Chris Amey

Chris Amey


Team Leader

Joined Carpenter Oak: 2012

Interview with Chris Amey

What is the best project you have worked on?
Probably Radley College in Oxford where we built an octagonal roof to their chapel extension. It had eight hips landing onto a pendant with St. Andrew’s cross between each and a dome-like lattice of compound-curved slings immediately below. The shape was the most complex I have ever worked on. Erecting on site was interesting – using radios to signal the crane some ten metres below us and harnesses to hang from the apex whilst fitting the sarking. The frame was also stained to darken the oak and the overall look of the chapel is now truly phenomenal. See the case study for some awesome photos and drone footage.

Another recent project was an extension to a listed Wealden Hallhouse in Hampshire. It was basically a replica of such a house tied onto an existing one via a link. Heavily oak framed with flying top plates, down braces, a crown post purlin, pre-Georgian hips, dragon beams with jettied joists and oak balustrades around a beautiful gallery. It will be fitted with lead light windows and brick herringbone infills to match the existing.

Also fitting a huge oak frame mezzanine to a beautiful old grain barn in Dorset with 7m beams up to 400x300mm in section which had to be woven into pockets in the existing walls via a spider crane inside the barn. This included creating and fitting a cantilevered staircase where each tread was a single block of oak appearing to sit perfectly on the tread below. The water-dried blocks were actually bored out from one end to slide onto steel poles and a steel frame hidden in the wall to one side. The effect was stunning.

Biography
After a childhood on the Somerset Levels in and around my grandparents’ smallholding with Jersey cows, goats, geese, chickens, pigs and bees; my grandfather seating chairs with rush we picked from the river as well as cane and seagrass, I fled the local town for the bright lights of London, studied art, drove vans and signed on for a bit.

My grandfather died, I inherited his hand tools and enrolled on a carpentry course at Hackney College. I fell in love with the craft the moment I started. It took me to quite a few different places: restoring Oak frame barns, cottages and oast houses in Kent, pulling teak and rock elm hull planks off the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and renovating ski chalets in the Alps. After that, me and my then partner decided to head for the South Hams in Devon to run a B&B by the sea and make sculptures and furniture.

Looking for a more reliable income after roughly four years of that, Carpenter Oak agreed to give me a job. Ten years on I can’t say I’ve ever looked back. It’s enjoyable and rewarding work, the frames and teams vary from project to project and we have a lot of fun figuring it all out together.

 

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