Wild Rose Timber Frames

Through handcrafting timber frames, three business partners integrate their working lives with their values. By putting a modern spin on traditional timber framing, these craftsmen create beautiful and sustainable timber frame homes.


| April/May 2008



timber frames

Traditional timber-frame structures use precisely fitted joints held in place by wooden pegs. No nails are used. 


Photo by David Cavagnaro

Daylight fills the shop where the three partners in Wild Rose Timberworks — Dale Kittleson, Mark Webber and Chris Wasta — ply their venerable trade. The slate-dark floor is littered with sawdust and wood chips, the walls hung with tools of ancient pedigree: chisels, drawknives, bow saws and trammel points. Wasta sits among a pile of bur oak shavings, making timber frame pegs with a drawknife at his handmade shaving horse.

He quotes an old saying, “Make a life, not a living.” Webber and Kittleson are quick to admit that everyone has to make a living, and that theirs has been hard earned. But they also find it enormously satisfying.

Named after the state flower of Iowa, Wild Rose Timberworks operates out of a timber frame shop next to Wasta’s timber frame home in the wooded hills of northeast Iowa, near the area where all three men have their roots. All avid nature lovers, they grew up exploring the hardwood forests of the upper Midwest which now sustain their livelihood.

They’ve been working together for 15 years. Kittleson and Webber already knew each other in 1992. Having joined forces on numerous construction and woodworking jobs, they had discovered the rare joy of collaboration that may be found only among kindred spirits. Enter Wasta, who wanted to use timber-frame construction on his own homestead nearby. He realized he would need help for such an effort, and local inquiries led to Webber and Kittleson — and the discovery of a tradition of utilitarian timber framing in a neighboring Amish community. After the three men cut the frames for Wasta’s shop, an Amish crew organized and ran the raising. After the shop was finished, the Wild Rose crew started on a new house nearby. Wasta has been living in the beautiful result ever since.

“Wood is good,” says Webber, grinning as he polishes a stunning piece of black cherry banister. “It does much more than you think it should,” he adds, to complete the line from Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s children’s book, The Story of Bentley Beaver. On the other side of the shop, Kittleson is smoothing a large oak beam. Timber framing the Wild Rose way is significantly different from the rough-hewn barn construction of the Amish. After all, Wild Rose builds mostly modern 21st century homes, not 19th century barns.

Aesthetics, and a deep reverence for wood and the forests that provide it, play a huge role in the lifework of these craftsmen. “Traditions are never static,” Wasta says. “They either change with the changing needs of the times or they die.”

heirloomtimberhomes
12/7/2015 4:11:38 AM

Thanks for this wonderful timber framing article. One can learn more about timber homes at http:///www.HeirloomTimberHomes.com






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