What Katie did next...
So, after being part of the Oakwrights Country Buildings family for just over a year I decided it was time to get some hands-on experience. I picked a not so warm, but sunny, winter’s day and headed to our workshops all ready to start.
Katie with the Oakwrights Workshop team
CREATING AN OAK FRAME
Our production manager John said my site clothes were far too clean but, they could sort that out for me! All the guys at the workshop were very kind & looked after me, taking the time to explain all the processes and show me in details how we produce our beautiful oak frames.
First Stop – The Machine Shop
I was introduced to our machinists Brad & Rod and taken through the stages that the oak goes through. Firstly, all the oak for a job needs to be planed down to the correct measurement, ready to go onto our Hundegger Oak Frame Cutting machines.
The oak going through the planing machine
Once planed the oak gets moved and stacked together ready for the machine.
Katie controlling the crane after the oak has been planed
They even let me have a go with the crane!!! (Fully supervised by our expert Chris).
Katie moving the oak to the next process
Time for the machine! The Hundegger really is an amazing piece of kit: it does 80% of the cutting, it does all the housings, all the mortices and tenons and drills the peg holes too. It can get through about 60m³ of oak each week. To put that figure into perspective, 60m³ of oak would make around 30 of our medium-sized timber framed garages or three of our houses!
Brad teaching Katie all about the Hundegger machine
This is Brad, one of our machinists, he was very patient with me and took me through the whole process and soon had me checking off & numbering pieces as they came off The Hundegger.
Once all the oak has been machined, we then dry-fit everything in our framing shop to ensure that everything is right with the frame and identify anything that may cause a potential problem on site.
A frame being assembled with 'podgers'
Care and attention is taken to ensure that every joint is right. We use the temporary metal pegs (labelled above), which I’m reliably informed are called podgers, to put the frame together in the workshop. Of course, when it gets to site we use traditional oak pegs.
Josh and Ben showing Katie how to construct a brace
Whilst The Hundegger is an amazing machine, the skill of our craftsmen is still very much required to hand finish some of the posts and beams. Josh, one of our team leaders, showed me how they will sometimes need to scribe braces. In the images below you will find me trimming a tenon to make it fit better within the mortice. I haven’t used a chisel since GCSE Woodworking, but I came away with all my fingers intact - so all in all a success!
Katie helping to chisel a post joint for the frame
I loved my time up at the workshop and whilst I won’t be changing my day job anytime soon (I think they are relieved about that) I am looking forward to going again, preferably in the Spring Summer.
Next stop – Site!