Friday, 30 November 2012

Summer Summary

The summer of 2012 has been our busiest to date, with 4 large green oak framed extensions raised in Cornwall, and several smaller projects filling in the gaps. Each one is different to the others, being custom designed to meet the needs of the client, and to tie in with the existing building. In all these examples we've worked alongside teams of high quality builders; they take care of the groundworks, footings and base, then we raise the oak structure on top of this. They then put the roof on, we glaze where necessary, then its left to them to insulate, plaster, paint and finish. We all know each others needs and schedules, and it's great to go back and see the projects finished to such a fine standard.

I worked alongside architects Catchfrench Design on the above extension to this farmhouse near Helston, with Trethowan Builders making a fine job of the stonework and interior finishing. Its nice to work with a teams of designers who I had first heard of sometime ago, and then to meet and collaborate with another team of quality local builders. Hopefully the end result conveys our combined experience in this type of work.

Regular architectural collaborator Mark Datson drew up the designs for this pair of handsome extensions to this property on the Roseland, marking our 10th project working together of the last 5 years. We chose to use slightly smaller section timbers here to reflect the existing characteristics in the house, as opposed to the chunky section oakwork in the Helston build. 

Mark Datson was also the architectural consultant on the hipped extension to this property in Portloe, and Poore & Sons the builders carrying out the massive renovations needed. There's a little way to go yet but considering the weather this summer, and the degree of underpinning and rebuilding need, they've done very well. There's a couple of extra bits to go in here too, a curved oak lintel over the fireplace, and oak beams and braces across the carport'll be nice to get finished photos in the spring.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

CAD rendering

I'm currently on paternity leave and taking some time off in France introducing the in-laws to our young son. One little task managed to slip through customs and follow me on my break...creating a CAD mock-up of this potential project in North Cornwall. Before committing his ideas to Planning, this client wanted a 3D visualisation of how his Listed, thatched cottage would look with an oak-framed round room. With the aid of a couple of photos and some measurements, I've been able to put together this proposal. We'll still need to revise it for workshop drawings, but it's a great starting step for all involved.

More updates on future projects when I get back, as well as a review of finished work over the previous summer, my busiest ever! In the meantime, its great to be away from work for a few weeks and focusing in something far more important.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Back to Granston

As I've said before, it's great to go back and visit previous work once its been lived in and become a home. As our part of the construction phase is such an early one, there's a pretty big transformation when you go back to find it's become a much loved home. It seems a long time ago that this was all scaffolding and muddy puddles.

This Douglas Fir and Oak frame has always been one of my favorites. The Hemcrete wall build-up was done by regular collaborator Ben Brittan, while the clients themselves did much of the internal fit out work.

I really enjoyed keeping the Oak collars and braces as close as possible to their natural shape in this frame. It's not that often that we mix timbers in a frame, but Douglas Fir just doesn't grow with curves in it, and I find it's clean straight lines contrast nicely with the characterful natural curves in the Oak. We had to fell an apple tree to erect this extension, so we decided to preserve part of it in the frame...the 2 studs in the gable wall here are my first experience of timber frame building with apple wood!

I've made 4 staircases now, this being the most recent, and it's always an enjoyable challenge to build something that suits the existing character of a house. It seemed obvious to use Douglas Fir and Oak again, and I was pleased to see how well these have settled in since installation. With 3 pairs of teenage feet treading their boards each day, they're holding up well.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Recent Green Oak Timber framing work

We've recently raised the Green Oak Timber Frames for a pair of extensions at this property on the Roseland, Cornwall...a single storey family room with a fully glazed gable, and a 2 storey frame with a little hipped roof in the bedroom (so engulfed by scaffolding I couldn't get a decent photo!) We're back on site this week installing the double glazed units and dry oak coverstrip that holds them in place. Again, this project came from the drawing board of architect Mark Datson; our list of collaborative projects now nearing double figures. It's the first time I've worked with St. Mawes builder Martin Day, and he's been excellent at co-ordinating the works and making the oak frames tie in to the existing house so tidily.

Fine weather for finishing

We've now finished cladding and detailing this woodland workspace, enjoying fine spring weather during a few days out of the workshop. The frame, a mixture of Larch and Douglas Fir, with Stainless Steel wire bracing was raised in the winter, and was designed to create a sheltered storage and work space with a light footprint.

Having raised the frame and assembled it using cleft oak pegs through the mortice and tenon joinery, the customer was keen to avoid mercilessly banging in hundreds of nails to fix the Western Red Cedar cladding boards. So we designed cladding panels that could be assembled in the workshop, and then fixed to the frame using only 8 Stainless Steel fixings per panel.

 We fitted discreet sliding doors to the sheltered front face that really open the building up and help to create the light, airy, indoor/outdoor space specified in the design brief. Despite the lack of windows, there's plenty of internal light due to the translucent roof panels, and the spacings between the cladding boards allow more diffuse light and ventilation. A really enjoyable project, and a nice change to our more conventional green oak framing designs.         

 There's talk of another project here, something using hand hewn round wood logs...similar to this design by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Discussions, sketches and research under way....very excited about the prospect of this.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Lerryn woodland workspace nearly completed

This unusual frame had been over a year in the pipeline, and was destined to be something a bit different from the beginning. The customer wanted a light weight, contemporary structure with clean, slender lines and a sense of openness and space. A traditional oak frame seemed inappropriate, so I designed this Larch frame with stainless steel wire bracing to meet these requirements, with post feet designed to give the building an especially light contact with the ground. We're currently cladding the inner space with vertically hung Western Red Cedar boards...finished photos to follow.

Finished Water Wheel

Its been a very busy few months since Christmas, and a seldom updated website is sorry proof of that. I'm never quite sure how well viewed this site is, or how much of a marketing tool it is, but it always bugs me when I've been busy as hell and the website looks like I've gone into hiding or fallen down a mine shaft. There's a handful of other projects that have been finished and need to be put up here, but there's interesting new jobs coming into the workshop all the time too.

Re-instating this water wheel has been one of those jobs that really gets you buzzing. More engineering than carpentry to begin with, and lots of challenges throughout; the main one being assembling the wheel in a way that kept it balanced and fairly evenly weighted while still providing working access to lift in the heavy cast metal rim and shroud sections. Slowly and methodically proved to be the most efficient as usual, and with the wheel completed  we're now putting the final touches to the flume that;l bring the water to it from the leat. The much awaited opening of the sluice gate beckons.

I'm clearly biased, and proud of what we've been given the opportunity to do here. It may have originated from a few miles up the road at Grampound, but we believe its almost identical to the original one at this site....and to me this wheel looks like it belongs here, and the building looks like it needs its wheel to be complete. Sentimental babble? Yes, you bet...just wait til it's turning and its generating power; then I'll really get started with the cliches.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Water wheel re-build

Its been in the pipeline for a few months now, but the timber has now arrived in the yard, and we're set to begin this most interesting project. Phase 1 is to re-construct the wheel, which was originally from a mill at Grampound. The cast iron rim and shroud sections have been reconditionned, as have the axle, hubs and bearings...but all the woodwork that makes the buckets will be from new air-dried oak boards. Assembly will have to be well thought out; slow, safe and methodical, with a few puzzles along the way to keep us sharp.

Phase 2 will be to build the flume that feeds the water into the wheel...again plenty of careful planning required to calculate flow rates and entry angles. The finished wheel will rotate at about 6 rpm and will drive a generator, feeding directly into the national grid. A perfect marriage of old and new technologies. I enjoy all of my carpentry projects, but these are the jobs I really dig.