The Chartered Institute of Builders joined Alec and Victoria at Timberpride for a visit to our Tetbury based Sawmill and presentation about all things Oak. Opening our Oak Framed showroom to 20 or so CIOB members on a beautiful May evening was a great opportunity to discuss the many and varied thoughts, concerns, questions and tease out curiosity about the Oak world today.
A tour of the log marshalling yard to see the raw material in the round and seasoning boards and sawmill took place with many questions and answers before proceeding to the workshop where oak frames are hand built using medieval techniques and hand tools combined with modern power tools and lifting equipment.
Back in the showroom, Alec talked in great detail about the types of truss for different jobs, the function of the various joints, how they perform in service and the role of the all-important peg. The glazing of Oak frames, which is often seen as a headache, is in fact very simple to deal with using Glazing Cover Strips. This brilliant but simple method accommodates the natural movement and shrinkage of a frame, creating a weather seal and minimises the possibility of water ingress.
A key discussion point of the evening was the cost effective nature of Oak Framing as a construction method and the added benefit of the beauty of an Oak frame, particularly useful for speculative developments. The bulk of construction costs today are labour. Oak framing, however, creates large structures with less labour than most other construction techniques. Combine this with a more desirable finished structure for a highly commercial package.
We talked about the importance of grading structural oak to meet Building Regulations and what this actually means in terms of the visual or aesthetic appearance of a beam. All beams should be supplied with a CE certificate to achieve Building Regs approval. D40 is the highest grade a beam can be given; achieving a higher specification than this is just a waste of high-grade oak, it does not make a stronger frame or allow you to use a smaller section.
Alec gave an insight into the sustainability of Oak and the current market for both supply and demand, a hot topic! As we speak our Island is under a growing threat to its ecosystems and countryside as we know it, due to the free flow of goods around the world and total absence of bio-security in the UK and Europe. The Oak Processionary Moth currently in London, defoliates whole trees weakening them repeatedly until they die. Xylella is a bacterial infection which has travelled from North Africa to Europe where it has found many new hosts. These two pathogens on their own could each cause more damage than Dutch Elm disease, potentially causing complete ecosystem collapse.
Alec rounded off the evening explaining Timberpride’s Environmental Standard of Quality Responsibility and Honesty and how it encapsulates our beliefs, our work, sourcing and supply ethos.
Quality – Our promise is to produce the right quality oak for purpose.
Responsibility – Sourcing Oak from well-managed forestry with a plan to create multi-age forests to provide quality timber in a healthy habitat for the foreseeable future. Combined with a robust biosecurity policy to prevent us becoming part of the problem because we do not have the time to wait for governments to wake up.
Honesty – Knowing and understanding what Oak can do, how it will behave and how it should be used and respected. (It has taken millions of years of evolution for Oak to be what it is. It can’t be changed to meet the fickle fashions of today. Its’ beauty is in grain pattern, knots, cats paw and without these distinctive features it may as well come on a roll!)
Oak is a living product, understood and respected, worked by skilled craftsmen. Your Oak product will last more than your lifetime; that’s why we say we are Living Oak….