* Magazines: Timber Frame Homes, Timber Homes Illustrated, and Log & Timber Style. Timber Frame Homes' 2003 buyers guide issue (on newsstands until mid-February) is full of tips for consumers, and its producer directory includes a brief description of 61 timber-frame companies.
* Home shows: Both Timber Frame Homes and Timber Homes Illustrated separately sponsor 10 home shows around the country every year. You can meet timber framers, check out demonstration houses and look over an enormous number of products and materials that are commonly used in timber-frame houses. For dates and locations of shows, check www.timberframehomes.com and www.logexpo.com. A third site, www.loghomeexpo.com, also has show information.
* Organizations: The Timber Frame Business Council (www.timberframe.org) lists the Web addresses of its members and will help you find one in your area. This Web site also has tips on building a timber-frame house and how to choose a timber framer. The Timber Framers Guild also has useful information.
* Timber-frame companies: Most have Web sites. One of the most comprehensive and easiest to navigate is Bensonwood Homes. Riverbend's site is also comprehensive.
* Timber-frame factory visits: Most timber framers welcome visits to their factories. I visited two, Riverbend in Blissfield, Mich., and Heartwood Homes in Swanton, Ohio.
* Books: Tedd Benson's "The Timber Frame House" (Taunton, 1997) is written for the nonspecialist, and the 3-D framing illustrations are easy to follow. His "Timberframe: The Art and Craft of the Post and Beam Home" (Taunton, 1999) amply illustrates 29 gorgeous timber-frame houses designed and built by Benson's firm.
-- Katherine Salant