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Archive for the ‘Jowl Post’ Category

Shaping a Jowl Post

One of the first jobs on any new frame is to shape the jowl posts.

This is where the top of the main posts are flared at the point of intersection with the wallplate and the tie beam to the create the “English Tying Joint”, an ingenious medieval joint that holds the truss onto the main frame and stops the posts bending outwards under roof loads. All a little bit technical I know but the point is to use the natural curved grain of the timber which forms at the bottom of the growing tree and to stand the post on it’s head.

We used to cut the jowl with a chainsaw but now use a snazzy portable bandsaw, following the grain for maximum strength, creating a wonderful distinctive sweep.

Jowl Post


Jowl Post

Nov-14-14 a las 5:30 pm Jowl Post, Uncategorized. Sin Comentarios

Wood and Steel‏

Wood is such a deeply tactile and pleasing material to work with, full of interesting features, anomalies and imperfections. Unusual grain patterns, colours, knots and twists that all trace the timber back to a living and growing tree.

Contrast the sawn surface of green oak with the clean, phentermine med sharp, smooth and surgical lines of stainless steel makes for a magical combination. These oak and stainless steel trusses were designed by local structural engineer Donald McIntyre as part of a new build on the Isle of Wight, and fabricated here at Castle Ring.

Donald McIntyre and Castle Ring Oak Frame steel timber frameDonald McIntyre and Castle Ring Oak Frame steel trussesDonald McIntyre and Castle Ring OakCastle Ring Oak FrameWood and Steel timber frame
Sep-27-14 a las 7:22 am Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

The Lightning Scarf‏

When purlins meet on the principal rafter, the timber framer needs to find a suitable joint that strikes the right balance – take too much out of either structural member and the roof might fail. No pressure there then….

The lightning scarf can be a good choice if the purlins are trenced down onto the principal rafters. It’s a classic scarf – a means of joining one timber to another along their length, and of course it’s also an opportunity not to be missed to show off with a bit of snazzy carpentry.

Scarf timber frame Castle Ring Oak Frame

Here are a shoal (collective term?) of lightning scarfed purlins waiting for assembly in the workshop, and one joint temporarily pinned with podgers.

Castle Ring Oak Frame Workshop


Purlins timber frame Castle Ring Oak Frame

Jul-17-14 a las 8:40 am Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

Jack Rafters

Rafters usually span from the apex of the ridge to a connection on the wall plate and are designed to support the roofing material – slate, tiles, shingles etc. When a roof has hips, some of the rafters are shortened to land on the hip rafter – these are called jack rafters. They can either be designed to attach into the side of the hip rafter, or to connect to an opposing pair on top of the hip rafter.
Either way you are going to have to get your calculator out, dust it down and remember how to operate the trigonometry functions.

If only I’d paid more attention in maths lessons at school all those years ago. I didn’t realise that it was actually going to be useful for something one day!

Check out these douglas fir hip rafters on our new cartshed.

Castle Ring Oak Frame

Apr-22-14 a las 11:18 am Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

Hip Rafters

When your old hips are worn out you need new ones. You can get them replaced on the NHS of course, or you can come to Castle Ring for a truly bespoke service for hips in oak or douglas fir that are guaranteed to see you out. No anaesthetic required.

Green buildingHip rafters are the 2 diagonal timbers that stretch from the ridge down to the corners or the frame. The jack rafters either bear onto the hip or they attach into the side.

Eco HouseString lines, sliding bevels, a sharp saw and a clear head are essential elements that all need to come together at the same time.

Eco House Oak Frame

Mar-28-14 a las 5:37 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

Ecobuild exhibition

Last week, I interrupted my workshop schedule to spend a day at the Ecobuild in London. In view of the event I was attending, I decided that I should really either travel by electric bike, donkey or train. Seeing as I don’t have an electric bike, and the donkey is currently lame, I caught the train at silly o’clock in the morning from Hereford. It’s been years since I’ve sampled the weird and faintly surreal world of pre dawn train stations and for a brief moment I even felt a whiff of nostalgia….. until I sampled my coffee from a styrofoam cup……
The journey was smooth and painless, enlivened by a simply stunning sunrise which lit up the slowly drying English countryside after months of flooding.

EcobuildHaving safely negotiatied the tube system I reached the Excel centre on the banks of the Thames and braced myself for a day of information gathering.

Ecobuild Blimey! 6 hours later I emerged blinking into the sunlight having had my intellect and conscience assaulted by all manner of renewable, sustainable, ecological and environmentally friendly technologies and ideas. From bike racks to air source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting to passive house design.
Traumatised by the scale, and dare I say it, commercialisation of it all, I reflected on the way home to our little corner of Wales that this is the future. People are out there making and doing things that can make a difference. We’d better get used to it and embrace it.

Mar-14-14 a las 4:03 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

How to take advantage of unsuspecting friends and neighbours….

Over the years at Castle Ring, when we’re busy with one of our projects, we have on occasion had cause to solicit help from friends, neighbours and even random walkers of the Offa’s Dyke. Most people we know are now finely attuned to that look in my eye which indicates I’m about to ask an eight hour favour, and will have a fine and verifiable excuse ready and waiting to trot out.

The trick, I have learnt, is to innocently ask people round for coffee and then spring the frame raising on them having removed their car keys. It works every time but is somewhat dependent on an annual increase of net migration to the Welsh Marches.

Malcolm and Karen were the latest victims and happily joined in the fun with gusto and enthusiasm, holding posts, knocking in pegs and podgers and braving the odd sharp squally shower. Thanks also to new recruit Jacob and grizzled pro Simon.

This lovely cart shed has been designed to house our old vintage caravan in the raised bay, to park a car, for log storage at both ends and as a garden shed. It took 4 weeks to make in the workshop and 4 hours to put up. Let’s hope it lasts 400 years.

Castle Ring Oak Frame Cart shedOak-Framed

Feb-28-14 a las 7:03 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios


A brief break from timber framing

We’ve just got back from a weekend break in Barcelona where we were able to escape the relentless awfulness of this winter’s weather, and at the same time sample the great food, drink and hospitality of the Catalans.

Highlights included an unprepossessing fish shop/restaurant where you picked your seafood and then watched them cook it. Nothing else. Nada. Just fish on a plate and a bottle of wine. Genius!
Special mention also for the patatas bravas – a tapas portion of fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce that now have a place in my heart. Think I might open a tapas bar in Presteigne…..mind you, we’d have to do all of our business on the only 3 sunny days of the year.

Food and drink aside, the rest of my senses were blown open by the sheer other worldly brilliance of Gaudi’s architecture at the Sagrada Familia (still not finished 122 years after it was started!). We spent a good couple of hours in silent awe – even our poor little digital camera got over excited and packed up after a few pics. I was left wondering what kind of structures Gaudi would have come up with if he had been a timber framer…

Feb-07-14 a las 2:10 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios

Furry Apprentice‏

Work is really stacking up at the moment – so much so that we have decided to take on more staff to keep up.

Our latest apprentice is Bonnie the Welsh Collie who has recently joined the team. Bonnie freely admits that her CV is not the most comprehensive when it comes to traditional timber framing, but feels sure her tenaciousness and deep sense of loyalty will more than compensate. She lists “rounding up chickens” and “fetching sticks” as her key qualities, both of which I’m sure will be very useful.

Bonnie’s first week in the workshop has been taken up selecting curves for braces – a task at which she has excelled. She is hoping to undergo chainsaw training shortly.

Castle Ring Oak Frame - workshopGo Bonnie!

(no animals were hurt in the making of this blog post)

Jan-31-14 a las 12:49 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios


If you are thinking of commissioning an oak frame you might naturally be inclined to think that the most important considerations are (in no particular order) your budget, design, external cladding, vaulted ceilings, ensuring the accuracy and delivery of laser level blockwork to receive the long awaited frame etc etc.

These details may of course take up some of your time, but overarching priority should really be given to providing the best, and least cost effective refreshments for the raising team on the big day. A Castle Ring contract usually stipulates at least 3 varieties of biscuits in unlimited quantities, home made scones and/or rock cakes, copious quantities of FairTrade coffee and tea with organic milk and demerera sugar……and that’s before we even start.

Tea at Castle Ring Oak Frame

We like to finish off the day with a hog roast and home made cider (please).

Hog Roast at Castle Ring Oak Frame

Jan-24-14 a las 3:12 pm Jowl Post. Sin Comentarios
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