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The Titley frame raising

We’ve been working on a double height and vaulted oak framed extension for a while now, and on Thursday of last week, Jake, Angus, Lloyd and I made the arduous 4 mile trip down the road to Titley to erect the frame. Bizarrely, despite the relative proximity of the job, it didn’t seem to stop me worrying about forgetting bits and bobs even though we could have walked home to pick them up. Frame raising day always seems to set the butterflies off in the pit of the stomach…….mixture of excitement and trepidation as everything builds to a climax.

Having lived through one of the longest driest summers on record it was slightly disappointing (well bloody annoying actually) to be slopping around in the aftermath of a heavy downpour the night before in my steel toe capped flip flops. Hey Ho.

The wind died, it did stay dry, the crane turned up, everything went to plan. Here’s a pictorial guide of progress throughout the day.

timber frame pegs oak

An early but important job – Lloyd chief peg waxer! Driving in the pegs is so much easier that way.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Jake and Angus assembling in the mud.

Oak frame raising

Pegs being trimmed. Much easier to put this together in one “H” on trestles rather than separately – those pesky tight curved braces are really tricky.

oak frame raising

Flying in an “H” frame over the scaffolding.

oak frame

Dropping the “H” into place and clamping to the scaffolding so we can let it go.

Oak framed extension

Lowering the first wallplate onto the jowl posts and braces. This frame has no mid height girding rail as it is double height with no first floor.

oak frame truss

Once the wallplates are on, we can start to assemble the first truss…

oak frame truss

We stand it vertical so we can fit the ridge braces…

Before we lift it fully assembled…

Ready to drop down onto 6 tenons.

Easy. Ready to peg up.

Oak framed extension

The last crossframe forms part of a minstrels’ gallery which will be accessed from the existing house. The balusters need inserting as we go along or it will be too late.

Oak truss

Another truss in the impending gloom…

After lunch we make a start on the roof. First the purlins with wind braces…

Ridge beams carpentry

Dropping the ridge beams into place.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The end of day 1. Main structure now pegged up.

oak framed house

The minstrels’ gallery looking a bit safer now. At a later date, oak floor joists will contact the frame to the existing house.

oak framed extension

Castle Ring Oak frame woodworking

The following morning Jake and I cut and fixed the oak rafters to the roof and took some final photos.

Timber Frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

This extension has been designed by Andrew Thomas architect from Hereford and forms part of a major refurbishment of an old oak framed house in Titley near Kington, Herefordshire. Ian Hamilton of Covenhope Construction is managing the building works.

We’ll keep you updated as the build progresses.

Aug-30-18 a las 9:20 am Herefordshire, Jowl Post, Uncategorized. Sin Comentarios

Single storey downsizing

Single Storey Oak Framed Annexe in Bishops Castle

Chris and Wendy were stepping back from running their busy campsite at Bishops Castle and commissioned a simple, single storey oak framed annexe from us in the Spring of 2017. We helped them prepare planning drawings and then designed a 3 bay structure with a low ridge height, the oak frame fully visible internally to be sheathed with an insulated softwood envelope.

We began to manufacture the frame at the beginning of August and 3 weeks later were ready to go to site for the raising.

Rob Dawson timberframe

Rob working on the frame in the workshop

Oak Frame building

Rob Dawson oak frame

Chris and Wendy had prepared the base, and erected the perimeter scaffolding and we were able to crack on with the raising in no time at all.

Oak framed building Castle Ring

Frame raising day

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Oak frame home

oak frame timber

Timber framed house

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Oak frame Shropshire

Closely space purlins to support insulated agricultural roofing panels

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

topping out ceremony oak frame timber frame

Edeline topping out with an oak branch

Unbelievably, by the end of October, Chris and Wendy were able to move in! Who said self-builds always take longer than you think? The key for these whizzer clients was knowing exactly what they wanted, and having the right tradespeople lined up to keep the build schedule on track, and on budget.

I popped in last week to see the results and was more than impressed with their spacious, quirky and comfortable home.

Roofing panels and waney edged douglas fir weather boarding

Timber frame home

Funky lead corner detail

Open plan living oak frame house

Open plan living

open plan living timber frame house

Oak framed house

Oak frame house

Colourful and creative use of space – blackboards for doors! Also notice the industrial electrical ducting

Oak framed houseoak frame house

May-14-18 a las 11:53 am Jowl Post, Shropshire. Sin Comentarios

Timber frame house – from Welsh Borders to Scottish Borders

Last week Jake, Sylvan and I ventured to the border with Scotland to put together a large house frame we have been building for Andy and Sue a couple of miles from Gretna Green.

Castle Ring Oak Frame workshop Presteigne

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Rob and Alithea Dawson Castle Ring Oak Frame

The oak frame stacked and ready for collection here in the yard at Castle Ring

As usual with frame raisings, as the time approached, so our apprehension grew. So many things have to come together for a raising that at times it feels an almost impossible task. Will the groundworks be accurately set out to receive the frame? Will the scaffolding have been erected correctly? Have we made enough oak pegs?

oak pegs timber frame house

700 oak pegs laid out to dry

Have we remembered the oak pegs? Will the crane turn up? Will the weather be kind to us? Would there be any tea and biscuits? See what I mean?

We motored past the Lake District along the M6, taking in the spectacular Cumbrian scenery, and arrived on Monday evening in time for a quick site inspection with Andy and Sue, ready for an early morning start the next day

You’ll be pleased to know the groundworks were spot on, the scaffolding perfect, and the oak had already arrived and been offloaded. So far so good

Next morning the crane arrived with Graham our operator for the next 2 days, and we ran into our first real issue – the crane’s stabilising outriggers on the one side were pushing through the stoned ground and disappearing into peat bog! If we couldn’t safely stabilise the crane, the frame wouldn’t go up. We needed railway sleepers. Lots of them. Strangely and fortuitously enough, Andy had an impressive railway sleeper collection in his garden which we were able to pilfer, and we kept stacking them below the crane’s outriggers until they stopped sinking. We had lost valuable time at the start of the day, but at least we could begin to assemble the frame

The weather was set fair, we pinned up the drawings, sorted out the multitude of curved braces and made a slow and steady start. As is usually the case when we raise frames, taking photos of progress gets forgotten due to time pressures and our frame sequence generally follows the same pattern 1) picture of open site ready for frame 2) picture of completed frame. This frame was no exception

So here’s a picture of the scaffolding….

Castle Ring Oak Frame

And 3 days later, here’s the completed frame:

In between times we lifted in bay posts, girding rails, floor beams, wallplates, trusses, floor joists, purlins, ridges and rafters, at times in the dry, but more often than not in the driving rain. By the end of the first day we had raised the main frame including the trusses, on the 2nd day we lifted in the double purlins and ridge using the crane, along with all the floor joists by hand, and finished knocking in the 700 oak pegs. By mid afternoon on the 3rd day we had fixed the common rafters to the roof and invited Andy to “top out” the frame with an oak branch scavenged from a nearby hedgerow.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Jake sorting out the numerous braces

Double jowled ground floor post with multiple braces

Oak frame house

More rain

Oak floor joists

Floor joists dropped into their housings

Castle Ring Oak Frame Rob Dawson

Making a start with the rafters

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Andy helping out on the roof

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Chunky curved sling brace in the master bedroom

Rob Dawson timber framer

Rob fixing the last rafters

Castle Ring Oak Frame Welsh Borders

View through the upstairs

Topping out timber frame oak

Andy and Rob topping out the frame

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The roof is done

Oak frame house

View from the top

Sue kept our spirits up and our soggy bodies going throughout with a constant supply of bacon butties, cups of steaming hot tea, muffins, scones, tea cakes, haggis (yes really!) and best of all, the amazing, never to be forgotten self-filling box of chocolate biscuits, which replenished itself constantly and mysteriously for three whole days.

Jake Castle Ring Oak Frame

Timber frame

The magic chocolate box – every frame raising needs one

Thanks to Andy and Sue for their kind hospitality and for giving us the opportunity to play a part in building their new home

Apr-06-17 a las 11:48 am Jowl Post, Uncategorized. Sin Comentarios

Building a roof under cover of a ….. roof‏!

Yes, it’s been unseasonably warm, but it’s also been seasonably wet!

We’re thankful we haven’t had to endure anything on a par with Cumbria but close inspection of our feet reveals we are beginning to notice the appearance of webbing between the toes.

We’re grateful to have a warm and dry workshop to float about in and thankfully it’s just big enough to accommodate our latest project, a large, shallow pitched, hipped roof which is to be part of a new build home near Swansea

We can’t get the whole thing in and up in one go so we’ve broken it down into 3 sections for practical purposes

There’s quite a bit of tricky joinery to work out, framing up the “dragon ties”, “hips” and heavy 6″ x 4″ jack rafters, but it makes much more sense to be getting this done in the warm and dry with the advantage of the gantry and block and tackle, rather than on site in the wind and rain

How are we going to get it out the workshop?

Oak hipped roof timber frame


Oak frame hipped roof Castle Ring Oak Frame


Oak framed house


Oak framed house


Oak framed roof Castle Ring Oak Frame


Oak frame hipped roof



Jan-06-16 a las 3:30 pm Jowl Post, Uncategorized. Sin Comentarios

Come and build your own oak frame!‏

A few months ago you may remember we travelled down to Essex to add a complicated oak framed extension to an existing cottage for clients Richard and Abby. The raising day had been inked in, cranes, lorries and hotels booked, only for some stormy weather (the remains of a Caribbean hurricane apparently) to scuttle in accross the Atlantic.

There was to be no escape or shelter from the wind, especially as the cottage was on the site of an old windmill, and sure enough we had no choice but to postpone everything until hurricane Mabel (can’t remember what she was called but that will have to do) had blown over. Putting up an oak frame is hard enough without the added excitement of hanging onto wildly swinging timbers 30 feet up in the air.

Everything went smoothly, as I hope you can see from the photos, and Richard (who works in construction) and friendly neighbour Jerry mucked in wholeheartedly with the raising. Indeed, one of the highlights of the trip was the sight of Richard “adjusting” an existing dormer window to make room for the new oak frame with a………… chainsaw!

A few weeks earlier we had been able to witness at first hand Richard’s enthusiastic approach and more refined carpentry skills. At Richard’s request, he came and spent a day with us in the workshop getting to know his frame and actually making some of it! Along with sweeping up sawdust and making the tea, we had him scribing and chiseling out joist pockets for the floor layout.

[envira-gallery id=”1671″]


Jul-06-15 a las 2:36 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

Drilling Holes

One of the countless ways we manage to turn timber into sawdust or shavings is by drilling holes in it. These are so that different timbers can be joined together using offset oak pegs (a process called “drawboring” – see this previous blog on the subject). Most of the holes we drill are either 25mm (1 inch) or 19mm (3/4 inch) depending on the size of peg required for the forces within the joint, for example whether it is in compression or under tension. All when and good so far ………the tricky bit is being able to drill the hole vertically, through a piece of oak that might be a foot deep. If, using a long auger bit, you get the angle wrong to start with, there is no way to correct it, and it might emerge half way towards the next parish. Not good. That is why all timber framers display a “concentrating” “serious” face when drilling…

welsh oak frame Castle Ring

Castle Ring Oak Frame oak framed house

Jun-10-15 a las 11:05 am Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

A Timber Frame Raising (Part 2)

A Timber Frame Raising

To pick up the thread of our last blog post, we were sitting by, and not in, a hot tub eating lunch having made a decent start on raising a full house frame for Phil and Kay in Durham.

With barely enough time to get indigestion, it’s back to work hoisting the wallplates into place and then…..

Castle Ring Oak Frame

The king post trusses are fully assembled at ground level on trestles. The curved braces that will eventually support the ridge purlins are also fitted at this point to avoid fitting them at height later on.


Castle Ring Oak Frame

Sending complete trusses soaring into the sky is always a thrill and a good photo opportunity.


Castle Ring Oak Frame

The trusses are then oriented correctly (this gable truss is faced outwards) and gently lowered onto the teasel tenons of the bayposts, being careful not to forget the bracing.


Castle Ring Oak Frame | Frame Raising

Cross frames for the one storey part of the build can be fully assembled complete with funky sling braces and curved collar.

Timber frame raising


Castle Ring Oak Frame

This section joins up with an existing brick barn outbuilding so great care was taken at the design stage to ensure the roof planes would match.


Oak Frame

With the main structure fully raised, it’s time to fit the wind bracing to the roof. With the purlins cogged over the principal rafters, cleats are fixed against the purlins to stop any rocking and the braces nailed down onto the top of the main rafters.


Timber frame wind bracing

Lovely curved wind bracing not only looks good but also provides vital resistance against racking forces.


Castle Ring Oak Frame Rob Dawson and team

Andy, Dani, Jake and Rob having a quick break and doing some posing.


timber frame pegs

Back to work driving in the 600 or so hand made oak pegs and feeling the whole frame tightening up.


Oak frame house

The weather just gets better and better.


Self Build Timber Frame

Time for some more posing with Phil (the modest one).


Castle Ring Oak Frame

As the sun fades and brings to an end a hugely satisfying frame raising.

Mar-02-15 a las 11:31 am Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

A Timber Frame Raising (Part 1)

Some of you may remember a house oak frame we put up last summer in Durham from a blog I wrote. Well, recently clients Phil and Kay took a break from project managing the build and sent a stack of photos that they’d collated over the day and a half that it took us to erect the oak frame. I thought it might be a nice idea to revisit the raising and to walk you through some of the typical steps involved. So here goes….

groundwork footings for timber frame Prior to the oak and the crew turning up, the site groundworks have been prepared to tight tolerances to receive the frame, and the scaffolding readied. It goes without saying that the frame and footings must match perfectly. Everything looks good, the site is well organised, and it’s not raining. In fact the forecast is brilliant for the next few days.


Timber frame transport We arrive on site in the evening after a mammoth road trip at the same time as the articulated lorry delivering the frame with just enough light left to unload the 15 tons of oak and barely any time left to worry about whether we have left anything back in Wales.


Timber frame transport Having got the lorry as close as possible, the next hurdle is to see if we can actually get the packs of oak onto site, hedges and trees notwithstanding. Bit of a squeeze but we made it .


Oak timber frame assemble There are over 300 pieces of oak for this frame all of which are unique and non interchangeable, so sorting them out is not only essential, it makes the whole process run much more smoothly. The traditional chisel marks that were applied in the workshop aren’t just for show, they help us to find the right timbers and to orientate them the right way .


Self build timber frame The next morning we’re all on site and raring to go after surviving the night in a dodgy b and b (Tripadvisor has a lot to answer for!) The crane turns up and there’s no turning back. It’s great to get the first piece of oak in place, finally, after months of planning, and months of carpentry .


Timber frame raising Getting the frame started is not easy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, where do you start? It’s important to position the first crossframe posts correctly as they will dictate where the rest of the frame ends up. Moving 15 tons of oak at the end of the job, even a few mill is not ideal. Secondly, it takes a while for the frame to start to be self supporting – and until it is, timbers need to be temporarily secured to the scaffolding.


Self build oak frame Things are starting to take shape now. 2 crossframes are in place, and we are in the process of connecting the 3rd crossframe jowl post to a girding rail making sure we don’t forget to insert the braces in the process. Adding them at the end is not an option! You’ll notice that we temporarily “peg” the joints with metal framing pins until we’re confident everything is in the right place.


Self build oak timber frame Signalling to the crane driver is crucial for fine movements.


Self build timber frame Phil the client (that’s him in red) is keen to get involved in the raising and it doesn’t take him long to start bossing us around – well it is his frame.


Castle Ring Oak Frame Not a lot to say about this one is there? By lunchtime we’ve got all the crossframes up ready for the wallplates so time to kick back for a few minutes. Kay and Phil have a laid on a tasty and wholesome spread from the confines of their onsite caravan. And yes, that is a hot tub.   Read part 2 of our blog (coming soon!) to see whether we end up in the hot tub…

Jan-28-15 a las 10:25 am Jowl Post, Uncategorized. Sin Comentarios

Timber frame videos

A selection of our recent timber frame videos – from frame raising to the Castle Ring Oak Frame team in action in the workshop.

Jan-14-15 a las 3:16 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

Sex, Lies and Measuring Tapes?

Sex, Lies and Measuring Tapes?

In the workshop at Castle Ring we spend 50% of the time measuring stuff and the other 50% of the time re measuring stuff to make sure it’s right. Building a beautiful oak frame that doesn’t fit would be funny for a nano second and catastrophic for a very long time, not to mention costly.

Finding the right set of measuring devices is therefore critical, and having as many as possible to hand, essential for the mental wellbeing of the stressed out timber framer.

As you can see, Jake and I have embarked on a Tolkeinesque quest to collect as many different tapes and rulers with which to clutter up the workbench. They all have different qualities – weight, colour, length, ergonomic design (whatever that is), imperial, metric, magnetic etc

If anyone else out there suffers from a similar affliction, you’re not alone!

Oak framed house

Dec-10-14 a las 2:22 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios
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