Wood Techniques I.

Wattle constructions

Some of the oldest wooden constructions documented on the territory of today’s Czech Republic contain wattle. This is a simple structure created by stakes or posts hammered into the soil. Between the stakes, thin branches were alternatively woven to form a wall. This construction did not require hard carpenter’s labour, apart from tapering the posts. Such wattle structures remained the longest on barns and fences. It was also used for houses, of course, where a thick layer of earth (daub) was applied to improve the thermal isolation and especially its fire-proof properties. These wood-earthen structures were, therefore, more frequent in the past. In the later period, wattle and daub were still applied for panelling of half-timbering and in chimneys or the gables of houses in some regions.

Tongue and groove constructions

Tongue and groove constructions were also documented in the ancient period of building development in today’s Czech Republic. The structures were made up of posts fitted with grooves for inserting rough planks or beams, the ends of which were narrowed by hewing. Vertical insertion was common but there was also a variant with panelling consisting of elements inserted horizontally. Like wattle and daub, tongue and groove structures remained the longest on barns, although in other buildings it retreated relatively quickly to log constructions.

Frame constructions

Frame construction was formed by beams joined together to create a planar or spatial frame. The created framework was then left without panelling or was covered with boarding on the outside. The function of the boarding was to separate and protect the interior, albeit without high thermal and technical requirements. For this reason, simple frame construction was not used for houses but rather for farm or other non-living types of buildings only. Such examples were barns, sheds, woodsheds, and other small annexes as well as bell towers, roofed bridges, and wooden windmills.

Half-timbered constructions

Gable of half-timbered house
Half-timbered gable with painting (Doubrava village, Cheb District, Karlovy Vary Region, west Bohemia)

Even though the fundamental construction technique in where is now the Czech Republic was log or beam homes, north-west Bohemia relied more heavily on half-timbered construction. This technique was sporadically used inland as well. The basis for half-timbering was a supporting frame with the area between the beams filled in. The older type of fill consisted of wattle or sticks covered with an earthen screed. Then stones and bricks were later used for this purpose.

Author © Martin Cernansky