Roundwood timber framing

Discuss hut design and construction here - DIY or hire a professional? Materials, style and function etc
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Roundwood timber framing

Postby Andy » 14 Apr 2015, 20:27

Roundwood timber framing was popularised by Ben Law when his Woodland Cottage first featured on Grand Designs around 2003. It is a blend of traditional framing methods (typically based around a 'cruck' or A-frame design) and log building techniques native to Scandinavia and North America.

It particularly lends itself towards building huts as it utilises available timber growing in a woodland setting; handy if you are far from a timber merchant or the site has unsuitable access for delivery trucks. This means that building can begin on-site immediately - using the timber growing around you, without having to dry or mill it first, and all using simple hand tools. It has advantages over traditional framing because the timber doesn't require milling, and also has advantages over traditional log cabins as it uses much less timber (walls between the frame can be infilled by straw bale, cordwood, hurdles with lime render etc). Different types of timber can be used in a roundwood timber framed building too, so you can mix and match within the same building, depending on what is available.

Thanks largely to Ben Law, there is an abundance of material available for instruction and inspiration regarding roundwood timber framed construction.

I have personally worked on a small (hut sized) roundwood framed building at Monimail Tower in Fife and can testify to it being extremely rewarding and fairly straightforward. I would recommend taking part in a course first though, then do further research. As well as doing the course at Monimail (with Ian Purkis), I have Ben Law's Roundwood Timber Framing book and DVD (as well as his other titles 'Woodsman' and 'The Woodland House' - which offer useful and relevant advice) and highly recommend them.

Here's a wee pic of the 'hut' at Monimail, an outdoor classroom/meeting space of sorts. It's easy to imagine it clad in timber with a floor added, some insulation, windows and a door- making it into a hut, essentially. To me, the appearance and character of roundwood buildings is much more pleasing to the eye than a typical shed-type hut using sawn timber. It has an organic appeal, and there is something enormously satisfying about felling some trees on site and turning it into a shelter.

'He who plants trees loves others besides himself' ~Dr Thomas Fuller

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