You will find Tom MacCurrach timber Framing in the Woodlands and Wildlife section which is a small wooded area at the southern end of the showground.The bare bones of a Douglas Fir frame were errected in two hours the previouse night in pouring rain.
Those two hours had been preceeded by a frantic week to 10 days of planning, cutting, shaping and hewing. Tom designs his cabins using the CAD system of computerised drawings. The Douglas Fir, from a North Devon plantation is felled, brought to the work yard on a trailer, measured, sawn and each joint hand cut to fit its partner. Several pieces are carefully chosen for their visible position within the design. There are two arched braces where the grain of the wood is following the arch. The wood seems fairly fresh and scented with a mixture of pale pinks, creams and beige.
Tom is an adventurous designer usually ending up with something larger and more complicated than originally planned. This cabin is a two bay building 5m by 3m, with a mezzanine floor in one bay. The rooves of each bay are different heights and steepness, there is an over hang at one end making the mezzanine floor larger than downstairs, The door will be at the other end with glass on each side and two windows immediately round the corner onto the longer sides. The mezzanine floor is designed to have light flooding in from the end wall which will be mostly window. The wooden frame design shows you where the windows will be. Although it was quite hard to visualize on the first day, I got really excited listening to them describing what it would look like.
Tom and Justin work together on many projects and they are both gifted and energetic with much trotting around, choosing tools and chiselling away. Soon a pile of shavings build up under the saw benches What it will look like by sunday pm I can hardly imagine. Harry the trainee is set to chisel out the FOR SALE sign to hang on the frame. They are using incredible axes to demonstrate hewing, an ancient and not much used craft nowadays. Douglas fir is like "cutting through butter" compared to Oak, when it comes to hewing.
Part of Tom's vision is to use local wood for local homes, what could be nicer than having an extension or fishing hut, cabin or porch made with wood that came from a local Devon plantation? Douglas is good for frames, Western Red Cedar is great for shingles on the roof and Sitka Spruce makes good cladding.
We toured around the Royal Bath and West Show finding many other wood crafted buildings for stables, garages, potting sheds and varius tool sheds. Most of them used wood from Nordic sources, one even from Latvia. They are all attractive in their way but nothing compared to this hand crafted, totally unique frame with so many carefully thought out touches, including little smoothly curved and shaped log ends and imaginative use of wood.
These hand crafted cabins are extremely solid, strong and an almost different animal from the mass produced products you can buy from your local garden center. They are a heavier beast altogether and will not only last much longer but will surprise you every day with their wonderful joints and hand carved finishing. You can contact Tom through his web site and he and Justin are more than happy to discuss your requirements and prices. The judges also appreciated the exhibit and Tom and Jutin got a bronze award for their exhibit. Well done them, they really do deserve it. As the week progresses the frame will look more and more like the building they described to me. The frame is for sale and would make any discerning lover of all things outdoors a wonderful woodland cabin or river side house.
If you are visiting the Bath and West do go the the woodland and rural area and find out more about the way these timber frame builders work. They are using a vernacular way to build buildings that many of us would love to live in today. Each building is painstakingly created and amazingly detailed in all their joints and little flourishes. Well done Tom and Justin.