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.