Craftsmanship and Passion
At Great Northern Woodworks, we strive to combine the warmth, character, and craftsmanship of a timbered home with the classic beauty of timber frame cottage and bungalow styles. Our founder, Phil Bjork, and his crew are dedicated to bringing these well-established ingredients to our discerning clients.
Great Northern Woodworks is well known for its fine craftsmanship, distinctive home designs, commitment to service, and passion for building beautiful living spaces that are well matched to the homeowner’s needs. Phillip Bjork and his staff look forward to bringing these well established ingredients to their discriminating clients, combining the warmth, character and craftsmanship of a timbered home with the classic beauty of the cottage and bungalow styles.
Our Core Values
Craftsmanship, Excellence, Collaboration – Our guiding principles
We take pride in our meticulous craftsmanship, ensuring that every detail of our timber frame homes is executed to perfection.
We strive for excellence in every aspect of our work, from initial design consultations to the final construction, providing our clients with exceptional quality.
We believe in the power of collaboration, working closely with our clients, architects, and contractors to bring their vision to life through effective communication and teamwork.
The Designer & Builder
After more than thirty years of designing and building custom timber frame homes, Phillip Bjork’s apporoach has evolved into a style that celebrates the Arts and Crafts tradition and utilizes the best of modern day technologies in building materials. His company’s homes grace locations from the northern coniferous forest throughout the Great Plains and into the Rockies.
Phillip Bjork’s timber frames have been featured on public television and HGTV, as well as in articles in American Bungalow, Fine Homebuilding, Architecture MN, Midwest Home and Garden, Timber Homes Illustrated, Better Homes and Gardens Building Ideas, and Lake and Home Magazine.
The Cutting Shop
The cutting shop utilizes overhead cranes and railroad carts on tracks to streamline material preparation. Major components like this parallel chord truss are occasionally pre-assembled before the on-site phase of construction. Portable hand tools are preferred to impersonal machines at every stage of timber preparation.
We apply a two-coat sealer finish on all timbers and vaulted ceiling material under climate-controlled conditions in our dedicated finish shop. After finish coats are applied, the timbers are banded, wrapped, and ready for shipment.
We believe that everyone has the potential to achieve greatness and fulfill their dreams. That’s why we are committed to providing innovative solutions and exceptional services that empower individuals to overcome obstacles and turn their aspirations into reality. With a strong focus on customer satisfaction and a team of experienced professionals, we strive to deliver unparalleled results and make a positive impact in the lives of our clients. Join us on this journey of empowerment, and let us help you make your dreams come true.
The Shop Complex
The shop complex is designed for linear movement both in and out of the seperate facilities. Far to the left is a wood fired boiler that provides in-floor heat to all the buildings. All scrap wood is burned to provide winter heat.
Locally Sourced and Stored Timber
This timber storage building has held up to 180,000 board feet of material. Most of our work uses White Pine from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Seasoning the timber for two to five years is a good way to increase stability.
The Design & Build Process
The design process starts with the unique vision of each new client. We pay close attention to individual needs and wishes, even as we provide additional creative possibilities, structural alternatives, and cost parameters gleaned from years of experience.
The first stage of this process usually begins with a one or two hour consultation with Phillip Bjork in his office/design studio and concludes with a tour of the shop facilities. Potential clients can see for themselves the hands-on approach the company takes in guiding the design and build process throughout the life of the project.
Planning & Design
In the second stage of the design process, Phil Bjork draws on individual client preferences, site considerations, and budget constraints to provide a careful study of the expected finish cost and an agreement of the overall design. These preliminary plans are then tweaked in consultation with clients, and final working drawings are devised in accordance with building code requirements and material and subcontractor specifications.
Throughout the entire process, Phil Bjork is available to answer any question, to act as a liaison between the homeowner and subcontractors, and to focus all individuals on the intent of the design.
Our philosophy at Great Northern Woodworks is simple: what you see is what you get. We use strong, sturdy timbers to build strong, sturdy homes. We insist on elegant rooflines that make sense and well-proportioned interiors that just feel right. At the end of the day, our timber-frame homes are timeless; they’re not about us. They’re about the wood.
That’s how it’s always been here in Minnesota. I began Great Northern Woodworks as a one-man cabinet-shop in 1976. In 1982, I raised my first timber-frame structure––by hand––with a small crew of workers. Since then, the company has completed over 250 custom homes across the Midwest, from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, and Illinois, all the way up to Ontario, Canada.
Things have changed a lot in the past 40 years, but our combination of honest character and honest construction remains the same. Every one of our designs is unique, every timber lovingly selected, and every home carefully constructed. It’s that simple.
Phil was born in 1954 in Tokyo , Japan . He spent his childhood in Minnesota and Illinois , graduating in 1973 from Evanston Township High School near Chicago . He studied architecture, industrial design, photography, and filmmaking as an undergraduate at Bemidji State University , and experiential education as a Masters student at Mankato State University . Phil worked as a wilderness canoe camp director, college instructor, cabinetmaker, and journeyman carpenter before founding Great Northern Woodworks in 1976.
When he is not building timber-frame homes, Phil is an accomplished stonemason, Rumford fireplace builder, and steel boat builder.