Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Big ol' barn

Paul's barn is one that I'd quite like for myself. I'm not sure what I'd do with it, but it wouldn't take me long to think of something. Unfortunately, I seem to earn a living making things for other people that I would quite like to keep for myself. One day....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

More finished green oak timber frames in Cornwall

This big 4 bay garage in Green oak and Larch is only 200 yards from our workshop just outside Falmouth, about as local as we could hope for, but somehow it's still taken me 3 months to go and take a picture of it. The customers are always happy for me to show people around it, so it's nice to have a specimen frame so close at hand. Next time I'll take a photo without pointing the camera at the sun...

This Roseland extension is a little further afield, though still little more than 10 miles in a straight line. Regular architectural collaborator Mark Datson draw up the proposal, but as usual left the specifics of the oak timber frame design to us. It's bedding in nicely, though again I struggled to get many decent images of it. New camera for Christmas? New photographer more like.

Frame Up! And a word on cleaning and glazing...

Considering the rain we've had since, it's amazing that this green oak frame went up without getting a drop of Cornish rain on it. It's had a good soaking now, but once the roof is on the water marks and associated stains can be cleaned off with a mild oxalic acid solution, which will gently bring the frame back to a fresh, natural finish. I find this is a cheaper, gentler, and less messy technique than sand-blasting.

We'll be back to fit the glazing units and coverstrip, barge boards, fascia and soffit once the builders have finished the roof build up. Direct glazing a green oak frame takes a little while to do properly and ensure a long-lasting weather proof seal, but creates a fine end result that leaves the glass effectively floating on the green oak, held on by kiln-dried oak coverstrip.

A Wood-Build-Bible?

Building with wood is such an endlessly massive subject, with so many inspiring styles to work from. Books like this are invaluable, whether working on traditionally jointed green oak frames, or more contemporary timber buildings. This books seems to be something of a rarity, an technical resource book with fantastic illustrations and imagery. So much to learn, so little time...

Making Pegs

We make all the pegs that hold our green oak timber frames together from clean, straight-grained off-cuts. 20mm square billets are split out from suitable blocks using a froe, and then worked on a shave horse with a draw-knife into a tapered 19mm (3/4 inch) peg. This technique ensures maximum strength of the peg, and allows us to make them while still the time they come to be used, they're a little more seasoned and will pull the joinery up really tight when banged into the drawn (or off-set) holes in a mortice and tenon joint. Here's Andy going at full speed for the camera...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Autumnal green oak timber framing and wooden building projects in Cornwall

First up is this nicely proportioned green oak timber frame extension to a granite cottage renovation near Bodmin, Cornwall. It'll be glazed on all 3 walls including the gable, with a slate roof, and we've worked hard to get the aesthetics spot on to tie in with the existing building beside it. Like the vast majority of our work, the green oak is sourced from Devon and milled by Anton Coaker on arrives on Monday - all hands on deck!

The second job for the autumn was due to be rebuilding a waterwheel at a mill near Ladock, sadly this has been postponed til the spring, but the extra time to research and prepare is welcome. Instead I'm building this interesting project that's been in the pipeline for a year now while planning issues have been resolved. It's a departure from the usual green oak construction, and the client has been influenced by a lighter, more contemporary style of timber building, particularly with a nod to the Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima (below) We'll be using Douglas fir and Larch in conjunction with Stainless Steel wires and brackets in an attempt to create a modern, airy and inspiring work space.

Summer Projects completed

This big larch barn is still jointed with pegged mortice and tenon joinery but is otherwise very different from the typical green oak buildings we usually make here in Cornwall. The client wanted a large, light and spacious structure, and proposed to stiffen and strengthen our lightweight frame with internal stud-work. I've recently revisited it to hang 4 doors that I made for him, and the end result is really pleasing. You don't often get a chance to frame with hammerbeam trusses, and this was an unusual but worthy application for them.

The late summer project was a more conventional oak conservatory. Designed and drawn by Matt Robinson, it features these seldom seen down-turned braces, which add a nice detail. A small and straightforward project, and an easier raising than the large larch barn of earlier in the summer. Lets hope it stays dry for Ian and the second fit team to roof and glaze.

A friend was renovating his house up past Truro last winter...he was keen to have a green oak frame to build the kitchen in, but the budget wouldn't allow it. Instead he decided on some bespoke oak stairs which I managed to do at a competitive price, with some nice English oak boards I knew that needed a home. I don't have the workshop set up to make stairs on a regular basis, but every now and then it's fun to divert from working with big green oak beams and do something a little finer and lighter. The photos don't really do them justice, but I was really pleased with how they turned out.

Finished Work revisited

This client just outside Falmouth has remarkable vision. I'll not guess at his age, but at a time when most are well into their pipe and slippers phase, he's decided to completely overhaul his bungalow. As in, completely. I was sceptical at first, but his experience as a draughtsman and ability to plan and visualise are really coming to fruition. We've now completed 3 separate extensions at his place, and the fourth and final one, a small green oak porch, is scheduled for December.

Old French framing

My girlfriend has long realised that she is with a timber building geek. She gets dragged round all manner of ancient churches, manor houses and architectural antiquities while I crane my neck skywards and enthuse over roof details. Being French, her native country is awash with all things old and wooden, and our road trips there this summer have been interrupted by heavy braking, reversing and unscheduled stops to take in classic old oak timber framed building.

Deep down, I think she quite enjoys it. Usually we end up in some unspoilt place, looking at remarkable craftsmanship, and washing it down with fine food and drink in warm sunshine. Maybe there's a career in this somewhere?!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Workshop assembly

Generally we don't fully assemble and erect our green oak timber frames in the workshop, and the first time they're put together is on site, and there they stay! However in a few instances it's handy, to precisely scribe in hips and hip purlins as above, or to calculate and plan glazing installation as below. Tomorrow is raising day for the wall frame below...and it looks like it should stay dry :) Unlike the coming weekend when I'm doing a charity bike ride from Bude to Land's End...130 miles into headwinds and rain :( Typical!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Uncovering patterns of beauty and bewilderment...?!

Working with green oak on a daily basis is immensely enjoyable...indeed the temptation when talking about the pleasures of timber framing is to slip into a sea of cliches and overused phrases. I'm not going to bother to try to say what's already been said, those who know will already know, and anyway, the pictures do the talking. Suffice to say everyone in the workshop comes to look when patterns like these come to the surface.

How about those medullary rays in this air-dried brace? Not half as pleasing as they are in real life.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Gotta love this time of year

Its been too long since the last post; too much to do in the workshop, too much to do in the woods over the winter, and too many drawings and quotes to price up for the spring and summer months. Which looks like busy-ness will continue for some time to a really nice variety of oak timber framing projects all over Cornwall, from small quirky extensions and classic roof trusses to large contemporary projects with Douglas Fir, glass and stainless steel. Some are architect led and others I've drawn up myself; some we are simply providing the timber skeleton of the building, and other we're doing the full wall and roof build-up as well. So there won't be as much time as I like to bomb this around the woods!! Happy days.