Friday, 29 March 2019

Oak and Brown Oak Gate with Saxon Oak Rivets

I've just finished this Oak gate with Brown Oak rails. I like the colour contrast. I'm part way through making the other two gates for this commission. All are in the same style - a four bar gate with let-in dovetail brace.

Each of the braces has a kink in it, which I think adds a nice visual touch. These braces are riven from the 'nose' of a cleft. In other words they were the pointy bit of a 1/8 segment of a split log. This part of the log was laid down towards the beginning of its life. The kink was caused by the young Oak loosing its leader, possibly nibbled off by a deer, and a side shoot straightening out to become the new leader. This results in a 'dog leg' which fades over time as the tree grows. When we split a log open, the idiosyncrasies of the young tree become visible to us and we can also see the little pin knots which we one the side shoots of a sapling. When you put a log through a sawmill, these features are called imperfections, but one of the beauties of green woodworking is they can become features, as we can follow and preserve the grain rather than cutting through it. These 'noses' are too thin for gate rails but are perfect for the brace and add a bit of character to the gate.

These dovetail braces need holding on with more than just a peg, so I use an Oak rivet. It is a peg with a bulbous end. The other end has a slot sawn in it. After banging through the hole, a little wedge is inserted and the rivet is held fast. I saw this style of fixing holding together a door made of riven boards in the reconstruction Saxon house at the Weald and Downland museum.

The protruding wedge is then cut off. I believe that this method of fastening was used in Britains oldest functioning door, the Anglo-Saxon 'Pyx' door at Westminster Abbey, although I think possibly that those had wedges on both sides.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Cleft Oak Gate

This is a cleft Oak picket gate installed in a pretty Cotswold cottage garden.

It is held together with Oak pegs and copper nails. The gate posts have been hewn from cleft quartered Oak.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Greenwood Dining Table and Chairs

I haven't been very good at posting photos lately. I have been very busy creating though, and shall endeavour to share some more of my work soon. I also get very caught up in the processes of making and rarely remember to take photos of the processes involved, but here are some photos of the recently completed set of dining chairs and table.

They were made using traditional green woodworking methods, but are not entirely traditional in style, as I have adapted them to my tastes (and hopefully the tastes of the client!), incorporating added flair to the legs and spindles, facets and natural curves for the table components.

The table top and chair seats are Elm, the legs, stretchers and spindles are Ash, chair combs are made from old Oak barrel staves and all wedges and pegs are also Oak.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Green Wood Glamping Creations

I have been very busy in 2018 creating a nice variety of green wood things to ready Westley Farm glamping for this seasons guests. Its been good fun creating such variety of different things for one project, and with lots of creative freedom to boot.

Free-form kitchen structure

Waney-edged table and benches in Larch and Ash

Cleft Brown Oak gate with Saxon style wedged oak rivets

Engraved Oak sign

Took advantage of the first bit of sunshine in months to take some photos. That is not the end of my glamping creations this year, as I've got lots more in progress and in the pipeline. I'm not a massive fan of the glamping spoonerism, but its proving to be a good little niche for bite-size building commissions.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Shingled Cabin Extension

I'm just finishing off working on this extension to a small cabin home near me.

It is a very small extension but adds a substantial amount to the little cabin and the extra windows also make the place a lot lighter. It is clad in cleft Oak shingles (shakes) that I made in the woods I manage.



Sunday, 25 June 2017

Elkstone Church Compost Toilet

Recently I was privileged to work on a monumental compost toilet with master timber framer Jim Symon. This toilet was commissioned for the grounds of a Norman church in Elkstone. Many churches are without toilet facilities, and as installing mains services to an Ancient building surrounded by graves is both impractical and inappropriate, compost toilets are a great option. In fact, in my opinion, compost toilets are generally the superior option. Using water that has been made fit for drinking, to transport this potentially useful resource away for arduous treatment, is an illogical activity. I stumbled upon some advice given to farmers by the Board of Agriculture in 1804, which encouraged them to build houses for their workers, because, "a ready supply of labourers is not the only advantage a farmer may reap from cottages. He will have, at an easy rate, all the manure they can make....". I think both the building of rural housing for workers and the use of human manure for fertiliser are pieces of advice that we'd do well to heed today. 

Jim Symon's compost toilet creation is a wonderful example of how a loo can be a beautiful feature that fits well into its surroundings. The frame, cladding, flooring and rafters are all local Oak, with sawn local Cedar shingles. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Compost Toilets

The last month has been dominated by compost toilet builds. Two of them I have designed and built myself using timber from our sawmill and the third was largely the creation of Jim Symon, an excellent timber framer. This latter one was build using Oak and was in the grounds of a Norman church. I currently have no pictures of this one and will endeavour to return and snap some.

This toilet is a twin vault system, so it has two wooden chambers, each with a separate lid. Only one of these gets used at a time and when the chamber is full, the lid gets screwed down and it is left to compost for two years. Meanwhile the second chamber is being used.

Urine goes straight into the chamber with the faeces where it is absorbed and composted by added plenty of dry, carbon rich matter, in this case this is coarse sawdust.

The structural timbers, cladding and steps are Larch from our sawmill. The floorboards and exterior of the door are reclaimed Larch tongue and groove. The interior of the door is our own flamed Beech, laid diagonally and the toilet seat is spalted Sycamore that I milled 3 years ago.

The steps were based on an Oak staircase that I saw in an old building at the Weald and Downland museum. The door handle with suffolk latch and bolt are hand carved from Elm and Ash.

The second toilet uses Larch throughout except for the seat which was from a large Ash tree that I milled after it fell during a landslide. This toilet uses wheely bins as it is for a glamping site which will produce an unknown amount of waste and therefore as many bins as necessary can be used. There is a urine separator which diverts it into a separate chamber.