Tools & Workshop

Timothy Dahl: Making It Outside in LA

Timothy Dahl is impressively disciplined. His work week is structured; his workshop is neat. Scheduling keeps Timothy moving forward, and an uncluttered working environment keeps the path free.

The passionate creator behind the websites Charles & Hudson and Built by Kids has the happy, healthy, and productive working life thing figured out pretty well, and he wants to share it with inspired makers of all ages.

When he set up his workshop, Dahl took full advantage of the Southern Cali climate. The main studio area where Dahl cuts, paints, and builds is outdoors in the backyard. It occupies 200 square feet and is partially shaded by magnolia and bougainvillea. While Dahl had the original 5'H cement block wall heightened for security reasons, the 2' increase also affords privacy and a bit of a sound barrier. Whether it's the drone of a drill or the velvety voice of George Strait wafting through an outdoor speaker hooked up to his iPhone, Dahl is fortunate to have great easygoing neighbors. He says, “Sometimes we do tend to make some noise, but it's never for prolonged periods.”

His understated workspace had even humbler beginnings. Dahl says, “As soon as I built the table, which is simply a large wood door with legs added, I had my workshop.” Then he got some sawhorses and eventually invested in some studio staples, such as the Rockwell Lumber storage system, which enabled him to gain more space by organizing his wood scraps up and out of the way. Dahl also bought the Craftsmen tool chest he had coveted for a long time. “It was life changing to finally organize my tools and gear in a sharp looking chest,” he says.

Timothy recalls his father's workshop; it was always kept tidy. “He set a great example for how a workshop should look and what can be accomplished in a small space,” he says. To manage his own potential mess, Timothy tries to budget time for putting things back. And he does not believe in wasting storage on seldom-used tools. So he keeps the tools he uses most frequently-cordless drill, powered screwdriver, jigsaw-within easy reach.

Though Timothy says he could spend all day and night in his shop, his demanding multi-blog platform and the desire to grow his brands requires an alternative, more official, work place-and a different set of tools, including a 27” iMac, Nikon D3000, and Sony Bloggie. “Blogging takes discipline,” he says, “but when it's your job that you run like a business, then the motivation to put food on the table keeps you going.”

Timothy is thankful that his dad taught him how to use tools. He recalls following him all around the house as he worked on repairs. Timothy would hold one end of a tape measure, climb ladders, and clean out gutters. He still has the Swiss Army knife that his parents gave to him, when Timothy was in Boy Scouts. “My dad taught me how to whittle with this knife, and I took it with me everywhere. I will definitely pass this on to my son.”

It's this invaluable multigenerational hands-on, honest work that inspired Timothy and his wife Laura to start Built by Kids, a site that empowers families to tackle DIY projects together. Timothy and Laura believe that making stuff breeds connection. They write, “It doesn't take a lot of money or a contractor's license to connect with our children and make lifelong memories together.” Live from bustling Los Angeles, Timothy Dahl is disseminating useful home improvement-themed information that he hopes can benefit people's lives and bring them together.