The sweet chestnut frame of our building is being held together using oak pegs and wedges. The oak for them came from the coppicing work we do at Swan Barn Farm, if you get chance over the next couple of weeks I would really recomend taking a walk through the woods on the farm, the bluebells are at their peak, and if you get chance to visit early in the early morning the dawn chorus is an an avian assault on the ears. The coppicng creates ideal conditions for wildlife, and at this time of year you can realy see the response.
Wooden pegs are the traditional method of holding timber joints together, but a roundwood frame requires a slightly different technique to traditional draw pegs. The oak for the pegs was sawn on our mill back in february on a very rainy day.
It seems a long time ago now all that mud has turned to dust. We used a tree that had been felled two years previously and have been seasoning them further for the past few months. The idea being that the green wood of the frame will shrink onto the seasoned pegs over time and lock them in tight.
The pegs are cut to length and then the corners of the square blank are shaved off with a drawknife. After this a rounding plane is used to create the peg. Its a sort of giant pencil sharpener, you wind it around by hand and it shaves off the excess working its way down the wood to create the peg.
There is something quite satisfying about making something round out of something that was square. The frame requires quite a lot of pegs, another job for our hard working groups of volunteers.
The wedges are being made out of a couple of planks that have been seasoning nicely in our woodshed for the past couple of years. I spent an hour or so in the workshop making them the other day. It was done using our small circular saw.
I cut a small rectangle out of the plank and then set the saw at a slight angle. Flipping the rectangle over each time a cut was done made lots of small wedges all of (roughly!) the same angle.
After the joints have been cut in the two pieces of timber they are held together using ratchet straps. A hole is then drilled through the two timbers.
The peg is then knocked through the hole and a small saw cut is put in either end of it into which the wedge can be driven.
The wedge expands the end of the peg and holds it firmly in place. The wedge is left slightly proud in case it needs to be knocked in a little further as everything seasons and dries out.
The second frame is on the framing bed and is just about finished, we will be moving it onto its padstones tomorrow. Everything should be ready for next thursdays frame raising on time (touch wood!). I am really looking forward to seeing the first phase of everyones hard work coming together, hopefully it will be a proud day.