It's not often we get the chance to use home grown timbers in our joinery work. This is not unsual, the UK has been a big importer of timber for hundreds of years, from masts to furniture and joinery timbers. On this occasion the timber in question is English Oak (Quercus Robor) and we're using it to make windows for a unique Devon property. The windows are an early casement style and emulate the work of the stone mason in their design an proportion. The give away for that reasoning is the large mullions, head, jamb & cill with very wide chamfers and beyond that they look just like stone windows!
All the mortice and tennon joints are secured with oak pegs, rather than the more usual wedges. Very substantial pegs in regards to the frames. We made our pegs and found that making the big pegs was best done witht the "oversize pencil sharpener method". This worked very well, I think the guys caught how to do that from the various YouTube videos showing the method. The smaller pegs for the casements were made using a dowel plate.
The great thing with pegged joints is that they don't require the clamping during the glue up process, all it requires is an offset hole in the tenon and the joint comes up snug when the peg is driven home. The only reason I generally prefer wedges is that wedges avoid having end grain facing the weather and drawing moisture through. When the joinery is this big and of such a durable species it's not a concern for my lifetime.
We look forward to sharing a few photos of the installed windows in the coming months. As an aside I grabbed one of the offcuts which has some stunning figure. I ran my smoothing plane over the surface, it might of been just a sweet section of timber but it worked like butter, smooth clean shavings. Wiped on a bit of oil to bring out the beauty. I'll keep the offcut, would make a lovely box, drawer side or veneer material.
Due to the poor condition of the chairs I posted about last time I'm not sure just how long the repairs will last. We've been pragmaic in our approach and I hope that they'll last a few years more. The long split on the leg was pretty easy to repair thanks to the split/break being so long. That kind of break creates lots of long grain to long grain glue surface area, ensuring a good bond. Although you can see the glue joint, shown below, it's as good as can be hoped for.
The other issues were sorted with screws, glue and plugs. Not ideal, but in this situation the best approach as it combines mechanical strength and glue strength. If these chairs were able to take a more traditional repair, trust me, we'd do it.
One thing I noticed on the back is what I assume to be a makers mark. I'm no furniture expert and I'm pretty sure these are pretty much run of the mill chairs and the marks are unlikely the sign of some old time chair makers. However the chairs have an elm seat, oak legs and beech back, the kind of vernacular mix of highly appropriate timbers, especially the elm with it's tightly woven grain proving a very split resistant seat. Anyway, pleased to see the chairs getting some more years of use.
If you'd like to watch some excellent traditional rural chair making, take a look at the video from Erco Furniture shown below.
If you like well preserved vernacular chairs, look away now and perhaps look instead at this recent post by Lost Art Press. The two chairs needing atteniton were bought in by one of our best clients, she is of the opinion that "young people today don't know you can actually repair things, they were going to throw these away". The reality is this pair of chairs is beyond a sensible repair. They look as if they've been used in a bar brawl and left outside to compost for a couple of years. Perhaps the thing that distrubs me the most is the fact they've been stripped. This process is nearly always very distructive and more often than not, ruins great vernacular furniture.
However, as it's for a valued client we'll give it a go. So far we've got broken legs and runners, star dowels driven in, worm holes, more worm holes, broken screws and joints destroyed by the dipping process. I refer to these kinds of jobs as "A-Team Repairs", in the sense that you give yourself a strict time limit, use basic methods and get the job done. As these chairs would be destined for the bin it's not practical to spend much time at all, it'll be interesting to see what results we get......cue the music!
Although we really value any oppertunity for a project like the oak bookcase seen above, the reality is we tackle a very broad range of projects. Quite a few are very simple but are given equal attention. Here are a few examples.
Cut to size timber: Above you can see a typical "Cut to Size Timber Order" for a client. We can prpepare a wide variety of timber and sheet goods. In this instance it's a combination of MDF with a nosing applied, some PSE Poplar and Grooved Poplar. By using this method our clients can take advantage of our extensive machines and moulding service, allowing them to progress their projects in a timely fashion and avoiding the need to purchase expensive tools or tooling just for one job.
Next up, some commercial wall cupboards. Very basic painted MDF, doors on soft close hinges (watch here). The client will be able to screw them straight to the wall, saving them time on site with door fitting and and paitning all done.
This is a future project shown above, a bargebaord that we need to copy so the client can replace the rotted item. So there's a few things we do in addition to our general joinery products, feel free to drop us a line for any custom woodworking project.