A new Buddhist temple lies nestled among the trees at the south end of Whidbey Island, at a dharma center called Yeshe Long. Consecrated in June 2019, the beautiful new temple hosts teachings, meditation retreats, and houses administrative offices. Prior to the temple’s construction, all activities occurred in a small house on the property. 

The temple was built by the careful hands and thoughtful eyes of Cascade Joinery in close collaboration with their client and general contractor, Next Generation Design and Build. The design and development was overseen by Sampa Lhundup, a traditional Tibetan woodworker 

The project, which involved both hand- and machine-cut elements, began with a SketchUp 3D model of the components, which produced drawings for the hand-cut pieces. The commons, jacks, and hips were cut on a CNC machine. Attention to detail paid off when the wood arrived at Yeshe Long — each element of the timber frame fit together, and the timber frame interfaced flawlessly with the rest of the structure. 

The timber frame elements of the temple consist of 318 Douglas fir timbers, ranging in size from 2 x 8 ft. trim all the way up to 16 x 16 ft. main columns. The fir was kiln-dried in a radio-frequency vacuum kiln to produce a consistent moisture content throughout. 

Cascade Joinery’s work constitutes the main framing at the center of the temple, entry, porches, and gallery roof. The timber framing crew especially enjoys these types of projects, which are not only interesting to develop, but also grow their expertise as they learn new techniques and broaden their cultural horizons in the process. 

Sampa Lhundup, a third-generation, traditionally trained Tibetan woodworker, guided the temple’s design process, bringing to bear his extensive training at the Shachun Woodcraft Center (affiliated with the Tibetan Government in Exile) and service as master in residence at the Markham Tibetan Traditional Woodcarving Institute. 

Born to a nomad family in Tibet in 1972, Lhundup arrived in Dharamsala, India, in 1993. There, he completed six years of study and apprenticeship, carving several mandalas, an 18-foot-tall stupa, and two traditional wall shrines for a monastery. 

After his apprenticeship, he worked for two years at Drikung Kagyu Institute in Dehra Dun where he contributed two mandalas, two traditional religious thrones, and a traditional wall shrine. Mr. Lhundup’s work has been recognized by highly ranked spiritual leaders, including the Dalai Lama. 

See more of his work at tibetanwoodcarver.com. 

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