In 1989, my father-in-law taught me to smoke meats and cheeses. I was a timber frame builder—I have my own company, called OakBridge Timber Framing—and I wanted a home project to help me unwind in the evenings and on weekends. I combined my passion for building with the skills my father-in-law had given me and I built my family an old-fashioned timber-frame smokehouse.
My design is strong but simple. A timber-frame structure isn't just slapped up. Compared to a stick-built home, it uses more substantial cuts of wood and is fitted together with unique joinery like mortises, tenons, and wooden pegs as opposed to studs. The latter might not be able to withstand heavy winds or storms, but I've seen timber frames survive tornado hits. They just won't fall. My smokehouse shed will be around for my family and the younger generation after them. Plus, the timber-frame method isn't only for smokehouses—it can be the heart of almost any structure.
My smokehouse isn't just functional: It takes me back in time. I go in to check my bacons and it's a step back 100 years. Sometimes when I'm out there banking the smokehouse for the night, I wonder why I'm working so hard on something so old-fashioned, but it's worth all the time and effort once you have everyone enjoying the things you've made.
—Johnny Miller, owner of OakBridge Timber Framing LTD, as told to Matt Allyn and Tyler Daswick
Come watch us raise a frame.