Saturday, 19 September 2015

Roundwood Roofing

Our roofing job on the strawbale roundhouse is progressing well, with all the roundwood rafters on the circular part of the structure finished, and work started on the hip-roofed wing. 

The central compression ring was supported by scaffolding and bales while we fitted the rafters

Rafters notched onto roofplate
Strawworks built the bale walls and fitted the OSB roofplate and soleplate. Our rafters are then notched onto a 3x2" ring on the roofplate and birds-mouthed onto the compression ring. 

The noggins and intermediate rafters are fitted with a butt joint with angled flats to give a secure fit. This kind of roofing would be relatively simple with sawn timber, but marking up and cutting becomes much more difficult when working with natural poles. Roundwood timber framing is an evolving building style and working out scribing techniques for different joints is an exciting challenge.

These roundwood rafters will have laths laid over the top, which will then be plastered, leaving the poles visible. There will then be woollen insulation, topped by sawn rafters which will overhang the strawbale walls and then capped with a living roof.
The scaffolding support for the compression ring has now been removed - a big moment. The high number of rafters helps spread the load on such a shallow pitched roof.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Strawbale Roundhouse

I've spent the last 3 days felling and peeling about 70 Ash poles. These are destined to be the rafters on a strawbale roundhouse that is being constructed just across the valley from me. The foundations and strawbale walls have been built with the help of course participants by Strawworks. Tomorrow me and my team will start constructing the roof - 2 layers of rafters, insulation and a living roof, using these curvaceous Ash poles. I will be adding more photos and details of the process as we progress.

Monday, 7 September 2015

North Star Club

Photo by Kayti at Caboodle Magazine.

These two structures are part of the welcome area at the North Star Club glamping site in East Yorkshire, built by myself and two good friends Charlie and Red, fellow woodland dwellers and ex-apprentices at the Cherry Wood Project.

These structures were built using Larch, which has had the bark left on to fit with the rustic aesthetic of the site. The canvases were made by Roland at Dream Tents.

I will try and post up some pictures of the build progress at a later date.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The felling of an old giant

Yesterday was a big day in the woods. The big old veteran Beech tree which has been a beautiful, wizened companion for me since moving to the woods was felled. The tree had contracted Phytophthora Plurivora, and since the site sees a heavy footfall due to the forest school, the Forestry Commission had advised felling in order to make it safe. 

Piers Clifford who runs Fireside Forest School organised a bit of an event in order to honour the loss of this beautiful lifeform. 

It turned out to be a lovely day with sunshine, fry ups, children playing and the excitement of limbs dropping and the magnificent final crash and woosh of the giant falling. 

I was too ill to play much of a part in the cutting and clear up. That was left in the kind and professional hands of Mani the tree surgeon, helped by Piers on the ground. I had the honour of operating the winch to pull the tree over after Mani had sawn in the felling cuts. He left a large hinge, because it was impossible to know how much sound wood remained within the trunk, so quite a lot of winching was required.

The winch point was directly in line with the direction of fall so I had an incredible view of the giant falling towards me, followed by a terrific gust of wind.

For the moment the horizontal tree will remain as a wonderful climbing frame for the forest school (and myself) and as a memorial to itself. There is now a huge hole in the canopy which will let much new life flourish.

Saturday, 16 May 2015


I've just finished this free standing bookshelf. It is made entirely from Ash. The shelves were milled using my chainsaw mill and the other components were cleft and shaped using hand tools.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Cruck framed bird table

I love the curved shape of cruck frames. If it were up to me everything would be crucked...

Cruck framed bird table with shingle roof

This is a prototype cruck framed bird table with cleft shingle roof and oak pegs. I think a nice extra touch would be to extend the purlins and shape them into hooks to hang bird feeders from. I really like how it has turned out.

If you would like one of these or something similar, email me at p.ditchfield(at)

Spring is springing

What a beautiful sunny day. I've got lots of timber on the ground ready for the summers processing and a spring full of building jobs.

Lovely quality ash. Destined to be tent pegs, firewood and various green woodworking projects.

Woody chaos at sunset