Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Gypsy Wagons and Tiny Homes - Steve Habersetzer and Abel Dances

Plan to build your gypsy wagon or tiny home out of solid wood using traditional joinery techniques. Learn how to plan for the systems you’ll need to create a cozy atmosphere. 5 day workshop.  


Gypsy WaGONS 



Small cozy, minimalist, low impact, environmentally friendly and beautiful are all terms used to describe both Gypsy Wagons and Tiny Homes. We've taught the Gypsy Wagon design class for many years and this year we're expanding the class to include more of practical skills you'd need to build a Gypsy Wagon or a Tiny House.

A Gypsy Wagon is around 120 sq ft, to fit on a trailer, and Tiny Homes are less than 200 sq ft , avoiding the need for a building permit in many jurisdictions.

In this class we look at the design principles, construction techniques, materials choices,  systems (like plumbing and electrical), skills and tools that you'd need to design and build a Gypsy Wagon or Tiny Home.

Why solid wood? We have a strong preference for working with solid wood, as opposed to using plywood, for a variety of reasons including aesthetics, allergic reactions to the glues in plywood, longevity and we just plain like wood. However we will be clear where plywood can be used instead of wood.

Class Description

 We start by looking at how, in the late 19th century, English-made “Living Wagons” (called “Vardos” by the Gypsies)—were designed, built and used. Then you will discover how modern design and construction techniques can be used to create a wagon that will be enchanting and cozy, yet roadworthy for travel at today’s highway speeds. These same concepts apply to designing a Tiny Home. During the class we will work with you to design your own wagon or tiny home, from concept sketches to preliminary working drawings. The instructors will review your plans with you.

Design and Construction - Wagons:

  • Designing a suitable chassis frame and running gear.
  • Wheel size, number and placement
  • Bending hoops and working with canvas (for Bow-top versions)
  • Outfitting the wagon for the road.

Design and Construction - Wagons and Tiny Homes

  • Materials selection - durability, non-toxic, strength vs weight
  • Building strong, weatherproof floors, walls and ceilings.
  • Making attractive, but sturdy and weather-tight, doors and windows.
  • Creating traditional carvings and decorative details.
  • Designing and building the interior built-in cabinetwork
  • Designing electrical and plumbing systems
  • Installing heating systems
  • Painting and varnishing

Tools and Joinery Techniques: 

  • Essential tools - hand and power tools
  • Joinery techniques

Planning the Construction

  • Planning your time - creating a production schedule
  • Estimating the costs 


No tools are required for this class. Bring a note book and camera


We'll be showing you techniques that will be better understood if you some prior experience working wood with either power tools or hand tools.  Other than that we recommend having a passionate interest in learning how to create the most cozy and lovable living space one could ever hope to spend some time in—on the road or in the garden! 

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size:  15
Cost:   $600
Materials Charge:   $50

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.