Building the Westonbirt Woodworks

As part of our exciting new Woodworks project, Westonbirt staff and volunteers were given the opportunity to get involved in the building of our new drying shelter.

We caught up with Alice Chadwick, our Volunteering Support Officer, to find out about her experience helping out with the build.

Getting started!

I’ll be the first to admit that my day to day job (helping to organise our wonderful team of volunteers) could not be further from this project, and beyond helping out with the odd DIY job at home I had absolutely no experience with this kind of thing. However, I always enjoy a good challenge, so when the call came out to help with the construction of the drying shelter I jumped at the opportunity!

Having donned steel toe capped shoes, high vis jackets and protective gloves (safety first, and, well, I had to look the part), I headed out into the building site (and the pouring rain!).

Creating the roof frame

This was definitely my favourite part of the day – creating the truss. This involved bringing together two large pieces of timber to create the triangular shape of the roof. The ends are shaped so that the two pieces slot together, and each end has a hole in it. Once the two pieces of timber are lined up we bash an oak peg through the holes to hold the frame in place. Interesting fact, when rested together the two holes do not quite align – this is so when the oak peg is pushed through it is held in place more securely and forms a tight fit.

Level checking

The other part of our job was to help check that the staddle stones (the stones on which the supporting timber legs of the building rest) were level – otherwise we might end up with a wonky building at the end of the project! In the four corners and the back middle point of the building there were blocks of concrete in the ground with metal rods pointing out of them. A sheet of plastic with a hole in the middle was placed over the rod and onto the concrete and the staddle stones were placed on top of this. Whilst one member of the team stood with a tape measure, the other would look through a special piece of measuring equipment to make sure that the stone was level. If not, the piece of plastic would be switched for one with a different thickness. The plastic cover is temporary to protect the stones from staining from the oak, we will remove it once the oak has naturally weathered.

I came away from the project with a burning sense of pride, I’d really enjoyed getting hands-on with the creation of the saw mill shelter, it was so different from my day to day job. Whilst I don’t think I’ll be hanging up my volunteering hat just yet to pursue a career in timberframing, it gives me enormous pride to be able to point at the saw mill shelter and say ‘I helped to build that!’

The Friends along with The Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers Charitable Trust, The Summerfield Charitable Trust, CHK Charities Ltd, Swire Charitable Trust as well as our supporters are proud to have helped fund this inspiring project.

Discover the Westonbirt Woodworks developing as you wander over the Treetop Walkway!

Looking to support another project which gives back to the local community? Find out more about our community shelter appeal...