Sunday, February 8, 2015

American Journeyman Carpenters Examination

Normally, I would say times up hammers down, but in this case it's times up chisels down. It took me 7 hours to build Kreditloser Kamerad (Bernd Kuppers) German Journeyman Carpenters Examination task model. I scaled it down to half size and added another rafter. I might have finished in 6 hours if I didn't add the extra rafter. The full German task model would require an 8'x8' drawing board and you would have to be on your knees for most of the task model.

I was surprised that it took me 2 hours to draw out the geometry. I thought it would have only taken an hour. I can see why no one finishes the exam task model in the 6 hours. I't pretty intense keeping track of the geometry and the cuts on the timbers in a 6 hour time span. At the end of the 7 hours I was beat.

The task model exam involved an unequal pitched roof. With square rafter tails and lower claws on the jack rafter and purlin rafter. I was able to scale the exam task model down so it could be drawn out on a 4'x4' sheet of plywood.

I started at 8:24 am and finished at 3:21 pm , 7 hours. Here's a picture of the completed task model. Some of the cuts are not perfect. When you running out time it more about making the cuts on the rafters than perfection. All cuts were made with hand saws and I finished up the cuts with a chisel, then used a square block of wood with sand paper rapped around the block to clean up the cuts. No power tools were used in this task model exam.

Definitely surprised that it took 2 hours to lay out the geometry for this task model. I was wasn't stumped by any of the geometry. It just took that long to precisely draw out the geometry for the jack rafter and purlin lower claws. Again, at this point it's still a no brainier drawing out the witches cut on the hip rafter tail.

I drew out the purlin rafter lower claws lines going the wrong way. I stepped to the other side of the table and saw the mistake and drew the claw lines going the correct direction.

Lines for the witches cut on the hip rafter.

Here in this picture the base of the task model exam is assembled, but not yet screwed together.

It took an hour to cut these two gable end rafters.

Laying out the hip rafter.

Head cut and seat cut at the top of the hip rafter.

Boy, it took an hour and 25 minutes to layout and cut the hip rafter. If it was the German version it would have taken even long to use the draw knife and hand plane to edge bevel the hip rafter.

Thank God it only took about 20 minutes to layout and cut the jack rafter.

 Here's I'm cutting the lower claw on the purlin rafter.

The task model exam rafter sizes were
Rafters 1 1/4" x 2 3/8"
Exterior purlin 1 3/4" x 3 1/2"
Interior purlins and post 1 3/4" x 1 3/4"
Ridge 1 3/4" x 2 1/2"
Hip Rafter 1 3/4" x 2 5/8"


  1. Glad to see I'm not the only one experiencing the time crunch on the German "Gesellen Prüfung" or Journeymans test. The "Hexenschnitt" and "Klauenschifter" are always a treat to do. Great job Sim.

    -Austin Amsley
    (American carpenter's apprentice in Germany)

    1. Hey, Austin.
      My hats off to you for studying carpentry in Germany. It must feel like crunch time for you all the time, when complex theories on the intersections of canted roof planes are not being explained in your native tongue. Glad I wasn't actually taking the test. It must be extremely frustrating to get that far into the journeyman's test and not finish in the allotted time.

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  2. Sim,

    I thank you sincerely for the hat's off, but I must say mines off to you as well. I've never seen any American doing the stuff you are on your blogspot. I stumbled upon your blogspot, and my curiosity was instantly peaked. All the stuff I've been learning in school here, but translated in ENGLISH! Needless to say, it has been a secret weapon for helping me understand some of these complex theories on canted roof planes. Keep up the awesome work, you can be sure someone is appreciating it.

    My journeyman's test is this coming July, we shall see how things transpire.

  3. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumble upon every day. It’s always helpful to read through articles from other authors and practice a little something from their websites.Brain