Natural Building - Timber Frame Construction

January 18 - January 27, 2017

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Learn the art of timber framing with talented and respected timber framers Skip Dewhirst and Lizabeth Moniz during this 10-day course when students will participate in the construction of a small timber frame structure on site at Rancho Mastatal.  Through classroom and practical sessions participants will gain skills to build a structure utilizing the square rule method of timber framing which results in mortise and tenon joinery secured by handmade wooden pegs instead of nails.  Students will have a hands-on opportunity to immerse themselves in a number of other building techniques as well while working on the small structure. On site students can learn from and get inspired by a multitude of naturally built structures that have been constructed at the Ranch and in the small rural community of Mastatal during the last 15 years.  Students will stay at the Ranch’s amazing facilities and in addition to learning about timberframing will be exposed to a host of other sustainable living projects including a methane digester, composting toilets, permaculture designed gardens and orchards, animal husbandry, fermented food products and much more.  It promises to a fun-filled, productive and instructional course for everyone involved. This course will be taught in English.


Skip Dewhirst
Skip is a co-founder of Meerkat Design and Handwork. He is a furnituremaker and timberframer who also explores his passion for wood by designing and building guitars, carving and boatbuilding. Skip has been teaching folks of all ages about working with wood for over twenty-five years.

Lizabeth Moniz
Lizabeth began exploring structure, the limitations of structure, and building with natural materials at a young age by constructing forts and hideaways in her family’s woods. At university getting her BFA, she worked in cabinet and custom woodworking shops building furniture. Knowing from a young age that some day she eventually wanted to build her own home, she gleaned a wealth of knowledge by becoming a carpenter and building many other peoples homes and finally co-building her own home. Teaching in the Peace Corps, public schools, Women Build, Youthbuild, and Yestermorrow Design/Build School, gave her ability to work with different populations and age groups. As a wilderness trip leader, she saw how other creatures built their forts.  Lizabeth currently teaches classes in carpentry, landscape design, natural building, home design/build, timber-framing, woodworking, and is a self-employed builder and landscape designer. Eventually receiving her MA in Landscape Design helped her to envision and design structures and landscapes as being integrated holistically and working together.


For more information about food and lodging please see our website at accommodations.


The tuition for non-Central American residents is $900 and includes all food, lodging, instruction and field trips.  The tuition for Central American residents is $700.

Cost includes 11 nights lodging, all meals, course instruction and full access to Rancho Mastatal and its private wildlife refuge.  A $250 deposit will secure your space in the course. Please follow the link for payment options

Students should plan on arriving to Rancho Mastatal no later than 8 a.m. on January 18 and are encouraged to arrive on January 17 (prices include lodging the night before the course begins).


To enroll in the class, please go to our Online Registration Form.  For more information please contact Tim O’Hara at and/or call the Ranch at 2200-0920. We have a maximum of 15 openings for this workshop and a minimum of 5 students to run the course.