Category Archives: post and rail

Type of fencing where a number of rails connect to their adjacent posts

Stairs and Fencing in Cleft Sweet Chestnut

Rustic Stairs

This project involved working jointly with another company Quay Carpentry. The brief for their customer was to craft components to meet their outdoor stairs design, which would link a terrace and have fencing along the top of the terrace. The timber suited for the rustic look was Sweet Chestnut. After discussing design options with Quay Carpentry the individual components were crafted for them.

Crafting the Components

We planked the stair strings by cleaving from large rounds of Sweet Chestnut rather than milling. This was important for the stair string turn because cleaving naturally follows the grain, compared to sawing that cuts through the fibres. This helped with the next stage of processing, which involved steam bending and setting on a former to obtain the desired shape. Also, the handrail for the stair turn was steam bent and set on a former after steaming for a couple of hours. This can seen in the preceding photo, which shows the handrail in the former after steaming.

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We crafted two individual rustic gates. One would be used for the top of the stairs and the other along the fence line. These are shown in the next two photos.

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Each of the stair treads were cleaved from large rounds, similar to how the stair strings were produced. We split the newel posts, fencing posts and rails etc. from smaller rounds of Sweet Chestnut. The hand tools used were axe, froe, splitting wedges, draw knife, spoke shave, bit and brace.

Installed Stairs, Gates and Fencing

After the components were delivered to the customer, Quay Carpentry completed the installation. The result of finished work can be seen in the last photo.

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Our customer was very pleased with the end result that produced a unique rustic look that is perfect for its function and rural setting.

Bespoke Cleft Chestnut Panels

This project involved making a number of bespoke Sweet Chestnut panel infills, which were installed in the upper area of a barn. Sweet Chestnut had been used for the roofing components, so the customer was looking for the same wood to be used. The stair ladder and upright pieces to hold the Chestnut panels were made by a carpenter using reclaimed Oak. Due to the variability of the Oak pieces, each Chestnut panel was different in size and was custom made to fit each section.

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The handrails of the stair ladder were made from Sweet Chestnut and contrast the darker reclaimed Oak frame and treads.

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The panel spindles were made from cleft Sweet Chestnut pales, which were installed into mortices made in the outer frame. A froe is used to split the wood down the grain and a drawknife used to smooth the surface of the pales. The panels have a unique handmade look that blends in with the stone, exposed beams wood and thatched roof of the barn.

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Greenwood was used for all the Sweet Chestnut components. The final piece was a bespoke gate made to fit at the top of the stair ladder.  This was designed so that the gate could only open inwards, which was achieved by extending the top left section of the gate.

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This a good example of using green Sweet Chestnut for various interior components.