For once mid summer really feels like mid summer this year, but like most years, the workshop diary is full for sometime ahead and we've got a nice selection of green oak framing and structural joinery work all over Cornwall, keeping us busy through the warmer months.
Soon to be completed is this raised decking and staircase on a the back of a property near Truro.
I've used oak that's been slowly seasoning outside for a couple of years for much of this project, in the hope that the worst of the shrinkage and movement has already happened. But it can take 8-10 years for posts and beams of this size to fully season, and clearly it's impractical to plan that far ahead. So in addition to the standard mortice and tenon joinery, we also use housings, slip tenons and squinted shoulders to minimise the effects of shrinkage. But it's all timber based joinery with cleft oak pegs and time-proven design instead of steel pins and metal brackets.
August sees us getting stuck into this nice full frame with interrupted tie beam; this allows for a lower floor beam and so more headroom on the mezzanine above. This is in fact a Douglas Fir frame, the timber has come from a plantation near Menheniot in south-east Cornwall, and after 6 weeks of cutting in our Falmouth workshop, the finished frame will be erected near Bude in north-east Cornwall. A bit of a roundtrip for this batch of timber, but nothing compared to the lengths that many building materials travel.
The timber has just been delivered to our yard. If you half close your eyes and focus on a point a few inches benind the picture, you should be able to see a beautiful finished frame standing tall against a blue sky. No? There'll be several weeks of toil and labour before we get to that, but it's always nice to see fresh sawn timber in such raw form, ready for conversion into a building with longevity, integrity and character.