Traditional Timber Framing Design Extension

Timber Framing is based much of the time on rules of thumb. I have textbooks on these rules. For example beam sizing, load capacities, joinery considerations - all these rules could be programmed to automate the design for simple buildings.

I want to be able to input parameters like: frame style, roof pitch, sidewall height, floor plan dimensions and get a building generated with joinery. I also want the extension to calculate the cost for the frame based on programmed costs associated with the details.

I know of other companies that have made these plugins for other cad programs and are running functional versions doing just this. However there is no current Sketchup version.

There is this useful timber framing extension: Extension | SketchUp Extension Warehouse

However it was made 15 years ago and is not updated anymore - it also doesn’t have the auto design function.

If this extension was made there would be a very real market of framers worldwide that would find it exceptionally useful.

@daiku (Clark) is still active on here.

Perhaps your ideas could give impetus to some long needed updates?

What would you think the “market” is? How many timber framers are out there?

I just uploaded version 3 to the extension warehouse this week.

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That’s fantastic news! Thanks for your contribution to the community Clark. Pleasure to connect with you here.

What are your thoughts on some simple auto design functionality? I’m sure you’ve considered it at some point so let me know where you’re at with this concept.

As mentioned I know at least one company in the design industry that has successfully contracted developers to design an auto design plugin for Revit or similar Cad program. It apparently works quite well and also provides pricing details.

There is obvious limitations for complicated designs but for simple cuboid structures it would be useful.

PS I operate a timber frame manufacturing company in Edmonton Alberta Canada.

Hi Jerell.

I do provide limited support for pricing. I allow you to assign a DoD (Degree of Difficulty) to each timber. You can then generate a DoD report to help estimate the amount of labor required to cut a frame. The DoD is retained when a timber saved to a component library, so you don’t have to start from scratch with each project. I also provide a material list, including the ability to add spare material to the order. This of course can be used to estimate material costs.

I think most practitioners are doing custom homes, and each framer has their own way of doing things. Even with my limited feature set, I often encounter users who find my way of doing things is “opinionated” (my word). I’m afraid that if I code something to your specifications, I’d find many users who don’t do things the same way.

On the engineering side, I don’t see the point, since you need to hire a licensed structural engineer to stamp your plans anyway. I also see it as a herculean task, given the almost unlimited ways to design a frame. And so many variables, like mixed species, joinery choices, local snow loads, etc. The problem isn’t the math, it’s knowing how to apply it. CB.


Thanks Clark,

Yes the DoD and materials list features are very helpful.

And it’s true we do things differently than other companies and a program would be specific to our needs.

Beyonf TF Rubies, do you have anyone in mind that might be willing to discuss the development of a extension that could meet my specific needs here for automating TF design?


No, you’re in the right place. If there’s anyone willing to help you, it would be in this forum.

If you are looking for a way to design, manage and document timber framing structures in Sketchup, you should check out Timber Framing Tools.

Timber Framing Tools is a Sketchup extension created by the talented @valdemar — and it is under active development.

Could it work for you?

Why isn’t available in the extension warehouse?

Many extension authors use the SketchUcation Plug-in store instead. And some sell direct.

This one IS on the SketchUp Extension warehouse - found by Google search for
“Timber Framing SketchUp Extension “.

It could be that the extension is supported by the SketchUp Extensioneers Guild and they are handling distribution themselves. Also, the Extension Warehouse takes a fee so some developers may just want to avoid that.

That is Clark’s, @daiku here. Not the one mentioned in my reply.

I am aware of SketchUcation, I use many from there. I should have mentioned that in my post.

And from the description it is similar to Clark’s and does not do what the OP asked.

@bmike - Timber Framing Tools is available on a separate listing page because I want to give users a way to sign up to a newsletter about new features / bugfixes. And no, it does not do auto design of frames.

Thanks. Pretty sure offering at the Extension Warehouse alerts users when there is an update.

Thanks everyone for your comments.