A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

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A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:12 pm

My wife is a keen gardener and our current rose arch - one of those ubiquitous cheap multi-part metal tube models - collapsed under the weight of the climbing roses, which apparently is their normal fate. So, we'd like to replace it with a more substantial, green wood arch (a few years ago I tried contacting a local green wood worker a couple of times about buying one but never got a response, so I plan to do this myself). I wondered if any forum members could suggest a design and type of wood - or provide other insights or suggestions?
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby gavin » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:08 pm

Oak heartwood or sweet chestnut are your only species in my opinion.
Design : just google 'rose arch' and restrict the results to Images.
Then she'll choose the one she likes.

Here's 1 of the 9.3 million results...
Image
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:10 pm

Thanks Gavin. Oak & chestnut were the ones that sprung to my mind too - I wondered if ash (used for sheep hurdles) or birch might work, although I recall being told birch will rot.

I am looking for something rustic, that is visibly made with green-wood, riven or perhaps in the round. Perhaps with mortice & tenon joints. I prefer the traditional round arch at the top (as you showed above), but that doesn't seem very practical with green wood (perhaps if I had a big steamer :D). I quite like the flat topped Arts-&-Craft/Japanese style & that seems like it would be easier to pull-off, but I don't think it would suit our cottage garden & it's not rustic - would have suited our last home near Seattle though (Arts & Craft, old & new, is the predominant style there).
Image
So a pointed arch-top seems like it might be the (only?) way to go:

Image

My father made one somewhat like that many years ago, it finally gave up the ghost a few years back. I don't recall the details of how it was constructed but I think the timber was still in the round and roughly nailed together with fairly large nails. It had a rustic charm.

It was too low for me though, as was our cheap shop-bought metal-tube rose arch. I'm thinking the frame will need to be about 9' tall, to allow 1.5' to be buried and leave about 7.5' above ground in the middle - as climbing plants hang down some. I did sketch out some dimensions last year as a local farmer was going to make me one from wrought iron but he had a heck of a year with various things, so I didn't want to bother him. Can't recall the width I planned - enough for the wheel barrow + space for plant growth I suppose, perhaps 4'. Depth could be 2'-2.5 feet.
Last edited by ToneWood on Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby SeanHellman » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:45 pm

I would go for round chestnut poles, as for the other woods forget them as they will rot out quicker.
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby ToneWood » Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:11 pm

I followed Gavin & Sean's advice and tracked down some sweet chestnut. I had to travel to get it (a shame considering that it is coppiced nearby, I think) and it turns out that it is from an old, overgrown coppice that it being cut down and, perhaps, re-planted as a working coppice - let's hope so anyway. Consequently, finding smaller diameter, long, straight pieces proved surprisingly difficult. For the main spars the only pieces long enough & straight-enough were a couple of off-cuts left over from the milling process (there were plenty of these available). Not ideal but good enough...
Offcut chestnut split in 3.jpg
I decided to split each piece into 3. It took some careful marking & then preparing the splits by painstakingly perforating the length with a splitting wedge & lump hammer. I wasn't sure if this would work...
Offcut chestnut split in 3.jpg (109.15 KiB) Viewed 8435 times

Chestnut offcuts.jpg
But fortunately it did. Both offcuts were finally split, using wedges. The result was the required 4 good poles and two lesser poles. Coppiced spars would have been quicker/simpler to split using a froe - and could have provided a more refined finish. But rustic is fine.
Chestnut offcuts.jpg (131.01 KiB) Viewed 8435 times


Chestnut offcuts  split.jpg
2 Off-cuts left over from milling, both carefully split in 3.
Chestnut offcuts split.jpg (70.62 KiB) Viewed 8435 times

Sweet Chestnut is quite similar to oak in a number of ways ("poor man's oak" one greenwood worker called it) - it contains the (preservative & tool staining) blue-black tannin that I had previously only associated with oak.

Re. the Design:
After splitting the timbers, I considered just putting a flat cross-bar, sort of Stonehenge/swing-set/Japanese/Arts & Crafts style [see second image on this thread]. I would have just cut 4 mortice & tenon joints on the top: simple, strong and offering good headroom (as plants will cover it and hang down). But I was overruled, the family unanimously decreed the traditional peaked top, as shown in the previous post, to be the only design worth considering! Easy for them to say - that means a few nails will likely be required now.

The wife wants to keep the bark on (I knew she would when I selected it - so I turned down the offer of clean, square, milled sweet chestnut timber as an alternative) - rustic.
Last edited by ToneWood on Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:56 am, edited 11 times in total.
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby ToneWood » Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:53 pm

I spiked the poles with my Swedish carving axe:
Spiked poles.jpg
Perhaps a coating of shed stain would help preserve the tips, once in the ground?
Spiked poles.jpg (81.14 KiB) Viewed 8435 times

Then I picked out a chestnut pole to make the horizontal rungs/spacers/struts from. This one provided most of them but I used a smaller piece for that last 4.
Chestnut pole ready for riving.jpg
I let this Ash froe mallet dry several weeks before starting to use it.
Chestnut pole ready for riving.jpg (157.89 KiB) Viewed 8435 times

I figured they should be about 20" long but thought I should leave a little extra that could be cut off later.
First batch of split rungs.jpg
2'/60cm chestnut split like a dream with the froe. No need for a brake, just leant it against my chopping block and used my knee (I think I saw a picture of Brian doing that). Very enjoyable :)
First batch of split rungs.jpg (87.13 KiB) Viewed 8435 times

But they didn't get trimmed, so I now have 2' (24"/60cm) rungs!
Ladder sections for rose arch - mortice & tenon joints.jpg
.
Ladder sections for rose arch - mortice & tenon joints.jpg (136.02 KiB) Viewed 8431 times
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby ToneWood » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:03 pm

The 2' spacers/cross-bars turned out to be fine: of reasonable size and proportion to the arch & the space.
Posts for arch in place 2.jpg
Posts for arch in place 2.jpg (123.55 KiB) Viewed 8342 times

Having used a sledge hammer for fencing in the past, I decided to invest in a post driver for installing the arch (& other fencing):

Image (Bulldog make a similar product in the UK)
I regretted not buying one while in the USA. They work much better & safer* than a sledge hammer for knocking in posts, IMHO. I felt certain that I would split the drilled posts if I used my sledge hammer.

*Surprisingly, both have a reputation for causing nasty head injuries - so be careful.

I also used a large step-ladder & a special heavy old post-starter tool to start each post hole - it probably has a name but I don't know it. The post-driver worked very well (it is heavy ~30lb/14kg - about 3x the weight of big sledge hammer), although I needed to place a small wooden block on each post first, to prevent the post-driver from hitting the top cross-bars. In the end, I drove the posts in about 8-10", rather than the 18" I had allowed for - it seemed enough.
Posts for arch in place 1.jpg
The top cross-bars are only temporary, to keep the posts aligned.
Posts for arch in place 1.jpg (73.38 KiB) Viewed 8342 times

Having installed the upright sides of the arch, I wished I had opted for a simple flat top, as the job could have been finished then and there, strong and without any nails. However, I have now constructed a triangular arch - only about one-third of the the timber but more than two-thirds of the hassle & time (and all the nails)! :D Installing it is the next challenge - not sure precisely how yet but it will likely involve several people and several big nails :(.
Pigeons.jpg
...the pigeons love them.
Pigeons.jpg (24.96 KiB) Viewed 8342 times
Last edited by ToneWood on Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:56 pm

Done at last. Not exactly as I expected but certainly unique :D
Arch26.jpg
Old table in foreground was used to support the flowers while the broken old arch was removed & the new one installed.
Arch26.jpg (70.14 KiB) Viewed 8340 times

Arch17.jpg
Novel feature/boy scout engineering: a Spanish windlash keeps the frame compressed, probably unnecessary but seems like a sensible precaution until everything dries & settles.
Arch17.jpg (70.55 KiB) Viewed 8340 times
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Re: A green wood Rose Arch for my garden. Design/wood?

Postby ToneWood » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:51 pm

I thought my arch might be a bit large/heavy duty - then I saw this magnificent oak arch at TreeFest, Westonbirt, Glos.:
Oak arch.jpg
Oak arch.jpg (73.57 KiB) Viewed 8021 times

It's by "Made in Oak" of Malmesbury, Wiltshire
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