My Woodcraft — The Story
I have had this dream, like many guys, to have a dedicated shop to build and create. This is where the whole concept of Melchert Road Woodcraft starts. I have explored various forms of art from watercolor to chalk to oils. Woodworking has always been a fascination since my Grandfather taught me to carve signs when I was 12.
But one doesn’t just take a piece of wood and create a table the first time. Years of learning and right space in needed. Initially I used the garage and have shot wood through the windows, filled the house with saw dust, blown circuits, and, in general, coped with limited space to do the job right. Tired of having to move the cars from the garage, or squeeze past storage containers to get to the tools, I have embarked on the project of making a great woodworking shop (please, no “man cave” remarks here).
I moved into the new shop after an extensive remodeling of an original farm shed that dated back to the early/mid 1900s. Over the years, the farm was subdivided and a few small houses and cabins were built. One such cabin was located across the street where the Maas family lived. In the 1970s, a young man in that family, Chris Maas barrowed the shed to build a couple of row boats to make extra money. He quickly became proficient and continued to build rowing shells which grew to become a much sought-after craft. Chris started his company, Maas Boats which continued to grow and soon was moved to larger facilities. Chris eventually sold the company and it moved to Richmond California where today, Maas Boats is still the leading maker of rowing shells. I delight in knowing the first Maas shells were built right here, in this old shed…er woodshop.
The shed was 18′ X 24′. The walls, roof, doors were original cedar and windows were broken out. The shed sat on a mix of concrete blocks, dirt and stones and was uneven. Needless to say, the direct contact with the ground took its toll on the framing, rotting much of the bottom sills and some studs. I jacked up the shed and poured custom piers with treated 4X8 beams above grade, as the foundation. From there, a 2X6 fir, car-deck floor was installed – quite a strong, stable base for the framing of new walls, doors windows and for the heavy equipment. The roof posed a difficult project since I wanted to save the original old cedar 1×4 sub-roof and rafters as the ceiling of the shop. I sandwiched that with OSB, 2″ foam insulation, and plywood roof base for the metal roof. It is light and I love the sound of rain hitting the roof while working. The interior walls were lined with panel doors, laid on their sides as wainscoting. This saves against equipment hitting the walls and damaging them. The final piece is an old pot-bellied stove a neighbor gave me….great for heat in the winter. This is a terrific place to be when the rains come, just crank up the music, add some wood to the stove and create!
I cleared a 1/2 acre of huge trees on the property and hired a portable mill to slice up the wood. The piles of wood were stickered and dried in storage for 3 years before diving into the creation of the shop. Now, I am lucky enough to have dedicated space on hand, and plenty of maple, cherry, madrona and dogwood hardwoods to play with.
Now the shop allows my creative energy to focus on wood projects from live-edged tables to small boxes to home décor objects. The process of creation and learning is a joy.
Up top is a sample of shop products. All of these are made from onsite lumber, milled from hardwood trees or reclaimed hardwoods. More to see on our Favorite Things pages (See Firewood and Gunstock pages)