Our Approach

Zuber Singh 79

12 Updates of Christmas Pt 5

The Westcoast Mill



Dear Friend,

Hi from Lopez Contracting! I hope you’re enjoying the cheer of the holiday season!


All too often in our shop we come across truly beautiful logs, slabs, and rounds of wood which have great sentimental value to their owners. Often these come from the trees of their property and are either felled due to hazards or removed otherwise. Owners of these gorgeous specimen often must hire a third party to remove and dispose of these, or even sell these invaluable memory pieces for pennies on the dollar to become firewood or saw dust, all because they are too large or too heavy to work with. 


If there’s something we hate to see; it’s prime specimen of Vancouver Island’s beautiful wood going to waste. In the past, if we came across something like this, we were able to hire a sawmiller to cut the wood up into smaller segments, making them easily transported and workable. Even still, one has to employ a forklift operator, a portable sawmill, and one or more trucks to procure this most basic supply. It may be expensive, but for the right client with the right sentiment, we were delighted to turn this otherwise wasted wood into products like a bench, table, or bar top to be immortalized and to grace their home for ever more.


At our shop, however, we’re always looking to make things efficient and streamlined. We know all too well that innovation is the way forward, and that’s why we got to thinking! We knew we needed an invention which was multifaceted, allowing for easy execution of handling, milling, storage, kilning, and processing. We also knew this machine would have to be centrally located in our compound, allowing for the lumber pieces to be easily moved from one facility to the next in the many steps of the woodworking process. We needed something affordable, sturdy, and useful, and so we hit the design board!




Back in Christmas of 2022, I had some downtime with Iain, our young, talented, and innovative welder at the time. We decided to apply our Design: Prototype: Build axiom to our needs. It all started with some paving stones in the compound. We had recently designed our own sub-framing on a 2’ by 2’ layout so that our back patio was completely level. This became the formwork for heavy-duty concrete pavers which were reinforced with rebar, and set with anchoring points for threaded connections for outdoor furniture, fixtures, or in this case outdoor machinery. 




After many experiments, sketches, CADs, welds, beads, tacks, and polish, our team finally produced our very own Alaskan Mill! Well, it’s like an Alaskan Mill but much more faceted. We like to call it the West Coast Mill! First an aluminum grate workbench was fabricated, the pedestals for which were securely affixed onto 8 paver stones. Soon after came the extended chainsaw rail and tram, turntable, and adjustable bench dogs.




We recently had four slabs of oak wood which were approximately 4’ wide and 4” thick and approximately 10’ long, they were extremely heavy beyond what two staff could reasonably handle. Not long after that, we added a counterweight battery operated crane arm, and soon to come is our vacuum chamber. 


Our one-of-a-kind West Coast Mill has a turntable for rounds, custom bench dogs and even a hoisting crane, complete with a 3,000-pound capacity chain hoist upon a 1,000-pound capacity crane arm. Our crane is attached to heavy duty mechanical connections back down to the base of the mill and is operated via a control. On the opposing side of the cross beam there is another I beam upon which a chainsaw can be attached, which can roll up and down and swivel on a tram, allowing for highly custom cuts over top the aluminum workbench.


Our West Coast Mill is unique in that it allows cookies and rounds, a west coast staple, to be easily processed via the spinning turntable and chainsaw mechanism. Whilst regular mills like bandsaw mills need a forklift to even lift logs onto the mill, our crane can help us place logs on the mill and even place them into a kiln, pick up zone, or finishing station with minimal effort needed by our staff!


You may be able to get clay out of the ground for free, but unless you have a tractor to efficiently dig it out and a team to package and process it, it’s no use. The same way, we needed the infrastructure of a mill to turn heavy timbers into a useful byproduct, which were otherwise destined for waste. Now we can take that unworkable piece and refine it into high-end saleable goods, or something more run of the mill (pun intended), like fence panels, barn doors, bifold doors, pocket doors, sliding doors, end tables, night tables, coffee tables, privacy panels, or shelving, etc. In fact, our highly custom panels are one of the first products we’ve been able to procure with the help of our west coast mill! In short, our West Coast Mill is a one-in-all live edge processing superstation!


Thank you so much for your time, Friend. We deeply appreciate your support of our friendly neighbourhood one-stop workshop! We're always glad to be of service, and on behalf of our team we wish you happy holidays!

Kind regards,

Matthew Lopez
General Contractor
Lopez Contracting & Design Ltd
+1 (250) 885-2902


About Lopez Contracting & Design Ltd:

Lopez Contracting & Design Ltd is a local and emerging artisanal contracting company that specializes in highly custom projects, ranging from renovations to bespoke commissions such as live-edge furniture. Our one-stop shop strongly values our community, and we strive to operate within a 100% local network of partnered suppliers, sub-trades, artisans, and specialists. Our wood supply network, for example, sources largely from local ethical arborists.

We host a beautiful and diverse display of Vancouver Island’s finest lumber specimen, ready to be kilned, milled, sanded, edged, finished, or otherwise prepared right here in our shop for any discerning patron or project. Our one-stop shop offers singularly rare and unique services right here in the heart of Victoria, including one of downtown’s only kiln, lathe, and CNC services.


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Our Triple Crown Philosophy

Some years ago, I innately understood that a building structure should have three important attributes. First, it should be structurally sound. Second, it should be aesthetically pleasing. Third, it should be attainable or affordable. Ever since, I have strived to make everything I do worthy of this triple crown of excellence.

During a ferry ride to Vancouver, I saw my young son had drawn Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man in my notebook. To my surprise, my son’s sketch led me to discover the historic importance of this idea. This world-famous sketch of a man in a circle, his arms outstretched in two different overlapping poses, has become iconic. A Wikipedia search showed me how Da Vinci was inspired by proportions described by Vitruvius in his ancient treatise of De Architectura.

Vitruvius was arguably the greatest architect in history. His work is the only major surviving publication on architecture from classical antiquity. It was written for Emperor Augustus, made famous in the Bible for his census which brought Jesus’ parents to Bethlehem. Eminent Roman architects such as Vitruvius were skilled in engineering, art, and craftsmanship. As an army engineer himself, Vitruvius had overseen all manner of building and construction for wars and settlements across Europe and North Africa.

The most famous maxim of Vitruvius was that architecture should embody three qualities: utilitias, firmitas, and venustas. In English, this means that great handiwork should be useful, sturdy, and with beautiful proportions. (Just imagine what Venus, the goddess of love, might look like.)

I was delighted and not disappointed to find out that my idea was old and not new. It gives me more motivation than ever to offer you the product of a triple crown craftsman: sturdy, useful, and beautiful work at a reasonable price.