Design and Fabrication, on Cortes Island, BC

Established 1992

Satisfaction guaranteed.

Puzzle House

A modern caravan or tiny home build

 

Designed and available for manufacture on Cortes and Hornby island

Made with Canadian Exterior plywood.  Each 21-piece custom truss becomes a  Laminate-Veneer-Lumber arch component once it is glued and fastened.  No custom tools are required, and minimal skill level required to assemble, it comes with the loan of a template of the arch to make sure they align while you glue them up.

The walls and roof panels have puzzle-shaped mechanical joints that once battened down effectively transfer the shear strength of the plywood along its area.  The demo model, above, bore over 8 inches of heavy snowfall followed by rain, without complaint.

Harlequin glass

The stained glass effect is achieved with adhesive decals on clear polycarbonate.  We call it Harlequin glass because Stained polycarbonate sounds stupid.  The window detail in the photo above is a reproduction of Sterner’s Studio in Brussels

The burning and brushing of wood

In the tradition of Yaki-sugi, preserves and protects plywood as well as other woods, and is beautiful.  It makes for a smooth and sliver-free finish, and is one of many options for the trim and outer walls.

All cut pieces are done by a cnc router

And are guaranteed to fit.  So many customisations are available, especially draw your own windows and trim.

Shout out to Roy Hales

For interviewing me about the projects for Cortes Currents, he got a lot more details out of me in our chat than I have listed below.

The bottom line

Is that this is a new method of creating sturdy small buildings economically, that can be assembled by anyone with a screw gun, drill, or impact driver, glue, and a roller.  The rest of the details are all easy and so sensible;  Cork finishing is sensible, and can replace vapour barrier and make beautiful interior, both in textured spray application and solid panels.

The roof and wall panels can be either plywood, solid or twin-wall polycarbonate, or modern composite panel, it’s flexible for different applications, from greenhouse to living/work/storage shelter to food truck.

The business plan

The idea is that each piece is priced affordably, and can be ordered to build for custom shapes.  All the pieces fit together, and can be assembled in different ways

Manufacturing on Hornby and Cortes Island, BC

The current project is Puzzle House, but Wit’s End offers consultation and CAD/CAM services, as well as custom engraving and cut services.

LVL Arch Truss technology

Traditionally, the purpose of Laminate Veneer Lumber technology is to make bigger beams out of plywood/laminate layers.  The main structure of the Puzzle House is a 21-piece 3-layer component that includes both wall and arch roof seamlessly.  Once glued and fastened it behaves as a single piece of laminate veneer lumber.  It is similar to the roofbow of a School bus or the ribs of a wooden boat, cut to fit the shape of the interior and exterior cladding.

Arch template included

A template for the roof arch curve is included, so you can easily make sure each arch truss is identical when you come to apply the roof panels.  A solid fit of all the puzzle joints on the roof vastly improves its strength.

Inset strapping and purlin

The trusses make use of inset strapping and purlin to allow continuous contact with the roof panel and interior faces, reducing possibility of wiggle room of the fastened components.  An arch under tension is extremely strong. Plywood strapping is an excellent receptacle for fasteners, and can be cut to same lengths to provide surety for squareness.  The inside purlin allow for a hard fastening point for fixtures, power receptacles, shelving, etc.

How to heat it?

It’s a small space with a high ceiling, so a small electric heater or a vented propane furnace plus a fan warms it up nicely.  There are tiny wood stoves and vented diesel heaters that would suit the build as well.  It is also possible to install in-floor radiant water loop heating with an appropriate on-demand propane heater, which solves both issues of a portable heating source and on-demand hot water.

Recommended Interior/Exterior finishing:

Decork, a sprayable textured cork finish from Italy.

Walls free to breathe. Thanks to the high permeability, the humidity of the interior is perfectly balanced, thus avoiding the formation of mould and condensation.

No vapour barrier is required with this product applied properly.

Decork is paintable with this limewash paint product, that allows the cork layer to breathe and lets you pick a colour finish

Thermacork panels

Thermacork can be applied directly to most surfaces, and is a beautiful and breathable interior finish.  It can be cut on the cnc with detail to make seamless frames around windows and fixtures.  It can also be painted with the limewash paint product plus pigments for colour.

Light is the greatest disinfectant, movement is a close second.

 

Recommended insulation solutions:

Thermacork, from Portugal, and Wool from anywhere.  Pre-washed wool panels available from Havelock representatives

Yakisugi

A traditional Japanese method of wood preservation, it works well with our local wood species as well as plywood.  It helps create a fire-, mould-, algae-, and bacteria-resistant surface, as well as revealing the texture of wood grain without splinters.  Yakisugi decking and siding can provide many decades of excellent beauty and comfort without maintenance.  It is also an excellent application for furniture, and takes natural finishes for a lifetime.

Once properly finished, the blackened wood is safe for the whitest of garments and textiles.

Machining

Wit’s End design and fabrication offers custom machining services, including tongue and groove, finger-joint, and shiplap shaping, and cnc milling.

Torsion box base platform

This Instructables build shows how to make the torsion box floor, which I am now using in all of my Puzzle house builds.  It is extremely lightweight and can be insulated.  If built properly it will bear a tremendous amount of weight in the middle of a 93×48 inch frame with minimal deflection.

Teardown steps with landing

The steps with risers make an ideal entrance to Puzzle house builds, and disassemble easily for storage and transport.

Custom sign-making

Mixed media and various techniques are available for custom design and cut services, whether you have your own artwork already or not.  Custom milling and engraving up to 50″ x 100″ x 6″  The following are examples of wood engraving and vinyl on Alupanel composite panels.  Custom-cut decals are also available for auto and marine application.

Custom furniture design

Both innovative and conventional builds for house and yard are already in progress, and ready for replication or improvement.

Branding and ethical merchandising

Whether you need to update graphics for your business or come up with a marketing or fundraising campaign, there are environment- and social- conscious vendors and production methods available to help you make a campaign or product people can be proud to support.

I have created many campaigns for Societies, Politcal groups, and small businesses and helped them source fair-trade garments and eco-friendly production methods.  From T-shirts and buttons to print and web media, there are all kinds of options to help build your brand sensibly in this climate.  (Photos coming soon)

Please reach out with details if you have a project you want to talk about.

If you are looking for something conventional, probably find someone else to do it 🙂

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