Barn (Workshop) Raising

17 . 06 . 17

​Wherever you are and whatever you do, a little more space would inevitably come in handy. Since moving into our workshop at the Eco Park three years ago, most of the “office” work involved with running Otter Surfboards has been done on James’ kitchen table. For a long time we’ve toyed with the idea of building a mezzanine into the workshop so that we can have an upstairs space for various elements of what we do here, and over the past three weeks those dreams and plans have finally come to fruition. Much like a traditional barn-raising where friends and neighbours would lend a hand in the building of a barn’s framework (before the advent of mobile cranes), we were lucky enough to have friends on hand to help us out and it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

With a couple of weeks clear(ish) before our next workshop course we emptied out as much of the workshop as possible, ordered a lot of wood, and called all-hands on deck. An old friend of James’, Tim, who is a structural engineer drew up plans for us and then James and Si, who between them have a lot of experience constructing timber-frame buildings, led the way with Chris and Tom bringing their building experience to the project too. Friends stopped by to lend a hand here and there, which was particularly helpful on the heavy lifting days, and the end result is that we’ve just increased our floor space by over 50%.

Because wood is the material that we work with on a daily basis, the main Douglas fir frame for the mezzanine was constructed using traditional joinery techniques – mortice and tenon joints secured with drawn oak pegs. All of the joists were then notched in, so there’s not a single metal joist-hanger in sight. It was saw, chisel and mallet all the way.

The two hefty wooden posts that support the central beam that runs two-thirds the length of the workshop sit on custom made steel fins and base plates. We asked our friend Dave from Cord Industries to fabricate these for us; Dave makes beautiful steel-leg furniture (such as dining tables, benches, and stools) just along the road from us, but turned his welder up to full power for us to construct these substantial steel “single-fins”.

With a fully-booked make-your-own wooden surfboard course about to start, the workshop is now back to normal; our new “upstairs” is still just a platform and we have to build a new wall across the front of it and fit it out as a kitchen, office, oiling and packing space, but that will happen over the coming weeks and months. We’re back to business as usual, but now with a bit of extra space and a view of the sea out of the skylight.

Your Basket

You don't currently have any products in your basket.