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Building an Anglo-Saxon hall with axes...

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El Barto

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I just got back from 4 days with the Carpenters Fellowship where we embarked on Phase 3 of a project they've been working on - building a large Anglo-Saxon hall from scratch.

Basically, the foundations for a similar hall dating back to that period were discovered and so they have decided to recreate it on-site, to the best of their knowledge of the original at least.

I figured I'd post about it as some of you may find it interesting - I sure did. Aside from enjoying the making side of things, it was worth it for the wealth of knowledge a lot of these guys have alone.

Here's a rendering (courtesy of the CF) of the final design:



Uncut timbers. These were all hand hewn in the previous phases :shock:





Most of my time was spent chopping mortice and tenons for the enormous plates, a slow process with a mortice axe but one that can give surprisingly accurate results.









Once the mortices were done, we moved onto tenons and lap joints. The laps were particularly challenging in some instances because not only were they big, they were also going through some very hard and difficult timbers. For instance, I cut the lap on the short scarf piece you see below - not only was the piece small enough to move A LOT when hit with an axe, it was also fairly dry and full of knots. That is an axe-cut scarf joint - v cool.







Seeing these guys work together to notch this curved piece for the doorway was incredible:





Massive joint for one of the ties (I think; I didn't work on this section):



Here's one of the A-frames being laid out. Not a very technical process as you can see, but still very accurate:



Shavehorse station for the million pegs that need to be made:



At the end of the day we would sometimes go on excursions to local barns/buildings, these were always fascinating. One of the barns had part of its floor laid with chunks of end grain - very unusual. Almost looks fake!



And of course carpenters' marks throughout the buildings were always interesting to see. This one was in a barn-cum-marketing office. It was a very surreal meeting of worlds as 25 dirty framers wandered around this smart office.



And finally, some rather cool signs of a guest in one of the timbers...



Next up will be the raising of the frame, that takes place at the beginning of July. Should be fun.
 

custard

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That must have been an incredible experience. Thanks for sharing
 

El Barto

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Stanleymonkey":2z7p4qon said:
What an amazing day - can I ask where this is all being built?
It's at the Syvla Wood Centre near Oxford, a really inspiring place unto itself that I had no idea about until I got there.
 

JSW

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I would give my eye teeth to go on such a project, great pics, please keep us updated with more! =D>

You've more than likely seen this, but for those that haven't, it's a great introduction to the skills, tools and probably more importantly the awareness of materials required, to complete a building that has survived 800 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE2klxBE8QM
 

Osvaldd

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What a fantastic way to pay homage to your ancestors.
 

El Barto

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JSW":2h8lkeks said:
I would give my eye teeth to go on such a project, great pics, please keep us updated with more! =D>

You've more than likely seen this, but for those that haven't, it's a great introduction to the skills, tools and probably more importantly the awareness of materials required, to complete a building that has survived 800 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE2klxBE8QM
Nice, will check it out! I wish I'd been around for the hewing of the logs. Hard work but good fun I reckon.

Working on a project like this is fun because it's such pure woodworking, you get to forget about measurements and tolerances. It does take a day or two to get used to not checking things for square or measuring anything...

Another thing which was great was a chap came by selling Gransfors products (I forget where from) on one of the days. Cue everyone gathered around his car ogling axes and perhaps spending more than intended... he must have done a roaring trade. I picked up a second hand (but actually looked brand new) Gransfors carving axe for £50, amazing!
 

custard

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JSW":1txc9dp0 said:
You've more than likely seen this, but for those that haven't, it's a great introduction to the skills, tools and probably more importantly the awareness of materials required, to complete a building that has survived 800 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE2klxBE8QM
Thank you for the link, I learned a great deal from that video, really excellent!
 

JSW

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custard":eyk10iv6 said:
JSW":eyk10iv6 said:
You've more than likely seen this, but for those that haven't, it's a great introduction to the skills, tools and probably more importantly the awareness of materials required, to complete a building that has survived 800 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE2klxBE8QM
Thank you for the link, I learned a great deal from that video, really excellent!
Wonderful isn't it? And I can all but guarantee you'll watch it more than once!

In my apprenticeship as a Joiner, the humble axe played a major role, from tapered wedges through to rawl plugs (TM. I forget the actual name) Wedges from 6x3 or bigger for shimming larger stuff into place (Think bomb blast proof doors on a water works site)

The one thing I really remember though, is being taught by the Joiner I server under, how to trim an inch off each side of an external door.

The clerk of works had ordered 34" inch doors for 32" openings for an entire estate of houses, after a bit of practise, I could get it to within a few swipes of a Marples No. 4 & 1/2. No circular saws where I worked in the 70's!
 

thetyreman

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looks like a lot of fun elbarto, would love to do something like that, amazing what can be made with the axe, when you think about it society was built on it and yet it's such a simple tool.
 

Phil Pascoe

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JSW":3t0tk516 said:
In my apprenticeship as a Joiner, the humble axe played a major role ... No circular saws where I worked in the 70's!
My late friend would have started his apprenticeship in about 1970. He worked as a chippie down the tin mines and always said when people mentioned tidy work that he was only a " 'ammer and dag" chippie.
 

Austinisgreat

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Great post, thank you,

and has already been said that link from JSW is fascinating. And what a wild remote part of Sweden they are in too.

Brilliant, seeing old craftsmanship alive and well.

Andrew
 

scooby

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Thanks for the excellent post and pictures. I have to echo the opinions of others, I'd loved to have been part of that project.
Well done and excellent work.
 

monster

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Wow, Just read through this thread - what an amazing experience, great pics too!
 

El Barto

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I will probably do a proper post at some point but just got back from five days of raising this frame. Hard work but very very rewarding!

This is an image taken last night. Carpenters on the frame and Anglo-Saxon reënactors and various villagers and other folks on the ground! Apologies for the photo quality :|

 
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