Northmen guild's international 10-day timber framing and full scribe log building practical educational course

4 tutors - Northmen guild`s master carpenters

16 international students

Course participants will learn historical way of building a house in a timber framing and full scribe log building practical educational course using only hand tools and also learn about the historical and cultural context of log-building in Latvia and Northern Europe.

  • Medieval carpentry/timber framing turning trees into houses and nature into the culture using ancient hand tools and techniques
  • Understanding and using different traditional carpenters hand tools (17. - 20.ct) from different cultures - French, German, English, American, Japanese, Scandinavian (chisels, axes, planes, rip and cross cut saws, draw knives, augers - their history, sharpening and techniques using them.
  • Hewing - turning logs into square timbers using different axes
  • Plumb bob or “French” scribing technique
  • Introcudtion into traditional Japanese carpentry hand tools and their usage - Japanese hewing axe Ono (斧) (masa-kari) , Kanna pull planes, Japanese adze, Kobiki Nokogiri and Temagari Nokogiri - Timber Saws, Ryoba saws, Whale back saw - Maebiki oga 前挽大鋸 and Japanese chisels
  • Traditional timber framing (building without nails) joinery - mortice and tenon joint, dovetail joints, birds mouth joinery, scarf joints, draw boring peg holes, interlocked mortice and tenon joint, king’s post structure, shouldered mortice and tenon joint, brace mortice and tenon joint, tongue & fork rafter joint.
  • Full scribe log building technique building a log cabin
  • Sliding dovetail notch joinery with wind lock key
  • Window and door frame making in a log house

The class will be split into two groups of 8 students, working on the log building and timber frame respectively. After 5 days, the groups will swap from one build to the other. As such, over 10 days, (5 days one group of 8 students will work on the log house building and other group of 8 students will work on the timber frame building. After 5 days the groups will exchange and will work another 5 days. So in 10 days) each student will learn basics of traditional full scribe log house building with wind-locked, dovetail notches and traditional timber framing joinery.

Students will learn to lay out timber joinery using the traditional Square Rule, and French scribe method; cut mortise and tenon joints using hand tools; assemble (fixing with white oak pegs) and raise the frame. We will divide our course schedule between the morning-daytime hands-on learning of woodworking skills as we cut our frame and logs, and the evening free sessions, where we will view slides and discuss a variety of topics relating to timber frame design and construction, log building, lifestyle and enjoying being together. As well as live acoustic music on the barn stage some special evenings.

All the woodwork will be carried out with traditional hand tools alone (axes, chisels, hand saws, augers, beam drills, drawknives, planes and e.t.c.) – both those made by The Northmen Guild and also old, restored hand tools. This event will happen in a huge timber framed barn, on the grounds of the beautiful old manor of Ratnieki (http://www.ratnieki.lv/eng/) where all students will work under one roof. All students will be living in the nearby manor house itself, eating local food and enjoying the rural countryside and nature of Latvia while learning the craft from the Northmen guild's Master Carpenters.

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Educational excursions

The workshop curriculum includes

  • A visit to nearby Woodcraft Museum, meeting Green woodworker artisan and Northmen guilds craftsman – Rihards Vidzickis
  • Taking part in a traditional smoke sauna in a Historical Smoke Sauna at Brother Jurjāni Historic House Meņģeļi
  • An afternoon visiting famous Latvian wild food chef Eriks Dreibants in his Chefs Creative Workshop (www.dabasgarsa.lv/home). In the middle of the Gauja National Park forest we will go over Gauja river with the only (last) wooden ferry boat in Latvia and take a walk (3km) through the woods to his house. Erik will cook wild food meal on open fire for all the students and tutors
  • An evening visiting Jacob and his family’s self-built wooden house in a nearby village

A Sunday in an Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia


Taking part in a traditional smoke sauna in a historical Sauna Museum


An evening visiting Jacob's and his family self-built wooden house in a nearby village


An afternoon visiting famous Latvian wild food chef Eriks Dreibants in his Chefs Creative Workshop in the middle of the Gauja National Park forest we will go over Gauja river with the only (last) wooden ferry boat in Latvia and take a walk 2 miles through the woods to his house. Erik will cook wild food meal on open fire for all the students and tutors.

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The tutors


Master carpenter, timber framer, log builder and forestry worker - Andrew. Andrew is one of the most experienced carpenters and traditional log house builders in our region. His love and patience to the craft, his skills, accuracy and attention to detail, are exceptional. He is also dedicated to using his hands and hand tools as an extension of his mind and soul. Andrew also works in forestry, knowing when the best time when to prepare logs for his buildings comes – that is, when they are sleeping in a deep winter by the new moon rising. Trees felled at this time become strong and durable, becoming harder and harder as time passes, says Andrew. Knowing the nature and the knowledge our ancestors knew is a real treasure nowadays and Andrew has captured them in his skills. Andrew says: “Carpentery transforms nature into the culture. Transforming logs into the beams, and beams into the houses, and the houses into homes. It has been so in the past old days and so it should have to be also today”.



Log and timber frame builder. His craft began with the want to make or build something that would serve for centuries. He now has many years of working experience, during which he has built numerous traditional buildings. Ansis has knowledge of several different log building styles and techniques, such as dovetail notch, saddle (Canadian) style of notching, square and round cross notch. Has worked as lecturer in Vidzeme University teaching Wooden and Eco house building.



Master carpenter/leather craftsman. Founder of Northmen, and designer of Northmen woodworking tools. He extensively researches historical hand tools. He learnt the crafts from local masters. Studied culture, ethnography and history of traditional woodworking and wooden architecture and building techniques in rural areas of Scandinavia and Baltic States. He has a love of wood and leather crafts since childhood. He has a passion for traditional crafts and hand tools, especially log buildings and timber frames. An independent photographer and filmmaker.



"I'm 40 years old and started my own way as a carpenter at age of 19. I probably should have started earlier, because I've been into old log houses since i was a kid. I grew up on a mountain farm and went to forestry school. Wooden craftsmanship and carpentry has been big in my life, as well as my love to horses. I have built new buildings,maybe 15-20 ones over the years of different sizes. Most of the time I've spent on restoring and fixing up old buildings including a few buildings being preserved for national heritage interests. I've been working by myself mostly, but in the last three years i began to employ as well some fellow carpenters. Currently we are a team of four. At the moment we have three or four different projects going. We are taking all the logs for our buildings directly from the woods in the correct time of the year - winter. We are using old school horse logging to extract the logs from the forest."


Age limitation: 14+

Woodworking experience: Participants are not expected to have any log building or timber framing experience, but any woodworking experience is appreciated.

Training site: The course will be held in Latvia, Gauja River National Park at the beautiful old manor of Ratnieki


Cost: 1850, Euros ($2170, USD) - includes everything in-country: tuition, accommodation, all meals, organized field-trips. Participants are responsible for their own international transport, travel insurance, and extra-curricular costs. Half (50% deposit) of the courses cost should be paid after online registration and the remaining 50% in cash on check in at the Ratnieki manor.

Conditions for cancelling your participation in the course: if you cancel the participation 3 months before the starting date, we give back 75% of the deposit, if you cancel it 2 months before the start of the course, we return 50%, if you cancel later, we do not return the money.

Language: The course will be held in English.

More information/questions - courses@northmen.com

Teach the young! Honor the elders!

Northmen Guild

Ordering is opened for wildlife knives, timber framing tools, longbows, kitchen tools, drawknives & froes, leather belts.