Oak Porch for Arts and Crafts House

A local client who recently moved to a 1920’s Arts and Crafts thatched house sought designs for a new oak framed porch as part of a wider refurbishment of the property. The brief was to remove the existing “Eastern” style porch, that is understood to be a later edition, to what was originally the rear of the property.

Later Porch addition

Removal of old porch

The existing porch had a shallow lead finished roof that ran from a central apex and the height was limited by the window above and height of the front door. This proved particularly challenging as the client wanted to retain the existing floor level, but with new thicker stone slabs and the first floor window remaining as the limit for the maximum height.

After removal of the old porch all the heights were checked before installation was started, with the new york flagstones forming the new base.

York flagstones installed and left for a week to properly set

The oak framing was pre-fabricated in the workshop to keep the on-site work to a minimum. This also ensured all of the brackets could be accurately fitted and the holes for the oak pegs offset to ensure joints were pulled tight as the pegs with installed.

Joints being checked before moving to site

The erection of the main oak frame required the assistance of a JCB to lift the main front beam into place which had to have the brackets inserted and the beam was placed on the vertical posts.

Main beam and structure in place

All the oak was sand-blasted before the roof was boarded and slated, to remove saw and construction marks and staining.

The finished design had vertical posts in the side window area, a rendered finish below the sills and slate roof finished with a zinc gutter along the front. The tolerances were tight but the roof pitch met the minimum standards. A small bench was supplied from left-over oak to give the porch a final touch.

Oak Porch

From Tree to Table

Felled Oak tree on Two Cocks Farm and Brewery

It is a rare opportunity to be able to use the timber from a client’s own tree to make a piece of furniture for them. Back in 2017 I was asked to look at a dead oak tree that had been felled on a nearby farm, the Two Cocks Farm and Brewery . It was unclear why the tree had died, though some insect damage was obvious in the felled trunk. The wood though appeared pretty solid and it was worth trying to salvage some of the timber.

A few weeks later a mobile bandsaw mill was brought in to cut the timber which was then moved to the farm’s barn to start the drying process.

Mobile Mill and friendly guard dog

The mill took about half a day to square the main trunk off and cut it down to a variety of thicknesses for the legs, top and rails. This was all taken by trailer down to the farm’s barn to start the air dried process and share the next 24 months with the lambing ewes! Hard woods such as oak require a year for every 25mm of thickness to dry. Early in 2019 the wood was sorted and brought in to the workshop to start squaring it off and getting it ready for working. The thicker sections still had a moisture content of 25%+ so these were set aside and taken off to Tyler Hardwoods kiln for 8 weeks to continue to the drying process, after treating for the insect activity.

Oak planked up and drying in barn

Back in the workshop, measuring, squaring off and planing got underway.

The size of the finished table at 3m x 1.2m required a design that enabled the table to be moved to site and later to be moveable should the owner ever relocate. The size and weight of the table, plus the need to enable it to be moved later, meant it could not be made as a single piece of furniture with fixed frame and top. The decision was made to make the top in two parts with detachable legs.

The main table top boards, because of the size of the felled trunk, were not long enough to meet the full length of the table, so the top was made in two 1.5m halves with breadboard ends to minimise movement in a warm, dry environment that has underfloor heating.

The main boards for the top were cut to allow a free tenon, glued up and the breadboard ends added.

The next job was to make the sub-frame and add the legs. The wood, with it various knots, holes and insect damage ensured the wood had lots of character. Larger holes and splits were filled with black epoxy resin and the smaller holes with oak filler, produced from sawdust created when sanding the oak.

Sub-frame assembly

After a final filling and sanding the oak was sealed with 5 coats of Danish Oil, rubbed down with 0000 wire wool to create the final finish.

The end result was a large, attractive piece of furniture, full of colour and contrast, where the original farm oak was reunited with the property.

The table now takes pride of place, in the main kitchen area of the Grand Designs featured farm house. A beautiful contrast of modern architecture and traditional furniture.

Oak returned to farm