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12 Updates of Christmas Pt 6:

Panels that (Literally) Go Against the Grain


Dear Friend,

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


Here’s a new creative project we’ve been working on, our new and unique Panels! Our panels are more than just a labour of love, they’re an exploration of wood grain itself. These panels were fabricated out of mostly end grain wood. End grain is different from long grain, though they both have their advantages and disadvantages. An end grain is a crosscut against the tree’s natural grain direction, which runs along the long length of its trunk or branches. A rip cut is along the long grain, whereas a crosscut is counter to the grain. 


With long grain you can get special cuts of wood. In most cuts, you may find ‘wind checks’ which are formed in trees, meaning cracks and fissures caused over time by pressures on the tree. These are hidden until the log is slabbed up. These cracks are usually sappy and can be considered a weakness or fault in the wood, which either needs to be cut away or stabilized with epoxy. The advantage of long grain is that you can cut out the internal wind checks. 



Whilst long grain is cut in the direction of the wood, end grain is the counter cut to this. The problem with end grain is that they tend to check, split, or break apart, and you might expect to see a portion of the wind check fault in every cut. Although they’re susceptible to splitting, if you properly season and dry end grain pieces, letting them shrink and crack naturally, you can effectively cut out cracks and other defects in the piece and reaffix the pieces together with joinery, glue, or epoxy. Thus, you can effectively stabilize the end grain pieces and neutralize their disadvantages. Furthermore, end grain is very durable against sharp knives and blades, and therefore they’re especially useful as butcher blocks, cutting blocks, etc. 

Here at our shop, we love working with end-grain cookies or rounds. Rounds are easy to acquire and mill, plus they’re a convenient size to move, handle, and work with. Of course, checks, cracks, and inherent weakness must be dealt with, but if worked with skill and knowledge it can be done. With some skilled insight and work, one can get the full benefit of their durability. It may be difficult to carve and sand, but that’s just part and parcel of their inherent strength.




We’ve been processing our abundance of rounds and using them to craft something unique and novel. We’re taking what would have otherwise been firewood and sawdust and making them something practical. The 2x8’ panel is composed of four 2x2’ sections. We decided on these dimensions so that they can be easily divided into 2x2’, 2x4’, or 2x6’ sections, or they can remain 2x8’ without the use of screws or other any other refastening/rejoining of any members. Of course, one can also conjoin these sections into longer or wider arrangements. 

With all the things that come from our shop, these beautiful panels are also multifaceted. For example, you can run a series of 4-5 panels with hinges and cause them to zig-zag such that it can be used as a privacy room divider. If cut down to 2x6’, the remaining 2x2’ offcuts can be repurposed into coffee tables, shelving, or café table tops. You can cut them into 2x4’ and use them as a foldable table. You can even attach barndoor hardware and turn them into sliding barndoor panels. With a few hinges affixed to them you can cause them to become pantry doors or closet doors. They can be used as stair soffit or even crawl space access doors in their smaller iterations. They can be used as fence panels, and with some heavy-duty hardware you can make them into fence gates. The endless possibilities even include wall cladding, picture frames, shelving units, or display boards.


We’re thrilled to have these panels on sale as they are or with customization and any kind, with hardware and installation available as well. These samples are fabricated from reclaim sequoia fence panels. The recessed ¾” T&G construction allows for these panels to be filled in with glass, epoxy, or trinkets between the frames. The slabs and the frames are fir or cedar, making the whole product more affordable because they’re made of soft wood. Of course, we are willing and able to make these out of maple, oak, and yew from our expansive selection of local lumber. We currently have variations using live edge slabs, rounds, and using posts running vertical, horizontal, and diagonal, and herringbone!



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.