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Posts Tagged ‘timber framed’

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.


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


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

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


Hip Rafters

When your old hips are worn out you need new ones. You can get them replaced on the NHS of course, or you can come to Castle Ring for a truly bespoke service for hips in oak or douglas fir that are guaranteed to see you out. No anaesthetic required.

Green buildingHip rafters are the 2 diagonal timbers that stretch from the ridge down to the corners or the frame. The jack rafters either bear onto the hip or they attach into the side.

Eco HouseString lines, sliding bevels, a sharp saw and a clear head are essential elements that all need to come together at the same time.

Eco House Oak Frame


Waist Rails

Half timbered oak frames

Waist rails are the horizontal timbers that span from stud to stud and are more commonly seen in half-timbered frames. They break up the long vertical infill panels into more manageable chunks for wattle and daub or brick infill, whilst at the same time showing off to your neighbours how much oak you have in your frame.

Oak Timber FrameFun to do in the workshop as it’s an easy joint to cut and you can churn out dozens in a day. Putting it all back together again can take a little head scratching though…….

Castle Ring Oak Frame



A brief break from timber framing

We’ve just got back from a weekend break in Barcelona where we were able to escape the relentless awfulness of this winter’s weather, and at the same time sample the great food, drink and hospitality of the Catalans.

Highlights included an unprepossessing fish shop/restaurant where you picked your seafood and then watched them cook it. Nothing else. Nada. Just fish on a plate and a bottle of wine. Genius!
Special mention also for the patatas bravas – a tapas portion of fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce that now have a place in my heart. Think I might open a tapas bar in Presteigne…..mind you, we’d have to do all of our business on the only 3 sunny days of the year.

Food and drink aside, the rest of my senses were blown open by the sheer other worldly brilliance of Gaudi’s architecture at the Sagrada Familia (still not finished 122 years after it was started!). We spent a good couple of hours in silent awe – even our poor little digital camera got over excited and packed up after a few pics. I was left wondering what kind of structures Gaudi would have come up with if he had been a timber framer…


Furry Apprentice‏

Work is really stacking up at the moment – so much so that we have decided to take on more staff to keep up.

Our latest apprentice is Bonnie the Welsh Collie who has recently joined the team. Bonnie freely admits that her CV is not the most comprehensive when it comes to traditional timber framing, but feels sure her tenaciousness and deep sense of loyalty will more than compensate. She lists “rounding up chickens” and “fetching sticks” as her key qualities, both of which I’m sure will be very useful.

Bonnie’s first week in the workshop has been taken up selecting curves for braces – a task at which she has excelled. She is hoping to undergo chainsaw training shortly.

Castle Ring Oak Frame - workshopGo Bonnie!

(no animals were hurt in the making of this blog post)


The Ridge

You know you’re getting to the end of a job when you start work on the ridge.
The roof frame is always the last frame that makes it’s way into the workshop having worked through crossframes, wallframes, and floor frames, and the ridge purlin comes after work has been completed on the purlins.

Castle Ring Oak Frame - Oak framed houses

The junction of ridge purlin and the apex of the truss is a pesky little joint to work out, and of course it can’t be scribed modafinil200mg into place as it is impossible to set 5 or more trusses upright in the workshop!. Well, not impossible, but who wants to do it.

Great care needs to be taken with geometry to make sure that the ridge height accurately corresponds to the underside of the rafters – basically you need to get it in the right place and you only have one shot at it. No pressure then.

Oak Framed Buildings - Castle Ring Oak Frame


Reference Lines

Straight edges? – you can forget it.

Look along any length of timber in the yard which is ready to go into the workshop to be incorporated into a frame, and you will be hard pressed to find one which doesn’t have a twist or a bow of some kind.

Tension forms in the wood as the tree grows and this can result in “deflections” of up to 20mm over a 6m length.

So how do you account for these when framing if you can’t rely on a straight edge?

Reference lines are applied to the timbers with a chalk or ink line and form the basis for all square and level calculations. Extrapolating something plumb, level and square out of 20 tons of wonk is what makes timber framing such fun!

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Oak Frame House - Castle Ring Oak Frame

Oak Frame Building - Castle Ring Oak Frame



The issue of glazing oak frames is one that can keep timber framers busy arguing into the wee small hours. Of course the problem begins and ends with the nature of oak timber – it’s cut and jointed when it’s green and easy to work, but will shrink and may twist as it dries out over time. Is there a glazing system that can cope effectiveness with such movement and uncertainty and keep the British weather out?

Oak Frame Eco House

Rebating the oak frame to accept the double glazed units is one of several glazing methods employed. As you can see from this massive gable it is very fiddly and adds considerably to workshop time. Definitely time to switch the music off and concentrate hard!

Oak Framed House

Can’t wait to see it up though.