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7th February 2012 / posted by Ant Sawyer

Oak Frame Apprenticeship with the Carpenters Fellowship - After hundreds of years away, Day One...

[Above] Rupert Newman & Tim Potts to the left and Nigel Howe to the right, flank the first intake of Oak Frame Apprentices for over 200 years
The first day of December 2011 saw the launch of the first official Apprenticeship scheme, specifically for oak frame carpenters, that this country has seen for "over 200 years" as Tim Potts (Chairman of The Carpenters Fellowship Training and Standard Committee) told us in his inspiring introduction to the programme. Oakwrights has enrolled three of its workshop staff into the first intake, and along with 8 carpenters from other companies, we will all learn together through training camps designed to pass on the knowledge from the very best people in their field. This will include traditional skills such as scribing, design and drawing, timber grading, history and restoration, joint design, setting out, fabricating and erection of timber frames. We will also be gaining various tickets that will make us more useful and productive as oak framers: PASMA tower scaffold, first aid, slinger signaller and our CSCS cards.
This first day was designed to be an introduction to the other candidates, as well as a chance to complete the CITB Health and Saftey training that is compulsory for new apprentices in any nationally recognised scheme. This done we proceeded to have a tour of the grounds of our training coordinator Nigel Howe's home. There we observed structural defects in some of his older outbuildings and surmised probable causes, which was an insight into some more of the skills we will pick up as we develop into professional oak framers. 

[Above] Rupert Newman of Westwind Oak leads the class in trigonometry

[Above] The team set about applying 'Marshmallow Technology'
Lunch and Nigel’s hospitality is worth more than just a mention - we all hope this standard of luncheon continues throughout the course! With full stomachs we were trusted to undertake some truss building with 'marshmallow technology'! Using dried spaghetti and marshmallows to make the joints, it is possible to apply forces to model trusses and see which joints are under tension or compression, and as a fun exercise it is very useful to visualise on a miniature scale what is happening to the buildings we produce in the workshop.
To really get us thinking, a brief overview of trigonometry and how it relates to the setting out of roof structures, as presented by Rupert Newman of Westwind, really brought home the standard of learning we will be expected to reach in order that we join the ranks along with some of the very best carpenters in the industry!
We will keep you posted on our progress over the coming years, which will culminate in achieving the industry standard NVQ2 in Structural Post and Beam Carpentry as well as a much further, in depth knowledge of the holistic process of taking an oak tree and turning it into an oak frame!






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