At Hamlet, we build our traditional timber frames using French carpentry techniques that date back to early medieval times. We learned these techniques while serving our apprenticeships in England & Scotland, along with a host of other complementary skills that the medieval carpenter had to master to be considered a true journeyman.
FRENCH SCRIBE TIMBER FRAMING METHODS
Instead of cutting our joints by calculation using squares and bevels, we chalk our drawings out full scale on the floor of our workshop and lay the timbers directly over the chalk. Each timber is then scribed to any others it intersects, and is marked with a unique number – usually in the form of a Roman numeral. This piece is unique, and can only go in one position within the finished frame, therefore the mark tells us exactly where it goes during the raising. Using this form of scribe carpentry allows us to integrate beautiful curved pieces very efficiently, and gives us more creative freedom when we are designing your timber frame.
TRADITIONAL TIMBER CONVERSION (Hewing & Pit-Sawing)
To work with timbers, you need to start with a tree. Very few carpenters actually go through the process of selecting & felling trees, converting them to timbers through hewing & pit-sawing, then using the timbers to frame the house. It’s a shame, because it’s incredibly rewarding, and gives the carpenter a more intimate knowledge and deeper respect for their raw material. We obviously don’t do this for every project, but every year or so, we demonstrate hewing and pit-sawing techniques to students of conservation or architecture, or we have a client who asks us to incorporate hewn timbers into their home. We also have clients each year with large properties who ask us to help them select and harvest trees from their land that we end up using for their timber frame.
NEW BUILD & CONSERVATION
We are as adept at working with a blank slate on new-build projects as we are working within the confines of a historic structure. While new-build makes up the lion’s share of the work we do, conservation work accounts for a smaller, but very important part of our yearly production. Maintaining and extending the life of our built heritage is incredibly important to us. It’s never easy working on older buildings as they are often neglected over the course of many years, full of dirt and safety hazards – but it’s a labour of love for us. For more information on our heritage work, click on CONSERVATION in the navigation bar above.