Timber Framing Workshop 

A hands-on experience of seven days of full immersion in the traditional craft of designing, laying out, cutting, and raising a full sized timber frame structure.

Dates – Arriving 8th of June and going until the 15th June 2017

Price -495 euros  ( early bird until 1st april – 450 euros )

Facilitator – Ruka

Registration – Henrik  –   terraalta.sintra@gmail.com

This Timber Framing course is the 1st module included on an advance permaculture course that includes Natural Building Technics and a Vermicompost Flush System Toilet – More Information CLIC HERE

Get empowered by learning a beautiful secular craft

Workshop Framework

We invite you for a unique Timber Framing workshop in Portugal. Seven full days of hands-on experience where the main focus will be to learn by doing.

Together as a team, we’ll actually build a small sized full frame. There´s no better way of understanding the whole process than going through it all.

We will explore the details of designing, selecting timbers, laying out and cutting all the joints necessary to complete and raise the frame. Mostly, it will be simple mortise and tenon joinery with some variations and options for the connection of specific members (ex: dovetail and scarf joints). Both power and hand tools will be used, with an emphasis on learning how to properly use a sharp framing chisel and mallet.

The Timber Framing workshop is designed to be accessible, interesting & challenging for a both the intermediate and inexperienced timber framers.

The main focus will be to accurately lay out and execute the joints, making them not only functional but also beautiful. Working as a team we will build up individual and collective confidence. We expect that as a result the participants will feel empowered to engage on a timber frame project of their own. Most importantly we aim to share a systematic and comprehensive method. The frame will be joyfully raised on site and donated to the host family.
When all the pieces come together, the joints fit and the frame is up due the combined efforts of the raising crew, there´s an indescribable feeling of  reward and joy, pure joy. One must experience it to understand it!

Since we expect a variety of nationalities the main language will be english, but both Portuguese and Spanish are spoken fluently by the facilitators.

Additionally, there will be some free time to explore the wonderful surroundings of the site and nearby towns of Lisbon and Sintra The program features a full free day and ends on a Friday allowing for making the most out of the weekend.

It is highly recommended to read at least one of the following books on the subject before engaging the workshop:

A Timber Framer´s Workshop by Steve Chappell – Fox Maple

Building the Timber Framing House by Tedd Benson with James Gruber


Why Timber Framing within the Natural Building Movement?

Timber framing is special craft. Not only is a secular form of building (some of the oldest timber frames are 1000 years old), it combines the working with timbers, fine execution, creative design, the raising of useful structures with an inherent culture branched out throughout the whole planet.

We believe that the versatility of design, structural strength, timeless aesthetics and durability are great assets of Timber Frames. Additionally they provide long lasting structure that can be combined and in-filled with a variety of natural materials & techniques so embedded in our culture (earth, adobe, wattle and daub, stone masonry, light-straw-clay and so on. In fact, this has been done with proven success all over the planet for many centuries, including Europe, Asia, the Americas…

We aim to cultivate the mind-set that the possibilities are infinite, and through the promotion of building beautiful, natural and sound with Timber Framing, we can also reactivate the good sense of replanting diverse well managed forests for future generations. These are the reasons why we are fully committed to develop a critical mass of fine artisans, promote and build beautiful, good quality, healthy and sustainable buildings that will stand the test of time…

Program Progression

Arrival day will include an evening get together with an introduction
to the space, participants, hosting crew/facilitators and a chat about
Timber Framing with a slide show. Outside fire and music will also be
a possibility.

The first full day will be dedicated to explore our design
possibilities for the proposed Timber Framing project. Working groups will be
organized and we will go into some of the trigonometry and house
design basics.

Next step will be to prepare the workspace, build a few cribbing
ponies, organize the cribbing layout and timbers. We will go around
the tools and make sure all is fine tuned, ready and safe.

Surveying timbers for quality, aesthetics and placement in the frame
will be taking most of the following day. In fact this will be an
important step for a good quality & efficient frame. Along with that
we will start the layout process which will make most of the following
days (a crucial and determining stage). After that we are ready to
start cutting and explore the intricate technical aspects of creating
the joinery from  the layout and put those fine tools to work. Here
starts the intense and rewarding process that will culminate with
putting all the members together and raising our beautiful frame,
contributing and continuing the legacy of fine craftsmanship.

The majority of this Timber Framing workshop is practical so be ready to dive deep
into action since only through practice can one understand and
experiences the magical feeling of this craft.


Workshop Facilitator

In the past 11 years Ruka has been passionately cultivating many skills and taking part in a diversity of building & restoration projects in several parts of the planet. Working mostly with earth/clay, lime, straw and timber. This has allowed him to develop a very personal approach to the term “natural building”. Since every building project presents unique challenges the capacity of integrating different techniques and methods to make buildings beautiful, healthy and long lasting its of his main concern.  Timber Framing has come into Ruka´s path as a natural extension of his skills opening up extraordinary possibilities of design flexibility & craftsmanship. He feels very honoured to have learned first hand from extraordinary masters and he´s fully dedicated to share his knowledge and passion. In fact, the frame is just the beginning of the affair.

Among the people with whom he as worked and learned Timber Framing from, Steve Chappell and the Fox Maple crew have been an incredible inspiration and source of knowledge, that one can only look up too.

Ruka has been facilitating workshops for a variety of groups, from young children to adults of various cultural backgrounds and nationalities. For him its an intense and rewarding process since he feels, as a facilitator, that he learns at least as much as any participant. He also tries to integrate the principles that have inspired him, since he attended a Permaculture Design Course with David Holmgren back in 2005, into the workshops and building projects, thus offering an holistic approach to the process.

Away from the tools a job sites, Ruka spends most of his time riding waves, enjoying Nature or being mesmerised by music.

Project – Compost Toilet – 3*2 mts


workshop MODEL 2017 TF.TAlta



About Tools 

Every craft has its own specific set of tools. Timber framing is no exception and as master framer Steve Chappell would say, “In theory you only need a chisel, mallet, brace & bit and hand saw to cut joinery”. The true craftsman (craftswoman) will make the best out of those tools as of any other that might use.

We will provide power tools (circular saws, drills, electric planes and others) as well as some basic hand tools such has hand planes , hand saws, a few squares and mallets. However, we ask you to bring a tool set with the following:

  • . A Timber framing chisel at least 38 to 50 mm wide (longer and sturdier then usual carpentry chisels).

2 inch framing chisel -barr toolstimber frame 4

Note: In case you can´t manage to bring the tools listed above by any reason, let us know so we can arrange an alternative. After registering you will be receiving a more detailed list of tools that we wish you to bring in case you have them or your willing to buy them.

The Host Site

Terra Alta is an aspiring off the grid holistic education host site and gives you the chance to be immersed in a landscape of learning. It’s located in between Almoçageme and Ulgueira, two quaint villages just above the sea and situated for easy access to the amazing beaches called Praia da Adraga and Ursa. It’s easy to reach from Lisbon and Sintra and gives access to our amazing sunset cliffs and beaches. Terra Alta offers a wonderful example of small-scale intensive systems working towards being off the grid. Because the site has had several years of Permaculture management, it is easy for students to immerse themselves in the principles of landscape development and holistic infrastructure development. The following Permaculture elements and functions are on display amongst others:

  • Small-scale Earthworks to capitalise on impervious surface runoff
  • Extensive Food Forest of subtropical, temperate, and Mediterranean species corresponding with the earthworks
  • Hot & Cold Composting (Vermiculture) systems for boosting soil life, picking up on waste streams, and cycling nutrients
  • Food Preservation and supporting local economy of food production
  • Small Intentional Community focused on adult education through Permaculture courses but more importantly holistic, Waldorf and Permaculture inspired education for the children of the local area
  • Natural Building techniques utilized for dwellings and outdoor cooking and social spaces
  • Renewable Energy technology featuring solar panels – we provide charging only for mobile phones due to limited amount of energy.
  • Internet available one hour a day via Hotspot.

In case you want top know a bit more about our vision go HERE 

 And to meet our crew HERE




During the courses students get a chance to experience a permaculture garden more intimately by camping on the land. In a semi-wild area, we have created level terraces among the trees, mushrooms and stones for people to pitch their tents out of view from the rest of the garden.

There is also the possibility for some students with their own bus/camper-van to stay on the land, although space is limited; so if you are interested in bringing a bus, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to accommodate everyone!



From the outdoor communal kitchen, we provide 3 meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner included in the cost of the course (except Sundays when the students are free to feed themselves!) 

Prepared with love, the food is always diverse, fresh, healthy, homemade and vegetarian. By that we also help to stimulate the local food economy by purchasing what ingredients are not grown at Terra Alta from the local organic “Cooperativa” and other local producers and processors.


What to do near by

In the break day you can go to Praia da Ursa  the wild beach 15 min away walking. There is so much to visit in Sintra… its a world heritage area full of incredible monuments and gardens planted with an immense variety of trees.  We have created a page with some of the local features that you can visit HERE


Videos from past courses