Welcome to our Q&A series! Each month, we will feature people who inspired us and played an important part in the making of Treehouse Whidbey.
Our first Q&A is with David Geisen, the founder of Wild Tree Woodworks, a local treehouse design/build company specialized in the construction of tree-based structures. We met David early on in our journey to build the treehouse. Through his craftsmanship and appreciation of the natural surroundings, he was able to take our vision to new heights. David designed the treehouse and his Wild Tree Woodworks crew built the foundation of the structure.
We’re excited for you to learn more about him and his incredible work!
Tell us about you and your journey to becoming a treehouse designer/builder.
Long interested in art, composition, and the outdoors, I had a fortuitous encounter with Pete Nelson (the Treehouse Master) in 2007. For two years I carpentered under his tutelage, primarily at Treehouse Point. From Pete and his then Treehouse Workshop crew, I learned the fundamentals of treehouse building and design. Those experiences set me on the path toward starting Wild Tree Woodworks in 2013.
How was the experience of designing Treehouse Whidbey?
Designing the first treehouse at Treehouse Whidbey was a delightful experience. Working with Max and Tatiana was a pleasure; they are genuine and thoughtful people with the energy it takes to manifest the fantastic dream of Treehouse Whidbey. Once we had our preliminary design, we involved Charles Greenwood, treehouse engineer extraordinaire. Charles and Max guided the project through permitting, and Wild Tree Woodworks took it from there. Steve Howell of Ballard Forge fabricated the steel substructure. Wild Tree Woodworks installed the Greenwood tree attachment bolts, glue-laminated beams, and steel column. What type of trees are best suited to support tree-based structures?
In the Pacific Northwest, the native trees are always the best. We look for Douglas-fir, Western Red Cedar, and Big Leaf Maple. Western Hemlock and Madrona will suffice in a pinch.
How does the hardware affect the trees?
The treehouse community has been monitoring and testing hardware for over 25 years. If installed properly, trees accept the hardware without complaint. The hardware is meant to imitate a branch so that the tree experiences the hole we drill as a wound to compartmentalize. The tree initiates reaction wood to seal around the bolt we have installed, which actually makes the support system stronger over time.
What advice do you have for someone looking to build a treehouse? Where to begin?
If looking to build a treehouse yourself, DIY resources can be found online, particularly at Nelson Treehouse & Supply. If looking to hire a treehouse builder, there are a handful of reputable outfits around the PNW. Do some research to understand what your needs are and what your trees are capable of supporting. You can always reach out to us for advice or a treehouse consultation. We’re happy to help.
What upcoming project are you excited about?
We’re currently working on an unusual project (for us) that includes a small treehouse as well as some organic wooden decks and walkway on a sloping hillside and under large boulders. Next month we will start a full-size treehouse for a great family near Anacortes.
You can get it touch with David by visiting https://www.wildtreewoodworks.com