Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thai Timber Frame Notches

I’ve been travelling on the western boundary of Thailand, where it meets Myanmar/Burma. There is a range of mountains that runs along this boundary, beginning in the foothills of the Himalaya in the north all the way south to the beaches.
In one of the towns where my wife and I stayed in, Phetchaburi, I found a wooden temple (wat), which is rare these days, as they are now mostly concrete.
This one looks to be about 150 years old, mostly a pole type building, but incorporating some nice timber frame notches.
There are 7 poles, about 20 feet long each supporting the roof overhang. Underneath the main structure are rows of posts, 28 in total, holding up the floor and posts inside. Some of these posts under the building have rotted over the decades, where they meet the ground, and the repair, was using traditional notching methods. The type of notch used, is very similar to the one we use back in Ontario, called a scarf. Much stronger than a simple half lap, the scarf locks the two pieces of timber or post together, for both horizontal and vertical applications. This one has a nice wedge in the middle, called a key, which pushes out the joint and locks them together tightly at the ends.
As well, where the floor joists intersect the posts, there is a tenon and mortise, with a pin, to hold it all together. All the wood seemed hardwood, the most common would have been teak and pahudia or monkey pod wood.