive the finest craftsmanship, enhanced by precise new technologies. We hope this combination will go a long way to making your timber frame dream home journey a pleasure.

Thank you for reading. Be sure and return in two weeks for the start of a new series on modern architecture in timber framing.

Riverbend is a proud part of the PFB Corporation family of companies. PFB Corporation is based in Calgary, Alberta Canada and is a leading manufacturer of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam building products. Today, as a part of the PFB Custom Homes Group, LLC, Riverbend Timber Framing creates extraordinary homes utilizing our Total Home Solution™.



Baron Machine Company. (n.d.). News The Evolution of CNC Machining. Retrieved from Baron Machine Company:

Need More Information?

Whether you’re looking for more information or would simply like to learn more about us and our services, don’t hesitate to contact us. Please follow the link below to access our online form or call us at 888.486.2363 in the US or 888.999.4744 in Canada. We look forward to hearing from you.

Order Riverbend Brochure Contact Us