Inside Our Shops

Technology, People, Diversity, Respect

Cornerstone’s roots run deep in the soil of traditional timber framing. From the company’s inception in 1991, the founding Peters brothers maintained a steady focus on technical excellence and quality.  Complementing their deep respect for traditional skills and methods, an interest in finding “better tools”, allowed them to see that new materials, digital design and state of the art equipment did not threaten the craft but freed it to be so much more.

Pete & Wayne Peters, timber frame experts and owners, 1991-2015

By the time Cornerstone began its foray into mass timber construction in 2017 it was clear that the company was ready to automate much of its cutting. Under new owners, Tanya (Pete’s daughter) and husband Nevin Bachmeier purchased our first Hundegger K2, a used CNC machine that quickly proved its worth.  Within three years the limitations of this machine were reached and a new, K2 Industry with Robot Drive was ordered, arriving in mid-2022.

The CNC technology in the latest generation of machines is especially impressive for the range of cutting tasks they can perform, their speed and exceptional accuracy.  Imagine a 24” flangeless saw, a 5-axis universal mill, a slot cutting tool, a drilling unit, and a 6-axis robot with access to a rack of 24 specialized tools, all working from a 3D mass timber model that has been checked for compliance with the architect’s BIM design.

The K2i + Robot Drive can do the work of fifteen carpenters with zero errors and millimeter accuracy.
High quality, dimensionally accurate timber is the starting point for every job entering the shop. An automated, four-sided planer designed for large, long timbers is an essential partner to the CNC.
The K2i can handle timbers up to 60’ long, 12” high by 51” wide. Timbers are checked as they enter the K2 to identify and adjust for any variance that might affect connection accuracy.
With long timbers, a traditional forward facing forklift doesn’t work so well. Omni-directional and side-running forklifts have been a great addition to our shop.

A common criticism of modern wood-working technology is that it replaces people and discourages those left behind from retaining craft skills.  Our experience has shown this to be unfounded: we employ the same number of carpenters as we did before our first CNC arrived.  Injuries and repetitive stresses are reduced, and the variety of creative work and skills being learned has only increased. 

Modern timber framers are comfortable with computer modelling, they’re familiar with a wide variety of tools and techniques and are better able to see the whole project.

Our shop is a meritocracy: skill and cooperation lead to personal and group success
And while CNC cutting can do almost everything, there are a few details that still look better when a human hand guides the saw. A 30’ long chamfer, cut at precisely 26.6 degrees.
When every piece is unique but appears similar, good labelling is vital. New RFI tags incorporated into nails may eventually make these labels redundant.
Not automated. Our dedicated finishing shop hand applies three coats of stain to every timber. Robotics for finishing is widely available and will eventually manage the range of sizes and shapes we produce for our structures.

Cornerstone Timberframes will always seek out and embrace “better tools”.  Our choices will be shaped by our people, a respect for our craft and a love of wood.  The mass timber revolution is going to change our company, but only for the better.