Crafts (15)

Garden Furniture with Tenon Cutter

I’ve had this tenon cutter attachment for years, just started using it. I just cut down an old wild plum tree and am going to make a garden chair out of plum wood. Fun! I got this from Lee Valley, a great source of carpentry tools.

I recently got the Makita drill — not battery driven, but with cord — from Jackson’s Hardware in San Rafael. It would have been cheaper from Amazon, but at Jackson’s, I get expert human advice. I use Amazon a lot, but also skirt them often. There are other factors to consider when buying stuff other than what’s cheapest.

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Godfrey Stephens' New Sculpture

Godfrey just sent this photo. After two day’s work. What a fucking genius! He’s getting better.

His combination of Kwakwaka’wakw training and artistic sensibilities from the depths of his soul produce powerful art. He’s in Builders of the Pacific Coast, Tiny Homes on the Move, and throughout this blog, and has been in my life for over 50 years.

He’s more of an artist — wild, productive, joyous — than the world-famous rich artists out there getting all the attention. He’s a Picasso under the radar.

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Learn to Timber Frame Book Review

Will Beemer of The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts was kind enough to send us this amazing book on learning to build using the timber framing technique. I have always been amazed by this particular process of framing, watched a ton of YouTube videos on builds using this technique, but never really understood the process fully.

I now know about wood selection, the tools needed, layout and cutting, framing, sills, joists, braces, etc. This book gave me a great starting point for using timber frame building techniques. Thank you so much Will! Can’t wait to start a project!

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Japanese Woodworking Seminar October 31, 2015, Oakland CA


Schedule for Kezurou-Kai USA 10/31/2015

  • 9:00-9:15: Karl Bareis: Opening Greeting
  • Ongoing: S. Oyama: Plastering Demonstration
  • 9:15-10:30: Jay Van Arsdale (Part 1): Basic Joinery Cutout Techniques
    • Toby Hargreaves and Mark Van Haltern: Hip Rafter Corner Joinery
    • David Bassing: Sharpening and Blade “Back” Conditioning
  • 10:30-12:00: Jay Van Arsdale (Part 2): High Angle Planing for Difficult Woods
    • Matt Connerton: Chisels or “Nomi-nomics”
    • Ryosei Kaneko (Part 1): Roof Layout and Use of Japanese Square
  • 12:00-1:00: Lunch Break
  • 1:00-2:00: Mike Laine: Planes and Planing
    • Ryosei Kaneko (Part 2): Layout Table and Irregular Timbers
    • Jay Van Arsdale (Part 3): Chisel and Plane Blade Maintenance
  • 2:00-2:20: Karl Bareis: Explanation of Kezurou-Kai USA and 2016 Event
  • 2:30-3:45: Planing Competition
  • 3:45-4:00: Karl Bareis: Closing Remarks
  • … [more in full post] …

$40 entrance fee, $20 students

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Yestermorrow School

Yestermorrow Design/Build School

One of the most common questions we get asked is “How do I learn how to build a tiny home?” A very superior answer would be the Yestermorrow School in Waitsfield, Vermont offering over 100 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft including a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design and green building. Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Hands-on courses are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country.
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Making Your Own Knives

When I was at the Mother Earth News Faire in Pennsylvania a few months ago, I bought a handmade knife from a mountain man — a guy who dressed in buckskins and made a variety of hunting, trapping, and outdoor tools. The blade was carbon steel, which I prefer over stainless steel. It’s softer and easier to sharpen, even if you have to care for it so that it doesn’t rust.

He told me that it was a Russell Green River blade, so I tracked it down, and ordered about half a dozen different shaped blades (from; they’re pretty inexpensive, $9-$10 each. I made the first one in the last few days with some manzanita wood I gathered (and dried out) a year or so ago. It’s a bit crude, but I learned a lot and am going to make handles for some paring and skinning knives.

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ANIÁN Surf Shop in Victoria, BC

Annian surf shop


I did a tour for Tiny Homes on the Move a few months ago in British Columbia. On my way into Victoria, I noticed a little complex of buildings constructed out of used materials. I stopped in and met the owners. Everything was perfect. A tiny village in a kind of industrial area, built out of scrap, clothing manufactured in Canada (I bought 3 beautiful wool T-shirts), surfboards, an outdoor stage. I asked Paul and Nick to send us a writeup of what they are doing:

What started as a trip to the beach has grown from infatuation into obsession. Created in 2013, ANIÁN represents travel, adventure and nomadic culture. ANIÁN products showcase the beauty within simplicity and the importance of quality. ANIÁN clothing is made in Canada to ensure a quality product and fair wages for those who make it.

Nick and Paul, the two owners of ANIÁN (named after a mythical channel between Asia and the Americas) have transformed a rundown lot used for storing dumpsters in Victoria, B.C., into Canada’s first 100% solar, off-the-grid store. The store is best described as a cabin in the woods in the city. It is complete with a lawn, junipers and a small outdoor stage where local artists come to play all powered by four 250-watt panels, one 80-amp charge controller and eight 210 amp-hour, 12-volt batteries. By showing people that going 100% solar in a downtown location is possible they hope to inspire others to follow their lead.

ANIÁN is comprised of an outdoor stage, showroom/retail store, an interactive work shop, and a shipping container where finished goods are stored. 95% of everything is either made or covered in reclaimed material.

Most of the materials came from an old blimp hanger in the Comox valley (central Vancouver Island) where some of the material was pieces of Douglas fir up to 40 feet long.

The interactive workshop is built entirely out of the Douglas fir. The tongue-and-groove pieces ruggedly fit together, giving it a wonderfully rustic feel. The floor of the showroom is one laminated beam cut in half and then bookmarked into four amazingly golden white 3½-inch-thick ten-foot-long boards. All of the patio and boardwalk decking is made of four-inch wide Douglas fir tongue-and-groove. Slightly thinner planking; 2½-inch tongue-and-groove was used for the stage. The shipping container is faced with cedar shakes to help it seamlessly slip into this downtown escape.

Along with showcasing ANIÁN and providing Paul and Nick a place to display their coastally nomadic clothing the location has proven to be a great as a destination for outdoor musical festivals and charity fundraisers.

Next time you find yourself in Victoria, stop by 516 Discovery Street.

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New Book of Godfrey Stephens' Art Just Published

5A37BBA4-A68D-4B97-9186-C73FFDB0B3FBAt long last a book documenting the art of Godfrey Stephens has been published, and it’s stunning. Godfrey has been painting, drawing, carving, and assembling all his life (he’s now 70), and his niece Gurdeep Stephens has performed a Herculean task of sifting through a blizzard of Godfrey’s art to assemble this collection. Oh yes, he’s also built over a dozen sailboats.

I’m hardly an objective observer: I’ve known Godfrey and his art since meeting him on a Mexican beach in 1964, and he’s a dear friend. I’ve never been able to figure out why he isn’t world-famous. The quantity and quality of his output is staggering. And his energy: there are almost 800 emails in my “Stephens” mailbox, over 600 photos in my “Stephens” photo folder. How Gurdeep ever prevailed to assemble this excellent collection is beyond me. High five! Read More …

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North House Folk School only I didn’t live so far away from The North House Folk School, I’d be hanging around there a lot. The number of classes they have is amazing. Birchbark canoes, blacksmithing, tool making, timber framing, fiber arts, on and on. I’m just looking at one page, and I’d take the class on making a crooked knife, and another on sharpening. Read More …

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