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#34464 - 06/05/18 06:47 PM New pegs, old holes
Wodineye Offline

Registered: 06/04/18
Posts: 2
Loc: NSW, Australia
Hey folks, New to the forum and this is my first post. I mostly do design work for Traditional Timber Frames in Australia, and we are currently the only framing company here, although there are a few individual framers around. I also am sometimes allowed to play with chisels, and Im building my own place using mostly traditional methods. Which leads to my question below ->

Last year, I took down an old timber frame building which was due for demolition. The frame and building were fine, but the new owners of the land wanted the position for their new McMansion. Our company got called in to tear the place down, and having co-incided with my own house planning, I managed to buy the frame for myself. We are in Australia and this is the first frame ever deconstructed here so we were a bit in the dark. On top of this, the original carpenter seems to have been on his first solo job and there are a lot of odd features and some bad practices. One of the odd things was the use of 16mm (5/8") pegs. We couldnt get these to budge by any method and ended up drilling them out with an auger. Since the frame is softer than the pegs, this resulted in a whole lot of messy holes.

With the frame due to go back up in a couple of weeks time, im trying to figure out how to peg it all back together. My plan is to assemble each bent, ratchet it tight, then drill the old hole through and peg with 3/4" pegs.

Ive tried this on the sill plate and the holes end up sloppier than i'd like, so I glued those home (the whole sill is bolted down as well so theres no structural issue there)

I was thinking of trying the same method but with a slightly smaller diameter drill bit (its hard to experiment, since a 200mm 3/4" timber bit is somewhat pricey)

I also though maybe ill just plug the old holes and drill new 3/4" holes, but once again, the crap carpenter is working against me, as most of the tenons are small and dont have much room for extra holes.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experience on how this process needs to happen, or maybe just a pointer to somebody who might be able to help out?


#34465 - 06/05/18 08:11 PM Re: New pegs, old holes [Re: Wodineye]
northern hewer Offline

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1121
hello Wodineye

From my perspective it seems like you have somewhat of a problem, sometimes they can be solved but not always easily

From the information you are giving us to use as a reply guide, I would say that you may have to resort to mechanical joint fasteners at each joint intersections just to be safe

I have used custom saddles fitted around the vertical post which project inward and along side the horizontal girt, it then is just a matter of drilling and fastening the custom saddle's arms with bolts through the girt

It appears to me that the frame was created very roughly especially at the intersecting points by whoever originally

That should make the frame strong at the critical points

Other than that I really don't know what to say maybe someone else will jump in with a better solution


#34466 - 06/05/18 11:02 PM Re: New pegs, old holes [Re: Wodineye]
Jay White Cloud Offline

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 514
Loc: Vermont
Originally Posted By: Wodineye
...I also though maybe ill just plug the old holes and drill new 3/4" holes, but once again, the crap carpenter is working against me, as most of the tenons are small and dont have much room for extra holes.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experience on how this process needs to happen, or maybe just a pointer to somebody who might be able to help out?

Hello Wodineye,

There are a number of us on this forum that have or still do "museum grade" restoration of vintage timber frames of all types for a living...

The methods and approaches are many from "conservation" methods that are typically modern in modality to just protect the frame from further destruction (yet should be reversible if following the Burra Conventions standards) full on historic restoration approaches, of which fills books of many pages...

I would be remiss as one of those professionals if I thought giving good advice was really possible without seeing the frame at least in photo (and best in person.) Further, without knowing species, age and wood quality, it is still a further challenge and really outside the scope of good advice or guidance.

I would also stress, that even after 40 years of seeing and doing this work in all manner of old frame...I still reach out to the PE (professional engineer) with timber framing experience...if...a frame offers any kind of reasonable challenge. A properly trained PE who is also a Timberwright is a priceless person to know and friend to have if in this line of work...Their views and suggestions are indispensable. The frame you have describe would more than warrant their input, as it sounds like the pegs may have (not necessarily) been undersize and the deconstruction of the frame not performed perhaps in the best ways possible?

IF...peg holes have all been blown out and made elliptical and/or oversized, as well as, negating the draw-bore effect then a much more tenuous and detail restoration of not just the peg hole but the tenos as well should be performed...Again, it's hard to say without at least photos...

Now...there is some hope for a "down and dirty" lets get this done DIYer that also knows a thing or two about timber frames...There are conservation tensioning systems that involved modern synthetic cable (aka Dinameen) and related...conservation strengthening systems...that could be a faster and stronger approach to the repairs of this challenging frame. These again are...conservation methods...and not...historic restoration modalities. There added benefit (though more money) is that many of them are not visually to obtrusive...and...can be further tightened even after the frame is raised and over time as well...I would also add that even with a full authentic restoration of a very old and well lived in frame we will add these elements overly stress and/or damaged (but repaired) joinery. This also puts the PE and clients minds at ease when a frame may be subjected to another couple hundred years (or more) of use and occupation...

In closing, I don't think (without virtually writing a book...LOL) I could really get into all this frame probably will need to be safe to use again, as there are just to many things I don't know and can't determine from just a forum post. However, we are a very supportive community, and want you to succeed. As such, do keep asking "basic quesitons" and you will get a spectrum of advise for your efforts. Please also feel free to send me an email if you want to explore this in more detail offline...

Good Luck,


#34472 - 06/07/18 07:51 PM Re: New pegs, old holes [Re: Wodineye]
Dave Shepard Offline

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 714
Loc: Alford, MA
If the holes in the timber (mortise side of the joint) are still good, then you could plug the tenon holes and start over. I would insert the repaired tenon in the mortise and prick the tenon with the correct size drill bit. Then withdraw the tenon and move the hole a bit closer to the shoulder to get some draw bore.
Member, Timber Framers Guild

#34474 - 06/11/18 06:07 AM Re: New pegs, old holes [Re: Wodineye]
Wodineye Offline

Registered: 06/04/18
Posts: 2
Loc: NSW, Australia
Hey guys, thanks for the info and advice.

I would surely love to go see my local timber framing engineer, but there isnt one in this country. We have a guy who does our engineering, but he's a normal civil construction engineer who has done some work to get the maths for our joinery and is happy for us to build frames our way and sign them off for the bureaucrats.

We laid the first bent out this weekend and put all the old joints together to have a look. It looks like most of the original holes have actually held up fine, and I re-pegged one post/beam/brace connection which worked fine.

I have definitely gotten a little gun shy after your thoughts above though, and we will examine each joint and do one of 4 things depending on how it looks when it goes back together.
- if everything looks fine, we'll repeg with original small sized drawbored pegs, and then add a larger peg between the two provided the tenon is wide enough to accommodate it.
- If the joint needs support, we will add either a steel plate on the outside of the connection, or rout in a bolt to tie the joint together.
- If the joint is too far gone we will replace tenons with splines or renew mortises with timber blocks replacing cut out sections.

From the looks of it, 90% of the frame will be done with method 1, and we can take the time to make sure the damaged joints are redone properly.

I'm not sure how to get photos on here just yet, but when i work it out, ill post some pics of the original condition, and parts as they come back together.
As for timber, its called Callitris, and is a native Australian timber. It's called Native Cypress, but its not related in any way. It does work a bit like Cypress Macrocarpa though, but is harder, very durable, and termite resistant. It's got some real funny properties when you work with it, the best way i can describe it, is that it feels Crispy under a blade.


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