Build diary – week three, we have walls

volunteers remove the bark from our larch poles

With great pleasure, I am handing this blog over to Whistlewood volunteers. If you would like to contribute, you can write your own piece as Chris has or send me notes using the contact page or via Whistlewood.

By Chris Gregson – 11th June to 15th June.

We’ve had a very productive week going from first bale to last bale in just 4 days and to top this off the Larch poles arrived on Wednesday.

Building a straw wall sounds easier than it is, firstly, the bales have to be ‘dressed’ that is the ends have to be cleaned up and made as flat, and square, as possible so that they sit tightly together.  These bales are then laid, like bricks, with a half overlap up to 4 courses high which is when the long stakes are driven vertically down into them to pin the whole thing together.  Our walls are 7 bales high so another set of long stakes are used to pin these to the lower levels.

The whole site, before the walls go up

Straw bale walls go up
One wall complete (covered with the blue tarpaulin in the background) with the other wall ready for the first set of long stakes.

last bale is positionedThe last bale is positioned and the straw walls are finished.  Although they look a little ragged at the moment once the top plate is installed, which will stabilise the whole structure, the gaps will be stuffed with spare straw and trimmed prior to the outer coat of lime plaster and the inner coat of clay plaster being applied.

The Larch has landed.

the larch has landed

Larch poles
These Larch poles have been donated by John Blunt from his estate woodland just the other side of the A42 and were delivered to site with no charge by another local company D G Light Haulage of Kings Newton. Thank you.

As usual we put out a call for volunteers, this time to come and help de-bark the logs.  With spades in hand, which we found ideal for the job, our willing volunteers set to and completed the majority of the logs in a few short hours, although there’s still plenty left if anyone wants to come and have a go themselves.

volunteers remove the bark from our larch poles
De-barking allows the structural timbers to be visually certified, something we have to have done to comply with building control.

Huge thanks go out to all of the volunteers who gave up their time to help this week with both the bale dressing and de-barking.

Chris Gregson

Volunteer opportunities

Would you like to learn the remaining process of straw bale building? Mondays to Fridays daytimes. Steel toe-cap boots required. You will receive full expert supervision in return for your commitment. This is a unique opportunity to learn straw bale building for free.

Community days

Wine bottle floor laying – date to be confirmed. Come and help lay our wine bottle insulation floor. Suitable for all ages.
Laying the timber decking – date to be confirmed.
Living roof – date to be confirmed.
Please email Whistlewood if you can help.


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