Sunday, January 22, 2012

[review] Tiny Homes and a Tiny Tiny Homes Book

This is a mild departure from the normal topics here, but it is related so bear with me.

I've long been a fan of Lloyd Khan. From his early work with the Whole Earth team, to his Shelter books, and more recently, his books focusing on hand made houses and those in the Pacific Northwest, I have eagerly read and enjoyed everything he has put out - even his book about septic systems.  So it is no surprise that I recently jumped on the chance to preorder his latest masterpiece, Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.  

The book is all you would expect from a Lloyd publication.  While the subject matter is tiny homes (he defines them as 500 sq ft or less), the book is not tiny.  However, he did include one that is!

Many pages of the original were reproduced in this matchbook-sized pocket version.  A gimmick to be sure, but it is a great one!

The book is fascinating, detailing not only homes but shops and studios as well.  Without any heavy-handed philosophy, it makes it clear that minimalism has merit and simplicity and beauty can and should be lifelong partners.  Lloyd admits that he himself does not currently live in a "tiny house" but he has spent his fair share of time bulding them and living in them, and he details some of his portable surfing rigs for travels in Baja.

Most of these structures have handmade components since this type of structure just isn't compatible with modern building materials and methods (for the most part... there are some prefab exceptions).  You'll therefore find inside gorgeous carvings, custom moldings, and homes built off-grid with hand tools, often from local natural materials.  Incredibly inspiring stuff for anyone with any interest in wood or building.

While not a how-to book, this book is an excellent addition to the hand tool enthusiast's library.

If this is too far off-topic for you, here is another dovetail joint.  They are getting better, but this one still has two flaws: baseline was crossed with the saw, and I accidentally rounded the corners of the tails while "easing" them into place.  Still, a structurally excellent joint that is rock-solid without glue.  A wholly acceptable joint is in sight!


  1. Looking good. Looking very good.

    Keep going!

  2. your dovetails are coming along great!!! I've always love tiny homes get you to think about what is really necessary in our lives to day when you think about living in one.

  3. Great work with the dovetails, and I like that book too - as you say, inspiring.

  4. Dang, that last dovetail looks good! A marked improvement. Congrats. I definitely need to get off my butt and get to work on my practice dovetails. Got a Knew Concepts fretsaw for my birthday too, looking forward to using that to cut out some waste :0)

  5. Here in Portland there is a small company that builds tiny homes - Portland Alternative Dwellings. One of the owners, Katy Anderson, looks to be an accomplished woodworker as well.


  6. Eric-

    Thanks for the link, good stuff! Will you be at the LN event in Feb? I hope to make a little trip to Portland for it!

  7. Rob,

    Yeah, I'll be there (he says looking at his near empty wallet). I usually go on Saturday, mid-morning or so. Let me know if you end up going.