My Biggest Project Ever

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Project by Michael Brailsford posted 08-14-2019 11:39 AM 1145 views 4 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My shop is squeezed into 20’ x 20’….
A lot has happened in my life since I had that shop. I sold my house, bought some land, had a new house built. I had to put all of my tools into storage for a year while the house was built, but in doing that I have had the opportunity to build my dream shop, and I am almost there. First, living in North Carolina my lot was blessed with many large Long Leaf and Loblolly Pines. I had all of the logs saved and then milled. That happened in January 2018. The house was completed in July 2018 and I was able again to shoehorn most of my tools back into a new 20’ x 20’ space. Meanwhile I had my turn-down pad poured for my new shop. It is 20’ x 40’. At that point I was able to start working my timbers. My first inclination was to do all of my mortises in a multi-step process; 1. hog out the majority with a drill. 2. Use a 3 1/2” deep Ammana straight router bit and a jig to clean out as much as I could. 3. Get the remaining depth with traditional timber framing chisels. After completing two columns I quickly learned that my shoulders were not going to take that kind of beating. I broke down and spent the $1600 for a Makita Chain Mortiser. I worked through all of my tenons with both my 10” Makita and 8 14” Skil circular saws. Even with all of the power tools anyone who has done any timber framing knows just how much hand chisel work is left…alot! The parts consisted of 6” x 8” x 12’ columns, 6” x 8” x 16’ Rafters, 6” x 10” x 20’ cross ties, 6” x 6” x 7” queen posts, 4” x 6” knee braces, 6”x 6” rafter ties, 3” x 6” x 10’ purlins, 2” x 6 ” girts, 1” x 10” siding boards and 1” x 3” battens. I started manufacturing parts in November 2018 and finished that process in early March 2019. I then started assembly of my bents. There was a total of 5 bents which I completed by March 25th. I arraigned for a crew to help me with the barn raising on March 30th. I ordered a crane and operator for the day. I can tell you that I was a nervous wreck that day. The bents are designed for compression loads not tension loads and I cringed every time one as lifted from the horizontal to the vertical and then hoisted into position. It took us 8 hours but 8 guys who have never timber framed before in their lives were able to get the job done. All major construction was finished late July 2019 and I had my last inspection in the first week of August. I am now putting in the finishing touches of extra electrical and I am ready to move my tools in. The next big step will be to arrange the shop. That could be a huge job in itself!

—Michael A. Brailsford

-- Michael A. Brailsford

30 comments so far

View Hazem's profile


237 posts in 1703 days

#1 posted 08-14-2019 12:02 PM

That’s amazing. What about the inside??

View Michael Brailsford's profile

Michael Brailsford

254 posts in 4049 days

#2 posted 08-14-2019 12:12 PM

Thanks! When I get closer to getting it organized I will show more.

-- Michael A. Brailsford

View doubleG469's profile


850 posts in 899 days

#3 posted 08-14-2019 12:15 PM

that’s greatness there! Well done.

-- I refuse to edit the photo orientation for this website any longer. It’s an issue they should address and correct. Gary, Texas

View mikeacg's profile


1044 posts in 1512 days

#4 posted 08-14-2019 12:27 PM

Beautiful job! I have friends here who do timber framing. I gave them my Norwood bandsaw mill when I moved to the UP. I didn’t have room for it and they couldn’t afford to buy one. I will have them build something for me of these days!
Any relation in Wilmington, NC? We used to rent space from a Norman Brailsford. I worked for Educational Record Center until Jim and Bess Long retired…

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View Michael Brailsford's profile

Michael Brailsford

254 posts in 4049 days

#5 posted 08-14-2019 12:44 PM

Thanks so much for the kind words. What a small world, Norman is my father, and he is still there working everyday.

-- Michael A. Brailsford

View avsmusic1's profile


477 posts in 1140 days

#6 posted 08-14-2019 12:44 PM

sure, but can you make an edge grain cutting board?

j/k – this is amazing!

View Michael Brailsford's profile

Michael Brailsford

254 posts in 4049 days

#7 posted 08-14-2019 12:52 PM

How many do you want? and thanks!

-- Michael A. Brailsford

View ohwoodeye's profile


2209 posts in 3608 days

#8 posted 08-14-2019 01:41 PM

If you can do work like this, you deserve a shop that big.
Wow what an undertaking.
Well done and enjoy the space!

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View pottz's profile


5791 posts in 1439 days

#9 posted 08-14-2019 02:01 PM

if you can build a timber framed building i dont think there is probably much you couldn’t do.that is the mark of a master carpenter.cant wait to see what you do inside.beautiful work.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View swirt's profile


4072 posts in 3427 days

#10 posted 08-14-2019 02:05 PM

Nice work and a great looking design. Yes I have shop envy :)

-- Galootish log blog,

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6348 posts in 1167 days

#11 posted 08-14-2019 02:37 PM

a simply beautiful shop loving the second story wood storage ? GREAT SHOP :<)))))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View cebfish's profile


163 posts in 3143 days

#12 posted 08-14-2019 02:56 PM

Why is this not in the top 3. I love it

View therealSteveN's profile


3390 posts in 1029 days

#13 posted 08-14-2019 03:49 PM

You say

“I broke down and spent the $1600 for a Makita Chain Mortiser.”

I say

IOW you had a moment of mental clarity, and the lightbulb went on. Believe me if the founding Fathers would have had access to such tools, our “traditional woodworking” would not be what it is today.

You say

“It took us 8 hours but 8 guys who have never timber framed before in their lives were able to get the job done.”

I say


”The next big step will be to arrange the shop. That could be a huge job in itself!”

I used mine as a huge open space for a few years, and this Spring got busy on trying to make all of the wall cabs, and surrounding benches, and lower cabs, and it is a HUGE job, but hey it is still woodworking, so it’s like magic every moment you put into it.

Thanks for posting, it is a wondrous shop space, and I wish you all the best in using it to your hearts content.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Andre's profile


2696 posts in 2261 days

#14 posted 08-14-2019 04:19 PM

That would be a dream shop! Well done. Only question, windows?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View corelz125's profile


792 posts in 1431 days

#15 posted 08-14-2019 05:01 PM

Great job you have a lot of patience and perseverance.

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