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Mixing oak with glass
It's a winning combination of style and feeling. The oak offers unbeatable durability long term, the glass offers clean lines and picturesque reflections.

Timber engineering
Using state of the art design and calculations, machinery and skill, timber is now being used to create sky scrapers and buildings of huge standing and interest. Steam bending, glue laminating and steel plating can be used to form the exact lines from an architects design.

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Mixing oak with glass
It's a winning combination of style and feeling. The oak offers unbeatable durability long term, the glass offers clean lines and picturesque reflections.

Timber engineering
Using state of the art design and calculations, machinery and skill, timber is now being used to create sky scrapers and buildings of huge standing and interest. Steam bending, glue laminating and steel plating can be used to form the exact lines from an architects design.

Carbon lockdown
Trees are largely made of what they breath in, carbon. By using timber for your build, you are locking in carbon from our atmosphere into your building. Using what know today about buildings which have lasted, and buildings which have not, we are absolute in our findings when it comes to timber. Protected in the right way or aloud to breath, we know that timber buildings can keep that carbon locked in for well over a thousand years. Pretty impressive.

If a timber building ever is brought down by nature, or by our own endeavour, the product of nature simply returns back without any harm. Quite the opposite, it can be recycled for reuse, or it will host a thriving hub of mini-beasts and life, birds will feed and rodents will call it home, harmony.

Arguably, timber frame structures and dwellings are the beginning of human civilisation. With the skills and abilities to use what grows in our environment, early human beings could create a safe space to shelter from the elements, or possibly from danger of wild animals. Now residing in relative comfort and safety, humans could develop their mind and be creative with it. Inviting a fellow being into the shelter showed the ability to think of others, and once inside the generosity of sharing and making peace.

Right here, right now, in the modern world, our shelters are used for exactly that same notion, and the more we invest into making our homes a delightful place to be, the more we delight in sharing it.

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Carbon lockdown
Trees are largely made of what they breath in, carbon. By using timber for your build, you are locking in carbon from our atmosphere into your building. Using what know today about buildings which have lasted, and buildings which have not, we are absolute in our findings when it comes to timber. Protected in the right way or aloud to breath, we know that timber buildings can keep that carbon locked in for well over a thousand years. Pretty impressive.

If a timber building ever is brought down by nature, or by our own endeavour, the product of nature simply returns back without any harm. Quite the opposite, it can be recycled for reuse, or it will host a thriving hub of mini-beasts and life, birds will feed and rodents will call it home, harmony.

Arguably, timber frame structures and dwellings are the beginning of human civilisation. With the skills and abilities to use what grows in our environment, early human beings could create a safe space to shelter from the elements, or possibly from danger of wild animals. Now residing in relative comfort and safety, humans could develop their mind and be creative with it. Inviting a fellow being into the shelter showed the ability to think of others, and once inside the generosity of sharing and making peace.

Right here, right now, in the modern world, our shelters are used for exactly that same notion, and the more we invest into making our homes a delightful place to be, the more we delight in sharing it.

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Dove Tail Joinery
The dovetail is probably one of those joints which many people would have heard of and would most probably consider to be of high standard. Well, most people would be right with that. This 'housed dovetail' was part of an oak floor joisted balcony which later received a cutting edge glass hand rail and deck.  The dovetail was chosen to show through the glass aesthetically, but more than this it offers supreme strength with no screws or brackets to be seen. The housing both carries load and prevents the oak joist from twisting, the dovetails both support load and lock the timbers together, it's just so perfectly beautiful.

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Half Lapped Scarf Joinery
This joinery serves to join timbers together to create a longer beam. It is carefully engineered to resist tension, compression, and shear forces.

Scarf joints use accurate marking and gauging, it's a very satisfying process and the result is a reinforced and extended timber.

Half Lapped Scarf Joinery
This joinery serves to join timbers together to create a longer beam. It is carefully engineered to resist tension, compression, and shear forces.

Scarf joints use accurate marking and gauging, it's a very satisfying process and the result is a reinforced and extended timber.

Dove Tail Joinery
The dovetail is probably one of those joints which many people would have heard of and would most probably consider to be of high standard. Well, most people would be right with that. This 'housed dovetail' was part of an oak floor joisted balcony which later received a cutting edge glass hand rail and deck.  The dovetail was chosen to show through the glass aesthetically, but more than this it offers supreme strength with no screws or brackets to be seen. The housing both carries load and prevents the oak joist from twisting, the dovetails both support load and lock the timbers together, it's just so perfectly beautiful.

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Roof Shingles
These oak shingles were split from locally sourced and fast growing 'Turkey' oak. The oak tree is cut cross grain in trunk sections at approx 16" long, or approx 400mm.
Using a mallet, a wedge is driven into the stump to split it into manageable pieces; usually two or three sections is fine.
Raising the half stump to a comfortable working height, a Froe is used and aligned with the medullary grain(the lines coming from the heart (centre) of the stump) at 1/2"-12mm or greater,  striking the Froe hard with a mallet or club splits the shingle from the stump. As the grain tears, we call this 'singing'. A hatchet axe is used to shape the sides.

Roof Shingles
These oak shingles were split from locally sourced and fast growing 'Turkey' oak. The oak tree is cut cross grain in trunk sections at approx 16" long, or approx 400mm.
Using a mallet, a wedge is driven into the stump to split it into manageable pieces; usually two or three sections is fine.
Raising the half stump to a comfortable working height, a Froe is used and aligned with the medullary grain(the lines coming from the heart (centre) of the stump) at 1/2"-12mm or greater,  striking the Froe hard with a mallet or club splits the shingle from the stump. As the grain tears, we call this 'singing'. A hatchet axe is used to shape the sides.

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Inspiration

Each craftsman at heartwood compass hones in on ancient joinery methods which, to this day, are very well placed to work efficiently and uniquely with each timber. One method is called 'plumb scribing' and is the most effective way to exact each joint.

First, the timbers are looked over by eye to ensure it has the structural integrity to last a millennia. Oak beams, although sizeable and heavy, occasionally have 'cross grain' running through the section of timber which long term could be catastrophic to a building. Experience and care must be taken at this early stage to avoid problems but also just taking the time to cast an eye along the beam, run a hand over it and sometimes even smell the piece is a really intimate way of developing an early relationship with the work piece, for each piece of timber has its own character. Working with the character is our aim.

Our beams are then planed, faced and referenced ready to begin the joining process.

We stack the timbers precisely to design, this phase is known as 'laying up'. Beams are rarely exactly straight or without twist,  the reference lines are virtual horizontal or vertical planes through the section. Using water based levels we determine the orientation of the beam.

Once the set up process is complete, a principal carpenter will check dimensions to design and cross reference these to the 'lay up'.

A plumb bob is used to scribe the shoulders, housings, mortices, dovetails or any other time proven joint to an accurate and tidy fit. Using a combination of power tools, to remove the bulk of waste material, and hand tools to work precisely to the markings, the satisfaction of an interlocking joint is building in anticipation.

All of our frames are assembled in the workshop to ensure perfect set out and guaranteed erection on the day of the 'raising'. Traditionally the 'raising' would include an entire community of good will armed only with rope, pulleys, levers, blocks and mallets, these days we use a crane for safety and efficiency and although not quite as romantically nostalgic, is still quite impressive, a modern machine technology juxtapose the natural golden strength and design of oak timber framing.

'Topping out' is what we call the final roof timbers being placed. Branches are pinned up on the very top of the superstructure and each type of branch is selected for its values and good luck. Oak branches represent strength, endurance, longevity and resistance. Maybe hawthorn for hardy defence. Apple or cherry can be used to wish a yearly fruition and provide sweet blossom. 'Topping out' is a favourite ceremony of ours and its a good incentive for us to get there, always enjoying the journey and always putting our absolute most into everything we create.

Finishing the build. Heartwood Compass offers a broad range of experience and style, our skilled individuals have created everything weird and wonderful in this world both internally and externally of the project.

Our buildings are guaranteed against structural failure and material deficiency and ongoing maintenance packages are available to those who wish to preserve the very best from their dwelling or structure.

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Business 2 Business

Heartwood Compass operates successfully as a carpentry and building specialist.

Heartwood compass has well established b2b relationships and our professional network enforces our ability to provide excellent service to our private and domestic clients. Additional to these services, our time proven history of quality workmanship has given us the opportunity to 'cherry pick' the skilled tradesmen for all aspects of the job along the way.

We have an 1800 square foot unit based in the old Roman town of Colchester.

Currently we are building a 9.1m x 6.2m traditionally jointed cart lodge on behalf of Ponder Construction. The frame will take approximately 6-7 weeks of fabrication and will be completely dry assembled in our workshop to guarantee a one day erection with a crane. Combined with the traditional oak frame, Heartwood have negotiated a fixed price contract with Ponder Construction to supply all materials and labour to take the project from the brick work to the roof tiles, a comprehensive package.

Concurrent to the above project, our workshop is also creating a 4m x 4m softwood extension for a period listed home on behalf of Phil Snell Developments. The single story softwood studded build will have a 50° vaulted pitch hand cut roof, 2no traditional queen post oak trusses and oak ridge. Every part of the build, with exception to finishing materials which need precise site installation,  will be prefabricated and packed ready for delivery. This build will take approximately 2 weeks in the workshop.

The director of Heartwood Compass has proficiently traded for over 10 years and in that time has gained the knowledge of building from the ground up. As well as our workshop projects, Craig (MD of Heartwood), has subcontracted for Right Build Essex LTD for the previous 2 years.

most recent Right Build project is just about coming into fruition. A 400 year old Elm timber framed cottage has now been lovingly restored with the addition of a solid oak joisted floor. Modernised with insulation and sound proofing the cottage awaits a plaster finish and paint. To the rear of the property Craig has overseen and built a two story softwood timber frame extension which will house a new kitchen, shower room, dining room and an attic galley bedroom. Right Build hand Craig the responsibility to organise, quantity survey, program tradespersons, liaise with clients, architects and engineers, provide progress reports and also to get the tools out and produce fine quality work at a competitive rate.

Making the most of local businesses, Heartwood Compass has a unique trade alliance with Thorogoods Timber, well known for their hand picked quality products.

The advantages of utilising a bonafide contractor like Heartwood Compass:

• Workshop facilities with specialist tooling
• Over 10 years experience in specialist and general framing and construction
• Target driven ethos
• We can provide the initial profiles for foundation and brick layout, enabling us to begin fabrication straight away. Your business can expect to raise the building as soon as the mortar is dry
• Workshop projects are not effected by the Great British weather, no more down time. Your business will not be paying for men to set up and pack down daily as we are able to leave the set up of tools in place, ready for an immediate start the following day
• Heartwood Compass days are not governed by sunlight, if you have a time issue, talk to us. We can always drive harder at making things happen, Heartwood people are 'yes' people
  • Clients have less disturbance on site and our clients are always really satisfied with seeing an apparent 'instant' result
  • Experienced in problem solving, design consultancy, material selection and complete building protocol
  • Fully covered by all relevant insurances you  can rest assured that we are a professional and organised outfit
• VAT registered company

We are able to provide accurate costing at which ever stage of the project your business is in, however for those projects which are hard to gauge, restorations and refurbishments, we can also offer fiercely competitive day and hourly rates.

Talk to us via Contact, about any way Heartwood Compass will be of use to your business, or even if you would like to ask a question or to feedback on our case history, current efforts or our future ambitions.

Testimonials:

  • Ponder Construction Ltd > "I have known Craig Dines of Heartwood Compass for a number of years, for some of them as his employer. His carpentry craftsmanship is second to none and his love of working with wood is obvious. Quality materials, attention to detail, adhering to budget and timescales and professionally co-ordinating any changes in design are the elements he is able to provide for any client.
    I regularly use his services and am always delighted with the results."
  • Right Build Essex Ltd > "I have worked alongside Craig from Heartwood Compass since 2013, reliable and conscientious he always manages to deliver the results we are looking for as a quality developer.

    As well as great craftsmanship, planning and liaising with designers, architects and trades people is where Craig excels, he always manages to seamlessly connect the dots during the building process.

    His particular skills in oak framing and joinery have won our clients over time and time again. Both on a professional and personal level I sincerely champion Heartwood Compass to achieve great things."

    Michael Spink
    Managing director of RB Essex Ltd
  • Phil Snell Developments > "I first came across Heartwood Compass when I saw them restoring a 400 year old cottage nearby to where I am based in Hatfield Heath. As a developer myself I was curious about the project. After speaking with Craig and seeing his workmanship I was keen to get him and his business involved with me and mine.

    The extension that he built to my own period property was tastefully designed, well made and all for sensible money. My wife was really happy with Craig and his team for being polite and friendly and when I came home each day the site was always nice and tidy. We completely love the work he's done on the oak trusses and the hand chiseled work makes it really unique.

    I look forward to pipelining more projects their way."

    Phil Snell
  • Miss Rozen Camilleri > "Heartwood Compass and their team are simply delightful to have as a project developer. Our new garden room is the highlight of our home and bizarrely enough, sometimes I even miss the charming idiosyncrasies of the artisan carpenters. The passion for their craft exudes in everything they say and do."

    Rozen Camilleri
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Bio

Carpentry found me in my early 20’s, seeing people make things, all kinds of things, inspiring me to learn to do the same. Following my heart I invested every spare moment of time and every penny into doing what I now absolutely love doing… making things.

Of course, during my early years I was unable to afford both a house and a low pay trainee position, so I chose to live in a camper van and offer myself out to projects of significant interest. Unbeknown to me, this placed me in a brilliantly “obtainable’ position.

Fortunate enough to work alongside some of Europes most interesting  designers and craftsmen, it didn’t take long for me to realise that what differentiates the outstanding from the ordinary, is design.

A lucky break during 2006 presented an opportunity to work with Blue Forest, a niche marketed design company developing projects which are simply, complicatedly, just brilliantly awe inspiring. By this time I had found my feet and had the confidence to begin managing large scale projects, namely tree houses, eco lodges, woodland classrooms and other larger scale commercial timber frame developments.

In anticipation of the arrival of my son, Madoc, I could no longer commit the time to work europe-wide and decided to settle my roots and gravitate back towards my family.

Essex and Suffolk have provided excellent opportunity to learn and graft my skills in the forgotten art of oak timber framing. Steeped with historical buildings, many of which are in need of sympathetic and restorative measures. This land has truly brought into fruition something that has been growing inside of me since first seeing the shaving of a plane... the craft of timber framing.

Fortunate enough to have a natural positive energy towards buildings and their uses, Heartwood Compass is positioned well to provide design, build, refinement and proficient values to all of our clients.

Craig Dines
Artisan Carpenter

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Telephone: +44 (0)1245 701151
Mobile: +44(0) 075 00045376

WORKSHOP

Unit 5 | Grange Farm Road | Whitehall Industrial Estate | Colchester CO2 8JW

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