I often think that building a house is similar to the birth of a child.
The conception is the time when my clients dream about what type of house they would love to have. They look at websites and read books or magazines to gather as many ideas as possible that fit with their imagination and values. Then there is the gestation period – the drawings phase – where I work with my clients to get their ideas and dreams down on paper and fleshed out.
Then comes the actual birth, starting with the foundation and getting the house out of the ground. From there it’s like the child that grows up. Different phases continue on the house, the walls get built and the roof goes on. Then the building continues to grow with the addition of decks and siding and the windows getting put in. It keeps growing, with kitchens and bathrooms, flooring and trim, paint or plaster, until it is fully grown and the move-in date has arrived.
And just like raising a child, it’s a lot of hard work with many hard decisions, and a big investment of resources. In the end, all of that hard work pays off and my clients get to enjoy the fruits of their efforts! And the best part is, every house that I build is just like a child, unique in it’s own special way.
This photo shows the framing being done on a straw bale house near 6 Mile, just outside Nelson, BC.
One of the bathrooms in this house had only a bathtub with a half wall for the bathtub plumbing. The home owner wanted a more useful space, so she asked us to install glass blocks to create a full wall for a shower surround. The glass blocks give more light to the shower area, as well as compliment the look in the rest of the bathroom.
Since we couldn’t put the plumbing into the glass blocks, we used copper piping to plumb the shower head. We looked for something store bought that would work for this application but could not find anything, even at the specialty plumbing stores. So we got creative and made it ourselves. The best part is that the copper is going to be chromed to match the fixtures and that the place to do it is none other than the Harley Davidson dealership!
With not too much work, new tile, and a glass wall, the result is a much more functional space that is really aesthetically pleasing. Something to think about for your next project!
In my last blog post I talked about my kids carving this spoon for their mom. Here is the finished project. The wood is pine and was an easy wood for the kids to learn how to carve with. The spoon now has a permenent home on the back of the stove for all of us to look at every time we cook!
I loved how the kids’ imaginations worked while carving the spoon. It was my daughter’s idea to carve the heart into the spoon, and it was my son’s idea to carve the small notch just above the bowl. These are things I wouldn’t have even thought about doing, so I am glad that the kids got creative!
I want to thank Doug Pauls of Rocky Mountain Alphorns – he was the one that gave me the spoon blank and spurred the idea. Here is a youtube video you can watch of his journey into carving! Watching this makes teaching my kids how to carve that much more special.
I got inspired last winter to carve some spoons for gifts for the holiday season. My kids loved hanging out in the wood shop with me, and they decided that they wanted to help carve a wooden soup spoon for their mom.
Not only did they both participate in using the chisels to shape and texture the spoon, they also came up with the idea to carve a heart into the end of the handle. I was very proud of my son and daughter for listening to my safety expectations so that they could carefully use the sharp chisels.
I love teaching them how to use hand tools to create their own wood projects, because we get to spend that special time together and they feel so good about what they have made with their hands.
We finished the spoon with food-grade oil & beeswax finish, then wrapped it up to give to mom! Watch for the next blog to see a photo of it finished.
This deck was a joy to design and build. The customers wanted to expand their outdoor living space, and they already had the deck there but wanted a covered area where they could bbq and hang out. Since the deck is on the back of the house in a shady area, they wanted to maximize the available light. This lead their decision to install clear roofing material, giving them shelter from the weather while still letting the sun through! The best part is that they are my neighbors, so from time to time, I will be able to go over and enjoy the space myself!
This deck is on an off-grid home in the Slocan Valley. I have had the pleasure of working on a few other projects in this house, and it’s great to see how the longevity of my workmanship is holding up over the years. I’ve been keen to watch how various exterior and interior finishes have held up, especially on highly exposed areas outdoors or high traffic areas indoors, as this helps me to offer other clients the best choices for quality finishes and application methods.
These kitchen cabinets were a joint project: a custom kitchen designer from Crawford Bay, a cabinet making company in Calgary, and the install was done by TRC Timberworks. One of the biggest challenges was making sure that communication was working well between the customer, the designer, the cabinet shop, and the TRC Timberworks crew.
It turned out really well after a few hiccups, and it was great to work on the North Shore of Kootenay Lake. There are a lot of interesting homes along the lake – even an old ferry boat converted into a house, overlooking the lake!
It was such a pleasure to install this kitchen. Everything about it was high quality: the cabinets, the hardware, and all the slides and hinges. And all of the cabinet parts were cut precisely, which made for a fast install. Once everything was installed, it looked amazing and the customers were super happy!
Working with rounds is a lot different than working with square timbers. Layout is completely different: working off of chalk lines and carving the rounds down to square posts at the joinery took a lot longer than just working with square timbers.
Making the braces was a challenge in precision – getting the square part carved perfectly to fit the housing and then adding 45 degree cuts in the end really gave me a challenge! I cut all of the log joinery using a chainsaw to rough out the joints and then cleaned them up with an angle grinder fitted with a sanding disk.
The customer really liked the round look, so we used round logs for the posts and braces to give the house an open concept log home feel. However, since the square beams were faster to layout and cut, the hybrid of both square with round was the solution we came up with to work within budget.
This home will be an off-grid straw bale home, with clay plaster.
What a joy to install a new set of stairs right on Christina Lake in the bright spring sunshine!
The front deck of the Sunflower B&B needed two sets of new stairs, plus new posts under the deck. When I took out the old posts, they were completely rotten, so it’s a very good thing the owner had me do this now.
The B&B is a beautiful log home, and these stairs lead to the lake, where my family joined me for a day to kayak and skip pebbles. We enjoyed watching a loon on water and a bald eagle circling directly above us, and at the end of the day I was able to take a little tour in a kayak with my son.
After helping build this client’s kitchen with Juniper Joinery, she wanted an island to add a little more work space. Because the kitchen was too small to accommodate a full-sized island, I came up with this option. The top measures 33″ x 22″ and is small enough to pick up and slide out of the way when needed.
I designed the counter top to be a butcher block so the customer could use this space as a cutting board for preparing meals. A butcher block top is a great choice for cutting on, since the end grain of the wood doesn’t dull a knife as quickly as cutting across the grain.
I also added in a couple of shelves for storing dishes, and as a special bonus, I added a drawer with hand-cut dovetails for the joinery. And I always give my clients green options when it comes to the finish on my furniture. This piece uses a combination of Osmo oil for the base, shelves and drawer, with food-safe tung oil for the butcher block top.
The wonderful folks at Mandala Homes asked me to help out with some timber accent details for a home that is being pre-fabricated in Nelson, BC and then shipped and assembled in Hawaii.
The cloudlift design cut into the ends of these timbers is based on Greene and Greene architectural design. I cut them using a carving bar on my chainsaw – the same bar used when carving chainsaw sculptures. Using the chainsaw to cut these kind of details is my favorite way to do it! Years ago I couldn’t afford to buy a dedicated portable bandsaw for this task so I taught myself how to carve these details with a chainsaw. These timbers will be beams in the project going to Hawaii, and as you see in the photo, they are ready to be sanded and finished.
Greene and Greene were two brothers who created a very unique style of architecture in building residential houses. The style they were later acclaimed for was used in all aspects of their buildings, from the structural elements and exterior, right down to the tiny details on the trim and furniture inside the house. The Greene and Greene style happens to be one of my favorite architectural styles to date – only slightly ousted by the Japanese and Asian styles, which actually inspired the Greenes’ look.
And yes, that is snow on the ground, since it’s still winter in the West Kootenays. I was hoping Mandala might ask me to personally accompany these timbers to Hawaii…. But I’ll settle for some photos when the project is done!