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Gabriel Singh Domínguez

415.572.9625  /  /  51 Model Ave, Hopewell, NJ

Carpentry portfolio

Howdy folks,

My name is Gabe Dominguez and I'm a multidisciplinary artist, founder of the award-winning Bicycle Music Festival, and a Broader Impacts Partner of the National Science Foundation. I moved to New Jersey from my home state of Utah last year with my wife and our two kiddos. For the past 20 years I've been working as a professional musician, sound engineer, and eco-event producer. However, as a longtime hobbyist and fan of carpentry, natural building, and most recently passive house construction & building science - cheering mostly from the sidelines - I embraced the move to NJ as my moment to suit up and finally jump into the game. Since then I've enjoyed taking on a variety of carpentry projects for my neighbors, sometimes repairing and sometimes creating, while integrating natural building techniques whenever I can. Check out what I've been up to:

Susie's Chicken Coop

I wanted this backyard chicken coop in Princeton to last for 100 years; so I built every joint traditionally so that it would hold together intrinsically, without relying on the longevity of metal fasteners alone. Although I did use pocket screws in the framing to reinforce the joints, the structure will hold together even when every screw rusts and fails. All the doors, including the Dutch doors, are built without using a single metal fastener, only 3/4" pegs and wood glue.

Natural building techniques used:

No pressure treated wood! Sill plates are coated with pure black pine tar (what Vikings used to waterproof their ships), and everything else is painted with traditional, non-toxic linseed oil paint for bulk water protection + vapor breathability.

Purple Porch

A hundred years of water had turned the corner of this Hopewell, NJ porch into soggy cornflakes. The owner wanted to shore up the structural issues but avoid an expensive complete porch replacement if possible. So with a surgeon's mentality I removed rotten wood and scarfed in new material as needed, and demolished the cracked masonry pier, building a new one in its place.

Natural building techniques used:

JOISTS: No pressure treated lumber. I treated the joists myself in a kiln (built by myself and my then 7 year old son) with an ancient, chemical-free, Japanese wood-preservation technique called yakisugi (often incorrectly referred to in the US as "shou sugi ban"), where wood is burnt/carbonized in fire, protecting it from both moisture and pests. The fire for the kiln was lit with an ember produced from a bow-drill kit (ancestral friction fire technique - no matches necessary), gleefully blown into flame by my son.
COLUMN: The original porch column could've been trashed, but instead it was rebuilt. It was hollow like a drinking straw, with a large cylindrical cavity running up its entire length. Because it was soft at both the top and bottom, I filled the cylindrical cavity with long custom dowels made from cypress (an intrinsically rot-resistant species), fortifying the column from within. I amputated the rotten foot from the bottom of the column and replaced it with a custom cypress block - also hollowed - so that a dowel could mate the block to the column (along with screws and glue).

Ringoes Rot Repair

The client and I talked about both budget and ecological consciousness in my approach to repairing the 20+ moments of rot around the exterior of her house, so I proposed to use a more subtle “surgical” strategy as opposed to a “complete demolition and rebuild” strategy to both minimize the amount of new wood needed, as well as to keep costs down.

Natural building techniques used:

Using what's already there: preserving as much original architectural trim as possible

Shed Door
& Gate Rebuild

This client's shed door had been ripped off by the wind, so I made him a new one: far stronger and lighter than the original. I used weather-resistant signboard plywood (usually used for making outdoor signs for businesses), carved with a CNC machine into a shiplap appearance. This was then mounted in a lap-jointed frame made from naturally water-resistant sapele.

In addition to his shed door, he had another problem: the little gate that was supposed to be at the entrance to his back deck was in the garbage can next to his house, and he had a baby gate in its place. Upon inspection I found that 80% of the material was salvageable, so I rebuilt it, as well as some deck railings using sapele wood in place of pressure-treated (chemical) lumber.