Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when confronted by 16 tons of freshly milled heavy oak… at the beginning I guess. To ease ourselves in we spend a couple of days shaping the many curved pieces (braces, slings, collars), and stacking them ready for when we need them.

Tighten the tool belts, sharpen the pencils, breathe deeply… and we’re off! We lay out the first two jowl posts for the first of many cross frames on trestles, having snapped some reference lines so we can check for square and level.

Braces stacked ready for shaping

Braces stacked ready for shaping

The roof and ridge frames

The roof and ridge frames

The way we timber frame at Castle Ring is by using a method called ‘English scribe rule’. It’s been around for many centuries and involves laying up timbers on top of each other and then scribing down vertically with a plumb bob to map the joints. These primary timbers are then separated so the joints can be cut, after which they are reassembled for testing. After reassembly the secondary timbers (studs, braces etc) are again laid up for scribing and the process is repeated. This might seem an old-fangled, somewhat archaic way of doing things but it is the best way to joint green oak which can be full of bends, bows and twists.

Temporary framing pins hold the structure together as adjustments are made

Temporary framing pins hold the structure together as adjustments are made

Cutting the ridge backing angle

Cutting the ridge backing angle

Taking stuff apart and putting it back together can be time consuming (well, it is) but on the plus side, it allows us to be confident that all the carpentry is accurate to within 1 or 2mm over the length of the structure before it leaves the workshop. Once the cross frames are all finished we turn our attention to the wall frames, and then we’re onto the roof layout which for this frame comprises of principal rafters, purlins and wind braces, and finally the ridge.

Every piece of the frame is chisel marked individually on the ‘face’ side to help us locate it on site. There are in total 267 timbers making up this frame so it’s absolutely essential to be able to know quickly and easily exactly which timber goes where.

A completed cross frame

A completed cross frame

Next week: Time to make the pegs

www.castleringoakframe.co.uk


About the author:
Rob Dawson built a stunning oak frame home in 2009 for less than £100,000. He is now the owner and founder of Castle Ring Oak Frame.

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