A Review Of Handmade Houses: The Woodbutchers Art
By Art Boericke/Barry Shapiro

Handmade Houses: The Woodbutcher's Art by Art Boericke is considered a classic among those who enjoy wood crafts and the people that engage in it. The pictures of the different cabins and sheds seen in this book are delightful and will inspire the imagination of anyone with a crafty bone in their body.

The book is a photo-journey through the 1970s and documents some of the unusual homes that were constructed during that decade. The pictures include both the interior and exterior of the homes. Boericke had the wonderful opportunity to speak with the owners - many of whom asked to remain anonymous (probably because they lacked formal permission to build!)

The handmade houses pictured and described in this book are exactly that - handmade. They reflect the free spirit of the people who lived in them. All of the homes were built with love and the material that was used was either worked by hand using hand tools and all-wood joints or was salvaged from other buildings that were being taken down. Many of the buildings include mismatched doors, windows, and other fixtures that give them a very artsy and eclectic look while the use of tree branches, metal sculpting, and unusual plumbing and lighting add to the overall feel of the buildings themselves.

Handmade houses

Minor drawback

What could be seen as a drawback to the book is the fact that there are no directions or details for constructing the many structures. However each building probably never had construction drawings and was built from experience to blend with its surroundings

This is a book of Art not How to - each home remains unique to this day.

The precursor to the eco-shed?

The book shows homes that were 'green' before the concept of going green was even, well, a concept. The items that were recycled from other buildings back then are the very same types of items that are being recycled today, showing that the idea of reusing and helping the environment wasn't as far-fetched in the 1970s as some people may think. Plus, the idea of hand hewn woods and non-metallic fixings are starting to come back with some construction techniques. Homes built by the Amish today still use these techniques, techniques that never really went away.

The homes displayed in this book might have once been considered 'hippy shacks', but they are anything but even if some of them snubbed their noses at the building codes of the day. The color pictures of the homes on each page of the book show that each was built with love, unlike the residential conformity of most buildings today. Each home has character, something that is hard to find in today's houses. I have seen these buildings described as 'fairy tale homes in the woods' and that description is not too far off.

Handmade houses


If you are looking for inspiration for your shed or for a cool tree house getaway for your children, 'Handmade Houses: The Woodbutcher's Art' will definitely provide you with the inspiration you need to pull out the saw and hammer. Going to salvage yards will take on a whole new meaning and building your shed will become exciting as you test out some of the ideas this book provides.

Getting hold of a copy

Now for the difficult bit! - The book was originally published in 1973 by Scrimshaw Press and is currently out of print. There are copies available at Amazon that start at around $22.00, but if you love woodcraft and enjoy the unique and exotic, you will definitely want to search out a copy of this book and slowly take in the handmade houses on its pages.

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