Air-Dried Timbers

At our premises in Nupend, Gloucestershire we carry large stocks of air-dried oak in a variety of sections. This stock is continually updated and monitored as we carefully dry batches of high quality oak. Typical sections start at 4” in lengths from around 2 metres up to 16” square in lengths over 7 metres. This timber is dried slowly in the air and according to its dimension and age can vary from around 35% moisture content (steady) down to a around 20%.

While there is clear evidence that many fine buildings were created from green or fresh sawn oak, there is equally clear evidence that fine buildings were made from timber that had been well seasoned before use.

Typically barns, agricultural buildings and lower status domestic building would have used green timber, whilst the finer domestic and high status buildings would often have used timber that had been felled for many years and would have been well sorted according to use.

Steady Timber

Using steady timber rather than fresh-sawn can provide great benefits. When a timber has undergone its initial shrinkage, it becomes much more apparent where the defects are, and since cracks will have opened up in the timbers, the pattern of stress relief is visible. Timbers can thus be correctly orientated or rejected altogether to ensure the long term stability and structural integrity of the building.

The jointing can be made to fine tolerances knowing that the joints will remain well fitted. Glazing can be safely fitted to the timbers which will not subsequently try to bend or shrink away to a significant degree.

Steady beam is much more useful for lintels and internal uses where shrinkage and cracking may otherwise spoil the finished appearance.

Green Oak

We use freshly sawn or green oak for much of our framing. This is cut from sustain-ably managed woodland in France. Buying oak green has the advantage of getting cutting lists sawn to the exact dimensions and lengths for each individual project. Green oak shrinks across the grain but not in its length. This characteristic is evaluated on each project to assess whether green or steady oak should be used.

Oak timbers

We offer the choice of English or European oak in our buildings. The majority is green (unseasoned) oak sawn to size for post, and beams. The properties of oak make it ideal for house building:easily worked when green,yet achieving in iron-like hardness over the years;superbly resistant to attack by both insect and mould;available in any variety of curves to enhance the elegant beauty of the frame.

We use curved timber wherever appropriate for the particular design,sometimes for its visual impact,and traditionally for the bracing of the frame. Managing our own stock of air dried curved oak for bracing enables us to choose and cut curves to suit any frame. This combination of green and air dried timber makes for rigid,strong and immensely durable structures.

French and English Oak

We are often asked whether French oak is the same as English oak. The answer is yes and no!

In so far as they are genetically identical the answer is of course, yes. In so far as the cultivation methods affect the quality of the timber, the answer is no.

In France, oak is grown as single species woodland which is cropped on a roughly 150 year cycle. This competition between vigorous oak trees, as they search out the sunlight with their leaf canopy, results in them having enormously long straight trunks compared to those which grow in mixed deciduous woodland in the UK and Ireland.

This style of forestry was practised in England especially during the age of the oak Man-o-war, and timbers in ancient oak-framed buildings are often of exceptional quality and length. Ironically - restoration specifications which call for English oak rather than French, are often denying themselves timbers which are much more like the original English product.

The Oak Frame Carpentry Company LTD, The Framing Yard, Nupend, Stonehouse, Gloucester, GL10 3SU