I run a specialty millwork shop in Narragansett, R.I. For several years I've been working with a local custom builder, David Baud, to produce major components for the high-end homes he builds. Typically, these are relatively complicated pieces of the building that would ordinarily be built on site but require extensive layout, complicated scaffolding setups, and lots of crew. Tackling these tasks off site in the shop simplifies and speeds the entire process. The advantages are numerous — including no weather delays and close control over scheduling and quality — and have proven themselves on job after job. Now, whenever we sit down to bid a set of plans, one of the first things we do is to circle every element that might lend itself to off-site fabrication.

In this article, I'll describe how we completed a decorative timber-rafter roof overhang for a new home on the coast of Rhode Island. The house was designed to look like a converted barn. Though it was stick-framed, it contained various timber-frame components both inside and out. The eaves details I worked on create the impression of heavy...

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