Thursday, 5 September 2019

Hillyfield Framing

My friend Doug King-Smith runs a forestry regeneration and environmental conservation project a few miles down the road from here. It's a really great place, and after many struggles with planning they have gained permission to build three barns.

I dropped in for a couple of days, back in July, to help with the raising, supervised by the magnificent Master Henry Russell. The bents were lifted with the aid of this A-frame and willing workers pulling on the rope.

This barn is going to be the wood-drying barn. The construction is roundpole with flitch plates; making use of the larch which had to be felled because of Phytophthora.
The next barn is going to be constructed on a course run by Henry Russell, one starting on Monday the 9th, and one the next Monday. This will be more traditional framing, using English Scribe rule and incorporating lots of lovely scarfing, mortice and tenons and sling braces. So, if you want to learn from a great repository of knowledge  see the course details here:

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Buckfast Abbey Garden Fayre

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day in Devon. Just right for Buckfast Abbey's Garden Fayre. It's the only event we're attending this year; it's only a mile down the road so it's not too difficult to organise getting there.

A great day was had by all. We had fun and enjoyed talking to lots of clients, old and new. I still managed to do a bit of carving though.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

A little gem

While working at a customer's house recently, I noticed this chest.

It's not grand, it's not overly carved or decorated, but it's oozing 17th century. I love it.

S-scroll top front rail. Simply moulded, simple gouge and cross stamp stiles, bottom rail and muntins.

Snipe bill hinges. Slots where once was a till.

Evidence of  'up one stile and down the other' ploughing.

Tongue and grooved floor boards, back to front, scrub planed to fit into groove in bottom front rail, nailed up to bottom back rail.

Roughly hewn backs to rear panels, which would have faced the wall, so who cares!

A classic English joined chest from pit-sawn oak. Circa 350 years plus old. Beautiful in it's simplicity!

Thursday, 4 April 2019

From fish staircase to a human staircase

With it snowing here yesterday, it reminded me of the much heavier snowfall, we had suddenly, in March 18. Early last year I was asked by a company called Fishtek, if I could profile some oak sleepers, to be installed in a river as fish stairs. I must be honest, I thought they were pulling my leg; I had never heard of fish stairs. But it is true; Fishtek's whole business is fish access systems!

The job mainly consisted of profiling and drilling oak sleepers (lots of them!), to be installed in the Calder valley in West Yorkshire. The water levels are much lower than they were historically, so the idea is that the 'fish stairs' deepen the channel allowing the fish to go hither and thither.

The arrangements were that the sleepers would be delivered to the workshop, I would process them, then they would be picked up again, to be installed in the Calder by Fishtek's engineers. When I discovered that they were planning to have them delivered on a 28-tonner, I told them I would pick them up from their yard. Then the snow hit.

Prizing the sleepers apart, which were frozen together.

So while Devon went into late hibernation, Jon beavers away processing a load of fish stairs.

 Until the roads were becoming impassable. Time to head for home.

So whereas most vehicles without 4wd were getting stranded by the roadside, my van made it through, largely down to the weight of the fish stairs in the back.

Fish access. Jon access!

It was good timing; I was able to break through the ice to stop my fish suffocating.

And later in the day, to see the only visit ever in our garden, from a fieldfare.

And here they are, installed in the river.

Last summer then saw a fair bit of window repair.

Some small-scale timber-framing.

All the usual window/door making and installing. Full service from manufacture to installation (unless it means standing in a freezing cold river with waders on).

And then recently we were asked to make and fit some human stairs.

Fabricated in the workshop. We had to build this on site, because access was tight. It went really well. We were very happy with the finish, as was a very satisfied customer.

Onwards and upwards (for fish and man alike).

Wednesday, 4 July 2018


So, the installation of the noticeboard corresponded, with a week of hot days. There could really not be a more pleasant site, overlooking the Deer Park, fields and woodland on Dartington Hall estate.

The noticeboard is going adjacent to these lovely gates, made by my friend Jeremy of

The noticeboard is based upon Dartington Church lych gate. However, unlike the lych gate there are no supporting banks to the side. So we are going for a double-whammy of earthfast or concretefast post and feet morticed into the posts. It's larch so the posts and bottom of the feet have been charred to help prevent rot.

It's erection day.

The accomodation is compact and bijou, but then it is a noticeboard!

As the last cedar shingle was nailed to the roof, these oak leaves landed on the ridge. That's what I call a topping-out ceremony!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Deer Park (Short)Noticeboard

At extremely short notice, we have been asked to create a noticeboard for the grand opening of the new Dartington Hall deer park. When is it we ask? 9 days time is the answer.
Best crack on then!

By all means try this at home, but please wear more sensible footwear!

Pulling the plate square. Ratchet straps are where it's at, this week.