The main A frames for the Speckled Wood building are now in the process of being constructed. They are put together on the framing bed which sits at the back of the build site. You may remember the components of the frame being lifted onto the bed in an earlier post. The framing bed has measurements built into it which allow the timbers in the frame to be lined up in their correct positions while they are being worked on. The bed also holds the timbers off the floor so that they are kept level and are at a convenient height to work on.
Above you can see Rudy, Rich and Nick starting to measure the timbers that will be jointed together to form the two sides of the A frame.
Ben and Rudy spent a while marking it out to ensure that everything would come together smoothly. You can also see above the tripod and block and tackle that is used to raise the upper timber out of the way for the joint to be cut in the bottom timber. These are heavy peices of wood, and as many mechanical aids as possible are used to make lifting and moving them easier.
The two sides of the A are traditionally known as cruck’s (sometimes an individual one is referred to as a blade), they form the strength at the heart of the main frame. Cruck framed buildings have been built in this part of the world for centuries, it was a very common construction technique in the early medieval period, often using two halfs of a curved oak tree that had been sawn in half to make the two sides. Ben has taken this traditional form of framing and adapted it by using roundwood poles to form a similar, but lighter structure, which can be built using materials that can be sustainably sourced in local woodlands.
Although they only came from less than a mile away it felt like these timbers had quite a journey to get this far, they still have a couple of much shorter, but much more complicated moves to make yet before they take their final place in the new building, but seeing them being jointed together was very exciting.
I was discussing moving the timber around for this project with a woodsman friend in the pub the other week. It brought to our minds the occasion which sometimes happens when you recognise a piece of wood you are about to use for some purpose or other, sometimes, you even find you can think back and remember the tree it came from. I am not sure exactly what this says about how efficient we are in minimising the number of steps between tree and end product, you could look at that either way. But its certainly nice to know where the things you use have come from, and that the way they were produced had a minimal impact on the world around you.
There are 4 of these main frames to be built, and we still have to face the challenge of moving a comleted one onto its padstones. But if all goes to plan we hope to be raising the frames on the 12th of May, if you are not to far away and have been following the project you might like to come and watch the raise take place from the field next door to the build site.
The A frame has two horizontal timbers on it, the lower one (furthest away in the picture below) is the underfloor beam. This, as it says on the tin, supports the main floor of the building, joists will bridge the gaps between the beams and the floorboards will sit on top of these. It is made out of oak from the woods here at Swan Barn Farm, you may remember me posting about how complicated it was to make. We still have to make two more of these to support the verandah floor, another challenge!
The second horizontal (closest to you in the pic below) is the tie beam. This is made out of coppiced chestnut and ties the two crucks together as well as fixing into the jowel posts. It also supports the first floor of the building.
The jowel posts are the two vertical posts you can see outside of the A, they are held in place by the two horizontals and will eventually form part of the structure of the walls of the building. They will hold up the wall plate which in turn will support the roof.
Having just re-read this post I am not utterly convinced of how much sense I have been making, especially as with the bed underneath the frame its a bit confusing seeing which bit of wood belongs to which. Hopefully it will all become clear when they frames are raised and can be seen in their vertical positions. That is going to be quite a day.