Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
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Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
Post by Jason Fifield
While we spend our days designing buildings, exploring technical details, and supporting communities, in our spare time we like to build things ourselves with our own hands. Here are some fun projects we have been working on lately:
Jason Fifield has been studying and practicing traditional woodworking using hand tools for the past several years. He had been looking forward to building a proper workbench for a long time, which he finished recently. Using reclaimed barn beams from from Salvage Works and restoration Juniper from Sustainable Northwest Wood, he built a version of the Roubo Workbench. This method of workbench construction uses through tenons and through dovetails to attach the workbench top to the legs. It also uses a method called "drawboring" to connect the stretchers to the legs. With 6x6 posts, a 3 1/2" thick top, and paired 2x6 stretchers, it is extremely sturdy (and heavy)! It also has an end vise and a leg vise.
Peter Barich used his experience working with slabs to build our wonderful table at our office. This table was constructed from two slabs of Juniper, and was finished with live edges. This table is really the centerpiece of the office - everyone in the building uses it as a conference table, lunch table, display area, and gathering place. It is great to have such a beautiful and natural surface as part of our daily work environment.
Mark Lakeman wanted to create some gathering spaces outside on our porch and in the front yard of our space. He coordinated a series of volunteer work parties to create these very inviting benches and tables.
The picnic benches were constructed at a work party by a group of architects, who also wanted to take a break from drawing to do some hands-on building. These benches and tables now serve as a great place to sit outside for lunch, watching the world go by. As a separate project, Mark spent a lot of time finishing the live edge slab benches at our porch. With the addition of pillows, this has become a very popular and inviting place to hang out and greet clients, visitors, and neighbors.
As a member of the local chapter of the Open Architecture Collaborative, Robin Koch joined a group of volunteers to build furniture out of items salvaged from the waste stream at the local ReStore. After perusing the aisles--and the dumpster--of the ReStore, Robin had the idea to re-purpose fan blades from broken ceiling fans as a building material. She combined them with short scraps of 2x2's to design a bench that is also a storage chest with a hinged lid.
By choosing fan blades that stood up to water when tested and lining the chest with a scrap of vapor-barrier from a construction site, she made the storage fit for outdoor use. This could be useful to anyone, but she especially hopes the design would be helpful at homeless villages where residents tend to need more storage. She also wonders if urban businesses, churches, or homes might be willing to host seats like this and allow local homeless people to use them as lockable storage. Secure storage is an important need for people who sometimes have no where to go.
Robin would like to continue to experiment with discarded fan blades, perhaps as siding for a shed or doghouse. The group's creations--including chairs built from PVC and coat hooks made of 2x2 scraps--are currently on display at the ReStore's Portland location.
Finally, the permaculture designers in our building have been working hard and it shows! Our garden areas are very productive. We have been enjoying tomatoes, grapes, figs, lettuce, and much more to come! The raised bed in our garden was built during a volunteer work party at the 2017 Village Building Convergence.
We design beautiful and sustainable places that bring people together in community. We are absolutely committed to sustainability, while respecting the needs and priorities of all the individuals, families, and communities with whom we work and play.