Fox Maple School of Traditional Building
65 Corn Hill Road,
P.O. Box 249
Brownfield, Maine 04010
(207) 935-3720
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New Revised
Edition 2011

A Timber Framer's Workshop
Joinery, Design & Construction of Traditional Timber Frames
by Steve Chappell.

"Throughout the book, Chappell shares an infectious love of the art and craft of timber framing. A
journeyman carpenter would be able to cut a timber frame with the information presented in this
book...His comprehensive 'Joinery Design', 'Tension Joinery', and 'Roof Framing & Truss Design'
sections are technical enough to hand to your engineer, but also comprehendable by the layman."
--Fine Homebuilding Magazine

This 250 page workbook includes comprehensive in-depth technical information on the joinery, design and construction of Traditional Timber Frames. Illustrated with over 230 photos and CAD drawings. Included are Frame Plans, design and engineering formulae, rule-of-thumb design and engineering guidelines, shop setup, builder's math, joinery design criteria, practical timber framing tips, tools and more. If you are an architect, engineer, builder or an aspiring owner builder wishing to build your own timber frame, A Timber Framer's Workshop will provide the information you need.
ISBN 1-889269-00-X  $30 cover price.
Order on line Now

Fox Maple School of
Traditional Building

Revolution Means Building

Providers and Educators of Timber Framing and Traditional Building since 1975

Our next natural building workshop focusing on clay/fiber based enclosure systems and earthen plasters is set for May 26-31, 2014. Scroll down for more info. This will immediately precede our Spring 2011 Timber Framing Workshop. Scroll down for course overview of systems and techniques instructed in these workshops.

Fox Maple's School Booklet is available to download in Acrobat Reader PDF format. The 40 page booklet provides a comprehensive overview of our workshops and educational program including specifics of what each type of course entails, tools and supplies to bring, as well as a full description of the Fox Maple campus, how it was built, CAD drawings of the timber frames, photos and descriptions of the processes, including natural clay building and thatching. In itself an educational tool. It is also what we send to all workshop registrants in our confirmation packets. A must have for all students. To download click on the link below. Download FMSTB booklet in pdf format now!

Fox Maple's Indigenous Peoples Community Building Initiative (IPCBI) projects always include natural enclosure systems. To find out more about these projects and IPCBI's efforts check out our newsletter. To download our latest IPCBI newsletter in a pdf file, click on the following link.
IPCBI Newsletter.pdf
IPCBI Newsletter en espanol.pdf

For descriptions of course content and specifics, please scroll down.

To receive email updates of upcoming workshops send us an email request. If you would like a hard copy Newsletter, include your mailing address. To download the latest Student Newsletter in pdf, click on the icon to the left.

To download recent issues of Fox Maple's JQ Newsletter, click on the appropriate links.
Issue # 15 Issue#14 Issue#13

The Dining Hall at Fox Maple is designed after a medieval English Cottage and the timber frame is infilled with a variety of clay systems; wattle & daub, wood chip clay, cob, straw light clay and finished with clay plaster. The roof is thatched.
wattle & daub
Wattle & Daub with straw
Wattle & Daub with hemp

Wood Chip in slip form

Wood Chip Clay in cage

Cob in-fill

Mixing wood chip/clay by hand

Mixing wood chip/clay in mixer

Clay slip, the universal binder

Harvesting reed, Maine coast

1st course thatch on Library
Preping for straw bales, library

Fox Maple Workshops in natural clay building systems are based on traditional methods, coupled with recent modern innovations and applications currently practised by professional clay builders in Europe. In our workshops we cover a variety of systems to give the student the broadest overview of the possibilities, and focus on efficient systems of production. Clay can be mixed with virtually any cellulose fiber; straw, woodchips, peanut shells, coffee husks, etc., based on the most prevelent local resources. Our campus structures are built using a broad variety of systems.

The focus at Fox Maple is on the WHOLE building process. Traditional clay and thatch systems play a big part because they complement the traditional timber frame so effectively. While thatch and clay building systems have been in use for hundreds of years, they are just beginning to find their way into the U.S. Our mission is to help facilitate the process by experimenting with and developing systems and approaches that are both efficient and practical in the building processes that will meet today's needs. Our workshops, and general focus on these methods, are intended to help bridge the gap. Over the course of the year we will be offering a variety of workshops and work sessions on a number of Traditional Building Trades, instructured by apprenticed European Masters of the Craft, so keep in touch. All new dates will be posted on the web.

One-day Timber Frame & Natural Building Design Seminars

Design Seminars precede all of our
Timber Framing and Natural Building courses
For current dates click here

Design seminars at FMSTB provide a broad overview of building the whole-house,with an emphasis on the systems, mechanics and techniques which are unique to traditional timber framing and enclosures, as well as modern adaptations. Site planning, foundation design, mechanical systems, enclosure systems (stress skin and natural alternatives) and cost estimating are a few of the topics covered. Our goal is to assist Builders, Architects, Engineers, aspiring owner-builders, and novice timber framers in ways to integrate traditional methods of building that incorporate a high level of craftsmanship and durability, through highly crafted examples. This approach will solve many design problems by defining a direct course of action, and allow the experienced timber framer or professional builder to expand their expertise. We encourage participants to bring their own plans or rough drawings to be used as working models to be discussed in the seminar. Tuition $275. Registration Form

Natural Clay/Fiber Building Systems Workshop Sessions

3 Day Natural Enclosure Systems Workshop, For current dates click here

In these workshop we will work with and discuss the relative advantages of the traditional use of the materials, methods, and modern alternatives, which can be applied to timber frame enclosures and traditional clay building systems in general. The 3 day course in May will cover the variety of systems described below, allowing students to get a solid understanding of the approach, design parameters and application. This is a hands-on workshop. Expect to be covered with clay, and a truly unique experience. The first day will cover the systems and design applications in a classrom setting. The following days will be spent working with the materials, with demonstrations of woodchip clay, wattle and daub, working with clay and preparing the clay slip and clay plasters. This course will immediately precede our June Timber Framing courses. The following is an overview of what will be covered in both workshops.
Tuition, 3 day workshop in May $675. Registration Form

Wattle & Daub

One of the oldest traditional forms of enclosure, often seen in historic European half timbered buildings, Wattle & Daub can last for centuries. The work group will prepare and install the wattles, using materials harvested from the local woods, mix, and apply the straw/clay daub. Wattle & Daub may not be the best system for enclosing exterior walls in northern climates due to the density of the mixture of clay, but it may well be the most interesting and fun clay based building system of all. Understanding its properties will open up new doorways into building with natural materials.

Straw/Light Clay & Woodchip/Light Clay

In July, 2002 we conducted a woodchip/clay workshop in Corbett, Oregon. With a group of 15 people we infilled nearly 180 feet of 9' high walls in the 5 day workshop. This included digging the clay out of the clay bank by hand. The cedar wood chips came from a local mill. The photo above shows the finished project. Both the interior and exterior are finished with clay plaster.
An adaptation of a centuries-old wall system, Wattle & Daub, straw light clay uses the same materials but is fashioned in a way that provides greater insulating qualities. The straw, mixed with clay slip, can be installed using a slip form system, or in a cage built from light framing (2x2s) and lath or reed matting. The advantage of straw light clay in modern building is that the thickness of the wall can be increased to provide greater insulating value as dictated by the local climate. It also uses materials which can be obtained locally, requiring only body energy as opposed to embodied energy.

Wood chips can also be mixed with a clay slip to create a wall infill that has efficient insulating and fire resistant properties similar to straw clay. The advantage is in the labor to produce the mixture and to infill in the walls, which is about half that of straw clay. In wood producing regions, wood chips become an attractive option.

Progressive Natural Infill Systems

In addition to the more traditional clay infill systems, we will explore a variety of more modern developments based on the traditional systems that use materials appropriate to the region in which a building is constructed, and with labor-saving innovations. A variety of systems including unfired straw/clay blocks, reed matting, wood chips and cellulose fibers will be demonstrated and used.

Clay Plastering

Clay plastering provides a natural, durable and breatheable wall finish with low embodied energy. This workshop covers the system from A to Z from preparation to application for a number of specific building applications; straw bale, reed matting, wood lath, woodchip/clay and Cob, interior and exterior use.

Thatching Workshops
Introduction to Roof Thatching

Thatching the Library at Fox Maple.
Colin McGhee, a Master Thatcher from Scotland, is our thatching instructor and will be instructing 6 day workshops covering all aspects of thatch and thatching: History, materials, tools and techiniques. Hands-on instruction, on-the-roof, will include hips and valleys. This is a great opportunity to gain insight and experience in this ancient craft from a true professional in the field. Tuition 6 day course $725. Registration Form

We've been harvesting reeds in the marshes of coastal Maine for the past three winters. This has spawned a micro industry, in which local fisherman will harvet over 5,000 bundles in the winter of 1999/2000. Potential harvest yield is well over 200,000 bundles in Maine alone, and well over 2,000,000 on the east coast. With the help and cooperation of the Maine Departments of Inland and Marine Fisheries we have been granted permits to harvest in all Maine reed beds. In April of 2000 we will be inviting a number of state biologists, along with students and interested parties, to join us on a reed harvesting foray in the marshes of southern Maine. This will provide both educational instruction to potential reed harvesters, and to State officials who are currently in charge of managing the coastal and inland wetlands. Our goal is to create a greater awareness of the material and its potential as a viable economic natural resource for the state of Maine and the greater eastern seaboard.

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Traveling Workshops

Stuart Islan WA, Summer 1999
Cutting scarf joints in Stuart Island, Washington workshop
Traveling workshops offer the same course instruction as at Fox Maple, just different scenery. For individuals sponsoring a traveling workshop, it's one of the most exciting and economical ways to have a frame built on your site. For a timber framing shop, it's a unified way to hone the skills of your employees in either general or advanced timber frame joinery and design.

Traveling workshops may be sponsored by timber frame companies or individuals who have taken a previous Fox Maple Timber Framing Workshop (to apply for as an individual, a previous workshop is mandatory). If you would like information on how you can sponsor a workshop in your area, send us an email (include mailing address).

What's Included, What's Not


All workshops at Fox Maple include light breakfast and a hearty lunch, a Fox Maple T-shirt, and a copy of A Timber Framer's Workshop by Steve Chappell. Camping is available on the grounds, and equipped campgrounds are close by. Local Bed and Breakfasts offer special rates to all students (about $30 per night). A wide choice of restaurants and motels are within 10 miles. Complete info will be included in all confirmation packets sent to workshop registrants. Traveling workshops include the basic meal / T-shirt / Book package, and lodging info will be available upon registration. Return to list

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Last updated 10/21/13