Archives for posts with tag: shingles

Good progress is being made on the Orchard House at Swan Barn Farm.


Weatherboarding and studwork for the end room is well underway, and the shingles are starting to go on the roof.


A window and door frame have also appeared in our structure… we still have to make the window and door, but things are definitely moving in the right direction.

Our fantastic volunteer groups have spent so much time over the past year making the hand cleaved shingles for the roof. It is fantastic to see them starting to be nailed on.


Each one is individual and slightly different shaped, it is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Every shingle has its place, it just isn’t necessarily the first place you try and put it.


Most of the building is an open barn, looking up from underneath you can see the pattern of the shingles above you, I really like the look of them against the roundwood frame and the battens.


It isn’t long now till our countryside crafts open day on 25th July, if you get chance and are in the area it will be a great chance to come to the farm and see the roundwood buildings here as well as lots of other countryside and woody crafts and skills on display.



Today we topped out on the main roof of Speckled Wood, quite an occasion.We still have some work to go on the link and the verandah to be completely finished, but that should all get completed tommorow.

The last of the cleft shingles went on this morning.

And then it was on to the ridge. We are using what Chris tells me he has decided should be called a pie crust closure on the ridge. We were trying to avoid using any materials other than sweet chestnut, but we needed something a bit more close fitting than our hand cleaved shingles, so some were machined out of chestnut from the woodland you can see in the background of some of these pictures.

The idea is that these sawn shingles run horizontally along the top of the ridge with a slight vertical overlap so that they shed the water without allowing any in. We have also run a small strip of waterproof membrane under them just in case. I realise that description might not make much sense, but hope the pictures give an idea of how it works.

The pie crust ridge worked its way across the building throughout the day with everyone on the team taking a turn. Towards the end of the afternoon Sam nailed the last one on.

We’d had a target of four weeks to finish the roof, and frankly after week one it was looking pretty unlikely. But with lots of hard work from Chris, Sam, the Black Down team, Justin and his crew, our many fantastic volunteers and all those who came along to help out it has all fallen into place. I couldn’t be more chuffed, the roof is a thing of absolute beauty, reptilian in texture it wraps the building and keeps the elements at bay.

There are still a few more shingles to nail onto the verandah roof, but I suspect they will be a pleasure.

Last friday we had our first apple pressing of the year. A group of working holiday volunteers who had spent the week with us on the building and in the orchards got to see the process in action.

First of all the apples were all quartered and any rotten bits were discarded. There was a fantastic collection of varieties of apple on display, including some which are quite rare these days. That’s the best thing about making apple juice and cider in this way, it is such a product of the place it grew, no two pressings (sometimes even bottles) are ever going to taste quite the same.

From the chopping boards the apples were taken over to the scratter (its the machine with the big fly wheel on it to the right above). The scratter squishes the apples and turns them into pulp. It was restored in our workshop a couple of years ago having been kindly donated by a freind of the estate. It is hand powered, and takes a bit of effort to get it going, its really effective though and processes a trug full of quartered apples in not much time at all.

From the scratter the crushed apples go over to the press. A frame is set up with a cloth inside it, the scratted apples go into the cloth which is folded over, the frame is taken off and a board put on top of the “cheese”, as it is known.

Several of these cheeses are built up, and as the weight starts to build the juice starts to flow. when the stack is high enough the press is wound down to squash the stack and force out the rest of the apple juice.

Our press has been in action in this part of the world for at least a hundred years. It was also restored in our workshop using Swan Barn Farm oak and plenty of TLC. The result has been a machine which people really enjoy using. It takes a bit of hard work to process the apples, but the required teamwork and resulting flood of apple juice is always really satisfying.

It collects in the wooden tray at the bottom, when there is enough there the cork is pulled and out flows the juice. We drank plenty of it on the day, and it tasted fantastic. The rest was put into fermenters to be turned into cider. A lot of this was sent home with our volunteers (along with some cider making instructions), but a fair bit stayed here too. I’m looking forward to some of it being ready in time to toast the building with when we have finished.

If you want to find out more about the mysteries of cider making, why not pop along with some apples to our community pressing day this saturday, 10.30 till 3.

Meanwhile, on the building, another piece of significant progress has been made, we have started to put some of our shingles on the roof.

I have no idea how many people have worked in the woods helping us to make them, but I know its a lot. Its something we are all very proud of. When the roof is finished it will be the result of so much effort by so many people I think it will be really quite special.

The shingles are made of coppiced sweet chesnut, and any number of volunteer groups have been helping us to make them over the past year. We have 12000 or so made, we think we will need another 3000 or so in the end, but the onsett of autumn has meant we really had to start getting some of them in place so the main section of the roof at least could be finished.

Chris and Sam have come in to help us get the roof right, and we are glad of the help, as it is quite a complicated job, especially as our hand made shingles are not exactly uniform in size and shape.

I think the overall effect is pretty spectacular though. There is a long way to go to get it finished, but we are all glad they have started to go up.


Well, it seems to be at Swan Barn Farm at the moment anyway, in the last week things have really moved on with the building.

The scaffolding has really changed the appearance of the structure.

It allows access to the roof, which is where work is going to be focused over the coming weeks. The first job on this front has been to get the wallplates and some of the wind braces in position.

The Wallplates sit on top of the vertical jowel posts and will support the outer end of the rafters. They are made out of the long lengths of larch we fetched from Valewood earlier in the year. Getting them here was a real challenge, and a bit of an adventure, so seeing them going into their finished position in the building is really exciting.

The joints in it started to be cut while it was in the field next door.

It was then lifted into position for final fettling. The telehandler lifted it onto the roof, from where it could be raised and lowered using metal tripods with a block and tackle.

The windbraces are the short 45 degree pieces, there will be a number of them throughout the build, they are designed to stop the building racking, or twisting, in the wind.

Once all the mortice and tennons had been finished and it was all lined up it was dropped into position.

A maul (the big rubber hammer) tapped the wallplate down into its final position.

Work has also been continuing on the glazed gable end frame.

The rebates have been cut in it so that it will be ready for glass to be fitted once it is in position. We are hopeing it is going to turn out to be one of the real highlights of the finished structure.

We are past the 7000 mark now on the shingle counter, great progress (still another 8000 or so to do though!) and perfect timing as it should mean we will have enough to shingle one side of the roof on time. I am really looking forward to seeing the roof taking shape.

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