Beachcombing for Cedar Workshop

Summer 2017

Please contact us for more information or to request an application form.

Fun, Adventure & Educational

Are you looking for fun and adventure in BC this summer? Would you like to learn a valuable new skill that you can use to earn money? Are you interested in natural building? Then look no further. You won’t find another workshop like this anywhere in the world.

Part Workshop, Part Course

Make no mistake: this is a hands-on workshop where you will learn by doing. Its not a relaxing retreat, but does offer moments of quiet stress-free rest. Yes, we do our best to make you comfortable and safe. But you will be involved in the arduous and sometimes-dangerous business of salvaging cedar from distant and remote beaches and then splitting it into hand-split shakes. Its hard work, yet very rewarding. The sights, the sounds, the wildlife, it all abounds around you everywhere during this workshop in the forest. The smells that you will eagerly inhale as you split off perfectly tapered Western Red Cedar shakes will astound you; it is said to be natures most natural aromatherapy, every shake block is different, its smell as unique as a snowflake. At the end of each day you will be physically tired and ready for a peaceful sleep in the fresh air of the unique forest around you that only the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada can provide.

Exotic Woods from Far Away Lands

The focus of this unique wood cutting workshop is to produce high-quality cedar hand-split shakes. We will accomplish this by finding and then harvesting the appropriate driftwood on remote beaches.

Part One – Identifying Cedar and Producing Hand Split Cedar Shakes

  • Tree identification by species
  • Wood (logs & lumber) identification by species
  • Parts of a cedar tree and which parts are suitable for hand-split shake production
  • The shake block
    • edge grain
    • flat grain
    • slash grain
    • knots
    • burls
    • waves
    • ant holes
    • powder mite
    • wormholes
    • sapwood
    • heartwood
    • checking
  • The Froe and Mallet (used to split shake blocks into shakes)
    • using the froe safely
    • where to get one
    • make your own mallet
  • Hand splitting shakes
  • Tapered shakes vs. “straights” or “barn shakes”
  • Sorting and grading cedar shakes
  • Bundling shakes
  • Measuring a “square” of shakes
  • Selling cedar shakes
  • Installing the shakes onto a roof
  • Roof caps

Part Two – The Beach

  • Boating safety
  • Wood cutting safety
  • Beachcombing Equipment
  • Tides, currents and weather
  • Etiquette, morality and property laws of the beach
  • How to locate cedar-producing beaches in your area
  • Identifying weathered and storm-battered beach cedar
  • The difference between yellow cedar (cypress) and red cedar
  • Identifying cedar suitable for the production of hand-split cedar shakes
  • 24 inch shake blocks vs. 18 inch shake blocks
  • Prying, lifting, rolling and positioning cedar logs
  • Chainsawing cedar logs into “rounds”
  • Splitting cedar rounds into shake blocks
    • The axe & the plastic wedge
    • Axe accuracy
    • Advanced splitting techniques
    • Grain corrugation and twist
    • Knots & defects
  • Moving cedar shake blocks to the boat
  • Loading the blocks into the boat
  • Transporting the blocks by sea
    • Overloading & greed
    • Boating hazards

Part Three – Firewood & Kindling

  • Identifying firewood trees and logs
  • Eco-friendly firewood gathering
  • Species burning characteristics
  • Chainsawing firewood
    • Chainsaw maintenance
    • Chainsaw sharpening
    • Chainsaw safety
    • Chainsaw etiquette
  • Splitting firewood
  • Firewood logistics
  • Stacking firewood

What’s Included

  • All on-island transportation
  • All food and beverages (all organic and locally produced)
  • High-speed Zodiac boat transportation to and from remote beaches
  • Gourmet on-the-beach lunch banquets
  • All tools and equipment
  • Private, quiet, clean, comfortable and bug-free wilderness sleeper
  • Unlimited hot showers
  • Optional adventure side-trips (caving, mountain climbing, etc)
  • Optional evening entertainment
  • Last night cedar party
  • Free take-home booklet outlining everything in this incredible workshop


Special Group Rates! 

By the end of the workshop you will be able to find, identify and cut cedar into high-quality hand-split cedar shakes on almost any beach in the Pacific Northwest.

Please contact us for more information or to request an application form.

We speak English, Spanish & French.