Shuffling the Tree

WoodworkingI can relate to the work style of a 1930’s American cabinet shop (public domain)

After over a year of design development with the architect and client, selecting logs of deodar cedar and having them custom milled and cured to outfit the interior of a new guest house down the coast, I’m regaining perspective on my original thinking behind how I approached the project: Shuffling the Tree.

As my cabinets, doors and built-in furnishings take shape, each part of the tree finds its corresponding use in built form, the planks having been painstakingly graded for grain character, color and structural integrity. The process of hand sorting thousands of board feet of air-dried, rough sawn lumber has been slower than I had anticipated, but well worth the effort, and I’m feeling less overwhelmed as I convert my neatly stickered piles into glowing wooden furnishings. I’m taking extra pains not to use any laminated sheet materials, constructing all casework in solid stock.

I’ve found that designing and building this way automatically bestows a building with a feeling of belonging-ness, as though the house stands in honor of the tree it displaced. When the material is locally sourced from the waste stream, diverted from horticultural salvage that might otherwise be burned as firewood, the building’s interior has the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions to the atmosphere. I call my approach ‘bioregional vernacular’, and I’m glad for the opportunity to test its scalability.

cedar cabinetscabinets of deodar cedar w/face frames, stacked up while I prepare doors and drawers

To follow my progress on designing and building the guest house interior, please click here and scroll down.

3 replies on “Shuffling the Tree”

  1. Scott, you leave behind more than a sense of belongingness.

    The work that you do is a kind of conjuring of the cabinets and other objects into being. Your practice requires that you stay meditative and mindful. Touching, and considering the wood as respectfully as you do imbues it with something more like blessing or prayer than task.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Mark, and thanks for tuning in. You’ve been a part of this process for a long time and your opinion means a lot. Let’s make some time to hang out soon- I miss seeing you! Scott

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