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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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Timber frame house – from Welsh Borders to Scottish Borders


Last week Jake, Sylvan and I ventured to the border with Scotland to put together a large house frame we have been building for Andy and Sue a couple of miles from Gretna Green.

Castle Ring Oak Frame workshop Presteigne

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Rob and Alithea Dawson Castle Ring Oak Frame

The oak frame stacked and ready for collection here in the yard at Castle Ring

As usual with frame raisings, as the time approached, so our apprehension grew. So many things have to come together for a raising that at times it feels an almost impossible task. Will the groundworks be accurately set out to receive the frame? Will the scaffolding have been erected correctly? Have we made enough oak pegs?

oak pegs timber frame house

700 oak pegs laid out to dry

Have we remembered the oak pegs? Will the crane turn up? Will the weather be kind to us? Would there be any tea and biscuits? See what I mean?

We motored past the Lake District along the M6, taking in the spectacular Cumbrian scenery, and arrived on Monday evening in time for a quick site inspection with Andy and Sue, ready for an early morning start the next day

You’ll be pleased to know the groundworks were spot on, the scaffolding perfect, and the oak had already arrived and been offloaded. So far so good

Next morning the crane arrived with Graham our operator for the next 2 days, and we ran into our first real issue – the crane’s stabilising outriggers on the one side were pushing through the stoned ground and disappearing into peat bog! If we couldn’t safely stabilise the crane, the frame wouldn’t go up. We needed railway sleepers. Lots of them. Strangely and fortuitously enough, Andy had an impressive railway sleeper collection in his garden which we were able to pilfer, and we kept stacking them below the crane’s outriggers until they stopped sinking. We had lost valuable time at the start of the day, but at least we could begin to assemble the frame

The weather was set fair, we pinned up the drawings, sorted out the multitude of curved braces and made a slow and steady start. As is usually the case when we raise frames, taking photos of progress gets forgotten due to time pressures and our frame sequence generally follows the same pattern 1) picture of open site ready for frame 2) picture of completed frame. This frame was no exception

So here’s a picture of the scaffolding….

Castle Ring Oak Frame

And 3 days later, here’s the completed frame:

In between times we lifted in bay posts, girding rails, floor beams, wallplates, trusses, floor joists, purlins, ridges and rafters, at times in the dry, but more often than not in the driving rain. By the end of the first day we had raised the main frame including the trusses, on the 2nd day we lifted in the double purlins and ridge using the crane, along with all the floor joists by hand, and finished knocking in the 700 oak pegs. By mid afternoon on the 3rd day we had fixed the common rafters to the roof and invited Andy to “top out” the frame with an oak branch scavenged from a nearby hedgerow.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Jake sorting out the numerous braces

Double jowled ground floor post with multiple braces

Oak frame house

More rain

Oak floor joists

Floor joists dropped into their housings

Castle Ring Oak Frame Rob Dawson

Making a start with the rafters

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Andy helping out on the roof

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Chunky curved sling brace in the master bedroom

Rob Dawson timber framer

Rob fixing the last rafters

Castle Ring Oak Frame Welsh Borders

View through the upstairs

Topping out timber frame oak

Andy and Rob topping out the frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The roof is done

Oak frame house

View from the top

Sue kept our spirits up and our soggy bodies going throughout with a constant supply of bacon butties, cups of steaming hot tea, muffins, scones, tea cakes, haggis (yes really!) and best of all, the amazing, never to be forgotten self-filling box of chocolate biscuits, which replenished itself constantly and mysteriously for three whole days.

Jake Castle Ring Oak Frame

Timber frame

The magic chocolate box – every frame raising needs one

Thanks to Andy and Sue for their kind hospitality and for giving us the opportunity to play a part in building their new home

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Building a roof under cover of a ….. roof‏!


Yes, it’s been unseasonably warm, but it’s also been seasonably wet!

We’re thankful we haven’t had to endure anything on a par with Cumbria but close inspection of our feet reveals we are beginning to notice the appearance of webbing between the toes.

We’re grateful to have a warm and dry workshop to float about in and thankfully it’s just big enough to accommodate our latest project, a large, shallow pitched, hipped roof which is to be part of a new build home near Swansea

We can’t get the whole thing in and up in one go so we’ve broken it down into 3 sections for practical purposes

There’s quite a bit of tricky joinery to work out, framing up the “dragon ties”, “hips” and heavy 6″ x 4″ jack rafters, but it makes much more sense to be getting this done in the warm and dry with the advantage of the gantry and block and tackle, rather than on site in the wind and rain

How are we going to get it out the workshop?

Oak hipped roof timber frame

 

Oak frame hipped roof Castle Ring Oak Frame

 

Oak framed house

 

Oak framed house

 

Oak framed roof Castle Ring Oak Frame

 

Oak frame hipped roof

 

 

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Come and build your own oak frame!‏


A few months ago you may remember we travelled down to Essex to add a complicated oak framed extension to an existing cottage for clients Richard and Abby. The raising day had been inked in, cranes, lorries and hotels booked, only for some stormy weather (the remains of a Caribbean hurricane apparently) to scuttle in accross the Atlantic.

There was to be no escape or shelter from the wind, especially as the cottage was on the site of an old windmill, and sure enough we had no choice but to postpone everything until hurricane Mabel (can’t remember what she was called but that will have to do) had blown over. Putting up an oak frame is hard enough without the added excitement of hanging onto wildly swinging timbers 30 feet up in the air.

Everything went smoothly, as I hope you can see from the photos, and Richard (who works in construction) and friendly neighbour Jerry mucked in wholeheartedly with the raising. Indeed, one of the highlights of the trip was the sight of Richard “adjusting” an existing dormer window to make room for the new oak frame with a………… chainsaw!

A few weeks earlier we had been able to witness at first hand Richard’s enthusiastic approach and more refined carpentry skills. At Richard’s request, he came and spent a day with us in the workshop getting to know his frame and actually making some of it! Along with sweeping up sawdust and making the tea, we had him scribing and chiseling out joist pockets for the floor layout.

 

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Drilling Holes


One of the countless ways we manage to turn timber into sawdust or shavings is by drilling holes in it. These are so that different timbers can be joined together using offset oak pegs (a process called “drawboring” – see this previous blog on the subject). Most of the holes we drill are either 25mm (1 inch) or 19mm (3/4 inch) depending on the size of peg required for the forces within the joint, for example whether it is in compression or under tension. All when and good so far ………the tricky bit is being able to drill the hole vertically, through a piece of oak that might be a foot deep. If, using a long auger bit, you get the angle wrong to start with, there is no way to correct it, and it might emerge half way towards the next parish. Not good. That is why all timber framers display a “concentrating” “serious” face when drilling…

welsh oak frame Castle Ring

Castle Ring Oak Frame oak framed house

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A Timber Frame Raising (Part 2)


A Timber Frame Raising

To pick up the thread of our last blog post, we were sitting by, and not in, a hot tub eating lunch having made a decent start on raising a full house frame for Phil and Kay in Durham.

With barely enough time to get indigestion, it’s back to work hoisting the wallplates into place and then…..

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The king post trusses are fully assembled at ground level on trestles. The curved braces that will eventually support the ridge purlins are also fitted at this point to avoid fitting them at height later on.

 

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Sending complete trusses soaring into the sky is always a thrill and a good photo opportunity.

 

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The trusses are then oriented correctly (this gable truss is faced outwards) and gently lowered onto the teasel tenons of the bayposts, being careful not to forget the bracing.

 

Castle Ring Oak Frame | Frame Raising

Cross frames for the one storey part of the build can be fully assembled complete with funky sling braces and curved collar.

Timber frame raising

 

Castle Ring Oak Frame

This section joins up with an existing brick barn outbuilding so great care was taken at the design stage to ensure the roof planes would match.

 

Oak Frame

With the main structure fully raised, it’s time to fit the wind bracing to the roof. With the purlins cogged over the principal rafters, cleats are fixed against the purlins to stop any rocking and the braces nailed down onto the top of the main rafters.

 

Timber frame wind bracing

Lovely curved wind bracing not only looks good but also provides vital resistance against racking forces.

 

Castle Ring Oak Frame Rob Dawson and team

Andy, Dani, Jake and Rob having a quick break and doing some posing.

 

timber frame pegs

Back to work driving in the 600 or so hand made oak pegs and feeling the whole frame tightening up.

 

Oak frame house

The weather just gets better and better.

 

Self Build Timber Frame

Time for some more posing with Phil (the modest one).

 

Castle Ring Oak Frame

As the sun fades and brings to an end a hugely satisfying frame raising.

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In defence of green oak


People often ask why it is that we make oak frames out of freshly sawn green oak with a high moisture content rather than using more stable dry oak.

Well, having laboured hard this week over a small glazed gable frame made from bone dry oak, I’m feeling well placed (and motivated) to answer.

BECAUSE IT’S EASIER!

Green oak will bend to your will, cleave along the grain, respond compliantly to a reasonable sharp chisel or saw, and pretty much do what you ask it to do. Air dried oak on the other hand will sap your strength, blunt all your tools in a heartbeat, mess with your mind and leave you weeping on the workshop floor in a dusty heap.

Here’s the fruit (dried?) of my labour:-

Oak Frame Gable by Castle Ring Oak Frame

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Wood and Steel‏


Wood is such a deeply tactile and pleasing material to work with, full of interesting features, anomalies and imperfections. Unusual grain patterns, colours, knots and twists that all trace the timber back to a living and growing tree.

Contrast the sawn surface of green oak with the clean, phentermine med sharp, smooth and surgical lines of stainless steel makes for a magical combination. These oak and stainless steel trusses were designed by local structural engineer Donald McIntyre as part of a new build on the Isle of Wight, and fabricated here at Castle Ring. http://www.donaldmcintyredesign.com

Donald McIntyre and Castle Ring Oak Frame steel timber frameDonald McIntyre and Castle Ring Oak Frame steel trussesDonald McIntyre and Castle Ring OakCastle Ring Oak FrameWood and Steel timber frame
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Double Jowl


A post with a single “jowl” is a fairly common occurrence in timber framing (see our very first blog post about the English > Tying Joint ) but a double jowl? Does such a thing exist?

Well yes, although a rare and secretive species, double jowls have been spotted this side of the Welsh border. Usually found in small groups, here we have an example of 5 double jowl posts cosying up to each other.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The upper jowl or flare is designed to allow a tenon to insert into the tie beam whereas the lower jowl’s purpose is to add bearing support to a heavy floor beam. It also of course adds some beautiful curves to the whole structure which is never a bad thing.

If anyone ever comes across a triple jowl, please send me photographic proof!

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Jack Rafters


Rafters usually span from the apex of the ridge to a connection on the wall plate and are designed to support the roofing material – slate, tiles, shingles etc. When a roof has hips, some of the rafters are shortened to land on the hip rafter – these are called jack rafters. They can either be designed to attach into the side of the hip rafter, or to connect to an opposing pair on top of the hip rafter.
Either way you are going to have to get your calculator out, dust it down and remember how to operate the trigonometry functions.

If only I’d paid more attention in maths lessons at school all those years ago. I didn’t realise that it was actually going to be useful for something one day!

Check out these douglas fir hip rafters on our new cartshed.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

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