I. The principal pieces of a frame are:
Definitions and wording taken from Cummings, Abbott Lowell. The framed houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1979. See also N.W. Alcock et al, Recording Timber- Framed Buildings: An Illustrated Glossary. Council for British Archaeology, 1989.
A. Sills. Lowest member of a frame. Usually largest beam in the house and laid along the foundation or between the piers. Also called ground sill, it carries the entire weight of the house to the foundation.
1. Cedar Park This 17th century house has interrupted sills, the sills are tenoned into the posts that extended into the ground.
2. Cibula, Prince George County, VA. ca 1820s.
a. Sills and plates are often created by splicing two timbers together to reach the desired length. scarf
3. Timber framed or just the ground level framing
B. Posts. There are two kinds of posts, corner and wall post. Corner posts define the exterior corners of the building. Wall posts are one story posts intermediate between the corners that support binding summers and support the frames (jambs) for doors surrounds. New England also has chimney posts. 17th century posts turn the long face of the post into the house (thus extend into the room), in Chesapeake framing the long face is parallel to the sill.
1. Puncheon. Any use of timber without shaping all sides in a timber frame construction. Thus a puncheon can be a wall post, sleeper, or even a stair carriage.
C. Plates and girts.
1. Plates run parallel to the ridge of the roof are the top most timber of wall framing and receive the rafter feet. Also top plate or wall plate.
2. Girts usually run perpendicular to the ridge and below the plate. Above the plate these would be equivalent to tie beams. Girts have the secondary task of carrying the joists. Also end girt, chimney girt, wall girt. A ledger board is nailed to the frame and carries the joists.
D. Summer beams. Large intermediate beams that carry the weight of joists. Not part of the exterior walls of the house, usually run parallel to ridge (bridging summer), or may run transverse to the ridge (binding girts) and act as tie beams. Early New England summers were carried at the gable by prick posts, later on a girt.
E. Tie beams. Any horizontal timber that resists the pressure to force the long walls apart. Thus a girt, binding summer, chimney girt and rafter collar would be a tie beam.
F. Stud. Vertical framing member set at equal distances between posts. Usually of smaller dimension. Receive the wall covering. Studs are usually mortise and tenoned into the sill and plate at the outer edge so that the exterior face is flush with the outside edge of the sill.
G. Brace. Run diagonally between horizontal and vertical members that triangulates the forces of the load on a frame either through compression or tension.
H. Joists. Narrow timbers set at even distances that support the flooring. Joists run from girts to summers or tie beams.
1. Sleeper. In New England a sleeper is a foundation level replacement for joists. Sleepers are larger than joists and could span a greater distance. The sleeper may actually be laying on the ground, especially in post in ground construction where the floor is not tied to the sills.