A ShadeScape® shade structure from Western Timber Frame™ is a piece of cake.

piece of raspberry cake
After pergola installationBefore pergola installation

Slide Circled Arrows for Before and After


You can easily build a beautiful do-it-yourself backyard shade shelter and go from this....

pergola kit

... to this...

Pergola with tables

 in as little as ONE AFTERNOON!


How can installing a MASSIVE, oversized timber frame structure be a picnic?

pool pergola with water slide

There are many reasons, but firstly, there is an essential element that makes a Western Timber Frame™ architectural shade structure:

shade structure kits example

• Stronger • More Durable • More Aesthetically Pleasing • Faster & so Much Easier to Install


than modern conventional timber frame structures or ancient time-proven architectural timber frame structures.


The essential element is the innovative Western Timber Frame™ patented joint system called The Dovetail Difference®.

attached pavilion kit deck

The Dovetail Difference® is a revolutionary State of the Art award-winning patented connection system that makes all the difference!


First, take a look at how traditional timber frame joints are made. . .


For millenniums of time, woodworkers around the world use mortise and tenon joints to securely join two pieces of wood together. The union of timbers by mortise and tenon joints are superior in strength, time-proven to hold steadfast.

Mortise and tenon connections are still the most common architectural joint utilized in timber framing and in some types of construction.


Ancient Joint System


Archeologists unearthed four wooden water wells that were built using a mortise and tenon joint system. Located near the town of Leipzig in Germany, the wells are believed to be the world's oldest preserved timber frame construction. They are dated to have been constructed somewhere between 5206 and 5098 B.C.

mortise and tenon timber connection


The mortise is a cavity, hole, pocket, groove, recess or slot carved or cut into a piece of wood which a corresponding part fits in or extends through.


The tenon is a projection, the end of a wooden beam or post that is cut and shaped inverse of the mortise cavity, to fitting in as a hand would slide into a fitted glove.

types of joinery

Conventional Timber Frame Joint Systems


A conventional timber frame mortise and tenon joint is compromised in strength. As seen in the illustration below, the integral core of the solid wood beam is typically cut out in a square "U" shape. Having less mass, the remaining tenons are "out-on-a-limb" or rather branching out like a limb.

timber post shade structures

Chainsaw "U" joint on a conventional timber frame pergola kit.

conventional traditional dovetail crack

After 18 months, this typical mortise and tenon joint is cracking.


Dovetail Joint

traditional dovetail mortise and tenon joint

The dovetail joint is a mortise and tenon joint that is tapered at an angle, rather than a straight "U" notch. An angled mortise and tenon dovetail will hold stronger than a squared-straight shape "U" notch.


An Engineering Architectural Masterpiece: The Dovetail Difference®

how to build a shade structure

Innovation is a blending of inspiration and hard work. Hyrum is a natural born innovator. He has been passionate about woodworking since he was just a kid. For him, growing a beard, hard work and creating sawdust is his way of having a good time. Along with his timber-wrights, he is dedicated to the craft of building quality architectural masterpieces reproduced using time-proven ancient craftsmanship.

pergola deck farm

With all of its diversity, life, shapes, and colors humans innately desire to bond with nature. Touching one of these wooden timbers as it resonates a reassuring sense of harmony, of being at one with the universe. At Western Timber Frame™, we all feel deep gratitude for the durable, renewable, and sustainable way of building, she provides.

As durable as timber frame shelters are, Hyrum recognized that even in the best-cut timber frame joint there was a weakness in the overall design.  He knew there had to be a way to make an even better joint - as he had the advantage our progenitors had no access to - modern technology.

shade structure plans

Traditional "U" Weakens the Structure


In traditional dovetail timber frame joints, the integrity of the post is weakened when the center of the post is cut away. Using a chainsaw or skill saw the method to cut a timber framer would hack out a "U" shape through the post on both sides, then slide the other post through, lock it in and then bolt it in.


"If a timberwright is good they can cut for a pretty tight seam and it will look great," says Hyrum,  "but after a few months, six months to a year, maybe two years, the timber will sometimes begin to have gaps and separations."

This is because of the nature of wood. With the heat and cold of interment weather, wood expands and contracts. Over time, those thin posts are vulnerable to gaps and breakage. And plain and simple, it does not look as nice.

conventional chainsaw timber framing cracking out

The primary factor in determining the strength and long term durability of the mortise and tenon when loaded with tension is the strength and size of the material used. Holding fast to the time-proven ways of timber framing Hyrum conscious mind kept at work seeking for a better solution until he had a well-defined emergence of insight for a new way that would allow the wood to expand and contract. This inventive design is called The Dovetail Difference®


dovetail interlocking connections

After searching around the globe, he invested in the best high-tech equipment that could handle carving the precise dovetail on the beams and the tails of massive sized timbers. With state-of-the-art machinery, the method of construction for The Dovetail Difference® was realized - a better and stronger joint connection! NO more cutting out the integral core of the post. NO vulnerable tenons without the strength of mass. The formation of the joints are still patterned for long-term durability but upon architectural principles that will outlast the craftsmanship of conventional old-world joinery.

the dovetail difference

The Dovetail Difference® is engineered to keep the STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY of the beams/posts in tact.

pressure test dovetail mortise joint

We use The Dovetail Difference® design, a massive mortise and tenon dovetail joint system throughout our timber construction process that creates very strong, rigid joints. On the pressure test featured here the load-bearing The Dovetail Difference® joint didn't give until over 11,000 lbs.!

  • diagram of dovetail difference
  • diagram of dovetail difference
shade structure notch system

Not only did The Dovetail Difference® prove to be stronger it also adds to the beauty of the structure by maintaining a tighter more aesthetically pleasing joint.


The Dovetail Difference® allows the wood to naturally expand and contract in the outdoors, wherein you will not see any gaps as it is behind the dovetail mortise notch. The Dovetail Difference®, is easier to assemble. Even large oversized 20' beams will just slide in - lock in place - for tighter seams without the unsightly gaps.

* In Europe, traditional dovetail joints are sometimes called a culver-tail, fantail or swallowtail joint.


The second reason for an easy install is we DO all the HARD WORK for YOU.

shop view

Timber frame DIY ShadeScape® pavilion kit in the process of being pre-cut and pre-tested in the pre-assembly room of the shop.

pavilion test
shade structure kits shop

Every single piece is pre-cut, then assembled completely together in our shop, tested & pre-stained before it is ever shipped out.


An Oriental style timber frame pergola kit in the shop, in the process of being pre-cut and pre-tested for an installation.


All this to ensure your installation will be

crayon writing

When it comes to talking about timber frame pergolas, arbors, gazebo and pavilions, and trellis structures, I have to say that my favorite topic is the amazing ease and speed that one of these massive structures can be installed. There is not an easier heavy timber pavilion or gazebo kit to install than the kits from Western Timber Frame™. In many aspects, they are often easier to install than even typical hardware store kits because their sheer size and strength allow for posts to stand upright. This combined with the interlocking joints makes for a straightforward installation.


There are many components that create a faster and easier DIY shade structure. Here are two more features that make these massive timber frame structures a no trouble star.


The Drop-in-Rafter™ Layouts & Post-to-Beam™ Connections


The Drop-in-Rafter™ and Post-to-Beam™ Connection System - two more of Hyrum's innovative designs - make erecting a timber frame shelter a breeze. 

Every engineered feature of a ShadeScape® kit and other timber frame structures are built for easy applications with the end user in mind. ShadeScape® pergolas, pavilions, gazebos, arbors and other timber frame structures are as enjoyable for the do-it-yourself individuals as it is for those who want to have it all done-for-them.

cutains timber frame pergola

There are two main benefits of the drop-in rafter layout:

#1 Ease of installation.

Because the timber beam that supports the rafters is already marked and slotted, you don’t have to measure anything or try to figure the proper spacing of your rafters.

#2 Prevents Warping & Twisting

The primary benefit of the drop-in rafter layout is that it helps prevent warping and twisting of the rafters year after year.

Below is a pavilion in progress with easy Drop-in-Rafter™ and Post-to-Beam™ Connection Systems.

  1. shade structure pergola mortises

Each and every kit is unique and custom to each homeowner's specific needs and specs. These are not cookie-cutter kits.

building a pergola

King post set in place with rafters on a DIY timber frame pavilion kit in the shop being pre-tested for fast and easy installation.

wood shade structure beam slot

Side top beam of the timber frame DIY ShadeScape® pavilion kit in progress in the Western Timber Frame™ shop.

pre-testing diy shade structures

Top beam rafters are tested and set in place on the top beam of the timber frame DIY pavilion kit in progress in the Western Timber Frame™ shop.

build a shade structure using pergola beams

Top beam connects into the King post where you can see The Dovetail Difference® mortise cuts ready to receive the rafters in place on the DIY timber frame pavilion kit inside of the Western Timber Frame™ assembly area.

beams for building a wooden shade structure

Here on the top beam is The Dovetail Difference® connection system with the adjoining Drop-in Rafter-Layout™ in place on the DIY timber frame pavilion kit.

arched beams for shade structure

The side view of the top center beam of the DIY timber frame pavilion kit with The Dovetail Difference® connection system and three rafters in place on the Drop-in Rafter-Layout™.

building a shade structure shop

Here is a beautiful view DIY timber frame pavilion kit with the notched in Drop-in Rafter-Layout™ already marked and slotted, so there is no need to have to measure anything or try to figure the proper spacing of your rafters.

shade frame post ends

Bottom of timber frame pavilion posts pre-cut to receive the knife plates for a stronger, cleaner finish without the view of unsightly hardware.

simple shade structure beams

Knee braces and dove-tailed post ends featured with The Dovetail Difference® and one post is pre-drilled for the pre-wired TimberVolt® power post to maximize the outdoor living experience.

wooden shade house set up

View of the Queen post set in place for the roof of the DIY timber frame pavilion kit being pre-tested in the Western Timber Frame™ shop for fast and easy installation.

shade frame kit pre-test

The DIY timber frame pavilion ShadeScape® kit roof is being squared up.

diy cantilever shade structure beams

A DIY timber frame ShadeScape® pergola kit finished in a Rich Cordoba stain getting ready for shipping.


All the measuring, cutting and layout work is done by experienced craftsmen.


Our DIY backyard timber frame shade shelter is as fast and as easy as


elementary child's play.

build a wrapped pergola

A DIY timber frame ShadeScape® pergola kit packaged for shipping.

shade structures special care

Even though these are tough, durable, solid timbers, every effort is made to protect the kit through every step, from beginning to completion.


Shipping is Free Across the Contiguous United States

semi truck leaving shop with pergola kit

A great semi-truck driver pulling out with a new timber frame ShadeScape® kit to another happy homeowner. One more addition to a more beautiful, family-friendly America!

Combining the Best in Old World Craftsmanship with New Technologies


Another Testament to the Durability & Strength of Timber Frame


The Horyu-Ji temple built in Japan over 1400 years ago was constructed with interlocking timbers using the same principles as found in traditional European timber framing with mortise and tenon connections. This method gave the timbers allowance to fluidly ride a seismic wave maintaining its integral strength and stability. The Horyu-Ji temple survived the violent shaking of 46 earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.0 and greater.


Get the Free Ultimate Pergola and Pavilion Guide


Get the Free Ultimate Pergola and Pavilion Guide