29 October 2021

Spotlight on… the Oak Frame Training Forum

TRADA image

The Oak Frame Training Forum (OFTF) is a training group formed by The Carpenters’ Fellowship (CF) in response to our members needs for training, qualifications and accreditation which had hitherto been unavailable within our specialist sector. We provide the full range of training for those employed within the oak framing industry, with the help of government funding via the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).


We also have a Facebook page, which is regularly updated and which welcomes contributions from far and wide. More information is available here.


OFTF objectives

  • To provide skills training in oak framing and its associated trades and activities.
  • To provide routes to qualification for those employed within the industry.
  • To provide assistance and support to our members in regard to their training and H&S requirements.
  • To organise building projects that will benefit communities and charitable causes.
  • To organise events with lectures, workshops and seminars and to bring together those involved, directly or indirectly, with timber framing.
  • To showcase this form of construction and bring to the attention of the wider construction industry, and the public, the skills and professionalism found within this sector.


OFTF HQ is based just outside Bristol. We are lucky to work in the middle of the countryside where our only neighbours are sheep and cows. This is where we hold the majority of the training as we have a large yard to store and mill the timber.


We are also fortunate to have access to buildings of historical importance in Bristol. Our apprentices have the opportunity to work at 16 King Street, a timber-framed building which dates back to the 1660s.


We run Specialist Apprenticeship Programme (SAP) courses in Structural Post & Beam Carpentry. Our Level 2 course involved employers releasing their trainees for 5 weeks out of the year to attend enhanced training courses aimed at developing their skills. This will culminate in a period of assessment towards an NVQ L2.


The SAP L2 course comprises 17 modules of work:

  1. General Health and Safety NVQ induction, ERR and CSCS test
  2. Sector introduction. (Presentation - not included in this document)
  3. Using and Maintaining Framing Hand Tools
  4. Lifting & Moving Heavy Timbers
  5. Emergency First Aid at Work
  6. PASMA Mobile Access Tower
  7. Using and Maintaining Framing Power Tools
  8. Working at Height for Oak Framers
  9. Slinger / Signaller for Oak Framers
  10. Scribing Timbers for Structural Timber Frames
  11. Design & Drawing for Structural Timber Frames
  12. Selecting, Converting and Using Timber
  13. Introduction to Joint Design and Frame Engineering
  14. Setting out Structural Timber frames
  15. Fabricating Structural Timber Frames
  16. Site Erection of Structural Timber Frames
  17. Timber Conservation & Repairing Timber Frames


Over the training, a typical week will include a selection of the above modules being taught as stand-alone practical sessions or integrated practical lessons at the main training site in North Somerset.


Our trainers and assessors are very experienced professionals working within this specialist industry.


We are currently working on Strategic Plans with the CITB to broaden the scope of the courses that we can offer. It is our stated aim to provide career continuity by offering the Level 3 Structural Post and Beam course, which we have designed and developed, and which is in the process of being approved by the CITB. This will provide advanced tuition and options for specialisation to carpenters who have successfully completed the Level 2 SAP or who have developed their timber framing skills along other routes.


Employer comments

“The OFTF is not only an essential resource to us as a company, but – in my view – a vital part of our industry’s long-term efforts to maximise health and safety at work, to promulgate best practice and skills, and to offer career milestones for workers in our specialised field.” – Tim Potts


“We have found that the OFTF NVQ training programme has provided a much-needed framework to ensure delivery of our staff skills development. It means that we can offer this to our new recruits knowing that a plan will be in place regardless of how busy we are. Many of our staff have now benefitted from this in-depth teaching which covers: frame and joint design, the history of framing, health and safety, and also practical sessions at model and full-scale. It’s a vital part of our own training programme.” – Charley Brentnall, Carpenter Oak & Woodland


“I thought the training and guidance they were given was excellent and covered many aspects of the craft that they would not have been taught at work. The quality of the trainers and the invigilators was really top-notch with many of the top experts in the industry being involved. Overall, I am very satisfied with the quality, standard and content of the training given by OFTF. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to other employers or organisations.” – Rupert Newman, Westwind Oak Buildings


Student comments

“The OFTF provided an excellent stepping stone for me to enter into the traditional post and beam industry. I have gone on to develop my skills in a variety of carpentry techniques, and have been involved in several timber framing projects – managing and building beautiful houses. I learnt a lot from the course, I made excellent connections in the industry, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I wholeheartedly recommend the programme.” – Will Hallett, Natural Design and Build


More information