Friday, July 29, 2011

Rebates, Water, and Composting Toilets

Sun-Mar Compact
Composting Toilet
I read recently in the LA Times and on Mashable that Bill Gates is providing $41.5 million to universities in an effort to reinvent or revolutionize the toilet in the third-world. It's a noble and necessary effort. According to Mashable:
40% of the world’s population does not have access to flush toilets. One billion people defecate in the open. Each year, 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhea, many of which are preventable with improved sanitation. 
The foundation is prioritizing convenience and affordability in the solutions it considers. The toilets must be easy to install and cost no more than $0.05 a day to maintain. 
The second paragraph caught my attention. I know of a toilet that is convenient, affordable, easy to install, and costs nearly nothing to maintain. In fact, we sell them at Shelter. They're composting toilets, and they're used in thousands of homes, cabins, and boats.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Friends of Shelter Tools - Tree Trunk Design

Exquisite turned bowl by
Ken Hatridge of Tree Trunk Design
The collection of new and gleaming tools in our store is impressive. Holding a brand-new Lie-Nielsen block plane in your hand, you see it both as a tool with great potential and as a thing of man-made beauty. But a tool is meant to be used, and some of the tools purchased at Shelter are in the hands of skilled master woodworkers who produce a variety of heirloom-quality work.

Ken Hatridge, a former timberwright at Shelter, is the talented proprietor of Tree Trunk Design, maker of fine wood-turned products. (The photos included here are examples of his work.) I contacted Ken to ask him about his process and wood turning.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Island Project Photos

Ethan and Pat prepare for landing
At Shelter, we specialize in providing building services to island clients. We love working with these pioneering spirits who are up against some of the most difficult conditions (in terms of building a home, maintaining it and living there). The islands offer a different pace, solitude and a difference in philosophy. We honor those fearless enough to face the elements to fulfill their house dreams.

There's a lot of planning and preparation involved before you cut your first piece of timber. And, as you might imagine, getting building materials to an island is no simple task. Once you land on the island, there is often no lumber yard, usually no electricity and sometimes not even a road. If you are short even a handful of nails, it can sometimes stop the whole project in it's tracks. Careful planning is our most valuable tool when site access is more challenging than the actual build.

The Shelter crew recently built a 24x36 hemlock frame with a 20-ft wide dustpan dormer on Gay Island, which is off the tip of Cushing between the Back River and the St. George River.

The site was very difficult to access, but with the right equipment we managed to build the frame in ten days despite torrential downpours, the crew camping in tents, and the challenges that the island site presented.

View photos of the crew on location via our online photo album.