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Family oak frame raising Shropshire-style


Peter and Emma commissioned us to build an oak frame for their small family self-build, the result of years wading through the planning process, and coming out the other end with a Section 106 agreement for a “local connection” which aims to help local families afford homes in the area they grew up – you could throw a stone in both directions and easily hit Peter and Emma’s childhood homes on the northeastern edge of the Long Mynd.

The family, including dogs, chickens and 3 children have been living off-grid on the site in preparation for the build, and so it was with a great deal of excitement and apprehension that the raising day finally arrived. Just the most perfect conditions – dry, warm, sunny with the merest hint of a breeze.

The following pictorial record should give you an idea of our time spent on site and in their delightful and charming company. To be honest, it really didn’t feel like work! But work it was, and everybody mucked in to ensure that the whole frame, complete with 2 fully joisted floors, and common rafters on the roof, was “topped out” in just a shade over 2 days.

Special thanks to Paul “the crane” Stealey, to Matt the builder (for just wanting to be there), to Kai and Jake (the raising crew). And extra special thanks to Emma and Pete and the kids for not only choosing us to make their frame but joining in the fun too!

Timber frame house

All ready to go. Timbers laid out, scaffolding looking tip top against an azure sky and the crane fully rigged

Family home Shropshire

The family in the expensive seats

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Some rustic shelving has been incorporated into the frame. You may remember the debate about whether to round off the corners…..or not

Oak frame family home

Starting to take shape

Oak frame joists

“Hand-balling” all the first-floor joists into their “pockets”. Each one individually scribed

Wallplate scarf timber frame

Slotting together a wallplate scarf.

Wallplate oak timber frame

The wallplate scarf also secures and restrains the 2nd storey floor beam.

Family oak framed house

Helping out with the pegging

Oak frame house raising day

End of day one!

Oak truss timberframe

First truss on day 2 ready for lift-off

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Flying in the truss…

Timberframe house

…and lowering the truss carefully into the mortices

Family timber frame home Castle Ring Oak

More willing helpers.

Family oak framed house

Quality control team hard at work!

Oak pegs for timber frame

Cutting the pegs off flush on the outside of the frame.

Oak frame house raising

Fitting the purlins.

Castle Ring Oak Frame rafters

Measuring the rafters for cutting on site.

Oak house frame

End of day 2!

Topping out timber frame tradition

Rob and Pete “topping out” the frame with an oak branch as a thank you to the tree spirits.

Castle Ring Oak Frame house

Sitting back and admiring the soft light on the frame.

Good luck with the rest of the build!

 

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Carmarthen barn roof (part 2)


Here’s a quick update on the completion of the frame raising we started on Monday.

We made the right decision in delaying our return to site to finish the raising – we missed a day of continuous heavy rain and sleet in Carmarthenshire on Tuesday.

Back to it on Wednesday though beneath clear blue skies, although we did have to contend with mortices full of frozen ice for the first couple of hours. Thankfully there was a kettle and some boiling water to hand.

Barn renovation project

Assembling the trusses on trestles

oak frame barn Castle Ring

The raised collar trusses required steel reinforcement at the critical “tension” joint

Castle Ring timber frame Wales

Sam trimming off pegs with his funky folding saw

timber frame truss

Sending off another truss

Oak timber frame barn building house

Lowering the truss into position on the wallplates

Roof purlins oak frame

Sam and Jake in position to locate the purlins and ridges

barn oak frame Castle Ring

Soft evening light on one side of the roof

Castle Ring Oak Frame Carmarthen barn roof

Full tie beam trusses from below

oak trusses Castle Ring barn roof

Raised collar trusses from below

barn oak frame Castle Ring

Done!

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Carmarthen barn roof (part 1)


This is a brief account of the first part of the frame raising we carried out yesterday in West Wales. Stepping back a little and to provide some context, we were approached last summer to see if we could help with a new roof to an “L” shaped dairy barn which had collapsed over time, and was being extensively restored. We carried out a survey of the wreckage –

barn project wales

– and came up with frame drawings and a 3d model.

barn project timber frame

 

It would have been nice if the two wings of the barn had been at right angles, but sadly (for our sakes) they happened to be 91.7 degrees – which ensured some complicated joinery at the corner!

After 6 weeks or so in the workshop, we finally booked the crane and packed off the frame to the site hoping to avoid the incoming snowy weather.

Castle Ring Oak frame

The centrepiece of the whole frame is the cruciform truss configuration which makes up the corner, and for many reasons, it made sense to assemble the whole thing so we could drop it in place in one go. The hip and valley truss is put together on trestles and raised vertically with the crane.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

We then used a telehandler to assemble the other bits and locate into the octagonal central “boss”.

 

Castle Ring Oak Frame barn roof

Purlins were also fitted at this stage to proved stability, and also because we couldn’t work out how to fit them once the cruciform was in place.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Before installing, we had to scribe and fit the “dragon tie” to the outside corner of the barn to support the hip rafter. Dave the builder, set to work with his angle grinder –

Angle grinder

– and Rob cut the “dragon tie”.

Rob Dawson timber frame

By this point, we were offering prayers of thanks to the weather gods for having spared any wet stuff.
Looking down from the scaffold. Now for the moment of truth –
Roof structure oak
Lift off! 2 tons of hard work and head scratching –
Oak Frame building timber
Just the weirdest thing to behold flying through the sky –
Roof oak frame barn
Preparing to “dock” –
roof structure barn
 I had to put the camera down next, but please believe me when I say it was an absolutely perfect landing.
With the pressure off and clear blue skies, we assembled some more trusses –
oak truss timber frame
– and dropped in some ridges.
Castle Ring Oak Frame
Castle Ring Oak Frame barn
From below, the “valley rafter” locating on the inside corner of the wallplate –
oak framed home timber
The hip rafter is supported on the “dragon tie” and “dragon beam” at the external corner –
hip rafter timber frame

The crane de-rigged at the end of a truly brilliant day.

We’ll be back on Wednesday all being well to fit the remaining 9 trusses, with purlins and ridges, and will let you know how we get on.

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Norton Canon oak framed extension


Nick and Mary got in touch to see if we could help them design and build an oak framed extension to their quirky half-timbered cottage between Kington and Hereford. Previous owners had obtained planning permission and made a start on the groundworks (see below) before giving up on the project and selling up.

groundworks

We arranged a site meeting, discussed various options, and quickly settled on the outline of a design which we then firmed up with some detailed frame drawings. Open plan downstairs with oak joists and stairwell, raised collar trusses on the first floor with central purlin, ridge and windbracing.

The drawings were signed off by Nick and Mary, we ordered the oak, and set to work in the workshop when the next slot became available.

Castle Ring Oak Frame workshp

Issues we had to contend with on this project were: a wonky old building to connect to, a less then perfectly level base, difficult access for the crane, and not enough room for a wraparound scaffold.

What we didn’t have to worry about was the weather (it was perfect!) and Nick and Mary’s unbeatable hospitality. I should perhaps explain that they are fully committed smallholders with sheep, geese, chickens, polytunnels, bees, smokehouse and probably multiple other bits I didn’t notice or can’t remember. Suffice to say our pack lunch boxes were soon kicking around redundantly as we tucked in to a multitude of delectable home made, home produced goodies. Future clients be warned – Nick and Mary have raised the bar! We were even sent on out way with a further hamper of loveliness.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The finished frame in all it’s glory tucked up against an older version

Getting started on the frame with not a lot of scaffold to play with

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Girding rail being located into a baypost with corner bracing

Rob Dawson Castle Ring

In goes a wallplate

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Lowering the pack of floor joists onto the slab

Castle Ring Oak Frame

…so we can handball them into place. We even got Russell the crane driver helping out!

Little tap with a mallet as they drop into the pockets

Castle Ring Oak Frame

By lunchtime we were ready for the 3 trusses, so we make them all up on trestles

Oak frame extension

…and stacked them against the wallframe

Oak frame

Flying the central truss with arch collar braces in to place

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Now for the roof. Central purlin dropping into its housing

Castle Ring Oak Frame Jake

Now for the ridge. Note the mortice for a “spline” to pull the ridge pieces together. Nice face Jake!

Oak framed extension

Mary joining in the fun knocking pegs in

Frame raising

Seems like the crane is having a rest on the frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Joisted lean to off the side of the main frame

Wind braces

Wind braces glowing in the late afternoon sun

Oak extension

The Master Bedroom

Nick and Mary watching from a safe distance

The raising was a reminder of how lucky we are to do this kind of work, and a pleasure from start to finish. Yes, hard work, but hugely rewarding to see a project through from start to finish. Making stuff is good!

Thanks to Nick for taking and donating most of the photos.

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An oak structure for Presteigne play area


A short while ago we put up a small frame in Presteigne park to serve as a weather shelter for kids during the rainy season (11 months of the year…)

We were asked to contribute the frame, and despite trying really hard to find a reason to say no, we couldn’t, and so rustled up this little number in the workshop.

Powys County Council donated and prepared the concrete base, and so one quiet morning when no one was around (if memory serves it might have been during the royal wedding) we snuck down to the park to have a play on the kids equipment, and then to perform some guerrilla frame erecting.

Oak playground

Arriving at the park and unloading. Note the 4WD jeep we used in the background.

Presteigne Rob Dawson

Involved in this clandestine operation were old hands Rob and Jake, plus newbies Alithea and Rune.

Castle Ring Oak frame

Team Castle Ring beavering away

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Alithea getting in on the act

Presteigne

Action shot – truss assembly with vital sawing work by Rune

Castle Ring Oak frame Presteigne

Taking shape now. Rune still busy with that saw…

Playground oak frame

Posing on the roof

Jake fixing the ridge down

Presteigne playground Powys

Larkin’ about

Rob Alithea Dawson Presteigne

Primates…

Oak Frame Presteigne

Castle Ring Oak Frame Presteigne

From start to finish we had the whole thing up and pegged together in under an hour before Alithea (our designated getaway driver) drove us pedal to the metal to a safe house to lay low for a few hours.

Coloured tin sheets were fitted some time later, and no doubt the whole thing can now be spotted from outer space.

Presteigne playground Powys

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The Titley frame raising


We’ve been working on a double height and vaulted oak framed extension for a while now, and on Thursday of last week, Jake, Angus, Lloyd and I made the arduous 4 mile trip down the road to Titley to erect the frame. Bizarrely, despite the relative proximity of the job, it didn’t seem to stop me worrying about forgetting bits and bobs even though we could have walked home to pick them up. Frame raising day always seems to set the butterflies off in the pit of the stomach…….mixture of excitement and trepidation as everything builds to a climax.

Having lived through one of the longest driest summers on record it was slightly disappointing (well bloody annoying actually) to be slopping around in the aftermath of a heavy downpour the night before in my steel toe capped flip flops. Hey Ho.

The wind died, it did stay dry, the crane turned up, everything went to plan. Here’s a pictorial guide of progress throughout the day.

timber frame pegs oak

An early but important job – Lloyd chief peg waxer! Driving in the pegs is so much easier that way.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Jake and Angus assembling in the mud.

Oak frame raising

Pegs being trimmed. Much easier to put this together in one “H” on trestles rather than separately – those pesky tight curved braces are really tricky.

oak frame raising

Flying in an “H” frame over the scaffolding.

oak frame

Dropping the “H” into place and clamping to the scaffolding so we can let it go.

Oak framed extension

Lowering the first wallplate onto the jowl posts and braces. This frame has no mid height girding rail as it is double height with no first floor.

oak frame truss

Once the wallplates are on, we can start to assemble the first truss…

oak frame truss

We stand it vertical so we can fit the ridge braces…

Before we lift it fully assembled…

Ready to drop down onto 6 tenons.

Easy. Ready to peg up.

Oak framed extension

The last crossframe forms part of a minstrels’ gallery which will be accessed from the existing house. The balusters need inserting as we go along or it will be too late.

Oak truss

Another truss in the impending gloom…

After lunch we make a start on the roof. First the purlins with wind braces…

Ridge beams carpentry

Dropping the ridge beams into place.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The end of day 1. Main structure now pegged up.

oak framed house

The minstrels’ gallery looking a bit safer now. At a later date, oak floor joists will contact the frame to the existing house.

oak framed extension

Castle Ring Oak frame woodworking

The following morning Jake and I cut and fixed the oak rafters to the roof and took some final photos.

Timber Frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

This extension has been designed by Andrew Thomas architect from Hereford and forms part of a major refurbishment of an old oak framed house in Titley near Kington, Herefordshire. Ian Hamilton of Covenhope Construction is managing the building works.

We’ll keep you updated as the build progresses.

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The Suffolk Raising


May 2017 was when Matt contacted us with a view to providing oak framed elements to his new build family home that was going through the planning process near Newmarket in Suffolk. Despite everything running smoothly and to plan, it has still taken just over a year to be in a position to erect the frames. Building in the UK requires patience and stickability it seems.

We actually finished the oak work just before Christmas and parked the frames until Matt was ready for us.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

In the workshop – the king posts and ridges all assembled complete with bracing.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Two porch crossframes with jowled posts for the project in the workshop.

Oak framed house

Wallframe – ready for taking apart.

This year’s prolonged cold spells played havoc with the groundworks and caused lengthy delays, but finally we were able to load up and head East for the raising, hoping that a) the frame had not dried out and moved too much in the intervening 5 months, and that b) we could remember how it all fitted together.

Timber Frame transport

Loaded up at Castle Ring Oak Frame

The oak had already been delivered to site earlier in the week and we were able to make a prompt start on Thursday morning with Simon our crane driver from Huntingdon Plant. The oak work consisted of a 2 bay single storey vaulted kitchen/dining room, 2 porches and 3 internal partition wall frames.

Oak frame truss

Gable truss being pegged together to lift in whole.

Frame raising Castle Ring oak

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Lowering the gable truss onto the post tenons

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Slinging the 2nd king post truss

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Flying it over the masonry. We often attach the ridge braces to make life easier later on

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Number 2 ready for landing

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Last one, number 3 with a through tenon at the kingpost/tie beam joint

Oak Framed House Castle Ring

Just the ridge to go

crane timber frame raising

Simon the crane driver from Huntingdon Plant

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Pegging up the ridge

By lunchtime on a perfectly clear and baking hot day, we had finished the roof of the main vaulted structure, which meant we could concentrate on the porches and individual frames in time to send the crane home at 4pm having done all the heavy lifting. Matt had decided to temporarily support the porches on blockwork, with a view to propping them at a future date, and building the brickwork up underneath them – a good way to ensure that the brickwork ends up in the right place!

Friday turned out cooler and damp but we still dodged the rain and so were able to enjoy putting the finishing touches to our work with the pressure off – driving in all the hand made pegs, fixing the ridge and purlins down onto the trusses, and fitting the oak common rafters to the 2 porches.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Pegging up and fixing down on Friday morning

Oak Porch

Porch rafters fitted

Oak framed extension

Main structure with side porch

Oak porch

The smaller of the 2 porches

oak framed extension

One of the internal frames

So no, the frame hadn’t moved, and we didn’t forget how it went together. Good luck to Matt as he oversees the rest of the build!

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Single storey downsizing


Single Storey Oak Framed Annexe in Bishops Castle

Chris and Wendy were stepping back from running their busy campsite at Bishops Castle and commissioned a simple, single storey oak framed annexe from us in the Spring of 2017. We helped them prepare planning drawings and then designed a 3 bay structure with a low ridge height, the oak frame fully visible internally to be sheathed with an insulated softwood envelope.

We began to manufacture the frame at the beginning of August and 3 weeks later were ready to go to site for the raising.

Rob Dawson timberframe

Rob working on the frame in the workshop

Oak Frame building

Rob Dawson oak frame

Chris and Wendy had prepared the base, and erected the perimeter scaffolding and we were able to crack on with the raising in no time at all.

Oak framed building Castle Ring

Frame raising day

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Oak frame home

oak frame timber

Timber framed house

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Oak frame Shropshire

Closely space purlins to support insulated agricultural roofing panels

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

topping out ceremony oak frame timber frame

Edeline topping out with an oak branch

Unbelievably, by the end of October, Chris and Wendy were able to move in! Who said self-builds always take longer than you think? The key for these whizzer clients was knowing exactly what they wanted, and having the right tradespeople lined up to keep the build schedule on track, and on budget.

I popped in last week to see the results and was more than impressed with their spacious, quirky and comfortable home.

Roofing panels and waney edged douglas fir weather boarding

Timber frame home

Funky lead corner detail

Open plan living oak frame house

Open plan living

open plan living timber frame house

Oak framed house

Oak frame house

Colourful and creative use of space – blackboards for doors! Also notice the industrial electrical ducting

Oak framed houseoak frame house

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Stiperstones frame raising


Last Thursday we were due to raise two small oak frames adjoining a property on the edge of the Long Mynd. Three years in the planning, Trish and Gary’s project had finally reached a point where they would get to see some oak!

Photos of the frames in our workshop:

woodworking

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Rob Dawson Castle Ring Oak Frame

Oak frame house

Oak framed house

The Beast From The East had passed through leaving it’s trail of magnificent destruction from Siberia, snow drifts had melted, scaffolding was readied, Trish’s biscuit tin was full, what could possibly go wrong…..

As we left Castle Ring early on the day of the raising, all seemed set fair, but trundling over the Shropshire hills towards the Stiperstones, a few intermittent snow flakes developed into something a little more sinister, and by the time we had climbed up to the edge of the Long Mynd, there was a ground covering of the white stuff. Needless to say, the crane got stuck, we got stuck, the haulage company delivering the oak got stuck, and by 9am we had called off the raising – for the first time ever. We grumpily slunk back home and licked our wounds over the weekend, wondering whether Trish and Gary would ever get to see their sunroom and extension.

The answer was yes!

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Lean to gable framed by a beautiful blue sky

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Lifting the first crossframe into place. Sometimes it’s easier to preassemble rather than craning each piece in at a time

Oak framed sunroom

There she flies. We’ve attached the ridge brace too to save time

What is that??

Castle Ring Oak

Castle Ring Oak

Assembling and pegging up a complete crossframe for the extension

The main extension gable frame comprising 14 pieces being put together on trestles

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Castle Ring Oak frame

The strength of Jake. One handed!

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The last ridge piece being lowered into place. Gary capturing the moment

Castle Ring Oak

Oak extension

Scaffolding can be annoying sometimes. There’s an oak frame behind there somewhere

Oak Frame sun room

The joisted mezzanine in the extension

Oak framed house

Adam pegging up

Oak frame extension

All done. Stiperstones just visible in the background

Yesterday we finally got the frames up and it was a beautiful clear and still day. Jake, Adam and I assembled the sunroom first by midday, and finished the extension in the afternoon. Trish and Gary had rinsed the biscuit tin between Thursday and Tuesday which nearly resulted in a walk-out, but thankfully fresh supplies were commissioned, along with a delectable lunchtime spread of goodies to keep us all going. Thanks Trish!

We ran out of time to fit the rafters, but will be back to finish off tomorrow – probably too late for the biscuits though…..

Back to the Stiperstones today to finish fitting the rafters. Bit soggy

Kitchen extension

Common rafters and rooflight openings

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Lancashire Hot Pot – a new oak framed home


Janet and Peter met us at the NEC Homebuilding and Renovating show in 2015 with the vague notion of incorporating an oak frame into a budding self-build project.

Nearly 2 years down the road, we finally delivered their oak framed house from our workshop to Leyland in Lancashire last week, and spent 2 days erecting the fruits of our labour.

By way of introductory context, Janet and Peter are an extraordinarily intrepid couple who (amongst myriad other things), find the time to be practically self-sufficient, have been running a wood turning business for 40 years, and can build narrow boats from scratch to sell on – they have just completed their 4th! All these activities may need to be set aside for a while, as they get to grips with their new project: no doubt they will be launching into as many aspects of the self-build as is humanly possible!

Loaded up at Castle Ring

We travelled up to Leyland on the Monday night and were greeted on Tuesday morning by the clear dry and still weather we had been praying for. We forgot to ask for a bit of warmth and so obviously it was punishingly cold…..but you can’t have everything.

Once the crane was rigged and positioned, we spent a good hour sorting the packs of wood: sod’s law…..everything you need is always at the bottom of the stack, and were ready to start erecting the frame by 10am.

The house comprises 7 crossframes, so we start at one end and keep going until we run out of components at the other. Post, beam, post, rail, post, wallplate, beam, post, rail, wallplate – and of course, not forgetting the braces. Concentrating on one timber at a time can be meditative and helps to prevent worrying about whether you are on schedule or not, and before you know it, there’s a big structure taking shape.

Castle Ring Oak frame

Dropping in a wallplate

Timber frame house

Jake and Sylvan inserting podgers to temporarily hold the frame together

Oak Frame house

Working along the frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Mexican standoff

Castle Ring Oak frame

Meeting of beam, post and brace

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Down tools, lunchtime Day 1.

Another of Janet and Peter’s skills was hospitality and we were treated to epic homemade catering fests. Day 1 featured hot dogs, jacket potatoes, baked beans and cheese (perfect for a cold winter’s day) Day 2 was possibly even better – Lancashire hot pot (what else?) all washed down with homemade cake and lashings of hot tea. On Tuesday evening, Rob, Jake and Sylvan were treated to a Lancashire Fondue (?) with various home brewed beverages – cider, strawberry wine and blackcurrant gin!

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Hot Pot – Jake, Sylvan and Shawn the crane driver tucking in.

By the end of Day 1, the main structure was up, and the trusses in place.

Day 2 was equally generous, and we enjoyed the same clear skies and frosty morning. By mid-morning we had installed the purlins, ridges and wind braces. The single storey “extension” was in place by lunchtime and then all that remained was to drop in the joists for the gallery/walkway, peg up and take some photos in the fading light.

Oak framed house

Flying in the purlins

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Castle Ring Oak frame

Castle Ring Oak frame

Oak frame extension

Single storey bedroom extension

Castle Ring Oak frame

Joisted gallery and walkway

Castle Ring Oak Frame

We were sorry to say goodbye and left bearing gifts and fond memories.
Thanks Janet and Peter for a great raising.

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