One of you lot will know this

British oaks from some of the UK’s most famous estates could contribute towards the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral, following an offer from members of Historic Houses, the association for independently owned historic houses and gardens.

So far more than one hundred donor estates, including Belvoir Castle, Hutton-in-the-Forest, Scone Palace, Castle Howard, Holkham Hall and Powderham Castle have volunteered valuable trees, planted for timber centuries ago, as a gift from the UK to France for the restoration of the iconic landmark’s roof, destroyed by fire last week.

Super and why not.

So, it’s possible to find the trees. But how long does it take to cure (age, mature, what?) cut timber before you start using it as roof joists etc? I know you don’t just stick the green wood up there, but how long?

13 comments on “One of you lot will know this

  1. Actually I think you have to build with oak while it’s green as the longer it ages the harder it gets.
    You would struggle to hammer a nail into aged oak without drilling a pilot hole first.

  2. Don’t think oak can be used immediately after chopping down. Green oak is preferred over dried oak for building, but green oak is defined as used within 18 months of chopping down. So I would say at east a year of drying before use.

  3. I think the new Oak we used, for a railway carriage, was two years old.
    I also replaced a main structural member 10″ x 10″ in a medieval barn, it took 10 hours mainly by hand to cut the scissors scarf in the original oak member, it took 4 hours to cut the other joint in the 3 year old green oak. I had to sharpen my chisels every hour.

  4. Used a lot of oak on French houses. About a year, I think it is. Why they’d want english oak,I can’t imagine. They’ve more than enough of their own. So much so, I was using oak where in the UK I’d be using pine. It’s a damn sight cheaper than pine. 30cm x 25cm x 3.5m joist cost me about 20€, including the cost of ripping it down to the specified dimensions.
    And, of course, we used to burn oak in the house stove. 3 stele of 35cm logs were 100€ delivered.
    Martin’s right about the hardness of aged oak. I’ve a pal in Essex has a house, parts of which are probably C15th. But all houses built then would contain a proportion of reclaimed timber. Ripping wood, in those days, with a two handed saw & saw pit or splitting with hammer & wedges took considerable labour. You took a building down, you reused what you could. So some of the house construction was very obviously of that. There were joint marks didn’t make any sense in the current location. Didn’t stop there, either. Where ever they’d come from had also used reclaimed wood. This lot, we reckoned a ship. Would make sense. The house was from near Maldon which was England’s premier port at the turn of the millenium. Had a curve likely been ship ribs. Holes that possibly took the leather or sinew they sewed the hulls together with in those days. Ships flex, unlike buildings. You don’t nail the bits that flex.
    And either are a large investment in materials & labour. The reclaimed building could take you further back 2-300 years. For a ship, definitely the sort of craft the Conqueror landed from or the Vikings sailed. We were drilling that wood with tungsten twists for steel. It was laughing at wood bits. The tress that were felled to provide it grew long before Notre Dame was even on the plans.

  5. Doesn’t most building oak come from Poland and Russia these days ? Losing that stupid central spire wll save a lot of wood.
    They could always chop up HMS Victory.

  6. Oak in the main structural timbers of age-of-sail warships was according to navy best practice seasoned for seven years before use, although in practice shortcuts were often made.

  7. Plenty of time. Government approvals for rebuilding will take a decade.

    What took a hundred years to build in the Middle Ages cannot be built at all today.

  8. bloke in spain said:
    “They’ve more than enough of their own. So much so, I was using oak where in the UK I’d be using pine.”

    I noticed that years ago when I was looking in French building supply shops; window frames and suchlike made from hardwood, prices about the same as softwood equivalents in the UK.

  9. Curious. Because generally oak wasn’t used for masts on sailing ships. They used spruce or similar, far as I recall. For a mast you want a wood that’ll take a fair amount of constant bending stress. Maybe it’s not oak.

  10. What took a hundred years to build in the Middle Ages cannot be built at all today.

    British oaks from some of the UK’s most famous estates will be ground into paper used for the requisition forms that the Notre Dame rebuilding team will use to purchase acoustic tiling.

  11. Liberty (London) was constructed from the timbers of two ships: HMS Impregnable (formerly HMS Howe) and HMS Hindustan. The frontage on Great Marlborough Street is the same length as the Hindustan.

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