Wenatchee Raising

By Jonathan Orpin:

It’s true: I’ve been raising timber frames for just over half of my entire life. I can’t actually count how many raisings I’ve been on. I don’t do as many as I used to, but when I do, there’s no less joy.

wa king post bents by new energy works

Last week Darren Watson, our McMinnvile shop chief and I took co-workers Johnathan Farley and Randy Yates up to Wenatchee, Washington, to raise the timber frame home of Dave Parker. Wenatchee is on the dry side of the Cascades, with chaparral, sage and mountains. Dave’s homesite is across the valley from Mission Ridge Ski Resort, where he is a full time instructor. The design of the home picks up the area’s ruggedness, and Dave’s thirst for woodwork and volume.

wa timber roof system raisingThe schedule: Two days to offload and pre-assemble the sections and bents, one day for a crane-assisted raising, one day to rack, peg and drive home. There’s a formulaic rhythm to saying that which underscores the vast planning, the attention to detail, and level of skill and experience on raising day. But when there, it seems anything but formulaic to me, and likely downright crazy, perhaps exhilarating to those not so…mature as me. Think of Randy, his first raising as he starts new to us after a pretty heady career as a machinist. What was he thinking? Or Farley, who as a rock climber immediately got assigned to high man duty…what is on his mind as the crane swings a section of pre-assembled timbers towards him, and just a tease of wind picks from down the mountain-side? Or best of all, what was Dave Parker thinking? He’s now a cabinet-maker by trade after a long career as a project manager in large commercial jobs. WOW, his pre-thinking all our details had been impressive, almost overbearing, and now here’s his vision become volume.

fitting timber post and beam

Dave guides a mortise pocket to the post tenon.

When at the morning safety meeting with the team I noticed Dave not far away. I called him over, as I always do with an owner on raising day, and asked what part he wanted to play today. “Oh, I’ll just be here to watch and take pictures.” I’d heard THAT before, and it wasn’t long that he had his hardhat on and had jumped in as a steady crewman. I run raisings pretty tightly, for if anyone wanders from task, or decides to take an unexpected action, difficulties could occur. Dave was perfect, and always ready to help. As we gathered to leave, having raised the pine bough, he looked at each of us and said, “In my own business, I strive to exceed my client’s expectations. You all, from the start, have exceeded mine.”

JO and dave at raising

Jonathan and Dave pause for a photo before placing the traditional pine bough at the highest point on the completed frame.

Sometimes I say that all of our clients are amazing. We’re lucky that way. Thanks Dave, for the help, for the camaraderie, and for the work.

finished timber frame raising