Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review of "Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings"

“Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings” is a detailed and succinct introduction to traditional Japanese architecture from the perspective of a westerner in the late 19th century. It is a wonderful read for anyone who is interested in traditional Japanese design and culture. It was first published in 1886 after Morse had already lived in Japan for almost a decade. He was studying brachiopods in 1877 when he was invited to join the faculty in the Zoology department at the Imperial University of Tokyo. Using his analytical and observational skills which he developed as a scientist, he began collecting cultural artifacts and making detailed sketches and observations of Japanese homes. This work features over 300 sketches with elaborate descriptions. His somewhat exhaustive descriptions almost always highlight the simplicity and elegance of Japanese culture while simultaneously ripping apart the indulgence of his own culture. Aside from his constant comically snarky remarks, his work takes the reader to Japan in 1880 and guides you through various homes. 

The book was lent to me when I was working on the design phase of the tiny home. I wanted to write a review and share about it because it was a really wonderful accompaniment to the building process. I was constantly drawing sketches of Morse's sketches and referencing design elements. I learned all kinds of interesting things about Japan, including the fact that one's garden is apart of their estate and when you move you take all your plants with you, including 40 ft trees. It was not uncommon to see people dragging trees down the street in sacks! When you kick the bucket they auction off all your plants so they literally come in the yard and dig up the the plants and sell them off to your neighbors. 

The importance of the design style of the Japanese is the utilization of the available resources. The Japanese carpenter was armed with only a few sharp tools and a supreme appreciation for the asymmetrical. 

Click here for a free online preview on google books... you can see the first 17 pages...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spalted Maple and Mahogany Shelving

With the waste material from the counter top, I made this shelving.  Spalted Big Leaf Maple from Ben and Suzy's wood shed.  The Maple is ripped into 2" strips and laminated together.  I made the second shelf down out of Mahogany because I was short on the maple material. 

The shelves stair step down suspended by a 3/4" x 7/8" stick of maple, mortised into place.  The suspended shelves are lightweight and sturdy.  (This photo features the pottery of Joelle Montez.) 

And a forged bracket as support underneath.  

You can see on the right side of this image how the shelves progress up from the counter top at the same angle.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gravity Fed Water System

The assembly and first run of the gravity fed water system.  The hot water side is waiting for a on demand propane hot water heater, but...

We've got water!  The most precious and undervalued resource in Western Washington.

This collaborative project features the ceramic work of Joelle Montez.  Joelle threw the basin after experimenting to see how large it had to be to hold the pressure of the entire carboy.

Bill Dawson helped me by expanding this 3/4" to 1/2" reducer bell to fit on to the ceramic water basin.

And Bill let me buff this old Crane faucet I got at the Packwood fleamarket almost 2 and a half years ago.  I bought it for 15 bucks and with some new gaskets and cleaning I mounted it today.

 I forged the brackets and fit the cedar board to hold the basin.

The ongoing aesthetic feature of the Leafspring has been to expose the functional components of the house in a beautiful way.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monkey Bar Ladder

wahoooo!  An upside-down stair case?

Last night I went out to the forge and bent this flat stock around a 1/2" black iron pipe.  I had some extra pipe from the propane line on the original trailer, so I decided to give it a try.  The pipe flexes a little bit, which adds some spring to your swing...  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Western Hemlock Shard Sculpture

While hiking in the Skokomish river valley this winter I came across this shard of what I believe is a very old Western Hemlock tree.  I've had it piled up with some other found pieces of wood and I finally got around to carving it.  I believe it formed from the impact when the tree fell or if it was struck by another falling tree.  Dimensions: 19" x  8" x 6" 

This side of the shard was facing down towards the earth.  With a gouge and a hook knife I revealed this.

 I followed the lines in the tree and I tried to interface the fresh carved texture with the rich color of the inner bark.

I did smooth out some of the natural features, but for the most part the shard was so beautiful already I thought better to present than arrange. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cedar and Douglas Fir Bench


This weekend we put the finishing touches on the bench back wrap.  Still a few things to adjust, but I'm excited to lean back...  

Cedar seat.

Doug Fir bench back.

I scribed each piece to the grain line of the previous board.

And it is an insulated storage box.   You can see the split shakes and carved old growth cedar post.  

The storage is also accessible from the outside.  I found these doors in a dumpster and had them re-keyed.  I scraped off the cream color paint and clear coated the rust patterns.  

After finishing this part of the interior I would really like to build a sauna.  Please contact if you are interested...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Carved Black Walnut Door Handle

Carved black walnut interior door handle.  

I shaped the handle based on the contour of my left hand.  The shape that remained reminded me of a figure bearing a box balanced on his head. 

1/2" copper pipe is recessed into the handle and the door to provide support.

You can see the 4 and 1/2" tek lag bolt holding the handle on the copper stand-off.

I made plugs for the hardware, sanded and put oil on this morning.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Collapsible Truck Rack Tent Frame

Timmy came up with an idea to turn his truck rack into a tent frame.  I thought it was brilliant and with some 1 and 1/4" thick square tubing we went out to the metal shop...

We sleeved the metal on to the existing truck rack tubing which will bolt on to the rack.

We welded tabs onto the ridge and drilled holes that will allow for bolts to tie together the rafters.

Throw a tarp over it and you got a house, or break it down.

and go fishing... 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Live Edge Douglas Fir Light Shelves

I've been working on light design with LED lights and simple paper diffusers.  These LED strip lights are a great accent for an affordable price and they are very efficient.  They illuminate the ceiling colors and produce a warm light.  

The brackets holding the shelves are forged from old rototiller tine brackets I found on the Hoh Hum Ranch near Ruby Beach on the Olympic Peninsula.  

I mortised 3/4" x 1/2'" holes for fir sticks to slide into. (View from bottom of shelf)

View from the loft... 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Artist Conk

We found this Artist Conk or Ganoderma applanatum in the skok valley and I wanted show what Joelle did with it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Copper Trilobite and Horseshoe Crab Escutcheon Plate

Who knew?  An Escutcheon Plate is a "a protective or ornamental plate or flange (as around a keyhole)" according to Webster.  Prior to leaving for a trip to New Mexico I rushed to install my dead bolts and I cut the holes in the wrong location... doh!!  Escutcheon plate it is.    

Here was the damage.  I had to glue the plug back in and re drill the hole...

Here is the solution, a trilobite!  I cut these our with a jeweler's saw and engraved them yesterday.

And one more.  I made 3 because only one door had a mis-cut hole, so I made interior plates for both doors, but only one exterior plate, the horseshoe crab.