I went on a small Etsy buying splurge in early 2018–taking advantage of its access to lots of very fine woodworkers offering all sorts of garden related items. It was then I purchased the Little Free Library you’ve seen in my front garden photos, an additional one made in the style of our mountain cabin (still unpainted!) and two six foot cedar tuteurs.
Tuteur is the French word for “trainer”, as in a place on which to grow ornamental vines, roses or veggies. Traditionally a four sided pyramid and fashioned from wood or metal, the structure may also be referred to as an obelisk, teepee trellis or pyramid trellis. There may be subtle distinctions in these names (you know the whole pergola vs arbor thing) but for my purposes tuteur describes its function and the gardener is free to choose its design and style.
I was a little overwhelmed when I originally opened one of the long boxes in the spring of last year and, with a full garden to do list already and lots of travel planned, I slid the opened box and its partner against the back wall of my quilt studio to tackle at a later date.
Fast forward to my 2019, my spring resolution to get a whole slew of unfinished projects done and having tripped over the long boxes innumerable times over the past year, I dragged the opened one out to the garage to get started. It didn’t look any less daunting…
My tuteur’s craftsman, Richard deJong of Woodbrute Designs in British Columbia, promised “easy assembly” but dang, there are a lot of pieces. When in doubt, read the instructions! I quickly determined that the twelve thin pieces were the optional decorative vertical rails, installed after the basic structure was built, and set them aside.
Mr. deJong has cleverly coded the pieces to aid people just like me in getting all these sticks going in the correct direction.
The white painted dowels on the horizontal posts fit into the holes with the white sticker. The unpainted dowels go into the holes without the sticker–thank you God and Mr. deJong.
As the tuteurs will be painted to match my existing trellis work and my front door, I lined all the parts up for a quick coast of primer. I decided to prime before assembly so that the cut ends of the wood would also have the primer’s weather protection.
When the primer was dry I laid the first two sides out on my work surface, making sure to line up the cross pieces white hole to white dowel. The remaining cross pieces sitting on the tool bench will ultimately connect these two panels together.
Using a rubber mallet as specified in the instructions, I tapped each cross piece in to the first vertical rail.
I then tapped in the remaining vertical rail. Both the dowels and the holes are angled exactly so a good fit is easy to achieve.
A first coat of paint is added on what is the inside of each panel and on the insides of each remaining cross piece to make the final painting after assembly a little easier. This is Dunn Edwards Purple Trinket. It a great foil for green foliage and the pinks blues and lavenders I favor in the garden.
After a good bit of time painting, drying and flipping over each panel I am ready for the first assembly that will eventually connect the two panels, making the pyramid shape.
The graduated lengths of cross pieces are added to both sides of the interior of one assembled panel, using only gentle taps of the rubber mallet. Standing up in this position, the cross pieces are a snap to paint out.
The day is getting late and I’ve almost lost all the natural light in the garage. A good bit of drying time is needed for the partial framework in this state. I am heading up the road a piece tomorrow, leaving at daylight for 3 days of garden events in Palo Alto and Berkeley.
It will be next week before I will have time to return to this purple project–watch for my post to see how the two turn out and where they find a home in my garden.