Met the bricklayers today. They’re doing a fine job with all the symmetry and cuts aligned, and the deep raked joints making the whole thing come to life. It’s glorious weather (finally), and perfect for laying and getting the all-day pub quiz in. These guys are total trivia wizards. So, can YOU name all four American presidents that were assassinated? Who were they and what was their demise? The only thing for it is to arm myself with an arcane fact or two before going to site so I can keep up with the banter.
Waze all fired up, podcast on board, and it’s time for another scenic drive through deepest Sussex to see Russell at his yard. I adore this journey. I took a minute to nobble some photos of a house that I remember driving by in February when I was here last. This time, I met the gardener who said it was ok to take photos; he didn’t think the owners would mind, because the house had just had its Yellow Sign open garden scheme day last weekend where plenty of people were snapping away. Anyway, the house is a lovely example of oak subframed windows with timber structure.
After reversing out of the Bluebell Railway yard, again, same error as last trip….. I made the correct turning, passed the restore-a-Porsche garage and assorted other small businesses (I’m sure the sign out the front said there was a brewery. Must check that out.), and arrived.
The trip wasn’t just an excuse to gawp, although we did plenty of that. Ben, Justin and I were inspecting the oak for the structural frame. Ours is the organised stack in the middle of the yard above.
It all looks great. The moisture content varied a little throughout many pieces in the yard, not just on ours. It didn’t seem to matter how old the wood was. It was surprising that even the recently cut 300 year old piece of timber from another job was sitting at 18%. Moisture content is a big deal, and we’re using 5 year air-dried as opposed to green oak. This should limit the amount of movement when the frames are built.
Each timber is awaiting a bunch more work to be done. First, each is inspected for knots and defects. Then the two non-facing sides are cut and the two facing sides are sanded. This retains the character of the wood while keeping the sections to the correct size. Tenons are cut from the ends and the whole thing is pieced together in the yard. In about 5 weeks, they’ll ship it out to us and assemble it onsite.
This is the finished product from another job.
We tested the water content from the cut in the photo above and it was super high. You could see the water weeping through about 20 minutes later and it felt tacky. But tomorrow it will have dried to about 20%.