April 2014 Wood News Online Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News


Outside of shop, which is a simple steel building on concrete
slab. Wood dries all around the shop.

A Shop Amongst Hawaiian Avocados

by John App

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii. My lady and I moved from Southern California 8 years ago and built our home on 5 acres of Avocados, citrus, papayas, bananas, pineapples, coffee, and other exotic fruit. We are totally off grid, meaning we have no electrical connection with an electric company whatsoever. We store the electricity generated by our 21 panels in 4 large fork lift truck batteries and have a state of the art inverter. We collect all our water from rain from our roof into two large tanks containing 37,000 gallons of water. My workshop with all the tools and the lights in our home are powered by solar with a small generator as a backup for cloudy days.

Battery backup for our electrical system

The heart of our off grid electrical system....the inverter

My workshop started in a 20' x 20' room attached to the garage, but my wife decided she needed that for a guest room, so I was forced to build a 64' x 24' steel building for my workshop. Oh woe is me! Since we have a prevailing ocean breeze, I located the new shop which two helpers and I built at the back of our farm with the paint "booth" outside next to the Avocado trees in front of my shop. All the dust blows away from painted work. The back of my shop is open on two sides and is where we do all of our sanding and planing. Thus the majority of dust blows to the back of our property away from our home. We have 100 avocado trees and I manage my neighbor's 1000+ avocado trees with a work crew daily. Our fruit is sold throughout Hawaii to groceries.

In Hawaii, we have a plethora of wonderful wood to work with. Koa Acacia, Ohia Lehua, Mango, Lychee, Eucalyptus Robustus, Tropical Ash, Opluma, and more. While Koa is not inexpensive, it is available and is a wonder to work with.

My workshop and home is approximately 20 miles from the City of Captain Cook to the north, and 15 miles from the village of Hawaii Ocean View to the south. We are located 4 miles uphill from Hawaii's last authentic fishing village named Miloli'i. Our property is next to an Ohia Lehua (tree type) forest and amongst 1100+ Avocado trees, several thousand coffee bushes, and also several thousand Macadamia Nut trees. In this area, all water for home use is captured from rain from the roof. There is no "city" water or sewer service. Many of the homes, like ours, are totally off grid and generate their own electricity and have battery storage for the electricity generated by solar panels and generators. However, there is electricity available from the local electric company. I have one tool that is 220v (a drum sander) and all the remaining tools are 110v. Our Avocados are grown for commercial sale to grocery firms, such as Don Quixjote on Oahu, Hawaii, Foodland, and Costco. There are feral pigs, feral cats, wild turkeys, quail, and pheasant in the area often amongst our groves. These are hunted and eaten by the local Hawaiian population, in addition to one of the best fishing areas offshore in the world for Ono, Mahi mahi, and Ahi. We have a panoramic view of the Pacific from our lanai facing westward which gives us breathtaking sunsets. There is a daily ocean breeze from the west and in the evening we get a colder mountain breeze (from the east) from Mauna Loa (the highest mountain on earth if measured from the base below sea level to the top). I am the local Volunteer Fire Chief and have a fire truck parked in our yard and am on call for local fires.

Below are a variety of pictures of my shop, as well as some of my woodworking projects.

View from the shop to our home

Paint spray area with avocados in the background

Interior of shop showing acrylic roof panels giving me
more natural light during the day and saving electricity

More Shop Interiors:

Open area for sanding and planing downwind:

Some more of my woodworking projects:

Happy customers with an Ohia Lehua coffee table

A mirror made from Mango with an Ohia Lehua border

Where I sell some of my woodwork on Saturdays under a
canopy at a Farmer's Market. A customer holds a monkey
pod wood lazy susan

Happy customers with a Mango Entertainment cabinet I
built for them.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at
baronjoa@sbcglobal.net . You can also visit my website at http://www.johnapp.com/

Return to Wood News front page

Bookmark and
See Previous Newsletters Subscribe to our Newsletter

Copyright © 2014 Highland Woodworking, Inc.

Highland Woodworking | 1045 N. Highland Avenue, NE | Atlanta | GA | 30306 | 404.872.4466