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Sweet Timber Frames owner John Sweet volunteered his time and services for the local playground and is shown here building three playground houses.
SWEET TIMBER FRAMES—Building One-Of-A-Kind, One-At-A-Time

By Michelle Keller

Mt. Desert, Maine–Sweet Timber Frames is located just off the eastern coast of Maine on Mt. Desert Island in a town surrounded by quaint harbors, cozy summer cottages and America’s only fjord.

After 18 years and erecting multiple key structures across North America, journeyman ironworker John Sweet began his own business, Sweet Timber Frames.

Sweet began his career in construction in 1972 working for a concrete, sand and gravel materials supplier as a welder, rigger and burner. From that position he was introduced to heavy construction where he met a crew of ironworkers and launched his career in ironworking.

After his apprenticeship in Virginia, Sweet began assembling major high rise steel structures. He was part of the team that constructed the new drawspan bridge that crosses James River and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a 23 mile long fixed link that connects the cities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia to Cape Charles in Northampton County along with the rest of the eastern shore of Virginia.

This is a photograph of a 32'x32' saltbox timber frame home built by Sweet Timber Frames. At 3,816 square-feet, this home also includes a daylight basement.
Among others, he raised iron for the Interstate 75 twin truss span bridge on the Ohio River and helped build International Paper in Jay, Maine. After leaving his mark in cities throughout the country such as Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire, he moved his family to the place of his birth in Maine and continued to do ironwork for one of the many paper mills in the area.

Sweet purchased land and set out to build his own home. He became interested in timber framing because it offered durability, value and was aesthetically appealing. With the help of his father, brother and 11-year old son, he built his first timber frame home in 1981.

A member of the community took notice of the quality result of Sweet’s labor and inquired about having one of his own built. Twenty-four years later, the people of Sweet Timber Frames are still constructing exclusive sustainable homes.

Distinctive wood sculptures are formed from the native species of Maine such as Pine, Spruce, Hemlock and oak. With large beams that lock together, the wooden pegs create an attractive alternative to the use of metal. Wooden pegs replace metal nails working as a locking mechanism with the joints of the timbers. In this unique method, the only component that holds the complete structure together is wood.

With a traditional style, the basic design of a Sweet Timber Frame home includes floor plans, elevations and a roof plan. Several designs are available to choose from as well as the option of working with a designer or architect to create a one-of-a-kind home of the consumer’s choice.

Timber framers at work in the company’s larger shop.
The company offers timber frame homes, barns, garages and other structures. With 12 employees the craftsmen of Sweet Timber Frames are skilled in natural form timber, doors, cabinets, compound roof joinery, full scribe log work, Japanese shoji screens and instate general contracting services.

Among the many projects completed by Sweet Timber Frames, a timber frame octagon was built for famous mystery writer Janwillem van de Wetering for the purpose of American Indian meditations and ceremonies, as well as a 28’ x 40’ timber frame home on Spectacal Island in Maine which required a sea truck for transporting materials. The builders of the company welcome challenges and are rewarded by the knowledge that each frame cut is durable, energy efficient and environmentally sound.

On approximately 4,000 square feet, two facilities house a planer, band saw, chop saw and other equipment utilized in the manufacturing process. Sweet Timber Frames purchases 300,000 board feet annually of Hemlock, Maple, Cypress and oak.

Family-owned and operated key people include: owners John and Ann Sweet; son, John Sweet II; and son-in-law, Steve Dmitrieff. When asked what he attributes his success to Sweet replied, “Attention to detail with an emphasis on quality and persistence for quality construction.”

Sweet Timber Frames’ employees in the small millwork shop.
Sweet Timber Frames is a member of Timber Frame Business Council, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Builder Central, Maine Wood Products Assoc., Timber Framers Guild and WERU. John Sweet, “once an iron worker, always an iron worker”, remains a member of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers.

For more information about Sweet Timber Frames and its products visit the company website at, email at or contact direct at (207) 276-3254.

A Maple staircase inside a 32'x32' saltbox Sweet Timber Frame home.

A Sweet Timber craftsman cleans out a mortise pocket with a 2-inch framing chisel.

A 14'x24' bedroom with common rafters and collar ties.


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