This intrepid teacher is building log homes while training the next generation of carpenters

“While the log building industry is thriving, there is a shortage of trained, experienced builders available to hire.” — Dave

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Carpenters throw their hard hats in the air in front of a log building.

Students at the BC School of Log Building can choose courses in dovetail log construction, saddle notch (or full scribe) log building, timber framing, or they can take a complete program that includes instruction in all three. — Photo courtesy Dave Stonehouse

What’s better than starting up your own successful business? Starting up TWO of your own successful businesses, of course! For Dave Stonehouse, an Ontarian who moved to B.C. after high school to pursue his dreams, his ambition and carpentry skills have resulted in Stonehouse Woodworks, a custom log house building business, and the BC School of Log Building, an educational program that teaches students to build log shells and timber frames through several different course options that range from one to six weeks. Both businesses are based out of Golden.

“I moved to British Columbia as a student where I loved the challenge of living close to nature and using techniques that paralleled those of the pioneers,” Stonehouse said. “I grew attracted to the joinery of logs and devoted myself to learning, building and creating using both traditional and modern methods for building and restoration.”

Dave Stonehouse uses a level and makes a mark on a log wall.

Dave Stonehouse is the founder of the BC School of Log Building and owner of Stonehouse Woodworks in Golden. — Photo courtesy Dave Stonehouse

Stonehouse has been running Stonehouse Woodworks for 18 years now. His projects can be seen in a variety of resorts, lodges, and world-class National parks including Lake O'hara and Lake Louise.

Accessible learning for log builders of any skill

The BC School of Log Building is a division of Stonehouse Woodworks, and both are run at the same physical location in Golden. Having the courses offered at Stonehouse’s log building yard offers students a first-hand look at varying log projects such as new log shells under construction as well as examples of reclaimed heritage log and timber buildings.

“This provides our students with the opportunity to be inspired by a full-service log building yard in action,” Stonehouse said. “Completing our log or timber frame building courses creates an opportunity for you to work and live in beautiful, adventurous or remote locations.”

Carpenters line up inside a log building to pose for a photo.

“We recognize that power tools and big wood can be intimidating. Our courses offer instruction in a safe and controlled environment through graduated steps and by an experienced professional.” — Dave Stonehouse — Photo courtesy Dave Stonehouse

Students can choose courses in dovetail log construction, saddle notch (or full scribe) log building, timber framing, or they can take a complete program that includes instruction in all three. Courses are known to be hands-on and students become immersed in all aspects of building the log shell. The BC School of Log Building even offers log building courses in an online format.

“We recognize that power tools and big wood can be intimidating,” said Stonehouse. “Our courses offer instruction in a safe and controlled environment through graduated steps and by an experienced professional. Previous experience is helpful but not necessary. A vast range of student profiles have succeeded in our log building school. We have witnessed students that come to the BC School of Log Building with little or no experience and within a few days they are cutting notches. We witness their sense of accomplishment when they lay down a log and it fits like a glove on top of the previous log. It is very rewarding to teach people who are motivated to learn and have a common interest in log building.”

Filling a hole in the log building industry

Aside from raising up the next generation of carpenters—a tremendous accomplishment on its own—Stonehouse is addressing a major demand in the market.

“There is a need for high quality log building instruction,” he said. “While the log building industry is thriving, there is a shortage of trained, experienced builders available to hire. There are also a number of individuals that want to craft their own log houses but need some guidance to develop the critical skills that are necessary to succeed with their own project. Teaching is an exciting and rewarding part of being a leader in the industry.”

A group of carpenters hold up their fists on a log building.

“Completing our log or timber frame building courses creates an opportunity for you to work and live in beautiful, adventurous or remote locations.” — Dave Stonehouse — Photo courtesy Dave Stonehouse

As any intrepid entrepreneur can attest, keeping a business running smoothly is a demanding prospect—doubly so when two businesses are involved. As such, Stonehouse is a busy man these days. He continues building custom log homes year-round and running log building courses every spring and fall, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Golden is a beautiful mountain town that we feel fortunate to call home,” he said. “It really is an adventure of a lifetime for students to learn to build a log cabin surrounded in the mountains.”

The BC School of Log Building and Stonehouse Woodworks in the midst of mountains in Golden, B.C.

The BC School of Log Building is a division of Stonehouse Woodworks, and both are run at the same physical location in Golden. — Photo courtesy Dave Stonehouse

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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