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Charpentiers d'Europe et d'ailleurs
Ground plan area Alignment

Before they begin a project, most European carpenters start with sketches. Then, when it is time for the actual construction, they create a large-scale drawing, most often life-sized, to show where the various pieces of wood go. This drawing is called the ground plan, or épure.
The simplest ground plan is a representation of where the house will be built on the land.
For very simple plans, the graphic representation of the project stops there, and the rest of the assemblies can be empirically deduced during the course of the job.

Depending on the complexity of the project, ground plans are traced on a floor or using an area that has been somewhat carefully prepared.

Depending on the complexity of the project, ground plans are traced on a floor or using an area that has been somewhat carefully prepared. In a pre-industrial, rural context, plans consisted simply of the principal lines – the building's axis, level lines, roof-line and so on.
The carpenter works with a compass and a chalk line, and uses a practical application of the Pythagorean theorem.
When the carpenter works outside, and sometimes in bad weather, the ground plan area must be both rudimentary and robust, with lines depicted using cords stretched tight between important reference points indicating where the various pieces of wood go. The carpenter can then lay out the various pieces of wood horizontally so that they match the ground plan – including the position of the ridge beam, the location of the purlins, windows, etc. If the ground is uneven or muddy, the carpenter can lay down planks and then trace the axis lines on them.
Most often, the ground plan consists of the various elements one would find on a two-dimensional drawing: a wall, a partition, a truss, etc. Nevertheless, in certain conditions, particularly in France, the carpenter may also – with greater or lesser mastery – be able to accomplish complex three-dimensional joints. In particular, he or she may include in the ground plan hip rafters, knots, and so on, and thus obtain the lengths and the cuts needed for certain pieces. In other traditions, the carpenter obtains this information empirically by holding up poles at various points during the construction.

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France, Poland
France, Poland