The Tamar Joinery Company
Traditional Green Oak Timber Framing
We specialise in the design, construction and erection of traditionally jointed and pegged bespoke timber framed buildings and green oak structures.
Our timber frames : are made in our framing yard in Bere Alston, near Tavistock in Devon using English Oak, Douglas Fir Sweet Chesnut or Larch. Each of our frames is individually designed and absolutely unique. We can make different styles of timber frame, from very contemporary frames with straight cut timber, to traditional medieval style green oak 'cruck' frames. Our timber framers use traditional carpentry techniques and we take pride in producing beautiful, durable, energy efficient buildings using locally sourced renewable materials.
3D CAD/CAM timber frame Design: We can provide a full design and drawing service for your timber framed buiding project and we regularly work with structural engineers who are experienced in traditional framing, but we are also happy to work with your own architect, frame designer and structural engineers.
Glazing Green Oak: Green oak requires the application of specialist glazing techniques to avoid potential problems which can be caused by movement and checking of the oak as it seasons and we can offer a glazing service for our own timber frames.
Our Oak Sawmill : We use locally grown English timber which we carefully select, grade and saw on our own sawmill. This allows us to control timber quality and select suitable timbers for each project. Because we are able to source local timber, and sawmill it ourselves, we are able to compete favourably on cost with imported European timber.
Our commitment to sustainable construction materials: Timber products have the lowest embodied carbon of any mainstream building material.Sourcing wood from sustainably managed forests helps encourage biodiversity, increases forestation and maximises CO2 absorption. Wood is used to create versatile, affordable, characterful buildings by using a range of onsite and offsite construction methods. Supporting our local forestry industry will, in turn, encourage the local managed sustainable production of timber as a source of both renewable fuel and carbon neutral building material. We buy good quality local timber in the round, from managed woodlands in the Tamar Valley, and more widely in Devon & Cornwall, and sawmill the timber as required.
Wood is good for our health and wellbeing: Its calming qualities make people feel better in the built environment. There is increasing evidence of the physiological benefits of wood on humans,reviewed in a recent paper in The Journal of Wood Science.
Building Biology : Home is the place where we should feel safe and comfortable. This is possible only if the places where we reside are healthy, free of hazardous substances and if they have a pleasant climate. New innovations have made sustainable techniques and natural materials a mainstream option and we are committed to promoting and developing the use of truly zero carbon, biologically non toxic, renewable, highly energy efficient natural building materials in conjunction with our locally grown and made timber frames.
Please scroll down for more information and for photos of some current and previous projects:
- Houses & Extensions
- Barn Conversions
- Garden Rooms
- Porches, Verandas & Garden Structures
- 3D CAD Frame Design
- How we do it
Wood is the most technologically
Traditional Green Oak Heavy Structural Timber Framing
We recognise the emotional rollercoaster ride involved in deciding to build a new home or make drastic alterations to your existing home. We know there there is a huge amount of trust required of the craftsmen that you select to carry out that work and we place a lot of emphasis on building relationships and earning trust through the quality of our work. So please give us a call and drop in for a tour of our workshop - we are always happy to chat about timber framing. Please however be prepared for the 'humble' nature of our work environment (some would call it primitive!) - we started this business over 20 years ago, working in a slightly converted cattle shed. We have some wonderful modern machinery and highly skilled humans but the workshop itself remains as it was at the start - a slightly converted cattle shed! We know that pictures do not convey the feel, scent and unique atmosphere of traditional timber frames, nor do they adequately convey the extent of our skill and craftsmanship and our photos tend to concentrate on the skeleton frame, rather than the finished house, but they can hopefully provide some inspiration at the start of your construction journey.
The picture below shows a green oak sling brace house extension during construction. This is a one and a half story extension with the sling braced construction allowing headroom for living space in the top level. Frame design: Nigel Harrison
Below: Another green oak timber frame house extension during on site raising
Andy helping an interrupted tie beam to slot into place.
Structural problems often encountered in renovations and conversions can be overcome by the use of a structural timber frame. Below is a green oak frame used in a barn conversion and the finished barn is shown on the right.
Shown below is a kitchen extension built onto a barn conversion and the finished extension is pictured on the right.
Self Contained Annexe / House Extension
Below: This green oak self contained annexe was built onto a traditional longhouse in the Dartmoor National Park.
Dartmoor longhouse extension interior:
Concept and planning by Chadburn Architect tel: 01566 777592. Timber frame design: Nigel Harrison
Below is a fully glazed extension designed to house a swimming pool and gymnasium
Below: swimming pool house under construction
Green Oak timber framed bungalow extension. Pictured below is a green oak timber framed extension to a bungalow in Devon. The green oak frame will be surrounded by softwood studwork on which insulation and external finish will be fixed. This construction method allows for the building to have an internally visible, structural green oak timber frame giving character, and for the timber frame to be surrounded by a highly energy efficient 'envelope' of insulation. The method also allows for easy fixing of doors and windows and does not require the more complex glazing system needed if glazing is applied direct to the green oak timber frame.
Modern bungalow with a green oak timber framed extension
Timber Frame Design: Nigel Harrison
All other building works: Neil Townsend, Broadhempston, Nr Newton Abbot, Devon, who can be contacted on 01647 252592.
June 2018 - Current project
Shown below and on the right is a green oak timber framed barn designed for use as a conference centre and lecture facility for an innovative business based in Devon.
New Build House
Shown below is new build green oak timber frame house under construction in the Tamar Valley.
Below: A green oak garden room kitchen extension with a vaulted full height roof which encorporates a hipped roof at the house end to allow for the continued use of the existing bedroom windows. Architectural Design by Greg Lean. Frame Design by Nigel Harrison
Barn Conversion in the Tamar Valley
November 2017 - below a barn conversion project in Cornwall shown under construction.
A kitchen extension is shown below
Self contained annexe- Shown below is a barn/garden annexe with a boiler room for a wood fueled heating system and wood store. This timber frame, built in West Devon, was made from locally grown green oak with the roof structure comprising green oak collared trusses and wind bracing, and purlins made from local Douglas Fir.
Shown below is a green oak glazed entrance porch/atrium connecting a house and barn conversion
Transformation of a modern bungalow :
The internally visible vaulted roof provides a wonderful open family space with loads of character which transformed the atmosphere of the bungalow.
The oak bungalow extension is shown below with it's softwood studwork 'envelope'.
Garden rooms can be built onto an existing house to form an extension or they can can be completely free standing and can be used as a garden retreat, home office, teenagers den etc. A garden room differs from a conservatory in that a garden room is a fully functional insulated space which can be used all year. Our garden rooms are usually built with a pitched roof and an internally visible roof structure with a vaulted ceiling. These rooms can enhance the entire home by providing a wonderful family space which is warm, light and full of character.
Thinking outside the box! Below is a circular garden room extension made with turned green oak structural pillars.
The round garden room features external structural oak pillars and an upper floor.
The garden room shown above provides a light, airy but warm and cosy extension to a traditional Devon farmhouse. The spectacular vaulted vaulted ceiling provides an amazing feeling of space and character.
The garden room shown below is a small, cozy, annexe filled with natural light and warmed by a woodstove.
Where a flat roof is required, the use of a lantern can provide light, space and character.
Pictured on the left is one of the massive structural hand turned pillars used for the circular garden room.
Timber Framed Green Oak Porches, Verandas and Garden Structures:
A green oak porch on a side entrance an extension, with seasoned oak external door and door frame with glazed side panel.
Below: A green oak timber framed glazed veranda/ outdoor kitchen
Below is a green oak garden room awaiting roof covering and glass.
Below is a farmhouse extension providing a first floor bedroom and a covered veranda and outdoor kitchen below.
A green oak porch
A green oak timber framed covered glass roofed veranda
Another green oak timber framed veranda with a glass roof.
Below is a pergola with a glass roof and stainless steel braces and feet.
Below is a green oak curved pergola which was commissioned to top a stone colonnade
The photo below shows a green oak direct glazed atrium / entrance porch, under construction, and below is a green oak conservatory during construction.
Barns & Garages
We will build new bespoke individually designed barns. We are however, unable to compete on price with the mass produced barns and garages now available. If you would like us to explain exactly why our barns are more expensive, we would be happy to do so (at length)!
Traditional Timber Framed Trusses
Traditional timber framed jointed and pegged trusses can add instant character to buildings and can be made in many different styles. Shown below is a house extension with King Post trusses made from English Green Oak with curved struts. We will make up an individual truss or a full roof as required. (The kitchen units are by Pete White at www.TamarValleyWoodworks.co.uk)
We offer an in-house design service for timber frame projects. We use Viskon 10 by Weto which is a specialist timber frame 3D CAD software providing complete frame renderings as well as all construction and insulation layers and detailing. The detailed workshop frame drawings are used by our carpenters to work from and can be used to instruct a structural engineer. These drawings can also be used to show our customers a 3D image of their building project.
Our VisKon 3D CAD/CAM timber framing software allows us to create design drawings for traditional or modern timber frames and for all elements of a timber building including wall and roof build up to 10 layers.
VisKon by Weto AG Technologies
We will construct timber frames from your own architects design or we can provide a full design and CAD drawing service for your timber framed building project.
These are screen shots from our Viskon CAD draft design of a proposed new build barn.
Below is an old decaying timber church cross and the new hand- crafted replica cross made in seasoned oak.
Local timber from managed woodlands in the Tamar Valley, Devon, and Cornwall
We are committed to supporting our local forestry industry which in turn will encourage the local managed sustainable production of timber as a source of both renewable fuel and carbon neutral building material. We have our own sawmill and we buy good quality local timber in the round, from managed woodlands in the Tamar Valley, and more widely in Devon & Cornwall, and then sawmill the timber as required in our wood yard. This allows us to control timber quality, select suitable timbers for each project and component within the project, and we can ensure a supply of naturally curved timber for use in curved braces and tie beams. We will also supply sawn timber, oak, douglas fir, larch or chestnut, cut to order. Because we are able to source local timber, and sawmill it ourselves, we are able to compete favourably on cost with imported European timber.
Nigel sawmilling locally grown English Oak on our Heartwood sawmill.
Whereas others see just wood, we see our most valuable renewable zero carbon building material
A pile of naturally curved timber, sawmilled and destined to become curved braces in our timber frames.
Above and below are sections of green oak frames laid out in the workshop with temporary iron hook pins during construction.
The frame is then dismantled and loaded for transportation to site.
Green Oak Glazing
Glazing green oak requires specialist techniques to overcome problems which could be caused by movement of the timber. The demands of building controls as well as a basic need for good energy efficiency means that efficient glazing is an essential part of modern timber framing. We offer a glazing service for our own oak timber frames. As the quality of the timber used and the finish of the frame to be glazed are both critical in ensuring a successful glazing system, we will not glaze timber frames made by others. In the photo on the right, Nigel is shown finishing the external double glazing panels on one of our green oak frames. The glazing system we use is the tried and tested Scandinavian drained and ventilated system. This system glazes directly onto the outer surface of the frame allowing for flexibility if there is movement in the oak as the seal is kept intact. The best quality stainless steel fixings are used and the air dried oak cover boards are machined by ourselves from the highest quality joinery grade timber.
The Carpenters Fellowship www.carpentersfellowship.co.uk organise a gathering every other year where traditional timber framers meet to share knowlege and experiences, attend lectures, practical demonstrations and just socialise. This is the Tamar Joinery Team, consisting of Nigel Harrison, Sascha Nitsche , Andy Morton and Tom Harrison taking part in the Perrier competition. No wooden soldiers were harmed.
Above, This shows hook scarf repaired sections of a church lyche gate made using air dried locally grown oak
Restoration work carried out to the decayed timber sections of the lych gate at Buckland Monachorum Church in Devon. Above: The restored Lych gate with replica gates made in seasoned air dried oak.
Whilst our passion is for traditional English scribe timber framing, and we continue to use the same structural and jointing carpentry techniques which have been used for centuries, we also embrace the use of modern machinery which makes our work much faster!
This photo shows the detail of the Lap joint between tie beam and wall plate
Andy hand carving replica stiles for church gate restoration
The photo below shows Nigel using an adze to hand shape rafters.
This technique is used when a genuine hand finished
look is required for restoration projects but for most projects, we would
machine cut rafters.
Our telehandler with a 2 man work platform and a crane jib is an invaluable aid to raising timber frames locally. Here, an oak truss is shown being craned into position.
A self supporting green oak timber frame can be fixed to an existing building to provide a characterful extension.
The Tamar Joinery Company