Archives for posts with tag: chainsaw

Rudy, Dylan, Adam and Nick have been busy working on the frame for the south gable end over the past few days. This frame forms the end of the building and will be completely glazed above the verandah. The glazing is being let into a roundwood frame, quite a tricky prospect, but when its done it should look great.

The framing bed is once again in use to construct this extra frame. It will sit just outside the cruck frames that were raised last week. The jowel posts for this frame need some complicated joints cut in the top of them, so we had to find some nice big chestnut trees in the coppice to make them out of. Above you can see the jowel (outer post) being moved into position.

There are four vertical posts that make up this frame, above you can see the guys cutting the mortices in the tie beam which will sit on top of these posts. Above this beam will sit the triangle of the gable end, this is where the clever gazing will be happening, jointing the roundwood timber for this is one of next weeks challenges.

We realised earlier this week that we were running a bit short on softwood for the build. We felled some douglas fir earlier in the year for rafters and joists, but it didn’t go quite as far a we had hoped, so today a trip back to the woods was needed. We needed another two trees for some extra rafters and the battening onto which our shingle roof will be nailed. This time we decided to go for larch, it has many of the same qualities as douglas fir, being one of the more durable softwood species. The ones we had selected were growing in Boarden Door Bottom, a valley on Black Down about 3/4 of a mile or so from the build site.

The trees we had selected were nice and easy to get to and just the size we needed. Not very many trees grow completly vertically, and often the slight lean they have is away from the direction you need to fell them in. There are a number of ways of getting around this problem. But for these tree’s we decided knocking in wedges would send them in the right direction.

The cuts are put in as normal, and then a series of wedges are knocked in with a sledge hammer from the back of the tree.

This tilts the tree over just enough so it falls in the direction required.

Once they were down we loaded them onto the trailer and drove them back to Swan Barn Farm, they will be sawn into the required dimensions on our mill some time in the next couple of weeks.

On a seperate note, I heard The National Trust’s senior ecologist (i think I have his title right) Matthew Oates on the news this morning. He was talking about how many of our native species have reacted to the unusually warm spring weather by emergeing a few weeks early. One of the species he was talking about was elder. I had noticed the same thing last week. The elders at Swan Barn seem to be flowering early this year. Here you can see one just next to the build site.

Very pretty, but it does make you wonder what we are doing to our climate in order to send species out of sync in this way.

However, they do say that while the sun shines you should make hay, and in the spirit of this one of my jobs next week will be making some elderflower champagne. If I remember I will post a recipe.

One of the jobs the framing team have been getting on with while the foundations are being prepared is making the windbraces and staddles for the building.

They are made of coppiced sweet chestnut, and came from Ridden Corner on Black Down.

Here you can see me up in the coppice cutting a staddle out of one of the poles. The staddles sit on the foundation stones and support the underfloor beams of the building. This allows the floor to be raised allowing for good air circulation and keeping the building nice and dry.

The staddles are joined to the building using mortise and tenon joints, above you can see the tenon being chiseled into the end of the staddle.

Staddles were traditionally used to keep graneries off the ground, you would probably recognise them as the stone mushroom which helped to keep out rodents. Above you can see a couple of finished ones with two windbraces stacked on top.

The windbraces form diagonal elements within the frame and are used to stop the building racking (or twisting) and going out of shape over time.

They are prepared using an adapted mortice box, this ensures the angles and lengths of the timber and the joints on the end of it are consistent throughout the frame.

Once the main cuts have been put on the timber it is strapped on the the framing bed to be held secure while the finer chisel work is done to create the tenons on either end.

They provide an important structural element, without them it could all go a bit wonky, but they also really add to the look of the frame, adding a lot of its character. Below you can see one of the finished ones.

Matt and I have made a start on our underfloor beams today, its a bit of a challenge and quite a tricky job. The timber came from the nearby Devils Punch Bowl, it was felled in the appropriately named Sawpit Field as part of a project aimed at creating a habitat link for butterflies and other heathland wildlife between the Punchbowl and Highcombe Edge.

This is the timber being loaded for the journey back to Swan Barn farm. As you can see they are not exactly small logs. At over seven metres they are at the limit of what our timber trailer can cope with.

In fact they are too heavy for the crane to lift in one go and had to be lifted off end over end. We brought four of these back to the farm, they are to provide four beams which will support the floor of the Speckled Wood building. They are also over a metre to long to fit on our sawmill (we new that before we bought it, a longer mill was prohibitively expensive and all the other sawn timbers in the build are much smaller) meaning a little bit of inginuity was required to saw the beams.

The plan was to cut the beam out of one end of the log, then move it down the mill and saw out the remainder of the beam. If that sounds simple I can assure you it wasn’t!

After the log was positioned on the mill we made measurements and cut up the length of the mill to the right point.

We then had to knock in wedges to release the trapped blade so it could be backed out of the cut.

Once the sawmill blade was backed out of the cut we had to use a chainsaw to remove the piece of timber we were milling away from the beam.

Once this had been done all around the beam we ended up with the worlds biggest lolipop.

This lollipop was slid back along the mill on rollers so the saw could be brought back in to finish off the far end.

It was a bit nervy milling off the end bits, hoping that all the cuts were going to line up properly and we weren’t going to end up with a wonky beam. But things seemed to be coming together well.

You can see above the point where we just had one final cut to make, by now sighs of relief were starting to be drawn, I definitely fealt like this was quite a big challenge, and was chuffed to bits when the last cut went through and the finished beam came off the bed of the mill.

We have three more of these to make this week, along with the challenge of getting all of the long timbers back to the build site. All in all quite a tricky week. Wish us luck!

Back at Ridden corner again today, we have shifted most of the easy to get at wood, so it is time to bring some of our machinery to bear.

To save having to move the wood by hand to the track we use our tractors with a winch and a timber crane mounted on them. First of all a bundle of the coppiced stems are selected and have chains attached to them.

The hooks on the winch cable are then attached to the chains and the winch pulls the stems out of the wood. Taking the tractors throught the middle of the wood would damage the ground flora and the stumps so we need another way to get the wood out. We don’t want to damage the stumps as later in the spring they will be sending up the new shoots which will regrow and replenish the woodland.

You can see that the winch has pulled five stems out to the edge of the wood, this saves us a lot of back breaking carrying. Next the timber crane takes over. This helps us keep manual handling to a minimum, hopefully meaning I will be seeing a bit less of my chiropractor than I have been doing the last couple of weeks!

The crane picks up the stems and places them alongside the track that runs around the coppice. The stems are pretty long, it takes a while to learn how to manouver them to the right place. Its a nice challenge though, and as the wood is coming out you can start to think about what each section might be used for.

When we have a big stack of these poles alongside the track we go back to measuring and cross cutting.

Once all the stems have been cross cut the material is put on the stacks alongside the track, the crane comes in useful again here for the bigger sections. We had a good day today, and fetched out quite a lot of wood, still a long way to go, but today it fealt like we were making good progress.

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