Borneman Timber Frame Layout Guide – 3D Printed (Free STL Download)


I’ve been fascinated with timber framing for a few years. This is when you use lots of big pieces of wood, called timers, and traditional woodworking joinery, such as the mortise and tenon. It fell out of style a while ago, particularly in the United States when stick framing took off with relatively unskilled labor that could be used to make houses with smaller wood pieces, typically 2×4’s. You can get a lot more 2x4s out of a log compared to an 8×8.

You have to cut a lot of joinery, and a guy named Al Borneman made a cool little layout square to make it easier to layout some standard size cuts. It is called the “Borneman Layout Template” or “Big Al” or “Borneman Square”. I learned about it by reading Learn To Timber Frame by Will Beemer. I did some internet searching, and realized they were no longer available. Timber Frame HQ made an improved version but it is no longer available. It was also expensive…apparently around $180 – $200.

I decided to quickly make my own based on the pictures I saw in Learn to Timber Frame. I 3D printed it, and it worked out great! One of the hard part of 3D printing is getting overhangs; I decided to only print one side of the guide…and I could make another for the other half. So…a few bucks for this plastic jig, assuming you have a 3D printer. I’m sharing the file for free for others to print their own. A big thanks to Al Borneman!

Download the STL file (two versions) and the Fusion 360 File: Borneman Layout Guide. In the Fusion 360 file, I suppressed two “features” in the timeline; they are the opposite side of the lip; it is hard to print this feature, so I left it off. It would be awesome to print the whole thing at once, but I worry about the print failing or sagging on the bridges.

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