Alain's cottage

Alain Vaillancourt writes:

Hi Matthias.

I posted a new video today. Some people didn't get the focus of my last video, which was that, even in the wilderness you still can make stuff but not the usual way. I know you figured it out. So this time, I'm doing something different. I'm showing something I built in the past. I hope this will inspire some woodworkers because for some people it's a dream to build something like this. At least it was for us.

Watch all epoisodes of the woodpecker at

A barn dismantled for materials
Something I didn't include in the video was the fact that it took us a month to dismantle the big barn for the wood. I was really exhausted when I did it. At the time, I changed my schedule at work. I was working from 5 pm to 1 am and at 8 in the morning I was pulling out nails and piling up wood.

We built all the joints in my backyard. It was easier this way and there were no black flies bothering us. Then every part was labelled and ready for assembling. All the tenons and mortises were also done in my backyard. Once on site, we just had to put construction glue on them and instead of driving a peg in the holes like it was done in the old days, we put in ½ inch lag bolts. I rented a 22 feet flat bed to bring all the beams and planks to the cottage and we transported them by boat.

We had a lot of heavy beams. All the frame of the floor are made with 8 by 12 lumber. We were joking thinking that this is not a popsicle stick construction like we see nowadays. The inside frames were really heavy to lift off the floor. We strapped the bottom to the floor so it wouldn't move when we lifted the frame upright. The only wood we bought was the 2x4s for the roof and the walls. We bought them from a local wood scrapper. We had to remove the nails first. We started by building the shed first so we had a place to sleep and during the evening we straightened the nails that we kept from the barns. One thing I can say is, if someone wants to build a cottage like this, they must not to be afraid to work hard and bend the usual safety precautions that every one should take.

I actually filled several barrels of water with this modified water pumping bicycle in the video. It's pretty hard to to do. That's when I figured out that I was not in shape. It's like climbing a steep hill always at the highest speed (otherwise the pump is not turning fast enough) but there's no end in sight. At that point I wished I was as good as Lance Amstrong, backed up by all his scientist team. LOL

It took me eight years before I got fed up about bringing bottled water there. So I dug up a well. It's just a shallow well. The bedrock is only 12 feet deep there. It cost me $40 (for 4 recycled barrels) and a lot of sweat to dig this up. But now I'm happy -- I have, sort of, running water.

It's later on that I worked on my homemade electricity production. Instead of buying a charge controller, I built one myself. It's quite sophisticated but it's the only place that I have time to play around with electronics. So, as usual, I went a little overboard and programmed 11 Atmel microcontrollers to make this control panel.

I hope everybody likes the video. It's different from my previous ones, and maybe this will show that if you want to build something, even if it's a lot of work, you can do it.

Alain Vaillancourt

Check out Alain's website:

More of alain's projects

See also:

Touring Cottage #2 at Amogla camp

More reader projects on