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Shelter in a Day

By Staff | Aug 8, 2012

An island man who has been in the woodworking business for 40 years created a new concept that he believes could potentially change the world.

Designer Frank Schooley, a Matlacha resident and owner of Tropical Kitchens, said the idea of creating Shelter in a Day stemmed from a request from his daughter when she was moving into her first apartment three years ago. That request was to make her a table, which he created by using slip joints.

From there he taught himself how to use his computer numerically controlled router to create his first chair, which he said is known to be a difficult task. That teaching led him to making the joint and peg, which is in the process of being patented.

As he utilized that technique more, the abundance of furniture he created increased with the material – medium density fiberboard (MDF). MDF is made out of recycled and recyclable material making it a very green material.

“The material is fabulous,” he said. “It doesn’t have grain.”

Schooley said since MDF does not glue, screw or nail, it was a happy marriage when using the joint and peg technique. He said the joint pulls all the strengths of the material together in one place.

When the 2010 earthquake took place in Haiti, Schooley said he had a hard time sleeping because of the devastation that took place. He tossed around the thought of creating a shelter by using the material and the joint technique. Drawings were constructed and a half scale building was made to see how well a house would evolve using MDF.

Schooley said the half scale provided him with the opportunity to make changes to the original design, which eventually turned into Shelter in a Day.

Shelter in a Day is a secure transitional shelter than can be utilized to get out of the elements after a disaster occurs.

He said when he created the shelter he had students in mind, which is why he designed furniture that includes a desk that can turn into a pew, wall cabinets, bunk beds that could stand three high and a table with chairs.

The first 12-foot x 16-foot house was created, which can be erected in as little as two hours. He said with just a hammer, you could put yourself inside the house and lock up in very little time.

“This thing can be as long as you want it to be,” Schooley said because of the cookie cutter design of the panels. “You can keep stretching it.”

The home, which can also be used as many other functions like a schoolhouse, clinic or church, has two windows and two doors to create cross ventilation for the structure.

“This is perfect for Haiti,” he said of the home, because the material resists termites, rust and rot.

The basic unit costs $5,000 to produce, which does not include the furniture. Schooley said it is shipped easily and everything needed to erect the structure is included.

He said the best part is the building does not shrink and it goes directly to where it needs to go.

Schooley envisions a church congregation taking up a collection during service to raise money for one Shelter in a Day structure. He said the group could fly to Haiti and personally set up the shelter and move a family in during one weekend.

“Instead of sending the money, you can send the building,” Schooley said.

Now he said he is in the process of trying to figure out how to manufacture Shelter in a Day.

“We are looking for an angel investor,” Schooley said. “We need money to get this on its feet.”

For more information visit www.shelterinaday.com or email Schooley at fschooley@embarqmail.com.