Un­der con­struc­tion

The Shed - - Birdhouses -

On the kitchen ta­ble a hexag­o­nal tower with an an­nex is tak­ing shape. Steven has de­signed it with re­versed bat­tens, win­dows with pointed arches, and bal­conies with lit­tle braces. He made the six pan­els up flat on the ta­ble and got his girl­friend to hold them in place while he screwed the pan­els onto the ply­wood floor struc­ture in­side.

The valleyed truss roof of the an­nex is quite in­tri­cate.

“If I wasn’t a builder by trade I don’t think I’d be able to do them. I put it to­gether as a truss roof. If I hadn’t, I imag­ine it would’ve gone all hig­gledy-pig­gledy and dodgy as. So I found a way to make trusses and worked from there, mak­ing the ridges and val­leys. Once I’ve formed the roof I get a piece of pa­per and cut it to the size I want for the size of the roof pan­els. Then us­ing the pa­per as a pat­tern I cut them out of the to­tara bat­tens,” he ex­plains.

For this birdhouse the roof pan­els are ver­ti­cal. Five ver­ti­cal pan­els will be butted tightly to­gether, not over­lapped, as he usu­ally does. If they were hor­i­zon­tal he says that the pieces would get too small and split. Fas­cia boards will “tidy it up” and, as it is a work in progress, fur­ther down the track he will put in some lit­tle win­dows, finials, and an ex­te­rior stair­case.

“The more wood I put on them the stronger they be­come. By the time I’m fin­ished with this tur­ret with all the pieces on it, it will prob­a­bly just bounce if I drop it.”

Steven also makes pic­ture frames for his pen­cil draw­ings. He does a lot of art, mainly de­pict­ing Whanganui’s her­itage build­ings. The city boasts 11 per cent of New Zealand’s her­itage build­ings, so there is no short­age of sub­ject mat­ter. He draws from pho­to­graphs, pre­fer­ring to do that rather than be dis­tracted by rub­ber­neck­ers and chatty by­standers. “After be­ing in­jured and at home a lot I just picked up the pen­cil to keep me oc­cu­pied,” he says of his draw­ing. With a neck full of ti­ta­nium and other “scaf­fold­ing” Steven is do­ing what teach­ers told him he should do when he was at school — pur­sue his cre­ative tal­ents. And prompted by peo­ple telling him his tim­ber cre­ations look like doll’s houses, that could be next on his shed assem­bly line.

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