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Oak cross

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skeetstar

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Gentles all, I am to make a Large Oak cross for our local church. I have prototyped it in pine to get the size and proportions right. Folks have decided that they want it 9'6" high with a 5'6" crosspiece.
Timber will be Oak, desired size very close to 7.5" x 2".

A few questions if you will indulge me..

1. I am assuming that I can get the boards in those sizes. (Not really a question, I know)
2. I'll get kiln dried, but it would be a disaster if the timber moved after installation... will I be OK with kiln dried? Is there anything specific I should be asking for in this respect?
3. I'll get the yard to cut to size for me to minimise the work I have to do... should I be asking them to 'rest' the timber between cuts.
4 Is there anything I should be doing to minimise the risk of the timber moving after it has been installed. Finish is likely to be matt varnish to match other Oak in the building.

Thanks all
 

custard

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What a smashing project, when I trained as a cabinet maker everyone in the workshop wanted to work on ecclesiastical commisions as they knew their work might remain for hundreds of years.

Yes, you can get boards in those dimensions. Furthermore I bet the timber yard will really go the extra mile for this project so tell them what it is.

As well as kilned you want straight grained Oak, and make sure the cross piece and the vertical piece are both the same cut (ie both quarter sawn or both rift sawn or both flat sawn) so that the finished cross looks all of a piece.

Go to a bigger yard that does their own kilning, so they'll stand behind their drying quality. In my area that would mean somewhere like English Woodland Timbers or Tylers, in other words a really pukka yard. There will be equivalents where you live, it's just a case of tracking them down. The quality of kilned Oak has gone right down the toilet in recent years as price competition is encouraging yards to speed through the drying process and cut corners. Consequently you see increased checking, honeycombing, and something called yellow stain which looks like this (look carefully at the top edge of this board),
Oak-Yellowstain-01.jpg


Oak-Yellowstain-02.jpg


Work with a top yard, brief them on what you're doing, pay a couple of quid more, and you won't have to worry about any of these potential pitfalls.

Good luck!
 

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yetloh

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Completely agree with Custard. It could look absolutely stunning in nice quarter sawn and should be very stable. I can also endorse English Woodlands from where I buy most of my wood - very helpful, professional and excellent quality.

Jim
 

Yojevol

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Since taking up woodwork semi-seriously I have been honoured to have made several items in oak for our ancient Saxon church. One item springs to mind when reading of your cross project. This was this board which records all the incumbent priests over the centuries:-
DSC_0032.jpg
I really wanted to address the problems of likely movement due to its proposed position on a cold and dampish wall. From a construction point of view I decided to laminate the basic board. It is made up of 3 layers of 6mm thick oak, grain all running in the same direction. From memory there are 11 5" laminas across the width. Each layer overlaps the one beneath by 50% (brick laying style). The other measure I insisted on as that there should be an air movement gap between the back of the board and the wall.
This photo was taken nearly 10 years ago and the board was taken down recently to update the list. The anti movement measures appear to have been successful.
It would be interesting to know what the situation will be for your cross.
Brian
 

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skeetstar

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Fellas, thanks for your input, that gives me a lot more confidence re movement. Custard, great advice as usual, I appreciate your taking the time to reply.. same goes for yetloh and yojevol of course.

I may well use English Woodlands, I have family down south so it would be a good opportunity to visit them.

Re installation, it will go on a masonry, internal wall. I've not yet figured out how to fix it, but I'm contemplating a French cleat on the cross piece with a spacer at the foot to ensure it stays off the wall. That will give me a shadow gap, which I think might look quite nice.

Once again all your inputs much valued.
 

custard

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One of the nice things about English Woodlands is that they're increasingly putting up photos of their stock. Which means if you're not too experienced in timber buying you can do your research before hand and not feel under any pressure when you're there in person.

Oak boards like these for example (which personally I wouldn't recommend for your project!) would be a bit daunting if you'd never seen them before and needed to make a snap decision

https://www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.u ... item=63656

Oak is one of the very few hardwoods that are graded (like plywood or softwood), however English Woodlands uses their own grading system. Not a problem, but if you're going it would make sense to familiarise yourself with their system first.
 

yetloh

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Sounds like a good plan to me. Don't forget to come back to this thread when it is all done and post some pics, I'm sure we would all love to see the finished article. Good luck with it.

Jim
 

skeetstar

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Fellas, not ignoring you all.

I got the Oak from English Woodlands per Custard's recommendation. They are a very helpful and knowledgeable crew. Got exactly the timber I needed and their guidance was extremely helpful. Also the place is a wonderland if you work with wood.. they have loads of wonderful stock, and the odd 'sale' bargain that look really good value.

Anyhow, it appears that a cross (albeit in a church) still needs approval from much higher up (no, not that high!) so the wood is in my garage, awaiting said approval. Once rec'd, work will commence.

PS I had planned to give it a couple of coats of BLO... any thoughts on what might be an alternative finish?

Thanks all
 

skeetstar

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Been a long time coming, but all done now. It may not look it from the photo, but the foot of the cross is 4ft off the floor and the cross itself is over 10ft tall and a bit less than 6ft in width.
The wall I had to fix to was block faced with plasterboard, with a 12mm void behind the board. Fixed a 1in timber solidly to the block after cutting aperture in the plasterboard, used 8mm fixings and a styrene fixative. Then lots of screws and glue fixed the cleat member to the wall, and hey presto...

5 or 6 coats of BLO applied whilst in my workshop. The chap in the photo is the caretaker not me, I am not nearly so good looking.
 

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