Friday, 14 November 2014

Autumn Project, and a new workshop coming

The past 12 months have been our busiest yet, with a variety of green oak and douglas fir extensions, roof trusses, balconies, barns, garages and porches; to my shame, this is not reflected in the frequency of website updates! Since the spring we've added a 3rd permanent member to the team, and over the coming month we'll be moving into our new workshop. Conveniently 50 yards across the yard, it offers double the floor space, much better natural light and ventilation, and more security. It may just be an average agricultural shed, or it may be our brand new purpose built facility; either way, we've been ready for a workshop upgrade for sometime, and this'll make our operation more capable and more efficient. Looking forward to starting some of the exciting projects that are in the pipeline...

In the meantime, here's a neat little green oak frame we recently raised near Wadebridge. Access was tricky with the nearest parking some way up an alley, so each timber had to be carried through to this back garden site. Fortunately there's nothing too big in this kitchen/diner extension, and 3 of us raised it by hand in a couple of days. It's part of a major re-working of an old Cornish cottage...plenty of character to preserve, as well as a few things to think about for the builders. We'll be back to glaze it in the coming weeks, and again in the New Year to see it finished.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

4 Bay Oak and Douglas Fir framed garage

We put this garage/workshop up in late summer, just as the good weather started to fade. The customer approached us with an overall design concept, and I designed this frame to exactly suit his requirements. At one stage it was going to be a full oak frame, but budget restraints lead us to a predominantly Douglas Fir frame, with Oak fronting and cill plate.  The weather held for the 2 days of raising, and though we had the odd shower while raftering, we got some blue sky for the finished shots. By now it'll be long slated and clad, and I must get back to get so more photos of the finished result.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Catching up on recent work; building green oak extensions in Cornwall

 This spring project took us to the far eastern end of the county, but only for the day needed to erect it. One of the benefits of building using green oak frames is that all the work can be done off site; in our case, in our workshop in Falmouth, Cornwall. This project represents one way that work often comes to us; a potential customer approaches me with (or without) a set of architects drawings, I provide an estimate and then after discussing details and timescales, a fixed price quote. After receiving a deposit, I'll survey the site, order the oak, and design a frame to tie in with the architects drawings and the customers requirements. CAD drawings allow every detail to be assessed by the customer, the builder and ourselves, and once everyone's happy, cutting begins. After, in this case, a month's worth of crafting in the workshop, we're ready to load the trailer and head off for raising. Most projects can be raised in a day or 2, and it's always the most satisfying part of the job.

The total time involved varies enormously. The above extension was over a year from initial contact to frame raising, whereas the next project took under 3 months start to finish. Generally we work on a 3-4 month lead time, though smaller projects can sometimes be fitted in at shorter notice; we're currently working on a couple of porches that fitted into the schedule nicely to keep us busy between the bigger projects. Photos to follow.

A busy 6 months

As I've said before, a long lull in website updates always means a busy spell in the workshop...but this long has been too long. This time my excuse is largely the birth of my second son; I'd rather be with him and his brother in the evenings than staring at the computer screen.
But there have been some nice projects coming out of the workshop since my last post; a mixture of green oak framing and other structural timber work, and its time they were aired.

As mentionned before Christmas, I'd spent lots of time last year working with a client on the design of a traditional Swedish savusauna, a smoke sauna

We used authentic techniques learned from 2 Swedish cabin builders; logs are initially rounded on the top and grooved on the bottom, before being notched and lapped over the previous one. The shape of the lower log is then scribed into the bottom edge of the upper log, so that there is no gap between them. Over time the building settles, under its own weight and that of the turf roof, so doors and windows have to be designed with that settlement in mind.
The project took a lot of careful thought and planning, in a field different to one we're used to working in; but was immensly rewarding too.
It seems somewhat counter intuitive to spend weeks putting together an authentic log cabin style construction, and then to light a fire in it and shut the door. But this is the principal of a savusauna, and early tests seem to show that it works really, really well.