I have finally got around to finishing the oak frame for a porch, which has been left half done for the last few months. Some decent weather and a couple of extra days at home in the workshop was all it needed. Here are some photos of the frame being put together.
I've kind of enjoyed building this porch. It's not been easy, and I've done it on my own when I know that it would have been a little quicker and a damn sight less heavy at times to have had a second pair of hands. But it has been an enjoyable learning process, and I'm very happy with the results.
The brief was to provide a covered area outside the back door of the house where you can sit and take off your muddy wellies before going into the kitchen. Before the porch was built, the way into the back of the house from the garden/fields was directly onto the kitchen floor which made for a lot of mess/cleaning up. To solve this I had to design an asymmetrical frame that would support a small roof, and fit around the various obstacles - the soil stack, the back door, and the bench to name but three.
Last autumn I helped out felling some oak trees in the Rivelin Valley - the trees were in great shape, but unfortunately overhung a menage. As horses and acorns don't agree with one another, the trees had to go, luckily for me, as I ended up milling one of the sticks into a pile of 130mm square beams for my porch project.
The frame is constructed using traditional timber framing techniques - lots of time-consuming joints to cut, and then they are all pegged together using oak dowels (again, made by me). I've cut endless mortice and tenon joints, bridle joints, trenched purlins, through half-lap joints, birdsmouths, and so on. However, now the frame is together it is incredible how robust it is. It is a bit embarrassing to realise how reliant most woodworkers (including myself) have become on modern fixings like screws, nuts and bolts. Whilst quick and super easy to use when putting frameworks together, I would happily bet that a frame put together using the traditional techniques I used for this project would be many times stronger. And there is also the personal satisfaction of gaining the knowledge needed to carry out this sort of joinery - an art that it is pretty important we should try to prevent dying out.
I had thought of putting stone tiles on the roof, but in the end I settled for cedar planks (as we had some and it was a lot quicker to finish the roof like this!) The cedar boards will silver over the next few months and end up a nice grey colour.
I was reading something the other day that tried to define the differences between joiners and carpenters. A joiner makes things that go in a house, whereas a carpenter makes houses. I'd like to think of this as my first attempt at carpentry (building climbing walls doesn't count)!