The Three Atop team are always on hand to aide our customers with their bespoke ideas and projects. We love nothing more than creating special pieces and this request was like no other.
A majestic beech tree on a local estate had succumbed to the high winds. Our customer popped in to ask if we could possibly collect the beech tree, mill the timber and perhaps commission a casket for their recently departed mother.
We were extremely honoured to be asked, local timber from Emmets Grange, being milled here at Simonsbath Sawmill, then laid to rest at St Luke’s Church, Simonsbath. The whole idea was a beautiful tribute to their mother, fits perfectly with our cyclical ethos. We wanted to ensure we did the commission process justice.
As you can imagine a request like this isn’t something you hear everyday. A project, we as a team had never undertaken before.
Although the tree had fallen, it was still very much alive. The timber being so wet would pose potential structural implications. The team thought of every which way this could happen. They set to work researching and began engineering a design that was able to adapt to the natural movement of the timber. We also had to take into consideration at this point we had no idea what timber the tree would yield until the first cut.
We set off on the Monday morning to sever the tree and transport it back to the Sawmill. The remainder of the day was spent marking cuts and planning as best we could.
By Tuesday morning the timber had been cut (including a very carefully cut bottom section to avoid inclusions) and we moved onto plaining. The Sawmill always smells amazing however, the Beech being so fresh, it really was quite fragrant. We were also asked to create the grave marker cross which would be displayed until the headstone was complete. Mr Boss took to the challenge and it turned out wonderfully
The Beech was beginning to dry and movement had started to show. The design settled on was a solid bottom, solid top piece and cladded exterior. The cladding when forced together would have less chance to move, shrink or warp. By Wednesday the bottom piece, frame work and cladding had been clamped together however, the wood glue refused stick fast, the timber was holding too much moisture. Handy Andy to the rescue. He came up with a sawdust and wood glue concoction we were able to pack in tightly. It did the trick as the cladding fused solid.
Thursday morning saw the finishing touches to the cladding, sanding to remove sharper edges and allow the structure to visually appease and flow. The top piece was fitted and the casket oiled and prepared for collection.
Friday saw the casket collected and transported to have the handles and plaque fitted by the undertaker.
The entire cyclical process was completed in 4 days. It was a challenge however, one of the most rewarding projects we have been commissioned to do.
I am so incredibly impressed with the dedication, time and care the team put into this very special commission, they did everything they could to ensure the family had a truly beautiful and unique casket holding special meaning to them at this difficult time.
From fallen Beech to final resting place, a uniquely Exmoor goodbye.