Archive for July, 2011

Pot pies, woodshop class overachievers and reused materials

Pot pies in the case

Pot pies... MMMmmmmmm...

There are probably a few people out there who don’t love a good pot pie, but we haven’t found them yet. Bryce Sharp and Nathan Lowe have made a business of them at Man Pies in Bellingham. The entrepreneurial spirit abounds in these two, including a love of building, making and inventing things. Bryce had traveled to Australia and discovered that pot pies can are sold everywhere. Interested in doing the same, he came back and grabbed Nathan to build their pie shop together.

Nathan’s do-it-yourself attitude goes back a few years. He remembers, “I was an overachiever in 8th grade shop. While the other kids were making fish bats, I was bringing home compound bows and kayaks I had made.”

Table with safe hatch base

Table with safe hatch base

One prime example of their creativity is the ‘Safe Table.’ Bryce tells the story, “There used to be a safe where the bathroom is now. We had a guy come drill it out. The guy thought that we wanted to save the safe’s door, so he didn’t drill it into pieces like the rest of the safe and set it aside for us,” Bryce said. “We didn’t know what to do with it. I joked around with Nathan saying that we should take the extra wood from making our prep tables along with some legs, and have the safe’s door be the bottom of the table. Nathan said ‘Dude, we should do it!’” It’s now a functional table for their customers.

Behind the counter at Man Pies

Behind the counter - hot holding case and soup table from The RE Store

They bought almost everything for their pie shop, Man Pies, that opened in July of 2010 in downtown Bellingham from second hand stores or on the web.  Many of those items came from The RE Store. “Our biggest reason, to be honest, was cost,” Bryce said. Utilizing The RE Store meant that, “I could buy and install it myself and have to sell thousands less of cups of soup a day to pay it off,” said Bryce. “We went almost everyday and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have all the pieces we have today.”

Their hot holding display case was a prime example of The RE Store’s synchronicity that many have experienced. “We heard that it came from Seattle. It sat at the Bellingham store for three days and we couldn’t pass it up,” Bryce said. “After we painted one of our walls, we found the display case and interestingly enough, it matched the paint on the wall! It was the deal of the century.” This happened many more times for the pie-crafting handymen during their start-up phase.

Prep tables made from plywood sticker lumber

Prep tables made from plywood sticker lumber

The prep table legs and additional support was all made from reclaimed lumber. Nathan related, “The legs and other parts came from lumber pieces that are banded onto plywood stacks when they are shipped.  I cut them down on my table saw, planed them and made them up into tables for our kitchen.”

And how could we visit without eating?  The crust was perfectly flaky and the filling was delicious and moist while fully holding together in your hand.  Friendly ladies help you with a smile and they even sell gluten free pies. You can’t go wrong with the food or the decor in this compact little pot pie haven on Railroad Avenue.

Recycled materials for building Man Pies included:  lighting, fixtures, sinks, hot holding display case, veneered solid wood door, plumbing, wiring, nuts and bolts, filing cabinets, heating ducts, base board molding, and other random needed materials.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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Greenhouse or potting shed: What to do with old windows

Aerial view of green house from reclaimed materials

Aerial view of DW's potting shed made from reclaimed materials

DW Clark’s greenhouse project started by accident.  A friend of DW’s was replacing the windows in her home and asked Clark if he wanted them.

DW remembers, “Without thinking I said yes, and then had to figure out what I was going to do with them.  Because I had so many windows it seemed logical to build a green house.“

Pergola from reclaimed lumber with shed in background

Pergola from reclaimed lumber with shed in background

Clark has lived in the northwest area for 15 years now with his wife and works at KOMO TV.  As an avid recycler he never contemplated using anything else but reclaimed items for the greenhouse.  He has other projects he’s built recently including a pergola and a planter out of salvaged building supplies.  “I have always enjoyed finding new uses for discarded material,” he said.

Clark built the structure in the shadiest part of his backyard due to space considerations. “It’s more like a potting shed.“

Inside view of potting shed

Inside view of the potting shed

DW used materials acquired from different places and people. He says, “The RE Store provided doors, hardware, bricks, bolts, shakes, plywood, 2 X 4’s, the sink, concrete footings and a door weight.  A friend who was replacing his deck gave me his old decking.  And Mark Armstrong from Iron Age Design in Burien gave me a blemished draining grate, which was extremely nice of him.”

The potting shed took Clark two years to complete by himself. Clark said that he faked his construction skills for most of the project. One interesting thing about Clark’s potting shed is that the top is built in the same proportions as the Cheops Pyramids in Egypt and is oriented to north.

How did DW feel when he finished it?  “Kind of surprised.  It came out pretty close to what I’d envisioned, and that was a shock.”

Visit The RE Store’s do-it-yourself guides to download a free guide for designing your own shed with used materials: “Extra Space or Special Place” and others on our do it yourself downloads page.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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The Tombstone Project: reclaimed lumber, wavy glass and wabi sabi

Buffet cabinet made from salvaged lumber

The “Wells Fargo Buffet”

They just don’t build it like they used to, unless they work at Smith & Vallee Woodworks and Gallery. The talented and hardworking quartet has transformed an old barn into a state of the art shop, using lumber and windows salvaged out of the remodel to create their Tombstone Project cabinet and furniture collection. The only new materials in this new collection are the fasteners and hardware. All of the wood and glass comes from the former interior of the converted outbuilding.Their tandem gallery opening reception occurs in tandem with the grand opening of the new shop this Saturday, July 9th from 5-8pm.

Antique Cabinet in Cedar with upper cabinet made from reclaimed windows

“Antique Cabinet in Cedar” with upper cabinet made from reclaimed barn windows

The collection includes classic work like the “Wells Fargo Buffet.” The antique mall inside the transformed barn had an old-style Wells Fargo painted sign, from which individual reclaimed fir lumber was repurposed into this beautiful 3-door buffet.

The “Antique Cabinet in Cedar” features original windows from the barn. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you can see the original wavy glass panes from the building, raised in the 1880’s. Andrew Vallee repaired the old windows as a part of the cabinet’s creation and calls it, “a modern piece made with old wood in an old style.”

Dining Table made from recycled fir lumber

Smith & Vallee’s “Recycled Fir Table”

The “Recycled Fir Table With Antique Nail Holes” is made from vertical grain fir, with a very clean design. Andrew says, “We like to create a pattern with the old black nail holes, giving it a nice wabi sabi look.”

The genius of this holistic project is every exciting to us at The RE Store, as we have just kicked off our own new-upcycled-materials furniture collection in April of this year, through the REvision Division. The Smith & Vallee team has been building their beautiful and affordable furniture for years so go see their latest work at the gallery opening reception and wood shop grand opening this Saturday, the 9th from 5-9pm. The collection will be viewable at their gallery through July 31st, Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm.

Upright jewelry case made from reclaimed barn windows

“Old Window Jewelry Case made from salvaged Tombstone barn windows”

Read our previous blog post about the Tombstone Project’s barn, converted into a state of the art wood shop.

Posted in: Green business, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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The Tombstone Project: Salvaged materials, barn restoration and green building

Front of Smith and Vallee's Tombstone barn

The barn front of the Tombstone project

Smith & Vallee Gallery is launching one of their most unique design projects and furniture collections, “The Tombstone Project”, opening on the same evening as their new Woodshop Grand Opening, July 9th, from 5-8pm in Edison. These well-established Northwest artisans of green-built finish work have put their skills to work in creating their state-of-the-art woodshop, literally a stone’s throw from their gallery in Edison, a creative hub in Skagit County. The new collection of furniture is built from materials salvaged from the shop’s former interior.

Since 1997, Smith & Vallee Woodworks, Inc. has been designing and building furniture and cabinetry from reclaimed lumber and sustainably harvested forest products. Their work has been installed into homes and businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Their creative designs fill the Whatcom Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery and their 2002 exhibit at the Museum titled “The Tree Project” had to be seen to be fully appreciated.


Previous inside of Tombstone barn with antique mall

Previous interior of Tombstone barn with antique mall

Their latest endeavor has been the transformation of a barn in Edison, Washington into their state-of-the-art shop. The 1880’s-built structure had previously housed an antique mall. The mall had small rooms with old-west building facades built from sturdy old reclaimed lumber. They salvaged out the entire interior of the barn, then framed and finished what they refer to as a “building within a building.”

When asked why they spent the last year taking on such a huge project, rather than just finding a ready-to-go shop space, co-owner Andrew Vallee had a lot of good reasons.

Finished woodshop inside the Tombstone barn

Finished woodshop inside Smith & Vallee's Tombstone barn

“It had everything to do with the location. We were looking to relocate the shop from Deming. This was a more centralized location for NW Washington. The footprint was just about right. It is across the street from our gallery that has been working really well as a venue to sell other people’s work as well as our own. The gallery houses my attached residence and Wes (Smith) was wiling to relocate to Edison. We are really enjoying the Edison community and it made good business sense.”

The shop has an abundance of green-built features. A lot of the original buildings reclaimed wood went into fixing the ancient siding and trim on the restored barn.  Super insulated walls, high-efficiency infrared heating panels and new highly-insulated windows make for very efficient space heating.  The wood floor is made from repurposed wooden utility poles from a company in Ferndale. Smith & Vallee had the poles milled into flooring and kiln-dried.


Tombstone cabinet with attached upper and wavy glass doors

Newly built Tombstone cabinet with attached upper and wavy glass doors

So why “The Tombstone Project?” They have repurposed lumber from the barn’s interior, upcycling it into their latest collection of furniture, titled “The Tombstone project”, named after the original painted “Tombstone” sign on the barn door.  And like all of their work, the craftsmanship is premium, while keeping prices affordable.

If you haven’t been to Edison lately or at all, here is your chance. Go to the opening on July 9th from 5-8pm. See the new woodshop. Enjoy the gallery. Get there earlier and check out the Lucky Dumpster as well. Just the kind of place to find your own treasures to transform.

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Posted in: Green business, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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