- Case Studies
- Contemporary Houses
- Projects in Scotland
- International Projects
- Traditional Houses & Barnhouses
- Conservatories & Sunrooms
- Barn Conversions
- Garden Buildings, Cabins and Boathouses
- Public Buildings
- Timber Engineering
- Unique projects/something different
- Current Projects (recently erected frames awaiting finished photographs)
- About Us
- Contemporary Exteriors
- Overhanging Eaves
- Primary Frame
- Contemporary Interiors
- Traditional Exteriors
- Traditional Interiors
- Conservatories and Sunrooms
- Public Structures
- Cabins Boathouses & Garden Buildings
- Swimming Pools
- Balconies Mezzanines Verandas
- Glazing and roof lighting
- Roofs and Cladding
- Timber engineering
- Curved roofs
- Steel Work
- Erecting the timber frames
- Examples of Trusses
- Floor plans
We are incredibly fortunate to be working in a stunning rural setting in the heart of the South Hams in South Devon. This is a family atmosphere, professional yet informal, productive yet relaxed, team based yet a group of individuals all equally valued and considered. Everyone shares a tremendous sense of pride in what we do and how well we do it! Rarely does someone leave, we just grow!
Since our information pack does not include very many photographs of the human side to Carpenter Oak Ltd we would like to take this opportunity to introduce the motley crew to you in photographic form. By now you will have gathered that we love our photographs!
First and foremost the Carpenters
They number on average 25 working in teams in the 5 workshops or on site. These are a diverse group ranging from young trainees from school or university, those who have come from other professions or jobs and those, the majority, who have worked in this ‘industry’ for a long time. Finally it is our tradition to have a carpenter from France who comes for a year – our contribution to the ‘Entente Cordiale’!
Frame design, frame costing, finance, marketing and sales all take place in a cosy workshop heated with a large woodburner (of course)! There are 11 of us in total and between us there are no fewer than 96 years of experience of oak framing. So you see we are not new at this game! The office encompasses a huge range of experience, knowledge and skills for you to tap into.
Use your mouse to pan around the team inside the show barn
Hover over the images below to read each person's biography
I have been with the ‘Timber/Design’ world since leaving school. After gaining a BA Hons. in Furniture Design in 1984 I then trained as a fine cabinet/furniture designer and maker, producing highly finished pieces.
In 1987 I joined Carpenter Oak and Woodland as a structural framing carpenter. The work was mainly restoration and conservation of historical timber frames, culminating in the major repairs at Windsor Castle after the great fire of 1993.
I gained huge knowledge of building conservation, running skilled teams of carpenters and project management.
In 1995 I had the opportunity to set up a new yard in Devon with my colleague Paul Kirkup, becoming Carpenter Oak Ltd. It was an inspiring time, building a new team, alongside living and raising a family in the beautiful South Hams.
Carpenter Oak Ltd. has grown from half-a-dozen carpenters to 30 very loyal and skilled carpenters and admin based staff. I passionately believe in our craft, continuing skills which were around hundreds of years ago, but used now in a contemporary way.
Bio chemistry, field officer, Artist, photographer,master printmaker,father,carpenter,cyclist,runner of sorts,frame designer,company director;married to the wonderful Sarah. This is my serendipitous journey so far.
For me it is all about building and nurturing trusting relationships within and without the company and knowing that wood is good.
Don RigbySenior Carpenter
I began at Carpenter Oak in 2002 and learned my timber framing skills from senior carpenters here. I have since worked twice on projects in The United States with the Timber Framing Guild and also in Oxfordshire with the Carpenters Fellowship. I am now a senior carpenter with Carpenter Oak.
Thorsten BusseSenior carpenter
Thorsten completed a traditional apprenticeship as a carpenter / timber framer in Germany. He has been with the company for 15 years and is one of the Senior Carpenters.
Lee ManningFinance Director
Born into the world in 1978 and converted to the Way of the Carpenter in 2007, Lee Manning has been a director of Carpenter Oak's finances since 2006.
He joined the company in 2003 and is passionate about its ethics and commitment to sustainability and fair trade.
He is proud to be part of the close-knit team at Carpenter Oak and believes the company can deliver projects of exceptional high quality without compromising its principles.
Lee qualified for his Private Pilot’s Licence in 1999 and spent three years serving his local community as a member of the Devon and Cornwall Police Special Constabulary.
Lee is married to Mike. They live locally in South Devon , and spend much of their spare time coping with two boisterous dogs.
Serving as treasurer of his local athletics club, Lee found himself entering for, training for, and completing the London Marathon. He loved it, but has no idea how he got talked into it, and has no intention of ever doing it again!
Paul SlemmingsFrame designer
Hi, Paul here. I studied and worked as an aerospace engineer namely on supersonic air intakes for the never to happen Concorde replacement. I then worked as a school teacher before getting the carpentry bug on a voluntary course just outside Bristol in 1996. I joined Carpenter Oak Ltd in 1999 as a carpenter and now spend most of my time designing frames and supporting the company's computers but still get the chance to dust off my tools a few times a year.
So thanks for looking at our site and should you commission us to design and build a frame for you I look forward to being part of the process!
I have been a part of the Carpenter Oak (family) team since 1999. Together we are great. Care, quality, reliability are embodied values that attracted me to the company from the word go.
I started as a mature student! trainee carpenter (change of direction from a successful career working for BMW) and developed with Carpenter Oak over the years to become a Director in 2009. I get just as much of a buzz today, 12 years on, being involved with client's aspirations to create a beautiful frame home, as I did the first day I started.
Among the many hats I wear, organising self build exhibitions gives me the opportunity to meet people at the time they are first inspired by what it is we do and then to eventually help erect the actual oak frame on their site is a real thrill.
I look forward to playing my part in making your build project an enjoyable reality and offering you a warm welcome to Carpenter Oak.
Rob WilliamsSenior carpenter
After years of school then art college I somehow found myself working as a Motorcycle Mechanic. It took 'many moons' of slaving away, covered in grease, working for peanuts and abuse, before I realised I needed a career change.
I have been working here for over 8 years (still for peanuts but no abuse) and am as happy as a 'pig in sawdust'! The constant challenges of the job and the great comraderie of my co' workers, keep my mind busy and my nails free of oil (except at the weekends).
Rob Williams aged 35 and a half - Jan 2011
Jamie WilsonCustomer Relations
The Story so far.......
I was exposed to timber framing after watching Ben Law build his home from surrounding woodland on Grand Designs. I took a week out from my career in 2007 to study at the Weald and Downland Museum on the 'timber framing from scratch' course. I loved every minute.
I used to be an estate agent of sorts (please don't hold that against me!), valuing and selling businesses for Christie & Co. After 5 years of success I'd had enough of the greed that infected every minute of every day. I decided to change my life and move to Devon. I have worked at Carpenter Oak since October 2009. I started as a trainee carpenter and now I am focusing on our potential clients - like you!
I still have to pinch myself as we get to work in some of the most beautiful locations around the UK constructing amazing homes.
My wife and I are now expecting our first child so a new special chapter in the life of ..... Jamie Wilson 2011
I have worked in the office at Carpenter Oak for 15 years. I previously worked at Cambridge University before moving to Devon in the 70s, raising a family and getting back into the workplace with local architects, before discovering Carpenter Oak. I live in a thatched chocolate box cottage within walking distance of The Framing Yard although drive in too often! Jack the dog accompanies me and enjoys avoiding steel capped boots and looking out for treats! I love the sea, cliff walking, skiing, barbeques, and mucking about on the River Dart.
I'm Nik. I joined Carpenter Oak in 2001 and spent 6 years as a carpenter, building and raising frames. I now look after our work programme and co-ordinate our projects, teams and timber. (I'm glad I learned to juggle all those years ago!)
Every day brings a new challenge, but we have fantastic, diverse and resourceful team here. It means it's always enjoyable coming to work.
After a brush with the notion of becoming an engineer when young, my deep passion for the outdoors instead led me to get involved in community projects in the woodlands surrounding Bristol where I learned the basics of woodland crafts, management and became interested in timber framing. I ran a small art gallery and picture framing business before I eventually escaped the big smoke in 1999 and headed for South Devon, where we lived for a time at a crumbling hotel high on the cliffs. I found work in general building for 2 years before joining the Carpenter Oak team.
I have a son who keeps me young at heart. I'm a keen runner and love the moors, rivers and coastline.
Dave KnightSenior carpenter
Tom JubbFrame designer
Initially training as a marine biologist I defiantly took the indirect route into Carpentry and timber framed buildings! Inspired by my dad (joiner and house builder) I ditched the snorkel and bought a hammer! After training, working and gaining experience with various timber frame companies I finally settled here at Carpenter Oak in 2007. Work ethic, fellow workers and challenging projects all contribute to a brilliant work place in a great part of the world.
I gave up a career as a geotechnical and environmental engineer in 2001 and bought a barn to convert into a house in south Devon, and moved down here with my family. Carpenter Oak did the conversion and I helped out on site - I enjoyed it so much I joined the company and trained as a carpenter. Now I spend too much time estimating costs for new clients and not enough doing carpentry but I still love the parties and often come to work with my spaniel Rufus who gets on everyone's nerves.
After completing his university degree in Film, Tom joined Carpenter Oak in 2006. He takes great pride in his carpentry and works as a team leader. Tom is a keen yoga student and musician.
Mick DandridgeSenior carpenter
I have been timber framing since 1998. Before that I was a tree surgeon working in South West London where I graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1990. I enjoy living with my family in South Devon.
Building oak frame houses is a fantastic job to have as they are without a doubt the most beautiful, strong, clever houses on the planet.
I took my Carpenter Oak apprenticeship-training in 2007 straight after school, having got a feel for wood when I was growing up as I spent most of my time in dad's joinery shop - also having seen one of Carpenter Oak's fine examples going up locally.
It is a perfect career building high quality timber frames all around the place which in turn needs high levels of different skills to be learnt. I will be working with this sound bunch of hairy carpenters for many years to come.
One of the good things about timber framing is that people come to it from different directions.
My route was roundabout, from a background in the arts via a few diversions along the way, into general building, carpentry and restoration work.
I started at Carpenter Oak in the spring of 2004 having spent 10 years as a chef in various restaurants. Having left this trade I found myself a little lost. Through luck and the need for some cash I discovered Carpenter Oak, with my first job including tidying the yard and hedge maintenance. This quickly progressed to the cutting of pieces of timber for frames for their carpentry. Working for this company has enabled me to live and work within walking distance which is something I am more than lucky to do but it is also refreshing to work with such a muddle of people and backgrounds.
I embarked on this journey into the wonderful world of green oak structural framing following a 2 week course in Ontario. Being able to create such exquisite and bespoke frames is a real joy of which I will never tire. I hope that one day I can pass on my knowledge and skills to my children so that they too can immerse themselves into the great craft fellowship to which I am truly honoured to belong.
I joined Carpenter Oak in 2006. I previously worked in the motor industry and still have a keen interest in cars.
I joined Carpenter Oak in 2007 after working as a shipwright, fisherman and site carpenter. I served a boatbuilding apprenticeship in Cornwall and worked in the industry for 8 years before going to sea working on fishing boats around the Cornish coast. I'm now enjoying not being covered in mud, tar, red lead and mastic but I'm still digging sawdust out of my boots.
It is an enormously satisfying feeling to be part of a long line of carpenters who have been building in a similar way for hundreds of years and to know it promotes the responsible management of woodland.
A discovery that colleagues could also be a family is a revealing one to me. I followed a penuriously aspirational path for many years and after a 'fire pit moment' in the Drakensburg, let go and embraced nurture and nature. I now live with the seasons and accept each moment as it unfolds.
In real life I am a proud (I could bore for England on the subject, let alone offer an opinion) late Dad. I manage a local woodland with my soulmate, make furniture and manage an historic coppice in the Cotswolds.
I do a lot of the below stairs jobs at Carpenter Oak from firewood to cutting sling braces. Tuesdays finds me stacking wood to the left, Wednesdays moving it to the right. Carpe Diem as they say.
Hi I'm Tristan - I joined the company in early 2007 after working for two timber framing companies in the South East. I am now 10 years into my career as a framer and still enjoying the life.
Sarah SouthgateAccounts assistant
Sarah started her career teaching young children. She then used her horticultural degree to move into landscape gardening. Currently she runs a small holding with an extensive garden, poultry and pigs. Environmentally conscious she enjoys walking to work and being employed by a company committed to sustainable forestry. She is the proud mother of two young adults and a proficient basketmaker.
Martin Le Corburn'Yardy'
I started work with Carpenter Oak in 2005 with a background in tree work, wooden boat building and one year's experience in timber framing. I enjoy the challenges that my job provides and life in Devon is good.
I decided to take up timber framing as an alternative to a university degree as I felt it offered a good balance of mental and physical stimulation, well suited to my personality. I was also aware of a general contentment in terms of work/life balance from people senior in the trade. So far I am very happy in my job, largely due to those who I work closely with and others in the company. The positive atmosphere has helped me greatly in the learning process and also to create a productive working environment.
I feel my decision to take up the trade was indeed the right one especially in today's climate, but more importantly I feel I am creating a good foundation for my professional life wherever I may end up.
Move your mouse around on the image below to see the team in the show barn wearing our favourite hats!