Wood Details


The Watzek House designed by self-taught architect John Yeon in the 1930's is now one of our local architectural landmarks and it displays very traditional and common construction methods from the region, a strong influence by the modernist movement of that time, and some Japanese and Scandinavian spatial touches. Not every wood frame building in Portland looks this good, but this is a great local example of the level of elegance and craftsmanship that could be achieved using this construction system. (photo credit: George Moyer Bleekman III, via University of Oregon Architecture & Allied Arts.)

Today, over 90% of all new small-scale buildings in North America are made using some version of wood frame construction and it is not hard to understand why. It is a flexible system and almost any type of shape or style of building can be built with the studs, joists, and rafters that are the primary components of wood frame construction. Also, the pieces can be easily handled, the material is readily available, and the skills and tools required for the assembly are easily acquired. Wood frame construction dates at least to the 1830s in this country. The "balloon-frame" method, in which a single post ran from the bottom floor to the top floor, was most popular until the early twentieth century. Subsequently, "platform framing" techniques were developed, in which each floor is assembled as a separate unit. This method offers greater structural strength, resistance to fire, and lower cost, and most wood-frame structures since the 1920s have been built using the platform technique.

For my first project as an illustrator at Fat Pencil Studio I modeled a two-story wood frame wall assembly. I started with standard construction detail drawings: 2d, monochromatic, and packed with information, these can be confusing to the untrained eye.


My task was to create a series of illustrations that would describe the elements of this assembly in a clear and simple visual presentation.

I learned that SketchUp allows you to work in a very organized way when dealing with this type of project. By having a general understanding of the construction process, I was able to construct this wall section model step-by-step as it is usually built in real life. This allowed me to keep track of every component in the assembly, and with the use of different scenes and layers, it was easier for me to move around the workspace in order to make modifications or even walk someone else through the model without fighting with the scroll wheel of the mouse.


Sebastian Marticorena was an illustrator at Fat Pencil Studio from 2014-2016.