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Woodchip Clay Truth Window

Here is a neat photo of the “truth window” for the clay/fibre walls of this building. It’s a large truth window, showing both the clay/fibre mixture and the internal framing of the wall.

The truth window is located just above the stairwell, so anyone going upstairs in this building will see it at the top of the stairs. For those who can’t believe the inside of these walls are built from wood, clay soil, and woodchips — there is the proof!

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Woodchip Clay Using Forms

A woodchip clay wall that was made by infilling the woodchip/clay mixture into plywood forms, then removing the forms to allow the wall to dry. This was part of a large project in Winlaw. The infill walls were done two years ago by Cindy Walker and Peggy Frith, and now the homeowners are ready to do the earthen plaster.

This photo shows the interior walls, which are 3.5 inches thick (framed with 2x4s). The exerior walls are 12 inches thick, to provide a much higher level of insulation and thermal mass.

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Woodchip Clay Lath

This is a close up photo of one way to build the form work for a woodchip clay wall system. The thin strips of wood (called lath) will keep the woodchip clay mixture in the wall as well as provide a strong foundation for the coat of earthen plaster to adhere to as it is applied to the wall.

Woodchip clay walls systems involve mixing a clay slurry (either clay soil or just clay with water) with woodchips or long wood shavings. Then the mixture is packed loosely into forms, leaving small air pockets as thermal breaks. The wood fibre provides the tensile strength of the mixture and some of the insulating property, and the clay provides thermal mass and moisture content mitigation.

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Natural Plastering Project June 2012

I’m going to be helping finish plaster an office/workshop over the next few weeks. It’s a large structure built with Durisol blocks on the main floor and woodchip/clay infill walls on the second storey.

I wanted to show a few “before” shots of the walls so you can get a sense of a couple of different options for building woodchip/clay walls. The woodchip/clay infill was done by Peggy Frith and Cindy Walker – two amazing natural builders in the Slocan Valley.

Check out the next couple of blogs for close up photos of the infill walls and explanations of the different styles.

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Kitchen Sideboard Finished

It’s like magic to me the transformation that occurs when a tree is honoured by creating a piece of lasting beauty from its wood.

I prefer to use solid wood for furniture rather than veneered plywood. Solid wood has a richer feeling and a harmonic essence. It is a joy to work with the grain of each individual piece of wood, responding to its structure and at the same time coaxing it into a certain form.

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Kitchen Sideboard Top

To create the flat top of the kitchen sideboard, I found and cut long pieces of the raw black walnut and assembled them so that the grain of each piece compliments each other.

Once the walnut is oiled, it will really show all the colour variations in the grain. Along with dark brown and a medium colour, purple also streaks through the wood, and this is accentuated once the wood is finished. I will also be putting a very light coloured inlay into the top of the sideboard with maple wood.

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Sideboard Assembled

Once the individual pieces of the sideboard are cut, they get assembled, glued, and clamped. The wine rack style was adapted from an antique sideboard I saw in a photo, and the customer requested that I leave room on either side of the wine rack for storing her large mixer and food processor.

The next step is to create the top for the sideboard, and I am excited to work with the beautiful grain of the black walnut and give it some special detailing that will make it pop.

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Walnut Sideboard Apron Joinery

The apron of a table or sideboard creates the stability for the legs where they connect to the flat top. In order to maximize the strength of the joinery on this sideboard, I cut the apron pieces with longer tenons mitred at 45 degrees so that they will meet each other inside the legs and allow more surface area for the glue up.

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