Hello Jon, et al,
Gosh its been a while...Great subject to bring up! One of my favorite topics to study and learn in timber framing...Thanks for the video link, and there are several more on the subject which are enjoyable to watch as well...
To validate, having been a student of timber frame Layout Modalities since the early to mid 70's starting with Dutch Germanic version, and moving into Asian and related systems, I have a varied and perhaps alternative perspective on certain matters pertaining to this subject?
First, what I believe is often overlooked, is most of the richest and unique systems of layout (~70%) have never been document in any way. These where only passed down directly from Master to Apprentice, as it has been for millenia. Douglas Brooks
has noted similar observations with his particular specialization in esoteric Japanese Boat building practices. These can (as are found in other sea faring culture from the Middle East on) involve lofting strategies that can incorporate both horizontal (floors) and vertical (walls) in accomplishing the task of rendering complicated layout...especially on curves...similar to what is found in la croche (curved timbers) layout.
The impression I've been given frequently is that le trait was unique to the French, and what I'm interested in is seeing how much further the French pushed it compared to their counterparts in Europe and the East (China / Japan).
In my view, the French have taken this to an apex unparalleled in European traditions generally speaking, with only perhaps the German and Dutch Masters following a close second. Nevertheless, this can perhaps only be stated with speaking strictly of the art and craft of timber framing. When we get into Stone Carving, now we have outweighing very similar needs and demands, accept it is applied to stone, and not timber. Here we find (again) oral traditions outweighing published tome by a great margin, and we see the Iberian and Apennine peninsula cultures having very remarkable systems of layout as well primarily for stone, yet also for timber and the construction of ships going back further than the Roman and into the Egyptian dynasties.
...Was everyone using basic trait (élévations + vrai grandeur d'arêtier with rembarrement) leaving the French to play with bevel gauge techniques and curves?
No, not in my view. The similarities may be indeed basic, yet the French culture took there system into areas of detail, grace and procedure, others didn't explore in the same way.
The problem is that the French are supremely proud of le trait (It's been recognized by UNESCO as an "intangible cultural heritage") and somewhat derisive of other cultures of carpentry making it hard to know exactly where the differences lie.
Yes, I must agree fully, that the term derisive is most germane and applicable. To the point that often one can (individually) find with practitioners of these methods offering a brick wall of close minded perspectives when it comes to the strengths and weakness of their system. No doubt a brilliant system indeed, yet when compared to acient Asian modalitis of layout (et all) that employ not only some lofting systems (where applicable) but extremely advanced templating, and lining systems that few other system can match of speed, ease of application (once understood) and much less labor intensive than most of the "scribing systems" in general. To the point, beyond just Japanese, but Chinese, Korean (et al) methods that allow for curved and live edge timbers to be fully laid out and cut without ever coming near each other or having to be tested prior to raising...
I love the European methods (particularly the French) yet its complexity and laborious nature is far accede in ease of use application by the Asian approaches that also exceed it by about 5000 years in applied use in stone, timber and the building of ship as well as architecture...
I've come across Lassen before, but didn't see his thesis. I'll take a look and see if he didn't already cover this ground.
If you don't have a PDF copy of "The Invisible Tools of a Timber Framer" by Lassen, I can email it to you if your email hasn't changed since last we corresponded...