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A bespoke oak frame – step by step

It doesn’t look much at the moment but this is the arrival from Normandy of the oak for Dave and Viv’s new house in Dinedor Hereford. A detailed cutting list was sent to Granville Bois sawmill three weeks previously and now we’ve got something to get our teeth into in the Castle Ring Oak Frame workshop.

French oak

It doesn’t take long to unload and there’s a pleasing symmetry about stacking a pile of oak in our own planted woodland here at Castle Ring:

oak for timber frame house

Once we’ve ferried the timber up to the workshop we can begin the process of getting organised for the weeks ahead:

Castle Ring Oak Frame wood

Before we can start the timber framing per se, we spend a day or 2 sorting out the curves. As you can see they arrive “slabbed” through, complete with bark and sap wood….

bark and sap wood timber frame

…so we shape the required curved braces, collars and slings with a portable bandsaw. Care is taken to follow the grain of the timber which maintains the inherent strength of the wood grain whilst adding a unique quality to the curves. On the downside it is backbreaking work!

Using a bandsaw timber frame

Now we can start to lay up the timbers and begin the “scribe rule” process. This is an esoteric and mysterious art that is only revealed to a chosen few……and involves….well I can’t really say. Oh what the hell…., it involves the vertical plotting of the joints of one timber down (or up) into another, usually with the aid of a plumb bob or spirit level.

Lay up scribe rule timber frame oak frame Castle Ring

Here we have started on the first of many crossframes and the collar is being scribed down into the principal rafters and king post.

Cross frame in workshop Castle Ring Oak Frame

Dave and Viv’s design is a “storey and a half” with dormers, which means that the tie beams are interrupted upstairs with a raised collar to allow access through the partitions.

New timber frame house dormer

We cut the tenons with hand held circular saws and the mortices with this nifty beast…the chain morticer! Not to be messed with.

chain morticer

Once the joints have been cut, we reassemble everything to check they fit and that the overall dimensions of the frame are correct. Stainless steel tapered framing pins or “podgers” which act as removable oak pegs, allow us to pull the joints in nice and tight. This joint is a for a floor beam which benefits from a bevelled housing for extra support.

Podgers in timber framing

Almost without realising it things are starting to take shape:

Timber frame Castle Ring Oak Frame

One of the upstairs bedrooms of this 3 bed house has some particularly lovely curved braces:

Curved braces oak frame

After 5 weeks in the workshop the frame is now ready to go to site and is loaded up for it’s final journey from Castle Ring:

Castle Ring Oak Frame

On site Russell Davies from Hereford is manning the crane for the frame raising:

Timber frame raising with crane

Pegging up a feature truss with sling braces:

Oak truss with sling braces

Sometimes it makes sense to put together a whole crossframe rather than lifting in each piece at a time:

timber frame raising

Purlins jointed into the truss rafter with a pegged spline:

Oak purlins timber frame

Taking shape:

Oak frame being raised

Wallplate scarf and cog awaiting tie beam.

Wallplate scarf and cog awaiting tie beam.

This is how far we got by lunchtime:

This is how far we got by lunchtime

The ridge height of the L shaped wing comes in at a lower height.

Oak roof ridge

Roof frame with central purlin, wind braces and ridge.

Roof ridge

Nice view of all the king posts.

Oak king posts

Curved sling braces in the upstairs bedroom.

Curved sling braces oak frame

My feet (not to scale!)

Timber frame raising

Beautiful patterns.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Topping out the finished oak frame. Dave attaches a fresh oak branch to the highest truss – read more about this timber frame tradition here.

Topping Out Timber Frame tradition

Chatting with Dave, Viv and Jake at the end of a successful frame raising.

Rob Dawson Castle Ring Oak Frame

Raised in a day!

Oak timber frame

“It has been great to work with you. The frame is amazing; far more than we imagined. We are grateful to you for being so helpful, straight forward, flexible and easy to work with – a real pleasure.”
Thank you too Dave and Viv.

Do you want a quick quote?
Or to discuss your project?

If you're considering an oak framed building (or larch, or douglas fir), let's talk. We'll gladly put together an outline quote (completely free, with no strings attached). And we need very little information from you to do so.
Equally, we're always here, at the end of the phone, to talk through your ideas.

[email protected] 01547 560 231
Castlering Wood, Beggars Bush, Evenjobb, Powys, LD8 2PB