What are stress-skin panels?

The term stress-skin is used to describe a three-layered insulating panel, which has specific structural qualities for strength as well as providing insulation. They are also referred to as SIPs -structural insulated panels. A layer of foam insulation is sandwiched between an exterior sheathing of OSB (oriented strand board) and an interior of gypsum wallboard (sheetrock). Stress-skin panels are a simple and efficient method of enclosing and insulating a timber frame. They are quick to install onto a timber frame because the interior finish, insulation and exterior sheathing are combined and installed in one operation. Stress-skin panels wrap a frame in an uninterrupted envelope of insulation.

This envelope helps maintain a uniform distribution of heat and humidity level, and an extremely low cold air infiltration rate.

Tom Musco, the founder and principle timber framer of Royalston Oak, began his professional woodworking career as a musical instrument apprentice to Peter S Kyvelos in Belmont, Massachusetts in 1973. Tom spent several years making and repairing a variety of Middle Eastern and Western stringed musical instruments. One of his dulcimers was featured in the first Fine Woodworking Design Book in 1976. Tom and his wife Judy moved to Royalston, Massachusetts in 1977 and began building timber frames, an interest he discovered in a beautiful timber-frame barn on his in-laws farm in Petersham, Massachusetts. His first frame was for his shop and his second frame was for his house. He made furniture and timber frames until 1980 when his shop was struck by lightening and burned to the ground along with all his tools and machinery. He built a new timber framed shop with the help of his neighbors and began timber framing full time. Tom was a founding member of the Timber Framers Guild. He has done workshops in NE ( Pembroke workshop at TFG ) and England. In 1989 Tom and his crew participated in the famous Concord Barn Raising episode of This Old House. He has built timber frames in New York State, the Hamptons, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alaska, and all the New England states except Rhode Island. Tom has crafted almost 200 timber frames since 1977. Tom is also an excellent cook with an interest in food of Sicily, where 3 of his 4 grandparents were born. He has written a series of articles on Sicilian food which you can read at the website of the Umass Journalism in Sicily Program.