Tiny house on wheels based on wooden boatbuilding techniques?

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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 11:31 am
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Tiny house on wheels based on wooden boatbuilding techniques?

Post by bikemaniac »


20 years ago I built a 16 ft canadian canoe based on the strip method with western red cedar and West System epoxy. I really liked the project back then so basically I have some woodworking and boatbuilding skills.

Next: I want to build a tiny house on wheels entirely of wood based on wooden boatbuilding techniques/methods. Basically, I envision a hull which is mounted upside down on a truck. To show what I am looking for:


1. The tiny house should have the following approx. outside dimensions: 20 ft long, 8 ft wide and 8 ft tall
2. In order to have sufficient space inside, the entire wall thickness should not exceed 2½ inches.
3. The tiny house should be made out of real wood, i.e. not plywood, fiber boards or similar.
4. The tiny house will be built on a steel profile frame which is attached to the truck.
5. The tiny house has to withstand all climates such as warm summers and cold winters also in wet conditions, however contrary to a boat, the wood will never be submerged in water - it will only experience rain and snow which will drip off.
6. The edges and corners dont have to be sharp - they can very easily be rounded

I could need some inspiration, tips and ideas from you on how to successfully build such a structure. I imagine a frame built of white oak. The outside covered with western red cedar boards or maybe alaskan yellow cedar. The inside also covered with boards and then maybe some insulation in between.

With such a project there are two main worries:

a) Waterproofness. The shell should be waterproof and withstand rain witout letting anything inside with the chance of rot. This is why I originally figured: If a wooden boat hull is waterproof when submerged in water, then it should also be waterproff when ocasionally wet from rain only.
b) Distortion. When the truck is running , uneven roads will put a lot of stress on the entire structure and it should be able to withstand that either by being flexible or SO stiff that it behaves like a rock solid box. It cannot be tolerated that glue or fasteners pop out due to stresses.

My ultimate dream is to have a 100% wooden "box" where even the flat roof (or almost flat) is made out of wood similar to a wooden boat hull in such a way that it is waterproof. At all costs I would avoid shingles, plastic, tar, copper/zinc sheet metal or similar.

My ultimate dream is also to build as sustainable as possible with the least amount of epoxy, glass fiber etc.

How would you approach such a project?


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Re: Tiny house on wheels based on wooden boatbuilding techniques?

Post by TomB »


This sounds like a very interesting and creative project. I hope you go forward with it and post many photos for us to admire.

There could be a great deal of torsional stress on the building shell. It would probably be better to embrace the idea of twist than to try to fight it. A plywood sheet would be rigid and work great until the fasteners begin to fail. Maybe better to use your strip plank canoe experience to make a thin wooden shell over a very lightweight frame? Corners would still be a challenge, maybe a rigid rectangle forward and aft forcing all the twist to the sidewalls. I would also add a layer of fiberglass for durability.

I would use 50-75 mm of sprayed closed cell foam for insulation.

Wind driven rain is a challenge. Driving through rain creates hurricane like conditions, so expect the water to go in all directions including up.

Many years ago, I saw some Basque Sheppard trailers. They where very creative in using a small space. You might find some inspiration there. I like the idea of hoops to make the roof shape with fiberglass to replace the canvas would let in light while providing structure.

Best luck,

In the home stretch on a Tahoe 23

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