16 September 2007

Making the extension roof beams in green Oak

Fabrice started making the roof beams last week and so far he's finished one which will be put in place tomorrow evening with the help of a few strong neighbours. (I'll be taking the photographs!)
He'll make two beams like this, plus a third with a sloping side for the end of the roof. That one will be done last - after the experience of making the first two.

Close up of the roof trussHe's never done this sort of thing before, and I really wanted to have them made by a professional, but it's impossible to find a good carpenter near us who is available and Fabrice felt confident that he'd be able to do it.

We designed the "ferme" to be visible from the inside of the roof. It's such a shame to use beautiful wood like this and hide it with insulation. This is the finished drawing and if you click on this photograph you'll be taken to a bigger version which has notes explaining the structure.

This is the original plan for the roof beams

The wood for the beams was cut from our woods in SpringIn Spring this year, we spent a long time in the woods looking for straight Oak trees that would be suitable for the beams.

We don't like cutting trees down, so there were some very difficult decisions to be made about which ones were for the chop. We chose those too close to each other, ones with broken branches and mis-shapen heads and had quite a few heated discussions! You'd think it would be easy to find 40 straight Oak trees in 50 acres, but it's not. So the task of choosing which trees would be sacrificed for the roof was a long one.

To start making the charpente, Fabrice drew the shape of the roof truss on our back terrace with great precision because that plan determines the final cuts and joints in the wood.

Tracing the roof beams on the back terrace

The next step was to choose each beam, cut it straight and rub it down.

Then each section was placed on the plan using small wooden supports under each one to ensure that there was enough overlap to cut a good strong joint.
The cutting and cleaning process took about two days and I've got a lot of confidence in Fabrice's abilities as a craftman (Did you know that the name Fabrice means "Craftsman"?) but I just couldn't resist

asking - just a few times - if he thought it would be OK.

Section by section the joints were cut, then each one had to have the internal joints made. One thing I'll never understand about Fabrice is how he can take so much care over his work yet he refuses to buy himself a decent saw.

Fabrice using a cheap Frence saw to make the roof trussSo with a plastic French saw and and old chisel and hammer, the joints were made one by one then the whole thing was fitted together and we did a trial run with the metal and wooden rods in place and voila! - it looks great!

I can't wait now for tomorrow evening to see how it looks.

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