Carpentry (158)

Breathing New Life into Old Wood: Former Duck-Hunting Cabins Find a Home

In 2017, the Millers snagged a 10-acre gem on Buchanan Lake in Minnesota, complete with a trio of old-school duck-hunting cabins that had seen better days. Legend has it, even an NFL big shot used to hunt here. Right before sealing the deal, the previous owners were close to tearing the cabins down. But the Millers saw some rustic gold in that wood and decided to dismantle the structures instead, aiming to breathe new life into the aged siding.

Two old wood cabins

Each cabin told its own story. One was the crash pad, still packed with a dozen mattresses—a mash-up of bunk and twin beds in one room, plus a couple of full-size beds in the next. The roof had given up on doing its job here, and most of the windows were a testament to better times gone by. Another cabin was all about the grub; its kitchen setup was surprisingly intact with a fridge, stove, and sink. And then there was the storage shack, standing firm on a concrete foundation, while its siblings squatted on wooden floors that were quickly deteriorating—think rotted planks! 

One long old wood cabin, half rotting

But here’s where it gets good. The Millers managed to rescue about 60% of that wood, trimming off the rough edges (literally) to weave it into their new digs inside a steel shed—you know, the steel shed that people use for a house—a “shouse.” They power-washed each plank to its former glory, skipped the sanding to keep that rugged charm, and sealed each with a layer of clear varnish. They went all in on a cozy, lived-in vibe.

two walls with repurposed wood, one rustic tongue and groove and the other painted shiplap

Installing the siding was a bit like putting together a giant puzzle—using the tongue and groove style on stud walls, pinned down with finishing nails. Some of the boards were stripped in half for the trim to keep up the rustic look. The roofing boards got a new lease on life too. They were cleaned up, painted, and lined up for a shiplap statement wall. All in all, it took about a week of prep and DIY magic to get everything up and looking sharp.

picture of Meg Simonds house from the book, Small Homes

While many of our books feature recycled materials, Meg Simonds, featured in Small Homes, explains it best: “Building with recycled wood is a slow and arduous affair, from finding it to pulling the last nail. It is a lot of work and rarely is it delivered. The payoff is twofold. The quality of older wood generally surpasses that of new, and its deep, rich beauty only comes with age. For us, more importantly, [we love] getting to have a truly deep relationship with the wood. All this wood once had a home, an ancient forest, the lungs of the Earth; little of this remains. The best we can do now is to have a deep respect for what was and what is. We approached building our home with this in mind.” (pg. 126-127)

[sharethis]
Post a comment

Greg Clark's Handmade House

Hi Lloyd,

I’ve been fascinated by handmade houses for years. I came across a book in the ’70s called The Wood Butcher’s Art. I now teach in a traditional school in India, and teach my students about such houses. With their help I made a house here in West Bengal from mostly local timber and I thought you might be interested. We have several of your books which are very inspiring. The boys made several models based on a reading of some of your books. If you are interested I can send more photos. The house was inspired by my travels in Cambodia, Thailand, and Assam.

I teach in a traditional school in West Bengal, India. We have international students and I wanted to show them that you can build a great house out of local renewable materials. The trees for the frame and most of the floors was all local. Many students came and helped me build the house. It took about two years. I wanted to use shingles for the roof, but we can’t get cedar here. So I had to invest quite a bit to make teak shingles, which were used historically in tropical places like Hawaii or Mauritius. The walls are made from ‘Slipstraw’ but we used the abundant eucalyptus sawdust that we generated instead of straw. We finished the walls with a lime sand plaster. It came out so well we had no need to paint. The wood was finished with a mix of local beeswax and pine turpentine.

The Bhaktivedanta Academy Gurukula, a traditional Vedic school with international students in West Bengal, India is helping to construct a series of houses for teachers. The boys of the academy spend a couple of hours each day learning basic construction methods based on age-old building traditions and using mostly local materials. The school’s oxen and horse also assist in the process. The boys are from all over the world: Russia, Ukraine, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, different parts of India, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. Before starting to build the boys spent several lessons studying your books, Builders of the Pacific Coast, Shelter 1-2, etc.

–Greg Clark

Sasha making pegs

[sharethis]
Post a comment (6 comments)

Homestead of Recycled Materials in Quebec

…In the fall of 2008 we came across an opportunity to pick up pine trees that were locally cut. We adapted our plans to the amount of wood available.

We hired a local sawmill owner to cut the timbers for us. That winter we rented a shop and prebuilt a 24′×30′ timber frame of 9′×9′ pine. The joinery is mortise-and-tenon, sculpted with mallet and chisels…

From our book, Small Homes: The Right Size

[sharethis]
Post a comment (1 comment)

Off-Grid Tiny Home in Australia



This stunning off-the-grid home in Australia may be tiny, but it has a very big story to tell. Constructed as a do-it-yourself build by recent empty-nesters Jan and Kev, this tiny house is open, spacious very efficient and completely off the grid.

When the last of their adult children left home, Jan and Kev decided it was time to redesign their lives. Constructing a tiny house on wheels was a fantastic way of freeing up capital and living a more simple lifestyle which would give them plenty of opportunity to travel and focus on the things in life which are important to them.

The home was constructed as a DIY project as Jan and Kev got stuck into all aspects of the build themselves. With no prior building experience, the tiny house was certainly a challenging project and the couple admit there were more than a few arguments throughout the process including a few walk-offs. Ultimately though, together they have built a beautiful home which has taught the couple they really can achieve anything they set their minds to.

Even though it’s a tiny house, there’s still plenty of space for entertaining their family when they come over. The couple are currently expanding on their home by adding a large deck, which will be completely under cover giving a lot of additional outdoor living space to capitalize on the fabulous Queensland weather…

[sharethis]
Post a comment (1 comment)

Jay Nelson’s Latest Treehouse



Jay Nelson’s latest treehouse, now under construction in a redwood grove in Northern California. It’s about 10 by 11 feet in floor area. The round window pivots open on center pins. There are two climbing ropes attached high up so Jay and Max can work on the curved roof. Almost all the wood (except for floor framing and plywood sheathing) is used.

[sharethis]
Post a comment

Ziggy and April's Timber Frame and Straw Bale Home in Missouri

…After ten days of the Straw Bale Workshop (and yet more punishing heat), we built the walls of our new home, installed all the windows and doors, and began the natural clay and lime plaster finishes on the walls.

Amazingly, we were able to live in the house by winter of that same year. Granted the house was not complete, but we had a dry, warm place to rest in before the next year’s work started. A year or so later the house was completed.

Building our straw bale house challenged us in many unexpected ways. Just as we had taken a bare piece of ground and utterly transformed it, the straw bale house itself changed us in ways we could never imagine…

[sharethis]
Post a comment (2 comments)

Lodge in Allegany Mountains in New York

Log home built by Bill Castle near Belmont in the Allegany Mountains, New York. Bill, a good friend, who unfortunately left this earth a few years back, was a phenomenal builder. He created a resort he called Pollywog Hollér and was one of the three featured builders in our book Homework.

The resort is still going strong. Here’s what it says on their website:

“Named for the serenade of frogs that fills the evening air, Pollywogg Holler is a great camp-style eco-resort in New York’s Southern Tier. The genius of nature and man are showcased in a setting of spectacular beauty, Adirondack-style craftsmanship, solar electricity, and gravity fed spring water. Explore available lodging and book your stay now.”

www.pollywoggholler.com

Post from www.lloydkahn.com

[sharethis]
Post a comment (1 comment)

Surfers Hotel in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Shelter Publications had a visit from Steve Pezman, the co-creator and recently-retired editor of Surfer’s Journal, and his long-time surfing buddy, photographer Leo Hetzel. Steve interviewed @lloyd.kahn and Leo shot photos for an article in the magazine. This was the cover of a scrapbook Lloyd made of a surfing trip to Costa Rica in 1990. It shows Kurt Van Dyke on the balcony of his hotel for surfers in Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast southeast of Puerto Limón. When he saw Lloyd about to take a picture, Kurt said, “Classic, eh?”

[sharethis]
Post a comment