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The Scribe Rule

At English Oak Buildings, we are proud of our adherence to the timeless craftsmanship of heritage joinery methods. When creating the oak frame you will hear us refer to the traditional and precise technique known as the ‘Scribe Rule’.

Mat Hulford1


So what exactly does this mean?

Well, the Scribe Rule is where our carpenters lay out and mark up each individual piece of timber above a life-size drawing chalked onto the floor, creating a specific match between pieces. Since each of the timbers could have irregularities, this way of marking joints allows for an accuracy that will ensure a sound, tight fit.

When designing the frame, we make sure that each portion of the structure can be dealt with separately by our carpenters – for instance, the cross frames, roof frames and wall frames are all two dimensional elements that can be laid out and cut on the workshop floor for maximum proficiency.

The timber beams are laid out on trestles over a drawing on the floor of our workshop, and can be placed in exact relation to each other using a plumb bob (the vertical equivalent of a water level) that has a hole in the middle, allowing the framer to see the various marks on the floor.

So what about the ‘scribing’ element? Well this happens when the timber pieces are laid over each other, so that they are all exact – and each piece in the layer is marked for future reference. Since they are pre-drilled, the frame can now be fixed together on-site using oak pegs. The next step is to transfer the timbers to the site, and lay them out in relation to each other – thus making the actual frame raising an impressive and exciting occurrence.






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