Green Oak Pergola Installation

Here are some photo’s of a green oak pergola that I recently installed for a couple in Surrey.

The pergola nestles into a space near the house where a swimming pool once was.

Once vines have been established over it it will provide a very cosy space to sit and bbq in those warm summer evenings that we are bound to get next year… Surely!? In the meantime some chilly stargazing through the rafters will have to suffice!

This photo shows the braces, the traditional pegged mortice and tenon joints and the detailing of how the top rafter locks over the top of the posts and cross rafters.

This snap shows one of the top post joints ready to be pegged. Also in shot was probably the most useful tool of the day, the ‘Mighty Thor’! My heavy copper/hide mallet, perfect for banging in pegs and the fine adjustment of 6″ green oak posts!

Through this commission I met a very fine chap called Gordon Croy of Accent Garden Designs. To whom I must extend my thanks for ensuring the site was ready to accept the pergola and hence making it a very straightforward raising! Have a look at the AGC website to find out more about them and to have a nose around some lovely gardens!

Finally I must apologize for my prolonged absence from blog writing! My girlfriend and I (and lots of extremely kind friends and, paint brush wielding, family members) have been very busy (totally!) refurbishing our new house. I hope to keep you all more up to date with BGO developments, news and musings throughout the twilight of 2012 and onwards into 2013.

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Sark Hotel looks to BGO to expand its capacity.

When one of Sark’s premiere hotels wanted to compliment its sumptuous accommodation with a smaller suite of equal standard, for its feathered visitors, I was only too happy to help!

Stocks Hotel is now the proud owner of a BGO Natural Bird Box. As you can see from this photo, they have put it up on the gable end of of one of the buildings, sitting against waney edge oak weather boarding, below the oak finial and facias. Lets hope the Sark birds are as bigger fans of oak as BGO and Stocks Hotel are!

This BGO Natural Bird Box should blend in well with its oak surroundings!

Last year the hotel underwent a major refurbishment and is now one of the premiere places to stay in the Channel Islands. All of the renovations were done extremely sympathetically, highlighting the beauty and grandeur of the 18 century granite buildings. And the fact that it is still run by local families means that the welcome and experience there is still as warm as ever.

To find out more about Stocks Hotel visit their website, blog or facebook page.

They’ve promised to keep us posted on any small guests checking into the BGO suite!

The official Sark Tourism website can be found here.

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Sideboard and TV Unit Commission

Seasoned oak Sideboard and TV Unit with fumed oak detail.

Here are a few photo’s of a recent commission that I completed for a couple in Wiltshire.

Gentle curves to the outside of the legs are mirrored by the lines separating the sides of the doors and drawers.  The customers wanted the face of the sideboard to have clean and simple lines. This was achieved by using hidden handles on the tops of the doors and the bottom of the drawer fronts. These lines were picked out by setting the drawer fronts and doors in front of fumed (darkened) oak frames.

Fuming is the process of darkening oak by exposing it to ammonia fumes. These fumes react with the oak’s natural tannins to change the colour. The length of time that you leave the oak exposed to the fumes determines the depth of colour. I’ll do a separate blog post on fuming soon. It is a remarkable process, which gives great results!

This is the TV Unit made to compliment the Sideboard. It uses the same gentle curved legs and fumed oak detail. The open cupboard on the left, houses the various sky boxes, dvd players, etc. and has a hole for power leads cut in the back of it. I think the drawer on the right is used to house a small family of remote controls!

I have also been commissioned to make two small side tables to accompany the Sideboard and TV Unit. I’ll put some photo’s of those up when I’ve got some good ones.

Photo’s of these pieces haven’t made it onto the BGO website yet but have a look at the medium gallery there to see more examples of past furniture commissions.

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Top Dog / Underdog

I wanted to share with you, what I thought was some, Stephen Fry – QI style, wood related trivia. That is that the terms Top Dog and Underdog have their origins in the old school method of cutting planks from a log!

When I started re-researching, (as I can’t remember where I heard it from) some quick googling soon suggested that this, wood related, explanation of the origins of Top Dog and Underdog, might, in fact, be fictitious! So apologies to the people who I have already misled with this apparent true fact! Whilst I am clearly not an Etymologist, I do quite like the woody explanation to their origins and anyway it’s interesting to learn how wood was cut back in the day! So here goes…

To convert large round logs into squared planks and boards, without some sort of machine, you will need a big saw and a lot of muscle power! Back in the day, when big machines weren’t around, logs were placed over a saw pit, with one chap (the ‘Underdog’) stood in the bottom of the pit and another (the ‘Top Dog’) stood on top of the log, they each held onto one end of the big saw, and away they went!

This photo is from a fantastic book, “Woodland Crafts In Britain” by H.L. Edlin. Published by B.T. Batsford Ltd in 1949. – isn’t eBay brilliant!

The big scary saw had a T-shaped upper handle, suitably called the tiller, as the chap stood on top had the job of steering the saw in a straight line. While the poor fellow underneath was subjected to a constant rain of sawdust and the apparent risk of the log falling on top of him!

It appears that the more realistic origin of these terms comes from the sport of dog fighting. Even my book refers to the men working the saw pit as the top sawyer and the pitman. Nevertheless it is fascinating to learn how planks were won from round logs and to realise just how easy we have it nowadays!


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Local Press Coverage

Here’s a nice little write up Bespoke Green Oak had in this month’s issue of a local community magazine, the Test Valley Forum Magazine.


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Say it with oak this Valentine’s Day

If you’re struggling to find that special present for the one you love this Valentine’s Day, I might just have the answer with these beautiful Lovers’ Tealight Holders.

Lovers’ Tealight Holders

Lovingly handmade in the BGO workshop, from sustainably sourced English oak. These unique little blocks of love, exclusive to BGO, are sure to touch the heart of your nearest and dearest.

The Lovers’ Tealight Holders are available for £15 a pair (including 2 tealights and UK mainland P&P).

Please contact me by email: or by phone: 07973 863 511 to order yours today.


Filed under Gifts

BGO Natural Bird Boxes

Helping Our Feathered Friends

One of Bespoke Green Oak’s flagship small products is the BGO Natural Bird Box. I was really pleased when I came up with the idea of developing a BGO Bird Box as it fits in so snuggly with all that BGO stands for.

The design is simple, functional and, of course, elegant. Like everything that comes out of our workshop near Romsey, the Bird Boxes are lovingly handmade. They are made of natural, honest and recycled materials, including off-cuts of sustainably sourced English seasoned oak and recycled slate. And to underline their green credentials further, they will provide our native garden birds with 5 star accommodation to raise a family in year after year.

BGO Natural Bird Box with recycled slate and lead roof.

Bird Box Design

Designing a useful bird box is not as simple as you might think. There are lots of key design features you must get right to keep our feathered friends safe, dry and happy.

I followed the RSPB’s recommendations for details such as the internal space, height of the entrance hole from the bottom of the box (to prevent hungry pussy cats reaching in and scooping out the residents!) and the provision of drain holes. The size of the entrance hole is important too, as it will determine which particular bird species will be interested in moving in.

The RSPB also suggest that the inside surface below the entrance hole should be rough, to help the little fledglings climb out, when the time comes. I decided I could do better than simply leaving it rough. So I cut a number of grooves leading up to the hole, making a sort of baby bird ladder.

Inside detail of the BGO Bird Box, showing the baby bird ladder.

I’ve left the oak untreated, with a sawn finish so it will blend into it’s natural surroundings, without making the little birdies breath in any potentially nasty fumes from paints or stains.

To clean out the box you simply lift off the slate roof. It’s a good idea to do this each Autumn, after the feathered visitors have left, so that it’s clean and tidy, ready for next year’s guests.

Order your very own BGO Natural Bird Box today

So the BGO Natural Bird Box certainly has a lot of green credentials. With all its recycled and natural materials and of course its intended purpose of providing shelter to little love birds looking to start a family! Not only that but its stunning good looks will make the neighbours flap with envy!

BGO Natural Bird Boxes are available for £40 (plus £4.50 UK mainland P&P). Please contact me by email: or by phone: 07973 863 511 to order yours today.

Let us know who’s moved in

I’m hoping to use this blog to track the use of BGO Natural Bird Boxes across the country. If you’d like to take part in my mini ornithological survey, get yourself a BGO Natural Bird Box, put it up somewhere in your garden and send us news of any love birds that take up residence. Or even better, see if you can take some photo’s of the little chaps as they’re coming and going! I’d love to hear from you.

The RSPB’s website provides important advice on siting and cleaning your bird box.

More small BGO products can be seen in the small gallery on my website.


Filed under Bird Boxes