Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Woodbutcher of the Month


Over the years our tool store has had the honor of being visited by a great many fine woodworkers and builders. They have helped us build our inventory and learn about tools. Once each month we'll feature one of our favorite customers, some of their best work, and some of their favorite finds in our tool store.

Neil Knecht, of Monroe Connecticut, was in a few weeks ago during one of his annual trips to Maine. As a fourth-generation woodworker, he creates custom furniture, built-ins, cabinets and architectural details for both residential and commercial clients.

Featured here is a Greene-and-Greene- inspired mahogany media cabinet. He was sure to let us know that he makes a point of stopping by Shelter Tools (formerly Woodbutcher Tools) to pick up a few hard to find pieces.

During his visit he picked up a number of hand tools including skew chisels, a flush cutting saw, and a hammer. But his favorite item . . . the one he really sought out is the Japanese Nail Seta hard to find tool that is indespensible in the workshop and on site when doing any kind of fine woodworking.

Check back with us next month to see another real woodworker and to see their favorite tools.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Woodworker Gift Ideas for the Stocking

Everyone likes cash, but it lacks personality. Chocolates are gone in a day. A bottle of 21-year-old-Honduran rum is apt not to fit in the stocking. So what can you find at Shelter that's the perfect stocking stuffer?

Folding Japanese Hand Saws:
A folding saw! Yes, they do exist, and it's not only practical for the stocking, it's enormously handy for home, out in a field, or in the shop. The Gomboy 300 pictured here is 13 inches long (when folded). Maybe not pocket size, but certainly the right size for a toolbox. The blade is coarse, suitable for pruning green limbs perhaps. However, the blade can be replaced with a finer blade that might be used for carpentry. Or you might want a smaller folding saw. I keep a Silky Gomboy in my tool belt. It's a little over eight inches when folded and is classified by Silky Tools as "interior" or "civil" engineering grade, suitable for interior trim work because of its finer tooth configuration. We carry many more folding saws and other Japanese hand saws. Call or view our website for more details.

Hammers and Mallets:
One of our favorite tools in the store is the Wood Is Good mallet. (Hint to my wife: the 20 oz. mallet would fit perfectly in my stocking. I promise it won't be too hard to wrap.) We also carry a 30 oz. Wood Is Good mallet. They fit comfortably in your hand. The urethane head is a wonderful shock absorber and is easy on a chisel handle. Our favorite hammer is the 21-ounce Yamaguchi, available with a smooth or waffle face. (Umm waffles.) It is very durable and capable tool.

Clamps:
I think I heard a joke once that God could have created the world in fewer than seven days, but he didn't have enough clamps. Everybody could use more clamps. Since this is a religious holiday season, perhaps they're apt as well. Feel free to reuse the joke on the card.

Staff Favorites:
If the person you're shopping for has all of the above, take a look at some of our staff favorites. You'll find kitchen tools, toys, drafting supplies, and more. Or contact us at info@shelterinstitute.com.

In the end, if none of this will fit in your loved one's stocking, a gift certificate always works. A Shelter gift certificate can be used for classes, tools, building supplies, toys, and more. Contact us, and we'll get one out to you as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shelter Gift Ideas: For the Woodstove Family

Gift Ideas for the Woodstove Family



The woodstove family likes to heat their home independently and economically with wood. They have eschewed the gym membership, and you can find them in their backyard working out on fall afternoons splitting and stacking wood. When you visit their toasty warm home this holiday season, here are the gifts you should bring:


Felling and Splitting Tools:
At Shelter, we carry the Gransfors Bruks line of hand-forged axes. Their quality and and craftsmanship is apparent the minute you hold one in your hands. For the Woodstove family (or any serious woodsman), the double-bit working axe is a great gift if they fell trees on their own property. When they need to split that wood, the splitting axe is the tool they'll need. (If they're more power tool oriented, we carry Efco chain saws at the store too. Call or stop in for details.)

Woodlot Knowledge:
What's one to do with all of those trees? Before the axe is sharpened, the Woodstove family should gather around with some hot cocoa and read The Woodlot Management Handbook. If you find the family can't seem to part with their favorite arbor, perhaps Home Tree Home, a step-by-step guide to building treehouses, is right for them.

Backwoods Tools:
Even if you don't know what a froe, loading tong, or pulp hook are, they're essential tools for the Woodstove family. We carry more backwoods tools too, if the family you know has a full collection of Swedish froes.

If It's Not Hot in the House:
Sometimes, even a hot woodstove can't heat the house. Shelter can still help. We all know that heat rises. So it's sometimes helpful to circulate the woodstove heat into living spaces. The Ecofan does just that. Place an Ecofan on top of a woodstove, and without using any electricity, the fan silently moves and circulates heat.

We also sell books on improving the house itself. Efficient Buildings 2 is a good reference for someone wanting to build an air-tight, energy efficient building.

If you are interested in becoming a Woodstove Family, Shelter is the place to begin. We can help you select a wood stove that best fits your home's needs. We sell Vermont Castings wood stoves, which may qualify for an energy tax credit. For more information about wood stoves, energy efficiency, or the Federal tax credit, read our blog posts on energy efficiency, contact us, or attend one of our next "Intro to Wood Stove Best Practices" class. The class is free, and it will help you save money too.

Need more gift ideas? Contact us and check back soon. We'll post more gift ideas from Shelter.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Annual Open House and Sale

Join us for our Annual Sale and Open House on Saturday December 12, 2009 from 9:00-3:00. We'll have tool demonstrations, refreshments, workshop tours and a free tool drawing.

873 US Route One, Woolwich, Maine ph. 207-442-7938



Sale applies to in-stock items only. This offer cannot be combined with other discount.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Architects Scale

By Blueberry Beeton
The Architects Scale is an invaluable tool for anyone involved in design, layout, or construction - large or small. It is somewhat forgotten because of the use of CAD and Sketchup we don't need to hand draw our plans anymore. I teach its use in the Drafting, Cardboard Models and Framing Models workshops and one person in every class complains about having to use paper and pencil. But I find myself digging my architects’ scale out for any number of projects at work and around the house. It is one of those tools that will never actually go out of use because no matter how much we do in the virtual world on the computer, we will always have the tangible world to contend with. I just used my architects scale to make my gingerbread house last weekend.
Building a gingerbread house is much like building a scale model. This gingerbread house is a 10x14 structure using the 3/4-in scale, (i.e. 3/4 of an inch is equal to one foot). This means that I used the face of the architect’s scale that has 3/4-in broken into increments and called out so it is easy to measure out the 10-ft width and 14-ft length of the building. The photo below shows the 3/4-in face of the scale. Begining on the left you see 0, 28, 1, 26, 2, 24, 3 etc. There are actually two scales on this face 3/4-inch coming from the left and 3/8-inch coming from the right. You can ignore the 3/8-in numbers (the higher numbers) and focus on the lower ones that begin on the left. The nice thing about the 3/4-inch scale is that it allows you to show detail of up to 1/2-inch. Those 1/2-inch increments are delineated by the 3/4 in to the left of zero; each line within that space represents a 1/2-inch in the 3/4-inch=1-ft scale.

This is the ideal scale for residential model making because it makes the house small enough to maneuver through my kitchen (and other spaces like doorways and cars if you need to take your model to the bank for loan approval). The 1/4-in scale is ideal for drafting and the 1-in scale is ideal for building residential models showing the framing. I drew each wall and roof panel on heavy-stock paper first and cut out the pattern before rolling out the dough. The big difference between gingerbread and cardboard models is that the dough does change shape a bit in the oven so no matter how perfect your panels are in the raw; you are bound to have a few site corrections when you assemble. The key to accuracy is to mix the dough very thoroughly -- the butter can wreak havoc on the panels if not mixed thoroughly.
Below is my favorite recipe for gingerbread and my fastener is good old reliable royal icing -- which is remarkably like expanding foam insulation. If you are feeling the urge to build a gingerbread house and add the aroma to your home pull out that Architects Scale to help simplify the process. My favorite architects scale is aluminum because it is extremely durable but the less expensive plastic version provides the same accuracy. These make a great housewarming gift, or gift to a budding architect, engineer or designer as well as anyone considering designing or building their own home.

Favorite Gingerbread House Dough Recipe:
1 C (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
1 C Brown Sugar (firmly packed)
1 C Molasses
5 C Flour (All-Purpose)
2 t Baking Soda
1-1/2 t Ground Cinnamon
1/2 t Ground Cloves
1/2 t Salt
1/3-1/2 C Water

Royal Icing
3 Egg Whites
1-1/2 Pounds Confectioners' Sugar

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Sale: Alternative Buildings

Buy ONE book from the Alternative Buildings Shelf and receive a 30% Discount 
Offer Expires December 31, 2009




Alternative home construction is the use of available resources to create a custom home. We've collected our favorite books on Alternative Styles of Construction and put them together on one bookshelf! The Alternative Buildings Shelf includes over 30 titles including such topics from "How to Build an Igloo" to tent construction, straw bale, burmed homes and even eco-friendly suburb development.  All books on this shelf are on sale.


Each month we’ll highlight a particular “Book Shelf” and all books on that shelf will be 30% off!
Purchase one book from the Featured Shelf each month for six months and receive a 25%-storewide-discount card. We'll track your purchases and send your discount card with your last purchase (discounts applicable to in-stock items only, no special orders and cannot be combined with other discounts).

Don’t see the book you have been looking for in our online selection, give us a call and we’ll see if we have it on the shelf in the store. If we do, you can include it in your book order and it will count toward that free book!

Need a suggestion? Do you have a particular topic or question that you're trying to research? Or perhaps this is a gift for someone who has been excited about a particular topic -- let us know and we can make a recommendation! Our knowledgeable staff spends hours combing through the books, reading and reviewing them for your benefit. Email us your inquiry, and we'll make a suggestion of where to find the answers!

The sale is applicable to in-store purchases as well as online purchases so if you’re in the area, please stop by for a visit. Sorry, but we cannot special order books as part of the “book shelf” sale program. Special orders are always welcome however, under regular circumstances.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Build Boston Trade Show


By Ethan Courand
Designer

I traveled to the Build Boston Trade Show on Friday Nov. 20th, which was held at the Seaport World Trade Center on Boston’s waterfront. With more than 250 exhibits and over 200 workshops, there wasn’t enough time in the day to see it all. This show was a bit different than some that I have been to in the past, in that it had something to offer to anyone who is involved in designing, constructing, maintaining, or occupying a building. Whether you are a student, architect, engineer, contractor, or a homeowner this show had something for you. The organizers brought all aspects of building together under one roof; exhibitors ranged from building product manufacturers to renewable energy companies to educational institutions. I did get a chance to stop and talk with some of our suppliers who had booths in the trade show. Marvin, our window supplier, had a huge display of windows and doors that took up the space of about eight standard size booths. Our structural insulated panel manufacturer was there as well, showing off their EPS Foam Core Panels as well as their new “Fast Form” insulated concrete form line. Longfellow Cedar Shingles  based in Windsor, Maine, caught my attention with a new MicroPro  pressure treated cedar shingle which brings maintenance free to a whole new level. All in all I had a great experience and I would recommend this event next year to anyone who is thinking about or is in the process of building or renovating a home.

As we travel to other trade shows across the country we'll report back on our findings and our experiences! If you have a favorite trade show that you think we should attend please make a suggestion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making Room for Guests


To me the holidays mean gathering together with family and friends -- sharing stories and cooking. With my extended family spread around the country, that usually means hosting people at my own home. I've spent the last week frantically preparing for the much-anticipated arrival of our visitors -- cleaning out spaces in our home for them to sleep and planning special meals for them. Our house is the "small house" variety designed for energy efficiency in a small footprint so we don't have multiple spare bedrooms that provide the luxury of privacy. While I scramble to create some semblance of comfort and privacy for our guests, I've been pining over these guest cabins, built in our small-house-building class. One of these little structures would be an ideal guest space; allowing our visitors to stay with us but also providing them with a quiet space to sleep so our girls don't wake them in the middle of the night and at the crack of dawn. And the cabins can be shut down completely so we don’t need to heat them at all when our guests are not visiting – so it won’t have a major impact on our long term energy use. Happy Thanksgiving and while you're enjoying the holiday with family and friends, consider how fun it would be to have a little guest cabin right next to your home!Slideshow of construction of a Shelter 12x16 Small House.

Shelter currently has one such small shell waiting to be turned into a quiet retreat for guests, a writing or artists studio, a great escape, workshop or first structure on your property ideal to live in while building your real house. They are just under 200 square feet, often not requiring a permit. The printed price for these insulated shells is $10,000 but because of the backlog we’re cutting the price in half! The kit includes structural framing, rigid foam panel walls, Marvin Integrity windows, a Therma-Tru door, a metal roof, and vertical board siding. The $6,000 sale price of the kit (FOB Shelter Campus) comes with a set of plans and instructions for assembly. Our crew is available to deliver the shell to your site and even raise it if you need us to. Call today for pricing on additional labor or to reserve your insulated small house shell today! And if that price tag is still too high we have one 12x16 shell that does not include the windows, door and metal roof. This shell, comprised of the framing, rigid foam insulated panels and vertical board siding has a special sale price of $3000 (FOB Shelter Campus). Sale prices available while supplies last.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Timber Kit 14x20

Small is beautiful . . . This is one trend that continues to gain momentum. Home owners relish the low cost of heating and cooling, cleaning and furnishing, maintaining and updating small structures. We've had so many inquiries about SMALL houses that we've designed a new 14x20 kit to add to our two existing Hennin Post Beam Kits - The 20x30 and The 24x24. All three kits are designed to expand in length very easily and cost effectively. Remember that the kit options are finite—designed to give base pricing and get you started with a design, but a timber frame can really take on any shape or style to fit your project.

If you've taken the Design Build Class you'll remember that a kit option is a great way to help you nail down your budget and identify basic costs. Use our numbers to get started, and you may find that one of our kits will come in handy for that addition, outbuilding or small first structure on your property.

Below is a collection of some of our favorite small houses that we've built or that past students have built over the years. If you have photos, ideas, or questions about small houses that you'd like to share, send us an email. If you are trying to develop a design to fit your specific needs, let us know, and our in-house design staff and engineer can help you develop your ideas for design and construction. Click on the link below to see the slideshow in a larger screen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Masonry Heaters

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 14 9:30-10:30

Join us for a one hour presentation on Masonry Heaters. When built well and integrated with the floorplan of a home, masonry heaters provide continuous and even heat with minimal poking, stoking and fussing. Masonry heaters store a large amount of heat in the mass of the heater. They combine the aesthetics of a masonry fireplace with the funtion and efficiency of a sealed combustion heater. This means that you can rapidly burn a large charge of wood without overheating your home. The heat is stored in the masonry thermal mass, and then slowly radiates into your house for the next 12 to 24 hours. The workshop will cover history and basic function of masonry stoves, different styles, and information regarding the effective integration of a heater into your home plans. Cooking and baking stoves as well as issues surrounding domestic hot water will also be discussed. Bring your floorplans along and our instructor will walk you through identifying the best location for a masonry heater.
This is a FREE one hour workshop with a question and answer session at the end but you must register in advance as space is limited. Send an email with your name, address and phone number as well as the class subject and date to info@shelterinstitute.com or call 207-442-7938 to reserve your spot today.

The instructor, Eric Schroeder, spent three years working as an apprentice for different masonry heater builders in the United States and Canada. In 2007 he took a trip through Europe to attend the Austrian Kachelofenverband's annual trade show, and to visit with a stove builder in Friesland, northern Holland. He brings tales from the road and technical and practical information about heaters to this workshop.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Small Housebuilding Class

Enjoy these great photos from our recent Small Housebuilding Class. We spent five days crafting this 12x16 structure., an ideal size for the first house on your dream property, a guest cabin, writing studio or artists retreat. The next Small Housebuilding Class is scheduled for February 22-26, 2009. We'll spend the week in our heated shop while the winter snow piles up outside. To see all of the photos click on the image to the left and you will be directed to our album on Picassa or visit the Shelter Institute blog: http://www.shelterbuild.com/


If you recently took this class, please write a comment here and let us know what you thought!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Concrete Countertops Hands-On


SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21 8:30-4:30
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!
Learn how to make your own beautiful and affordable concrete countertops. Granite or engineered stone countertops are nice, but they’re also very expensive. In our Concrete Countertops class, you’ll learn how to make polished and durable countertops that are very affordable and will bring style to your home. Learn the physics of concrete and the essentials of steel reinforcement. See the physical characteristics of a placing concrete and the tamping, vibrating, troweling, polishing and finishing that goes into making concrete countertops ALL in just one day. Learn how to avoid the most common problems to create timeless working surfaces. During the class we'll mix and pour two countertops (one in a mold and one in-place) and we'll pull a countertop out of its mold to polish and finish it. Learn subtle tricks of the trade to avoid cracking, voids, color variances and thickness changes. All tools provided but safety equipment is required (gloves, hearing protection, heavy workshoes, back brace as needed). Space is limited so please sign up today. The class requires a minumum of 10 students and Shelter Institute reserves the right to cancel if enrollment is too low.

Friday, October 16, 2009

BOOK SALE Featuring the Energy Shelf

Buy ONE book from the Energy Shelf and receive a 50% Discount on your second book from that shelf (of equal or lesser value). Offer Expires November 12, 2009

ENERGY is such a hot word today, everyone is asking how to make their homes more energy efficient and our favorite question is "which energy source is the most effective?" We've collected our favorite books on energy and put them all together in one place to help you find the information you need to make the best decisions about your home, lifestyle or business. The Energy Shelf is a collection of the best books we can find on energy topics. Whether you are trying to quantify your carbon footprint or looking for information on active or passive solar, wind energy, hydropower, biodiesel, or simply energy efficiency we've collected our favorites to offer in our bookstore. Add them to your own library and research or use this great deal for a gift.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each month we’ll highlight a particular “Book Shelf”
  2. You select 2 books to purchase from that shelf.
  3. You receive 50% off the second book (of equal or lesser value)!
  4. You must buy the two books together by the expiration date to receive the discount.
  5. Simply type: BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB: ENERGY SHELF and the title of the free book that you would like into the Message section of your order.
  6. We will confirm shipment of both books upon receipt of the order. (while supplies last)
  7. Purchase two books from the Featured Shelf each month for six months and receive a 25%-storewide-discount card. We'll track your purchases and send your discount card with your last purchase (discounts applicable to in-stock items only, no special orders and cannot be combined with other discounts).

Don’t see the book you have been looking for in our online selection, give us a call and we’ll see if we have it on the shelf in the store. If we do, you can include it in your book order and it will count toward that free book!

Need a suggestion? Do you have a particular topic or question that your trying to research or perhaps this is a gift for someone who has been excited about a particular topic -- let us know and we can make a recommendation! Our knowledgeable staff spends hours combing through the books, reading and reviewing them for your benefit. Email us your inquiry and we'll make a suggestion of where to find the answers!

The sale is applicable to in-store purchases as well as online purchases so if you’re in the area, please stop by for a visit! Sorry, but we cannot special order books as part of the “book shelf” program. Special orders are always welcome however, under regular circumstances.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Intro to Concrete Countertops


October 17, 2009 9:30-10:30
Concrete countertops are extremely popular for new construction and renovations because their beauty and versatility. Concrete creates a unique and beautiful end product that is environmentally sound, low cost and you can do yourself. In this free one hour workshop, we’ll discuss the many ways they can be formed, stained, ground and finished. Our discussion will address the benefits of concrete and how to overcome the limitations. We’ll have samples for you to see and feel and we'll walk through the process. You'll leave with list of materials and a cost estimate. Concrete counter tops are attainable – we want to show you how! Contact us for details!
This is a FREE one hour workshop with a question and answer session at the end but you must register in advance as space is limited. Send an email with your name, address and phone number as well as the class subject and date to info@shelterinstitute.com or call 207-442-7938 to reserve your spot today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Small Housebuilding Class

This is your LAST CHANCE to take the Small Housebuilding Class in 2009! Join us for five invigorating days designing, framing and constructing this gorgeous 12x16 structure. It is the ideal studio, cabin, guest area, workshop (the list is endless). The leaves are just changing and the coast of Maine is a beautiful place to spend five days mostly outside, working with your hands, honing your housebuilding skills. You will learn layout techniques and carpentry skills, window and door installation as well as roofing and siding installation techniques. Call 207-442-7938 or email for additional information. Space is limited but there are a few seats left!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Timber Frame SALE

Those of you who have been dreaming about our 24x24 timber frame kit becoming your very own home, garage, barn, studio, workshop, boathouse, guest cabin, retirement home, escape, vacation home . . . YOU are in luck. We have three 24x24 frames sitting in our shop and we're taking $4,900 off of the list price bringing it down to $12,000 for the kit. This price includes the framing elevations for the structure, a foundation plan, all of the timbers with joinery pre-cut, and 2-inch tongue and groove decking for the second floor. These are Eastern White Pine Frames, square cut timbers with hand cut joinery. Each is crafted with tremendous care in one of our recent timber framing workshops in which approximately 20 people from around the world gather to learn the art of timber framing. Our instructors take tremendous care to teach technique and craft. At the end of the class the instructors go through and complete any unfinished joints, and clean and oil the timbers with an all-natural wood oil called Land Ark. Supplies won't last long so call today to reserve your 24x24 today at this very low price of $12,000.
(Price includes framing members and second floor 2-in tongue and groove decking FOB Shelter Institute Campus, Woolwich, Maine. Shelter Institute will gladly ship and construct the frame. See our web page for additional pricing on construction and enclosure with Structural Insulated panels to create a super insulated shell.)

24x24 Home or Guest Cabin

24x24 Home or Guest Cabin


24x24 Timber Frame Garage Addition to Existing Home


3- 24x24 Frames Assembled together to form an L-Shaped Garage

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cleaning Up the Yard

Right now is the time to successfully pull unwanted small trees and shrubs from your site in such a way that they will not grow back. You will need 20 feet of 5/16 or 3/8-in. chain with a "grab" hook at one end and a "slip" or " round" hook at the other. Place the slip hook end around the offending brush or small tree and hook it to the chain, forming a lasso. Hook the other end to a part of your car, truck, tractor, or ATV. Be sure to pick a part that will not get ripped off or bend easily. Pull the vehicle forward as slowly as you possibly can. The object is to slither the roots out of the ground without breaking any of them.
The true measure of an adult is whether he (can you get me out of this one?) has the patience and sensitivity to pull a dandelion out without breaking the root (which will quickly grow back ).
This technique ensures that the site will hardly be disturbed (no ruts, excavator gouges or piles of dirt or brush inextricably fused), and the topsoil will remain in your yard, not hauled off to a land fill. The job is done with far less fuel and carbon imprint. The brush will be relatively soil free and can be chipped for insulating mulch or burned to sweeten an acid soil.
To learn to be a thoroughly thoughtful designer, effective steward, and competent builder of your own future, not to mention having a darn good time, join us for the..... Design Build Class May 10-21, 2009!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wood Stove Tax Credit

Now through the end of the calendar year 2010 you can receive a tax credit for a biomass fuel stove used for heat or for heating water. The credit is 30% of the cost of the actual woodstove (installation included) up to $1500. You can purchase more than one stove and receive credit on both of them -- up to $1500. The stoves must have a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75% as measured using a lower heating value.

The law defines "biomass fuel" as any plant-derived fuel available on a renewable or recurring basis, including agricultural crops and trees, wood and wood waste and residues (including wood pellets), plant (including aquatic plants), grasses, residues, and fibers.


We do not know of a comprehensive list of qualified biomass stoves. The best way to find stoves that qualify for the tax credit is to ask your retailer. To verify tax credit eligibility, ask your retailer to provide the Manufacturer's Certification Statement (a signed statement from the manufacturer certifying that the product or component qualifies for the tax credit) for the stove you plan to purchase or search on the Manufacturer's website.

Shelter Institute carries a number of wood stoves that qualify for the tax refund and we are happy to provide price and availability. Please call (207-442-7938) or email for additional information.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Photos From the September Purely Post & Beam Class


WOW! What a spectacular week in Maine with fourteen students from as far reaching as Holland. We began by drafting the building to scale to get a sense of the structure we would be cutting and then went right out to the shop to begin cutting the timbers to length! Check out these great photos of our week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wood Stove Best Practices

Wood stoves are a great way to supplement or even entirely heat your home in the winter. As with any type of heat, the key to a successful heating season is a well tuned and efficiently operating system. Join us for a one hour workshop about the best practices for wood burning stoves, including stove selection, fuel selection, placement in the home, installation, venting and general maintenance.
September 26, 2009
2:00 pm at the
Shelter Institute Classroom
873 US Rte One Woolwich, Maine
207-442-7938

info@shelterinstitute.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Beautiful Door Mats: A Greener Choice


This is the ideal mat for a Maine home or for a home whose inhabitants wish they were in Maine. Each mat is unique, made out of retired-float rope: rope used to secure multiple lobster traps together along the ocean floor. This rope is being replaced by a weighted rope and was headed straight for the landfill but entrepreneur and Shelter Institute Graduate Penny Johnston developed the Maine Float Rope Company which takes this old rope and turns it into beautiful door mats. A portion of the proceeds of sales of these mats goes to organizations and projects that help protect the Northern Right Whale, support Maine Lobstermen and implement environmentally sound practices in the Gulf of Maine. • colorful and pleasing to the eye• trap dirt, mud, snow and sand like no other mat • cleanup is a snap, just shake the mat our or hose it down• virtually indestructible easily withstands all kinds of weather • Do not absorb water, nor harbor insects • Resistant to mold and mildew, salt water and sun • Reversible for twice the wear, boaters take note, our mats even float!• Handmade by local craftsman, each mat is one of a kind! Please note that because each mat is unique we cannot specify color they come in a variety of bright and vibrant colors. If you have a preference you can request either a bright or a muted tone and we will do our best to fulfill that request.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Purely Post & Beam Class


Join us for 5-1/2 invigorating days where you will learn how to select, care for and use the best timber framing tools and create beautiful timber frame joinery. We'll spend the first morning learning how to draw the building to scale both by hand and on the computer. We'll spend the next several days in our comfortable shop laying out the joints on the timbers and hand shaping them in the timbers. Our in-house engineer will present the basics of beam sizing and joint selection to ensure that your timber frame structure is designed to support itself as well as the many pressures of wind, snow and ice. Walk away at the end of this class with a thorough set of plans for re-creating this building, the knowledge and skills to do it yourself. And as part of the alumni of the Shelter Institute, we are always available to answer questions and assist you through those complex building processes. Join the thousands of Shelter Institute grads by taking this next Purely Post and Beam Class: September 13-18, 2009 Sunday 5:00-8:00 pm, 8:30-5:00 Monday through Friday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Window Quilt Tax Credit

Window Quilt Insulated Shades qualify for the 30% (up to $1500) tax credit. Shades must be purchased and installed by December 31, 2010. Start saving money this heating season by installing your shades now. Email or call the Shelter Institute for more information on the tax credit, sizing, price and installation of shades.

We have units in use installed in our facility as well as floor samples to touch. Please stop in to see Window Quilt in action!

If your still not sure which window treatment is best for your home, budget and application join us for a free workshop to learn more about your options, heat loss and insulation.

Home Buyer's Tax Credit Deadline

The federal government's "First-Time Home Buyers" tax credit expires on Nov. 30. The current offer is a tax credit for 10% of the purchase price of a property, up to $8,000. First-time home buyers doesn't just mean young people buying their first home -- this term applies to anyone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the date of purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.

First time home buyers are flooding the market and creating a flurry of showings and activity in the real estate world. Mortgage approvals, residential inspections, and other steps in the buying process typically take about two months, buyers hoping to take advantage of the incentive will need to have a contract by the end of September at the latest.

Those of you planning to take advantage of this tax credit at the last minute should be aware that mortgage approvals are currently taking longer than normal because home Appraisals have been placing very different values on homes than the buyer and seller agree to and for which the buyer tries to get financing. This is not an issue when the appraisal is too high but can bring the transaction to a screeching hault when the appraisal is too low.

What can you do? If you find yourself in a transaction where the appraisal has devalued your house or your perspective house, find out why. Ask for a full copy of the report and information on any comperables that were used. Be sure to point out any features of a property that would enhance the value and consider requesting a new appraisal. In many cases Appraisers are using other recent local sales to provide a benchmark value for your own property. The problem with this in the current market condition is that some of those comps may be Short Sales and/or Foreclosures meaning that the circumstances under which they were sold were perhaps different from the circumstances in which you are trying to sell or buy.

The critical message here is that real estate value is not a science. It comes down to a combination of factors

  1. What are current market conditions?
  2. What dollar value does the buyer place on the property?
  3. What dollar value does the seller place on the property?

Remember that you can seek alternate sources of finance. Remember to shop for your financing and in doing so you may find that the appraisal value is not as important. The foreclosures and short sales are bringing values of homes down but that doesn’t mean that the value of your home has to change.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DRESDEN OPEN HOUSE

Open House August 29, 2009 3:00-5:00 pm

email: info@shelterinstitute.com for more information



Join us for an open house at this home in Dresden.

MLX # 931383 Listing Price $147,000
Featuring

  • 3.3 Wooded acres which provide plenty of firewood for this home
  • high efficiency wood stove
  • Dry unfinished basement
  • Easy access to Midcoast or Augusta
  • Views of beautiful blueberry fields across the street
  • Space for an addition
  • Freshly painted walls
  • vinyl siding
  • New roof in April 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Intro to Insulated Shades


Saturday August 29, 2009 9:30 AM

As the heating season approaches, those of us living in colder climates are looking around our homes for last-minute improvements that we can make in order to stay as warm as possible with as little energy as possible. An obvious heat loss is through the glass in our windows. Regardless of how tight your windows are there is still considerable heat loss. Insulated shades have been available for more than thirty years but this year they are becoming so mainstream that you can purchase them everywhere from specialty stores where they are custom made for your windows to online sources and big box stores. You can imagine that there is considerable variety in the quality, r-value, and options available. This one-hour workshop will explain the science around insulated shades and explore the options, pros, and cons of various shades. You'll leave knowing what option is best for your home and your budget.

This is a FREE one hour workshop with a question and answer session at the end but you must register in advance as space is limited. Send an email with your name, address and phone number as well as the class subject and date to info@shelterinstitute.com or call 207-442-7938 to reserve your spot today.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Land Price Reduction


This beautiful 7-acre parcel has just had a price reduction to $65,900! It is the last lot in the subdivision, on cul-de-sac, connects to miles of wooded trails for skiing and hiking. Private and remote location with easy access to the midcoast region and the rich culture it has to offer. Rights to association moorings available in deepwater Kennebec River just a mile away. Please call 207-443-9905 or email for more information.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Metal Roof Penetrations

by Gaius Hennin, PE
We install metal roofing exclusively on our timber frame shells. With warranties up to 45 years on the finish, ability to recycle, wide range of color options, longevity, ability to reflect the sun’s heat and shed snow and, this year, available tax credit, the advantages of metal roof are obvious. We are typically installing the metal roof long before the plumber has had a chance to run the main vent stack up through the roof, and this part of the job seems to create a fair amount of (undue) anxiety for both the plumber and the homeowner. I recently had the opportunity to install a couple of vent stacks through a metal roof for past clients and thought ‘What a great blog this would make!’ Here is my technique.



As with most of our shells, the timber frame was enclosed with SIP (structural insulated panel) walls and roof. This makes the installation even easier since there is no framing lumber in the roof to avoid. I use a slow turning right angle drill and a hole saw with an extension to drill up through the SIP and metal roof all in one clean shot. For this particular job, the plumbing had been run up to within a few feet of the roof panels. Using a plumb bob, I transferred the centerline of the pipe up to the ceiling and placed a mark there. The hole saw has a pilot drill making it easy to center the hole on my mark. I choose a hole saw that is just large enough to allow the pipe to pass through (photo 1).

A hole that is much larger than the pipe is more likely to allow warm moist air inside the building to come into contact with the underside of the cold metal roof, condense and drip back into the building, making the roof penetration appear to leak. I also like to seal the PVC to the metal roof as additional insurance against leakage which is only possible with a snug fitting penetration (see photo 2).

It is convenient to have a helper with a well calibrated eye stand back and make sure your drill remains plumb as you drill up through the roof. This house had a 9” thick SIP on a 5/12 pitch making the hole about 10” in length-plenty of room to get out of plumb. The pipe that will get installed through the roof is schedule 40 PVC and quite rigid. If the hole you drill is far out of plumb it can be quite difficult to align to the existing plumbing and make the pipe look crooked from outside.

After the hole is drilled, measure from the existing plumbing up through the hole to determine how much pipe is needed to make it through the roof, then add 12-24” of length to ensure that snow does not build up against and plug the vent stack. If the International Plumbing Code is enforced in your area, Section 904.1 calls out the minimum roof extension distance for your zone. I feel compelled to mention that the IPC also stipulates that “vent terminals shall not be used as a flag pole or to support flag poles, or similar items,……”. No further comment needed.

After gluing the pipe in place with the appropriate primer and glue, it is time to head up onto the roof. For this job, the roof is a 5/12 pitch and it is possible to walk on the roof, when dry, with no staging or scaffolding needed. I do have several words of caution though. In the spring, a layer of yellow Pine pollen can build up on the roof making it quite slippery, so try to plan the roof trip after a rain. Stepping on the screw heads affords extra friction and avoids the ‘little slips’ that can give you a heart attack. Remember that OSHA requires some form of fall protection, for good reason, when over 6’ off the ground. For clarity, we have Photoshopped the scaffolding out of the accompanying photos.

We use an EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) flashing boot known as a Dektite, for plumbing stack and all other ‘cold’ penetrations. For penetrations, such as single wall chimney pipes, where extended, elevated temperatures are inevitable, use the silicone Dektite. These are both available in a wide range of sizes, and can be trimmed to fit the exact pipe diameter. Be extremely careful when trimming the Dektite because a tight fit between the Dektite and the pipe is a critical part of a long term, leak-free installation (photo 3).

I use a sharp utility knife, but only because I sharpen my blades out of the package on my Tormek T-7 professional sharpening system (available at Woodbutcher Tools and, of course, on our website), and I have a dead steady hand. A lack of either of these can lead to an errant slice in the Dektite, rendering it useless. Notice that the Dektite I am installing here has a round base that sits on the roof surface (photo 4); this works well up to a 7/12 pitch. For steeper roofs, a Dektite with a square base works better, with one corner of the base aimed up the roof, toward the ridge.

After trimming the Dektite along the appropriate score line provided, I test fit the boot. The base has a piece of aluminum adhered to the EPDM which allows you to bend the base to fit the roof profile. When I am happy with the fit, I pull the Dektite off and apply a healthy bead of 100% silicone sealant (a marine adhesive like 3M’s PL 5200 also works very well, though is more expensive and often difficult to find) to the interface of the metal roof and the PVC (photo 5), this is the final line of defense against leakage, but should never see moisture, theoretically. Notice in photo 5 that a roofing screw has been removed, and the Dektite will end up partially straddling a rib. The screw was removed to allow the Dektite base to fit tight against the roof; the boot is straddling the rib because of Murphy’s Law.

Next I apply a thick bead of silicone sealant, using my professional grade Tajima caulking gun, to the flat underside of the Dektite (photo 6), and slide it down over the pipe.

Just before contacting the metal roof with the silicone, I double check that the boot is oriented properly to take advantage of the pre-fit work: I want the boot to slide straight down and have the excess silicone squeeze out without rotating, as this can allow air pockets to form in the silicone which can leak. To attach the boot to the roof I use 7/8” long Tek screws. These have a pre-drilling tip which makes it easy to drill through the aluminum base and the metal roof. These screws get installed about 1” on center (photo 7) all around the base and will hold the silicone gasket captive as well as preventing sliding snow from breaking the waterproof bond between the Dektite and the metal roof. It should take about as long to install the Dektite as it does to read this verbose article.

On roof pitches above a 7/12, it is wise to consider additional snow slide prevention. There are two typical devices. One is a plastic ‘block’ with a self-adhesive membrane. These should be placed every 3-4 feet up the roof to within 3-4’ of the ridge. Be aware that these will only fully adhere with continued temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The other device screws to the roof and ties to the vent pipe with a stainless steel band. The metal plate that screws to the roof deck is shaped like a ‘V’ to help part the sliding snow around the pipe as it comes down the roof.

Lastly, the hole in the roof inside the building should be properly sealed to prevent warm moist air inside the building from coming into contact with the cold underside of the metal roof. A bead of 100% silicone between the pipe and the drywall ceiling works well if the gap is around 1/8” or less. If the hole was drilled larger, you should instead place expanding foam all around the pipe to prevent air migration.

It should take about as long to install the Dektite as it does to read this verbose article.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Metal Roofing Tax Incentives

DO YOU NEED A NEW ROOF?

The 2009 Stimulus Package provides substantial tax credits to homeowners who make energy efficient updates to their home. A great way to qualify for the credit is installation of a painted or coated Energy Star® labeled metal roof. Homeowners installing qualified roofs in 2009 and 2010 may be eligible for a tax credit worth up to 30% of the materials cost (materials only) up to $1,500 per home.

For example the metal roofing that we install on our 24x24 timber frame kit (with a 12/12 pitch roof) has a materials cost of $2900. If you select one of the qualifying colors you can receive a refund of $870 on that roof. That pricing is based on the Ideal Roofing Product Line which do qualify for this Energy Star Rebate. The Rebate is limited to a select group of colors because they do not absorb a tremendous amount of heat from the sun (Polar White, White, Bone White, Stone Grey, Regent Grey, Charcoal, Metro Brown, Coffee, International Orange, Bright Red, Red, Tile Red, Burgundy, Antique Linen, Tan, Mahogany, Slate Blue, Mist Green, Pacific Turquoise, Medium Green). Please contact us for a complete color chart, certification form and pricing. ph. 207-442-7938 or email a request and we can mail you a packet: info@shelterinstitute.com

How to receive the tax credit:

1. Find a Contractor or supplier near you to discuss a new metal roof for your home.
2. Confirm that the metal roof you select is a painted or coated Energy Star-labeled metal roof and obtain certification.
3. Purchase and install the metal roof between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.
4. Fill out IRS Form 5965 when filing your taxes for 2009 and/or 2010.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Workshop Calendar

Back by popular demand we've introduced a number of new FREE workshops held primarily on Saturday mornings throughout the year. We'll cover such timely topics as Best Wood Stove Practices, Insulated Shade Selection and Use, Intro to Active Solar, Intro to Geothermal, even the basics of Concrete Countertops and and introduction to Structural Insulated Panels. Visit our class schedule for up to date listing of events. Space is limited and these workshops are popular to so please reserve your space in advance! Call 207-442-7938 or email info@shelterinstitute.com

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2010 Class Schedule

Join us for a class on energy efficient housebuilding. Our 2010 class schedule is now available on our website. Check out the Design Build Class with all of the topics from solar angles to engineering to wiring and plumbing. The Small Housebuilding Class offers hands-on construction and techniques building a 12x16 structure installing windows, doors and roofing. Learn the art of timber framing in a one week Purely Post & Beam class. Classes qualify for general course credits through the University of Maine in Augusta and VA reimbursements. Take all three classes and receive a ten percent discount on the tuition of all three when you take the final class. Join the thousands of energy concious thinking people who plan well, to build well to live well!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chainsaw Maintenance

Saturday June 27, 2009
9:30-1:30
Chainsaws are one of our favorite tools because they free you! With a chainsaw you can selectively clear your woods of invasive species, you can mill your own lumber to build a house and then you can cut your own firewood to heat the house! Well we know not everyone is into all of that BUT a chainsaw is a pretty handy tool; the only trick is that it needs some maintenance and like every small engine there are a few key things to maintaining it. Of course you can find lots of how-to manuals for using and maintaining a saw but wouldn't it be great if you could have a couple of hours with somone who REALLY know what he's talking about? Pat Hennin will be offering his chainsaw maintenance and milling workshop, a four hour how-to on getting the MOST out of your chainsaw. In the preparation of the workshop we came up with a few key tips to ensuring that your engine purrs smoothly every time you haul on that pull-cord. And in the meantime here are a few elementary tips.

  • mix your fuel carefully
  • clean that air filter
  • try to find ethonol free fuel (good luck) this alcohol destroys the fuel pump and fuel valves
  • always keep your gas tank full between uses otherwise water vapor will get in and clog the carborator
  • don'y buy a geen one because you'll never find it in the woods
  • buy a chainsaw with a short bar you're less likely to cut off your feet; an 18-in. blade will easily cut a 36 in log
  • bring your granberg saw sharpener into the woods with you it is the most pleasant place to sharpen your saw
Pat Hennin started using a chainsaw in earnest in about 1960 when he worked as a lumberjack in Idaho. He had a plot with selected trees for felling in the Targhee National Forest and spent three solid months working those woods. And has practiced tree surgery for 40 years using Mculloch, Homelites and Solo to the new Efco, Jonsered, Husquevarna, Stihl and more. Bring your saw to get very specific instruction.

Monday, June 15, 2009

FREE WORKSHOP: Masonry Heaters

Saturday June 20, 2009 9:30-10:30
Perhaps because we are located in Maine, the thought of curling up next to wood heat is always inviting -- even in June. In fact this early, rainy morning I fired up my own Vermont Castings wood stove to take off the chill. Whether it is summer or winter, people are always asking about alternative heat sources from wood stoves to pellet heaters, gas space heaters, coal and wood fired furnaces in the basement . . . the list is endless. Well we thought we'd quell at least a few of those inquiries with a free workshop about Masonry Heaters.

Masonry heaters combine some of the best features of a wood heat source: the burn efficiency of a wood stove and the heat retention and beauty of a fireplace. When described that way, I wonder why we don't all have them. So, we invited Eric Schroeder, a local masonry heater builder to discuss design, integration with floor plan, construction materials, and even cost of construction and installation. Eric has traveled the world to learn about Masonry heaters and spent the last three years working as an apprentice for a number of different masonry heater builders. Join us for a free one hour session to learn more about whether a Masonry Heater is right for your home or business. Bring your own floor plan and questions and we'll be sure to get you headed in the right direction! And if the Masonry Heater is not the alternative heat source you are considering, what is? We'd like to know! info@shelterinstitute.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

SketchUp Class

Saturday June 13, 2009
9:30-11:30
In this two hour session, learn the ins and outs of Sketchup, Google's free computer design program. We'll tour of the software and its capabilities, and do some hands-on guided modeling. Sketchup is a great tool for visualizing spaces. Professional builders are able to share ideas with clients and sub-contractors in perspective, plan and elevation view while only having to create one “drawing”. Sketchup even makes it possible to export your model to your site on “Google Earth”.

The instructor, Patrick Wright, is a self-taught Sketchup artist who has experience as a teacher, homeowner/builder, land use planner, and TimberFramer with the Henin Post and Beam Crew. In 2007, he led a group of novice volunteer modelers who created 45 buildings in Downtown Brunswick, ME. These models have been accepted in Google Earth's "3D Buildings" layer. Patrick's practical building experience helps to bring together the realities of home design and construction with the expertise of computer aided design.

Students should bring a laptop computer to gain the most from the workshop but it is not required. If possible, please download Sketchup ahead of time at: Google Sketchup If you have trouble installing the program, the instructor will help you at the beginning of class (please arrive early). Be sure to bring a mouse, as a touchpad is much more difficult to model with. Non-Refundable Registration: $45 (This Registration fee can be transferred once at no charge. A second request for transfer will result in the loss of deposit.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tool Belts: A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place


Selecting the right tool belt takes time and experience. I've watched builder's young and old walk through our doors and try on a wide variety of belts swearing that their selection is the ONLY way to go. I remember when the options were slim to none and you had to choose between a cloth nail apron and a leather pouch with belt and hammer holster. Today's tool belt selection is as wide and varied as pick-up truck selection . . . . and they all let you carry nearly as much as your pickup truck.

Gaius was recently in need of a new tool belt and I had nearly as much fun watching him go through the selection process as I do our customers. He is thrilled with his new setup! In the end he decided on a product made by Occidental Leather; the Stronghold Suspendavest with his own favorite tool pouches and drill holster attached to them.

You know we're not short of opinion around here and of course Gaius came up with his own list of essential features. His first tip is to make a concise list of the tools you carry. His list consisted of:

In the end we came up with a few simple suggested requirements that can apply to anyone:

  • the tools need to all fit into your belt
  • you need to be able to reach all pockets easily without contorting your body
  • toolbelt needs to be light . . . your tools are heavy enough
  • Suspenders are a must . . . they help disperse the weight of your tools

Is there an essential tool that you keep in your tool belt that we didn't include? Let us know: info@shelterinstitute.com



Friday, May 29, 2009

Brunswick, Maine Real Estate


2000 Square Foot condo for Sale in Brunswick:
Built in 1984 this condo just had a face lift with two additional rooms and a half-bath added to the second floor. It Offers first floor living w/spare bedroom on 2nd floor, spacious dining and living with walkout to wooded lot. Washing Machine, dryer, Refrigerator, stove, dishwasher included. One car garage offers addition storage and protects your car from Maine winters! It is easy to heat with propane direct vent heater (last years heat bill amounted to under $1000) on city water and sewer. Association fees just $195 per month and annual taxes $1869. Great location with easy access to beaches, hiking, restaurants, movies, healthcare, shopping & more. Your right in the midst of it with this home but the setting is secluded and even offers a glimpse of the Maine woods! $179,900 Email for more information: info@shelterinstitute.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Financial Times' Learning Vacation

Shelter Institute was featured in The Financial Times Saturday May 23, 2009:
"A hands-on revolution" By Madeleine Johnson
"A few years ago Jon Biehler took a life-changing bicycle ride through the US state of Maine. He happened upon a school – the Shelter Institute – which would eventually transform him from a teacher into an architect and builder, the sort of man able to put a roof over his own head. . . . Biehler and many others have discovered, taking a self-building course not only improves your project’s bottom line. It can improve your life too."

See the full article on the Financial Times Website

Join us for the Design Build Class in July and Improve your life too!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Free Gransfors Axe with Purchase of Tormek T-7

As if any of us really need an incentive to purchase a Tormek T-7 Sharpening System! Tormek is now offering a free Gransfors Hand Axe (valued at $105) with the purchase of a T-7 between May 1, and July 31, 2009. This is a pretty spectacular combination of tools -- two of our favorites! We've got the Tormek T-7 in stock. you simply register your Tormek at http://www.tormek.com/ and type "Free Gransfors Axe" in the comments section and you will get a special form to complete and mail along with a copy of your receipt to the address indicated. Claims must be received by their office no later than August 15, 2009. Receipts must be dated between May 1 and July 31, 2009.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Masonry Heaters









Intro to Masonry Heaters
June 20, 2009 9:30 AM
In this ever-changing energy market those of us living in cooler climates are always exploring more efficient ways of heating a home. Join us for a one hour presentation on Masonry Heaters. When built well and integrated with the floorplan of a home, masonry heaters provide continuous and even heat with minimal poking, stoking and fussing. Masonry heaters store a large amount of heat in the mass of the heater. They combine the aesthetics of a masonry fireplace with the funtion and efficiency of a sealed combustion heater. This means that you can rapidly burn a large charge of wood without overheating your home. The heat is stored in the masonry thermal mass, and then slowly radiates into your house for the next 12 to 24 hours. The workshop will cover history and basic function of masonry stoves, different styles, and information regarding the effective integration of a heater into your home plans. Cooking and baking stoves as well as issues surrounding domestic hot water will also be discussed. Bring your floorplans along and our instructor will walk you through identifying the best location for a masonry heater.This is a FREE one hour workshop with a question and answer session at the end but you must register in advance as space is limited. Send an email with your name, address and phone number as well as the class subject and date to info@shelterinstitute.com or call 207-442-7938 to reserve your spot today.
The instructor, Eric Schroeder, spent three years working as an apprentice for different masonry heater builders in the United States and Canada. In 2007 he took a trip through Europe to attend the Austrian Kachelofenverband's annual trade show, and to visit with a stove builder in Friesland, northern Holland. He brings tales from the road and technical and practical information about heaters to this workshop.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Draw Your House with Your Computer


Saturday June 13, 2009 9:30-11:30 am
Now you can take a hands-on drafting-on-computer class. While we have always offered drafting with pencil and paper in our Design-Build Class, we know that many of you have stopped using pencils and paper and we don't want that to be an excuse for not creating a thorough design. Although Pat will always draw his projects by hand, many of you have asked about our favorite computer programs. Although there are a myriad of choices out there with a wide range of price tags attached to them, we thought we would start with a cost effective version.
Google has brought 3D modeling into the mainstream with their FREE distribution of a product called “Sketchup.” This software has a remarkably flat learning curve compared to most CAD programs. This 2-hour session covers a tour of the software and its capabilities, as well as hands-on guided modeling. This is a great tool for visualizing spaces. Professional builders are able to share ideas with clients and sub-contractors in perspective, plan and elevation view while only having to create one “drawing”. Sketchup even makes it possible to export your model to your site on “Google Earth”

The instructor, Patrick Wright, is a self-taught Sketchup artist who has experience as a teacher, homeowner/builder, land use planner, and Timber Framer with the Hennin Post and Beam Crew. In 2007, he led a group of novice volunteer modelers who created 45 buildings in Downtown Brunswick, ME. These models have been accepted in Google Earth's "3D Buildings" layer. Patrick's practical building experience helps to bring together the realities of home design and construction with the expertise of computer aided design.

Students should bring a laptop computer to gain the most from the workshop but it is not required. If possible, please download Sketchup ahead of time at: Google Sketchup If you have trouble installing the program, the instructor will help you at the beginning of class (please arrive early). Be sure to bring a mouse, as a touchpad is much more difficult to model with.
For more information, please visit this products webpage. Tuition for this class is for services rendered. The Shelter Institute makes no warranty, and holds no license for "Sketchup" software. The Shelter Institute and its instructors are not employed by or agents of Google, Inc. Non-Refundable Registration: $45 (This Registration fee can be transferred once at no charge. A second request for transfer will result in the loss of deposit.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Composting Toilets

Saturday May 16, 2009 9:30 am

Composting Toilets 101
Join us for a FREE one hour discussion of composting toilets: we'll provide first hand experience with a variety of styles, information on how they relate to the building code and how best to use and maintain them. As always a question and answer session will follow in which we can provide information specific to your situation! 'Tis the season for composting with the opening of summer cottages and guest cabins come explore whether this is a good choice for you or not! Free coffee, tea and snacks provided!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Maine Public Broadcasting Auction

Shelter Institute supports Maine Public Broadcasting Networks annually by donating one course tuition to the MPBN Great TV Auction. This year you can bid for items online! Check out our class and make a bid and see the other great items up for auction!


This year we donated tuition for the One Week Small Housebuilding Class. Cabins, camps, sheds, guest houses, cottages, and tree-houses are all tiny houses. Learn to design and build a small structure to suit your own particular needs in this one-week hands-on seminar. We will design and build a small cabin to serve as a year-round guest house. The size of this particular house will be less than 200 square feet!We address such issues as design (how to make a small space feel big), basic structural engineering, heating and cooling as well as alternative plumbing solutions. Our structure will demonstrate low environmental impact on its surroundings and is designed for minimal maintenance through the years. Learn to use basic hand tools effectively in this class - upon registration, we will provide you with a list of suggested tools. Part of the class will be an introduction to the best tools for the most common tasks. And of course, any tools you do not already own, you can purchase here at Woodbutcher Tools during your stay. A key component of this seminar is our panelized construction technique which allows for efficient, fast construction that is strong and durable. You will learn the tips and tricks to make your own tiny house as permanent and useful as any larger structure.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Professional Sharpening

Professional Sharpening

Saturday May 2, 2009 9:00-2:00
There is nothing better than a sharp chisel, gouge, axe, saw, drill bit, knife, drawknife --- any sharp tool! It can be very discouraging to try to work with dull tools. Come take our five hour sharpening workshop and learn how to get your tools so sharp you could shave with them -- and put the enjoyment back into your woodworking projects!
We cover chisels, planes, non-carbide circular saw blades, handsaws, chainsaws, and knives...if there is particular hand tool that you need to keep sharp let us know in advance and we'll be sure to cover it -- or bring it along and we will make suggestions! We'll discuss the pros and cons of using hand and electric sharpeners.Each student will receive a FREE honing guide ($17.60 value) - an essential sharpening tool as you will see. Non-Refundable Registration: $95 (This Registration fee can be transferred once at no charge. A second request for transfer will result in the loss of deposit.)