I discovered timber framing and converted to carpentry during two years in the Hamptons, then won a fellowship to spend three months in 1990 working with New England–based timber framers. It was an epiphany. This is when I first joined the TFG. As a former mason and drystone waller, I had been working with a (very small) framing company called Carpenter Oak & Woodland in the UK, where we built frames from rough sawn (and only roughly square) green oak, which we scribed together. We did it all by handsaw, or brace and bit, no power tools.
By 2002, Carpenter Oak & Woodland was a much bigger company, and somehow I had become its managing director, but I wanted to try CAD-CAM and work with SIPs, so I joined Oakwrights, a smaller company, but one that was pushing the envelope. We acquired a CNC machine to shorten our lead-in times. As time went on, we used the capability of this machine to create even more complex frames and jointing, employed more framers, didn’t make more money, and the lead-ins stayed the same. Abandoning SIPs, we made our own enclosure systems using hemp as insulation, later switching to blown cellulose.
I have averaged one trip per year to North America (including my honeymoon), made a lot of excellent friends, and given quite a few presentations at conferences. I headed up the European team for the trebuchets in Scotland. I’ve served on the board of the Carpenters Fellowship, including four years as chairman. During this time we established our government-recognized (and funded) National Vocational Qualification in Heavy Structural Carpentry. I am an enthusiastic trainer and educator, having taught and consulted in various environments from school boards and parent-teacher associations to the proposed new Hereford Engineering University.