Brockwood’s Pavilion Project: Students & Staff Visit Carpenter Oak

This past week some of the staff and students were invited down to Devon to visit Carpenter Oak Ltd. where the timber frames for the Pavilion Project are currently being carved and constructed. We spent two days at Carpenter Oak learning about where the oak timber comes from, the sustainability of using wood versus other building materials, the design of the Pavilions, and getting our hands on some of the wood we will later be living in. In addition to visiting the beautiful Devon countryside and learning about Oak frame constructions techniques, it was a nice opportunity to get better acquainted with each other while engaging in hands on experience.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd
In order to understand the engineering principles of constructing a building, our first task was to divide into two groups and build a structure out of sticks, tape and rope, which could hold the weight of a bucket filled with bolts. The structure pictured managed to hold six bolts before collapsing.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd
Xiao and Aurora discussing learning about the importance of triangles in timber building. It was reiterated again and again that the Triangle is the strongest shape in constructing a shelter. Virtually all buildings made out of wood consist of hundreds of triangles of varying shapes and sizes.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd
Practical physics at work. The large spanner shown here is used as leverage to turn the huge oak timbers, with this device one person can turn a timber safely and effortlessly.  All of the work done at Carpenter Oak is done with the philosophy of bringing the tool to the wood, not the wood to the tool. Which means that all tools are hand held tools, which saves a tremendous amount of space and increases the quality of the fabrication.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd
The tenon and mortise used to connect the pieces of timber which are secured by an inch round wooden spike. We all got to try carving out a tenon by hand, the old fashioned way. Most of the work is done with a circular saw, then finished off with hand chisels.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd
Aurora and Xiao rounding off some of the sharp edges on the timbers with planing tools. We had several opportunities to learn how difficult such simple work can be, first watching the carpenters effortlessly show us how it is done, then trying ourselves.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd
Edward asks architect Mike Hope of Roderick James Architects questions about the pavilions project. During our meeting with Mike we asked several questions about the design and the features of the pavilions, in order to better understand some of the decision making that went into the concept behind the pavilions project.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak Ltd
We were all pleasantly surprised with the kindness and patience with the people at Carpenter Oak. All of the employees there share an enthusiasm for working with wood, which results in a positive and constructive atmosphere. The Brockwood group pictured here with some of the Carpenter Oak staff we worked with.

Brockwood at Carpenter Oak LtdAurora throwing an Ax as a reward for two days of good hard, and most importantly, safe work. We all left with 10 fingers, which we were told was an accomplishment, considering the work we did.

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