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In this issue:

  • modular homes
  • new and for sale
  • NEW: take a bow
  • woodworking classes
  • on a personal note-fire below ground
  • final words

  • modular homes

    Those of you following this newsletter know that I have relocated to Vermont and am in the process of building a new home & shop. To bring everyone up to date I have good news and bad news.

    First the bad news: a separate shop is out of our budget for this year, so I'm going to be working out of our basement. The good news: it's a huge walk-out basement. While it's not ideal, we have rearranged things to make it work.

    What it means for this newsletter is that you get to watch the construction of our house, rather than the shop. So, instead of seeing a shop being built on site, you will follow a modular home going up.

    A modular home is not the same as a mobile home. A mobile home is a large trailer, single or double wide that is parked in place. A modular home is is similar to a traditional wood framed house, but it is made in a factory under controlled conditions.

    The company we are working with is called Huntington Homes (out of East Montpelier, Vt). They have a good reputation and make energy efficient homes. We have been talking with them for the past few months deciding on a design and the details we wanted for our home.

    The first week of August we broke ground for the foundation, and went to the factory for our first view of the house. It wasn’t very exciting. They had only done two hours of work on it. modular homes

    But the next week the progress was amazing.

    modular homes

    The houses are "stick built" (meaning traditional 2 x framing), but because they are made in the factory the conditions are controlled. For instance, they make the walls separately, then lift them into place using a huge lift.

    The ceiling is made in the same way, on a flat bench, then lifted onto the walls. Each time on operation is completed the entire module is rolled up to the next station on a wheeled track. modular homes

    It makes the process efficient and fast.

    modular homes

    In the next newsletter I'll show you photos of the foundation for the house.

    New & For Sale

    PLEASE NOTE: Due to our ongoing move everything is packed away so I won't have anything for sale online for a while.

    Thanks for your patience. Feel free to contact me if you would like me to make you something once my new shop is up and running. The goal is mid November.

    NEW: Take a Bow

    I've decided to add a new section for those of you out there who would like to share photos and/or comments about your own work. Unfortunately, I've yet to figure out how to add the actual form to this newsletter, so I have created a link.

    Click here to showcase your woodwork.

    Woodworking Classes

    on hold until further notice. But all you Vermonters, keep an eye out.

    on a personal note - fire below ground

    I was reading recently about a town, or perhaps I should say an ex-town, called Centralia, Pennsylvania. In 1962 an underground coal mine caught fire, spreading beneath the town. The fire is still burning and is expected to burn for another 250 years (no, that isn't a typo, 2261 is the year it is thought to burn itself out).

    The fire is said to have started when the town fire department set the dump on fire as part of their annual training exercise. The theory says that the town was supposed to have a fireproof layer of clay between the layers of trash, but they had fallen behind in upkeep. A vein of coal caught fire and by the time efforts were made to extinguish the fire it was too late.

    The residents of the town became aware of the extent of the problem, in the 1970's, when the owner of a gas station measured the temperature of the gas in his underground tank at 172 degrees (F).

    At first, it wasn't too bad, the heat was good for late growing crops. No one had to shovel snow from their walk anymore. But then residents started noticing dying trees and people passing out from carbon monoxide poisoning. The final straw came in 1981, when a 12 year old fell into a sink hole and was nearly killed by toxic fumes.

    The situation continued with overheated ground, dangerous sinkholes and toxic gas vents until 1984, when the US government gave up trying to put out the fire and instead allocated money to relocate the residents. The entire town was condemned and leveled and almost all the residents moved out (as of the 2010 census 10 people still lived there).

    Apparently the fire below Centralia isn't an isolated incident. Across the world numerous fires rage underground (including between 100-200 in the US alone) started by spontaneous combustion or wildfires as well as "human error."

    According to the Christian Science Monitor ( these fires add millions of tons of hazardous emissions to the atmosphere every year. Unfortunately they are extremely difficult to put out. Usually the cost is prohibitive and they are left to burn, leaving behind ghost towns like Centralia as the reminder of the life continuing to burn below us.

    Final Words

    I hope you have enjoyed reading this ‘zine.

    Do you have ideas for future topics? Comments? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just hit reply and tell me what you think.

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    Kate Taylor Creative Woodworking