Developing the river joint

When the first two planks from The Jubilee Oak came off the saw mill and were laid side by side on pallets, we knew exactly how this top should be put together. Not only did we know how it should look but we also resolved there and then the fundamentals of how to achieve it.

I have never been more certain of a design concept either before or since and this was dictated almost entirely by the planks themselves. There is beauty in the plank edges and the spaces they leave between them. We also realised when developing this that the joints were reminiscent of rivers which are integral to the fenland landscape.

As woodworkers we join timber in its width all the time to make panels and tops etc, but they are almost always straight joints. This is partly due to the way commercially available time is supplied and also because of the way woodwork machinery is designed to be used.

We had a fundamental challenge with the sheer scale of these planks in that it would be very difficult to manhandle planks of this length through and over standard woodwork machinery. The concept of the river joint completely changed the way we thought about how to dimension these planks and this ultimately led to resolving these construction challenges.

The river joint is an unexpected detail that also allows us the opportunity to beautifully demonstrate the lack of a growing taper, thereby giving a unique insight into the astonishing scale of this ancient tree.

Hamish Low