The Tamar Joinery Company

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About Us: Our workshop in the Tamar Valley is at Philleigh Farm, Bere Alston, Devon PL20 7HJ.

Our People:

Nigel Harrison

Nigel's woodworking career started many years ago when he was taken under the wing of a retired traditional coachbuilder, who was keen to pass on his knowledge, and who taught Nigel how to build and restore traditional timber (usually Ash) internal car body frames in vintage cars. Nigel was involved in the restoration of many vintage and classic cars including Sunbeams, Aston Martins and Lancias, as well as the construction from bare chassis of the 'vintage' car used in the 'Mummy' films. For those interested, the Mummy car is not a Dusenburg but was entirely constructed in our workshop on a Leyland Sherpa chassis, with a Ford V6 Granada engine. The body was made from scratch in the workshop, including a complete wooden frame from dry Beech which was skinned with aluminium shaped on Nigel's English wheel/wheeling machine.

In the mid 90's, Nigel's imagination was caught by the strength, beauty, and extraordinary durability of English Oak traditionally built timber framed buildings, and he adapted his woodworking skills and started to learn how to build these wonderful structures. He has now been timber framing for over 20 years and is passionate about preserving traditional carpentry techniques and using them to construct durable, environmentally friendly, energy efficient buildings, using local sustainably produced, renewable material.


Tom - our Apprentice.



Heritage Skills Apprenticeship Training: Tom is enrolled on the Specialist Applied Skills Programme For Post and Beam Carpentry which is run by The Oak Frame Training Forum (OFTF); a CITB approved training group formed by The Carpenters’ Fellowship. Tom has just returned from 2 weeks at the Bristol HQ having attended two roofing courses. The first course was Regular Hip & Valley Roofing and the second course took this to a higher level with Advanced Roofing – Theory and Practice. These were both level 3 & 4 courses run by Alan Creasey who has a lifetime of experience in contemporary and heritage roof construction techniques. They learnt how to apply complex geometry and trigonometry to calculate and construct scale models of a hip and valley roof with a dog-leg gable feature, and a pentagonal spire with jacks and purlins.


Andy Morton

Andy now runs green woodworking courses in his Devon woodland but can be persuaded to dig out his Tamar Joinery shirts when we are very busy!

His courses can be found at

Dave: "If I lean back, will it make it more upright?"

Sascha Nitsche

Our Master Carpenter consultant from Germany who has advised and inspired us with his extensive knowledge of timber framing, CAD design, timber restoration, non-toxic building materials and Building Biology. This photo shows a young Sascha taken in 2004 at the annual Carpenters Fellowship frame event when he was a journeyman carpenter.

Topping Out: The topping out ceremony is the all important tradition that marks the final stage of the timber frame construction. We pin an oak or Yew branch to the highest point and pour a small amount of whatever tipple is available. The significance of topping out is believed to date back to pre-Dark Age Scandinavia, where a branch was fixed on top of a new building to appease the tree dwelling spirits of displaced ancestors. Viking invaders are believed to have intoduced the tradition to England.


The Tamar Joinery Company

Holm Oak, Bere Alston, Yelverton, Devon. PL207HJ