Carpenter Oak - The Professional Timber Framing Company
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+44 (0)1803 732900
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Cleaned frames

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Natural frames

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Sandblasting in action

Timber Frame Finishes

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your timber frame come to life when raised on your plot, however our services continue beyond this point. An oak frame once in place generally requires some cleaning as the frame can pick up blue stains during the sawmill process, pencil marks from carpenters, and dirt picked up on site.

The blue stains are a chemical reaction between the natural preservative found in the oak, tannin, and mild steel rollers during the saw milling process. If parts of the frame are heavily stained we would clean these using oxalic acid here in the yard. Pencil marks from the carpentry are usually discreet, however dirt picked up from a muddy site in winter can be significant, therefore sandblasting is recommended to clean the frame back to a more uniform honey colour.

With sandblasting it is important to clean prior to any fragile materials being fitted, in particular any glazing and plaster work.

Glazed areas in walls and roofs will need to be protected temporarily with plastic sheeting fixed with battens, note that sandblasting cannot be carried out if the surface of the timber is wet. All applied glazing and sub frame joinery needs to be carried out as soon as possible after sand blasting.

Inevitably there will be some leaks after cleaning resulting in localised water staining, this can be cleaned using steam from a wall paper steamer.

An oak frame is effectively a living thing – it requires time to breathe and dry out as slowly as possible to replicate the seasoning process. For a large section timber the general rule is an inch per year, so for an eight inch thick timber you would need a minimum of eight years for the timber to be air dried.

The frame will change shape during this process which creates a quirky and natural aesthetic, in reality after three to four years the majority of shrinkage has occurred so that any touching up of plaster work can be carried out.

Other possibilities are to use just pressure washing and some localised cleaning. We have several examples of how this can look. Keeping the site tidy, free from mud and dirt saves time and money on any cleaning that is undertaken.
Horizontal Timber Clad House Exterior with Glazed Roof Lanterns
The Complete Build
We can act as your contractor alongside your architect and builder to design and build a timber frame, alternatively we offer a comprehensive timber frame package, see which services suit you...

Your questions answered...

  • How long does it take to build a timber frame house or extension?

    Once you have found a site it can take around a year to draw up a design, obtain planning permission, then work up a detailed design and get through Building Regulation approval. In the case of extensions it will still take 4 to 8 months to get the stage of being able to start construction. It can then take from 3 months to construct on site (dependant on size of the project and building team). If you keep in close communication with us and give us the go ahead promptly our design process can continue alongside the architects work on the design. Our construction time is around 10-12 weeks from having signed off drawings to being on site. However, one of the major advantages of timber frame is that the carpentry can be taking place in our workshops while your builder is starting on site and getting the groundworks done. Once they are ready, the really exciting part comes next: raising the frame! This only takes a week or less, allowing you to push straight on with wrapping the structure with SIPs, straw-bale, or brick and block, and getting the roof on – you will be watertight very soon afterwards.
  • Why choose timber frame homes over a conventional house?

    Barn Interior with Exposed Common Rafters and roof lighting in Green Oak Timber Framed Barn Conversion in Devon by Carpenter Oak Ltd Devon

    Image courtesy of Natalie Fenwick

    Bespoke, hand crafted and uniquely designed, an exposed timber frame offers the character, beauty and aesthetic that many people crave in their home and which is missing from so many modern buildings. Timber frame homes are designed to be entirely self-supporting, removing the need for interior walls. This allows for magnificent cathedral-style roof spaces which are uninterrupted by ceilings, with open plan living for a light and spacious feel. Wood’s eco-friendliness is three fold: Our frames are traditionally hand-crafted, which reduces the carbon impact of construction; wood is a highly sustainable building material as it soaks up CO2 while growing, and the wood we use is from fast-growing PEFC certified forests which increase in size by 1.5% every year. Far from cutting down forests, buy a Carpenter Oak frame and you’ll be contributing to them. Additionally, for every tree used in your project, we’ll donate a further 10 oak saplings for planting in the UK, something we have been doing for over a quarter of a century. We take pride in the skill and craftsmanship which goes into each and every frame, but this doesn’t mean we’re stuck in the dark-ages! Indeed far from it: we thrive on pushing the boundaries of timber frame design, with many of our contemporary cutting edge projects winning awards. Your timber frame can be finished in any material, to blend in to any environment and suit your local planning requirements, the finishes available meet and exceed modern building regulations. The frame is built in our workshops meaning no disruption on site until it is ready to be raised, which usually takes our team 5 days in total on site, leaving you the skeleton which can be closed in and watertight within days. Timber frames are adaptable and flexible - they can be easily ‘bolted’ onto with an extension at a later date, the only limit is your imagination.
  • Why should I choose Carpenter Oak Ltd?

    Here at Carpenter Oak we live and breathe timber framed buildings, large and small, and we love a challenge. We create truly unique frames that respond to your brief giving you a bespoke 'made to measure' and personalised solution to your brief and budget. Carpenter Oak is the most established and experienced timber framer with a yard in Cornwall, Devon and Scotland - we are well placed to supply design and timber framing services across the UK and beyond.   Carpenter Oak holds dear several important factors:-  

    Our People

      • Our team of 25 long serving and highly trained timber frame carpenters who build and raise the frames are widely regarded as being the best in the business.
      • The carpenters who cut the frame will take it to site - project ownership throughout. This maintains high standards where it matters most while giving variety to the working week.
      • We have 4 full time frame designers. 3 office based, 1 Cornwall based. This gives us the time to get involved in each project and help spot and solve potential problems early on while working with your architect.

    Our Craft and Materials

    • We do not use large 'soulless' CNC machines, but favour a hand crafted approach which enables us to work in a variety of styles and with the most challenging designs – we work in Oak, Douglas Fir, Larch, Chestnut Glu-Lam, in contemporary, quirky and cutting-edge styles as well as in more established traditional designs.
    • We have spent 20+years developing a relationship with our preferred sawmill. They know our exacting standards for all our timber. Other sawmills cannot match this service.
    • We really care about where our materials come from and invest in their sustainable management through our saplings programme in the UK.
    • We do not compromise on timber quality, why should we? This can mean that we are a little more expensive than some BUT not every time!
    • Air dried brace stock. Bought in at least 12 months before we need it to minimise the shrinkage of timber on critical (aesthetic and structural) elements.

    Our service

    • We are able to make it easy for you by being approachable, knowledgeable and professional. Whether it is a oak frame and glazing service, complete build or an oak and SIPS wrap service you need we can help get you there easily.
    • We are large enough to have capacity yet small enough to be versatile and flexible which is important when your timescale is quite tight!
    • We have a experienced team of designers, carpenters and office staff. Everybody in senior roles has been a carpenter with vast experience of timber framing on the workshop floor. It would seem obvious for a carpentry firm but this is rare.
    • We thrive on the differences between each and every one of our projects, overcoming the challenges of the build (access, design and budget constraints) while developing a strong rapport with our customers.
    • We carry out approximately 60 projects a year ensuring a personal service - whatever the size of the build.
    • Most of all without exception throughout the team of people that work here, we love what we do!

    Call us to talk through your ideas or project:- 01803 732900

    What our customers say about us:-
  • Do you do foundations groundworks?

    Mainly no, but sometimes yes! Most of the time we design, build and raise the timber frame.  Finding a good builder that you can work with and trust is therefore an important first step. (We can help with this if you give us a ring.) On select smaller and more local projects however we do take on more of the build and we can discuss including the groundworks if required. The best thing to do is pick up the phone and talk to us about your project as each one is different.
  • Do you do oak frame glazing?

    Yes! We offer a nationwide oak frame glazing service of our oak frame houses or timber extensions. Read more about our oak frame glazing services.
  • Are Carpenter Oak’s frames made by hand?

    tools-and-tea2 We only use handheld tools and power tools (such as chain morticers, circular saws and drill) to cut and shape the timber. We are adaptable – we design and build bespoke frames (not repeat designs), often incorporate large beautiful curves within them and utilise a huge variety of structural framing techniques. Skilled carpenters adept in all the techniques and who can use their judgement in the selection of every timber and the cutting of every joint are therefore critical. The same carpentry team carries their understanding of the frame right through to seeing it raised on site. We do not use large automated 'Hundegger' CNC machines to cut whole frames. We don’t believe in this way of doing things for a number of reasons: Hundeggers reduce your options – they only handle planed timber and give the finished frames a homogenised look (check the curved braces), they can't cope with large curved timbers such as slings and curved ties and, since the programming of the machines is so time consuming in relation to the cutting time, they are ideally suited to repeat designs.
  • What is ‘Timber Engineering’?

    Frame Drawing of Green Oak Framed Public Building in Penistone Market in Yorkshire by Carpenter Oak Ltd Devon'Timber Engineering' is a term which describes the use of timber within engineered structural solutions. Often it involves the combination of timber structural elements and steelwork and is often used in adventurous, exciting and large scale architectural designs, minimising the sections and mass of individual elements whilst achieving spans and shapes which are way beyond the capability of traditional carpentry. Computers have revolutionised our ability to carry out structural analysis and 3-D modelling and have made the construction of even the most complex structures possible, but the same approach can also be used sparingly within a house frame to achieve larger spans or very complex junctions, or to reduce the amount of timber needed within a frame. You can see examples within our case studies such as Bedales school or this unusual new build oak frame house.
  • Do you do oak conservation or timber frame repair work?

    The majority of our work are new builds, re-builds and extensions but our company roots lie partly in conservation & repair work and we have all the necessary knowledge and experience needed.

    Usually this kind of work requires a site visit, advice and a report before the work is agreed in discussion with the engineer, architect and conservation officer. We regularly work on a consultancy basis during that phase and if there is a frame to build at the end then we can take that on too.

    Adam Milton (Managing Director) was one of the carpenters involved in the roof repair after the Great Fire at Windsor Castle.

    Contact us to discuss your project.

  • Do you offer a ‘Turnkey’ (complete build) solution ?

    Cabin with Lake View constructed from Douglas Fir Timber with Western Red Shingles by Carpenter Oak Ltd Devon

    Image courtesy of Michael Harris

    Yes.  If you are looking for a complete build or ‘Turnkey’ service, we can offer a solution to include each stage of the process, from the feasibility assessment, design, management and construction, right through to completion. We pride ourselves on being adaptable as every client is different.  We can offer a number of routes for you and your project, depending on how involved you want to get. We aim to understand your particular situation and respond to deliver what you need. For many people that means us working as a contractor alongside your architect and builder, for others, involvement at each stage or a self build project. Get in touch to find out which route would suit your project best and we can deliver a range of options from a finished frame to a finished house, ready for you to move into.

    Find out more about Carpenter Oak's Complete Build solution
    Click here to visit our 'What We Do' page.

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