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© 1974 by Ken Isaacs

Library of Congress Card Catalog Numb@r: 72-96651

All ri gh ts reserved, No part of this book may be reproduced 0 r u til Lz e d t.n any form 0 r by any means, electronic or mechanical, in~luding photocopying. r e co rda ng or by any informa t ion storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the Pub l, i sner ,

Harmony Books

a division of Cr own Publishers, Inc. 419 Park Avenue Sou t h

New York, New York


Printed ill the United. States 0 f Arneri c a

Published simultaneously in Canada by General Publishing Company Limited.

GROVELAND/a long time ago joe & mother & me put $3000 together to buy 18 mostly timber' ac res in the roll iug country Dear the illinois river. the timber was second growth just coming back from being plundered fo r coal m.i ne propsea.rly in the century .. the c Le ar e d meadow land sure looked rusty & unproductive.

BUT/j oe was really henry wellie .i saace ,ex-ken tucky boy! horse trader/earth-nourisher & general survivalist. he d.i sccve red ice cream on a st ick (but lacked money for patents) & drive-in eating systems in the twenties, did night j ani tor work in kansas o i ty p l us share-cropping dur log the depression. whe n th.ey moved back to the land!. he was coming down from a bad time selling used-cars. that hurt him a lot. humane intelligence set him up

as an urban victim. one morning he declared an end to

the gentle. bu t obsessive, dr ink.ing & returned to the Land . he recycled an old barn, the crates from a microwave

t owe r & aome windows from a burned vaudeville theate r to make a tight, appropriate shelter for about $185.

some went for sawmill cottonwood lumber, but most for wiring. stove & asphalt shingles.

JOE'S PARTNER/mother r . was mar i e nevi 11 e , grape-arbor girl, fancy prairie, illinois, 1925. she could make blackberry cobbler, do noodles from scr-a t.cb . qu i I t

& ~et a sheet clean with homemade soap_ she was a Slim. rangy person, one of the world's great woods-walkers 1& movie-goers. her laughter was as sweet .

as her technology.

THESE TWO/were pretty formidable & they turned the little patch of ground into a rich ed!.en of good experiences. most of the years i was involved in a surreal wheatstonian series of oscillations taking place in nyc (geographically) & fantasyland about design & the industrial establishment- strange & schizy because years before when just starting college i experienced the massive comprehensive rush of overview.

probably as a' resul t of ruth benedict, durant, huxley & mumr'o rd i began to factor the e nv i, rorimerrt & see the world en ti r e for the first t I.me . it was a r Lch period wh i.o h saw the canst ruction of the

fi rst Living St t'uctur.,es & M~crohou$es.


MOST IMPORTANTii saw & felt the necessity for major

simplifications. & recognition of positive earthrelationships & environmental change-therapy to

tel ease u s all from the high-tech maniacs. but i was

a backe Li.de r . after teaching a, li.ttle ar-ch Lt e c t ur eS, design, my pallid attempts to do the urban shuffle were terminated!. by a neat surprise. i got a fellowship in architecture from the Graham Foundation. SO i took the money & students who wanted to live outdoors to Groveland_ it was an early (1963) mioroDommunity which foundered on old-fashioned menu-personality conflicts. but for the year or so it lasted '",e lived in old schoolbuses, built the american outhouse equivalent

of the japanese t eahouse & a couple 0 f new Microhouses.

EVERYBODY!s.pl i t except joe & moths r while i burrowed deeper into the loving trees .. work on the har-dwar-e for a di ffe r en t way 0 f Ii fe rolled on. one day i wrote a true letter & go t Launched into a long serie-s of art I c Le s on my designs for a, popular magazine. peop.le all eve r bu i I t & used l.i v i ng Stn.lctures &

Mia rohouses, so i bee arne a consul ting edi tor &

moved back to nyc. but it's negative to build real things in big, c i ties _ my chance carne to return to Groveland when a guy in a middle western university asked me to show people about Microhouses, ju.st befor~ taking off with 2 seabags of tools & hardware, i merged at speed with a great ironhead named


NOW/we're blowing the du s t & rust Oll t 0 f Gt ova 1 and. wi t h some new peopl e who also want to t read lightly on the earth.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOLlif you think of all the methods & efforts a. person brings to bear t o ige t a thing done, the main part is II he ad-ct cc Li.ng .. ~'


TV MAGIC/the cui t.u r-e-econd.t ti cn I ng limitation tha.t is th.e imprint of the media supersalesmen has slightly wrecked our ability to ccnc en t rate & severely warped our time-sense, shuffling eredi t cards & si gning monthly payment agr-eamen t s have decreased our ability to handle the real-time activities

,0 if mak ing & being.

PRE-MUZAK TIME/think of time-sense another way,

they u.sed to show us the big upright monoli t h i o heads from gaster Island in grade school. the teacher said they were oarved on the ground. then spoke with wonder & mystery about "how did the 'Simple' savages raise them to a vertical position wi t.hou t the benefits of the Industrial Revolution

& the teamsters union? rr we sat in our 1 it tie rows ahak.l ng our heads 1 ike th €I af reda l es ina Ri val commerical. it was Lmpoe s i b'l e to conoeive of it. but a f'8W years ago ThoE' Heye r dah I went down. there wi til sIrnp Le levers & an idea & demonstrated a whole

new point of view. he used really tiny graduated systems ·0 if pebbles & just Ii fted a stone head

a hair at a time. it apparently worked pretty nicely. he almost did it in j list a day with no

mor-e than f'our- or five people.

REALITY WARP/the wierd paint 0 f Easter Island

is that it didn't take those guys forever to do this, it didn't take long at all. have we been oversold

on oompl Lea ting & elaborating OUf" t.oo LLng prooess with complex, expensive (cosmically, ecologically) machani zed a i.ds in hope 0 f timesaving? then for

what is the time saved? to be starved & crazed; to fill by reading Playboy OJ[' running around. breaking

radio aerials off parked cars?

it makes abou t as much sense as a It-hour drive on the Long Island Expressway to make U!'E;l le.ss-thcm-2- hour flight to Chicago_


D~TUNING/we I r s go i ng t.o det.une individually & seek more steady rhythms in ourselves. generally this improves the ability to concentrate. oonoentration .is a great & precious state 0 f grace, i think it valuable because it is a sign that i'm really getting into & penetrating what i' m doing _ in some imprecise sense it is the reverse of aliena t Lon . just hand the next two-year-old kid you run into his first

rubber band. & observe how integral concentration.

is to the human animal.

ADYANTAGES Of SIM.PLE TOOtING/this same concentration permi t s us to set about breaking the relentless. grip

a. f a QuI t ur-s which demands that we have t he newest, biggest & fastest power tools be fore we begin building anythi.ng. it will make it possible for U,S to u.til rze, understand & c orrt r-oI simple tool ing, the ability t o. use simple tooling effectively is not jus.t good for our state of being but from a pr agma t Lc point 0 f view it means you can build wi thou t Lnves t i ng too much of your e oonomi.c resources, in ecologica.l terms, if that investment is low the result is personal independence & the handmaidens of personal independence are

beyond price for they are gentle assurance & non-violent self-confidence.

INCREASE SENSITIVITY/once you simpl i fy the tooling & get daepe r into the characteristics & capac i Lf ties of e ach tool, you begin. to get more p r ec Lei on in your

r e su l t s , by focusing on a tool you find what it will

do & how it does it but more important, how your action augments, modulates or negates its performanoe. if you use it enough & your observation-s.ensi tivi ty is: operational, you will end by being able to do things

wi th the tool wh Lch will surprise & amaze you,

you don't have to be a zen master to recognize that this will r eeu l t in some pretty peachy changes in your r-e La.t i ornsh ip wi th sel r .&, thus wi th the rest

of the um.ve r-se .

__ 5

THE $185 HOUSE/v.'e took two old barns apart. they were just s:mall barns btl t there was a lot 0 f good Lumbe r

in them. no big romantic beams, like House & Garden magazine. just early twentieth-century 4x4's, 2x4's & siding but it was just the thing for r r ann ng up a 11 t tle house in the woods. joe discovered a microwave relay tower going in over on the Peoria road & a.ll the par t s had been shipped in fine heavy wood crates. the crew erecting the tows r was p re t ty set on burning them as

the usual 1 i ba tion to Mammon & all the gods a f waste

& con sumpt ion bu t j Q8, my fat he r , s i.x=packed them out 0 f t ha t., he loaded the old j e ep five or six tim-as .& the media equipment crates became the sheathing for tha house.

he found the little old crooked windows in a 1920fs

movie h ouae that was being wrecked. the $185, ha.rdmoney went mostly for shingles, tarpaper, cement & a few

new nails.


THE FIRST MICROHDUSE/the first one' eve r buaI t was a

72" {slightly mo r e than average man height) cube in the Groveland t i.mbe r. i buil t it in the sail;;,' 1950 i S out

,of 't emper-ed masonite har dbo ar-d parie l s screwed & glued to some 2x.2' s sal vage'd fr om my firs t Li v Ing S true t ur e . people had built small shelters before, mostly in humble unrecorded places like the arid scratchlands of a.s.i a & the fa.vellas of the southern hemisphere,

all those EO' f f'or t s had the beauty & di r e c t ns as 0 f the bravery '& cour-age 0 f our kind 0 f animal up against

t.he waI I doi ng h Ls sweet best. all 't he 1 it t Ls houses of the past were the sta t us cas t le , scaled down by ma.l.nu t.r it i onS exploi t a t Lo n of the builders. i made' the Microhouses as one best guess tD shelter postindust rial men; compac ted & 1 I berated from the "mortgage, " "furniture, II & "wha t-will-the-neighbo r s+aav ?'

10, SETTING UP/making a 'place t.o build t h Lngs & a u n i t to work on. a step-by-step easy progression that tells you how to buy wood right & how to grade it & judge it.

measuring! marking & cut t i ng wi th the hand saw are covered. Lnexpens i ve buying of tools is discussed along w i t h an accurate drilling setup that oosts only $15. how to choose

a decent hardware s t c re . shopping 1 ist p , 13.


25. NEW SL~EF'ING LOFT!i t doesn r t have to fasten to the wall so it moves easy. made from just

one kind of member it is easy to ohange or

add to. this 48" module can even be used

to bu.ild an outdoor shelter" shopping list p , 41.

74. FUN HOUSE/this outdoor Living struoture for hikers & campers can ha e r ec ted on

leased or short-term-useground, it' ~'3 a base camp for a new kind of expl oration. shopping list p . 83.

84, SUPERCHAIRii t r s a s i tting~napping-teading~ listening p.Lace on a noble ,eighteenth-century scale. it's even a.n extra bed ..

shopping 1 ist p , 93.

42. JOSH HENRY LIVING STRUCTURE/this is a personal, indi vidual kid r a "house: builtin h is own

room, based on the .:36" module i.t is flexible

to grow with the child_ shopping list p, 52.

54. INFINITE STORAGE SYSTEM/USing 'one universal panel you can build up, down or sideways

in a completely 3-D way & knock it down to

10 per cent of its erected size for moving. shopping list p. 58,

61. CHUCK'S CHAIRJthe Panel-Ma t r ix p r I nc l pI e is applied to a. 24" module to make a c l aae i c free chair. shopping 1 ist p . 63.

94. 8' MIC'ROHODSE/yoUl can build this ge t away shel t s r capsule in your apartment for

ab ou t $300' I'd tIl hand. tool s, then .it will go to the country in a station wagon. several will make OJ fa.filly village wi t h privacy for all. shopping list p. 104, legal.i ties & zoning p , 106.

64. ARTICULATED LIGHT BULB/how to make ali gh t 'bulb float wi th the minimum support & the maximum movement possibilities. designed to work

wi th Living Structures but it will wo rk on

a ',vall too ,.

108, OLD MI CROHOUSEli "ve be en 1 i v Lng in t h is 0 ne off & on s mce 1962 &, we keep using the

p r ope rt t e.s 0 f flexi bil ity & expandab.i Li ty that are unique to .i t. it can be started for about $1800 & added to as you make it, shopping list pp. 124-25"

126., IN WORK/this is some of the stu ffwe are wo r-k i ng on right now: a. new vertical MicfOhQuse 'in a pipe-frame Matri.x

at Groveland: new wooden fittings

for joining tubi ng that you can

fabri ca.t e in your basement or garage

v.'i th simple tool s : a New World pickup

t ruok made of plywood pane l s & based

on the available VW floor pan &

running gear; the Dragonfly catamaran

hou seboa t using modular construction; '& a new 18' Micr,ohousewi th internal Ma t r-Lx

& mul t iple, overlapping living levels.

66. MICRODO,RM 2lthis Living Structure' is bull t 0 f light str8ssed-s,kin plywood like, a. br idge ,.

it provides sleeping. storage & study-work

in the fl 001' area of a single bed for

ages 6-20 or even beyond. shopping

list p. 71.


MYSTIQUE OF THE LUMBERYARD!i t might help right now if i outline my head-tool ing fo r going to the lumberyard. any good person resists the easy pleasures of oyru c i sm when faced wi th negative behavi or. on the othe r' hand these are parlous times (maybe all times were) & it is helpful to approach the 1 umberyar d w i t h an al art mind. certainly ..

not ohip on the shoulder, but alert &. taping;

all that happens. maybe itts just that some guys

in. t ne business have been spoiled by the' ea.sy pickings represented by all those do-it-yourselfers who roll .in every Saturday morning in the $5500 station wagons with eyes as ';vide, as Venusi an

space pilots _ anyway F there is generally qui te

an at t i tude there & it is a barrier to getting usable ~aterials. you must work out ways of

get ting around it.


THE GREAT TELEPHONE SWINDLE/the fi rst thing Ls , don't order by phone. iL t doesn r t work &. you will get the wrong thing or an unuaabl o thing that way" one 0 f the marvels 0 f modern times is the way a per fectly l1i ce guy will e i t her con you

or at best give short shrift by phone when he wouldn't do the same face-to-faoe, one to one. truly the telephone is an instrument that fosters alienation ..

PRICE:S)several of the p,eopl e i' VB talked w i th lately have aie nt i oned that prices of up to 35~ per running foot have been charged them, this is rea.lly too much & should be neaI'e r

15¢ per foot " what this probably means is tha t this kind of lumber is a. good spot to hook

the unwa rv in" a compell i ng problem is t ha t

i wou l dn t t eye n mind payi ng t ha t muc h fo r good sticks but they 'Non't even. be that much betterthan pieces you can latch onto fo r less

if you know how to approach it ..


haven! t conta.cted the 1 umbe r-business brand 0 f insanity; yet, accept the fact that a ,2x2 piece of wood

is not rea,ll;y: 2_ inches by 2 inches measured in cross.-section .. it may have IlH,la$ured a full 2, inches square at some t.ime in its 1i fEi but by the time

, kiln-drying & shrinking '& planing is done it is only H-"xl~". in fact, you m i gh t find it

, di.fficult to get 2x2' s for a reasonable price in your area, if you can get lumber cut to these dimensions it! s usually bet ter to get that which is planed smooth on all si de s (inctust ry code f'o r this is nS4S," or "surfa.ced on all 4 s i de s") "


DOING ITlthi s is whe r s the blueprint part starts. now it doesn't do much good to be on the spot in the yard if you can't influence & modulate the

cou r sa of events. the only way i I ve found to do this is by the establ ishment of a. Oll.e-to-one

rela tions.hip wi t.h a yard man. (the guys who wo rk lumberyards divide functionally into two opera.tionally based o a t ego r i e s , the front guys in the office who do the o rde r t ak i ng & the sal vI ng

& the other guys out where the supplies are stored who take your paid receipt, locate your stuff

& throw it on the ground by you f' vehi (;1 e , sometimes in small yards these two categories overlap but these are the ground 1-ules,) you do the bas it y,ou

Gan with the front-offioe people but it is sometimes ha rd because they are really just salesmen & the manipulative objectives of this line of work

fairly well exolude any massive ooncern for the

cu s t oms r' S well-bein.g, the, place to get hip

is with the yard man who actually selects & 't ouche s the material ycu w iLl work w i th later on.

OPENNESS!share a Ii ttle of what you I r e building;

w i th o t he r s. thus it's possi bl e for them to be a

1 tt t l.s r e.spo ns i ve to what you are trying to get, remember that this paltry $10 worth of flower stems may be the stu ff which your 1i fe dreams are made 0 f but to the yard man it's just a 2t-min'ut,e gig wh i ch is only one of thousands which stand between him & his amb i ti cn to. be come a famous brain sll1'geQ.n, if you tell him wha t you are in to . that is, why you want 2x21s straight & dry. he may get interested in a human 'Nay & respond, how would you 1 ike to work

in a lumberyard where all these madmen 'Ii'i th more money than knowl edge come in eve ry weekend & buy on t the house for some purpose which is unknown & indeterminate to you? alienation is all around us.

COMMUNICATING/this may generate feel I ngs 0 f personal shallowness in you because most 0 f us have been

encu.I t u red in the way 0 f ho I ding the cards so no one can see them. this is j list a co nt ex tual figureground problem because the go od dream is tha.t we will all become increasingly open with others, even those casually e nc oun t e red, & talk & share ali t t Le bi t 0 f' wha t we" re occupied 'Iil'i t h . at best one tries to do this wi ttl most encounters, not just those where we hope to s I ici t a certain kind a f per f'o rmanc e. so if the intent is positive & general the aspect of

man'i.pu La t iOTh really dce sri ' t apply" wa all try to observe this as a gene'ral way of behaving & if

other people return .i t you really learn & Ii fe gets Lnt e r-es t i ng,

WHAT KIND OF WOOD? i haven ' t said anything ye,t about what kind of wood you gs t . most often we use Douglas, fir or White fir. i have also heard from people

who like spr-uce 2x2 r s. the Douglas fi r is really good because it is relatively strong (it's a prime choice Ln the light construction industry}. it has longleafed overlapping hard-grain ccmpcnen ts which

ruake it strong. these compon.ents make the grain prominent under visual observation. White fir is

not so strong because the hard-soft parts. of the grain are more evenly distributed without the overLapp i ng pat t e r n Lng , it is qui te a b i t lighter than Douglas fir, which Lsgr-ea t when you are lifting or moving finished. structures by air freight. the , Douglas fi r is more orangey in colo r & cx i dd.zea

(with clear finishes) to a richer color on exposure to sunlight. White fir is pretty pristine

to begin wi t h , bone white in some cases, & stays lighter through its Ii f'e , the ha.rd-grain segments make Douglas fir ali t t Le more di f fi cuI t to finish than the White· fir, but also a Ii.ttle more resistant to damage from impact or knocks .


I HUMBLE MATE:RIALSlthere is a. kind of Jeffersonian

democ ra tic seeking in taking the most

I, simpl,e & common ma-terials & through careful study r workmanship & shots of soul trying to realize their beau ty 0 it r s not that i' m immune to the n finer" woods, because i do respond to historical uses of paneling or

I, guitar vene'ers or ali t t Le piece 0 f teak in the hand 0 it must be that i just re.se nt the h i s t.o rt cal imperatives 0 l' the middle class whioh ove rva l ue

I scarcity or other kinds 0 f expensi ve extrt Lc i sm . i guess i don r t agree wi t h the idea that diamonds are a girl's best friend. i tend

to believe that calcium & phosphorus are.




4 pc s. 2!1x2'iX96" (8" long),


24 pes" 24 pes 0 24 pes. 24 pes.

4 pc s .


Ij4"~20x3 1/2" fla thaad machine bol ts 5/16'" r l.a t wa.she rs

1/4" spl it-spring lock was he rs 1/4'/-20 hex TIU ts

l"-diarnete r furni ture gl ides. with nazI (Domes of Silence)

all hardware to be bright plated (eadmi um or zinc) .

CULLINGlthree 8' pieces will make the 24" cube. in theory this is true but in prao t Lo e usually the mills out short so you can't quite get 4

24" pieces from an 8' mill Lengt h . also every time

you cut it off you lose be h\1een 1/16" and 1/8". getting the ext ra 8-foot;er so Lve s this pr-ob.l em & lets you do what my Kent ucky gr-andra t he r called ~, cull ing 0 " that just means sorting &. laying by the less

das i r ab l e pieces & using 0111y the c ream .

this S8ems kind of waste ful but since we don' t live in a p~rfeat world it gives better results in the s t ruct ur-e that you're working on 0 also you may rui n a pi e c e' & need a spare (0 r want

to add a piece or two to, modulate the form

of the unit) , an old European machinist told me .once to always make two or three more parts than i planned to use wh i Le i was ae t up for it to avoid going back & reseting up, stay as close as you can to the yard man but don' tmake him anxious.

if he r s real busy & you want to gamb.l e . offer

to pick them out yoursel f a f t s r as su ring h.im

you won r t wreck the stack or stay forever.

aome t Irne.s it worksbu t usua l Ly after you get acquainted it works better,

II ON THE LINE/do your rap with the yard man

as you go so he knows why "straight" & "dry," (i t may take a couple 0 f visi t s to really

I', establish rapport wi th the guy but it will be rewarding in many ways when you succeed.

i should tell you that we only accep t lumber which has been stored in the shed because

I.' it seem.s the stu r r that's s t.ashed outside under the polyethylene sheets is usually p r e t ty wild. i







SHAPE 0.(1' THE ENDS/look at the end 0 f each piece. the cross-section should be fairly square with each angle 90 degrees as at left below_

avoid pieces with irregular shape like the

one on th,etl gh t _, they' won 1 t assemble well,


SELECTING THE 2x2' Slas the yard man pulls them, tr~l to touch & handle each one. sight down it to see warp. roll it in your hands quickly

to read visible signs. heft it, you'll get so good tha.t you can feel ali gh.t , dry, st r ar ght piece before looking at it. wet, sappy, crooky pieces feel like a bent water pipe. small tight knots a.re OK i f they don't mark an extreme devia ti on in long axis" look out for pieces

wi th I, checks" (short spli t s w i th the grain).

t ae.se appe.a r because drying stresses have

been too severe, avoid pieces with sticky honey-l ike sap pockets & sp l its.

RIPPING FROM 2x4' Sisometimes yards don't stock 2x2' s . then buy the best 2x4' s you can & scau t a f'r i e nd Vii th. a table saw. large cities have

nei ghbo r hood ree cents r s with woodah.ope .

small towns have high school shops

& co l l e.ge towns havs craft workshops . ripping (lengthwise sawingl sequence is at right. bet tel' not let lumberyard guys cut anything for you. the i t" cutting is

not the best,



CHECKING OUT OLD SAWSJlook c Loas at Lnd.i vidual teeth. are they rounded off & worn down too far? heavy rust is a nega ti ve si gn , sight

down the blade to make sure it hasn't been k iriked . even w i th a new saw make sure the blade is apr ingy & lively . I t won't be a good compan.l.o n if t t ! s

too s t i ff & thiok.

BUYING TOOLSithe level of a person r S ski.l1 is a reflection of many things. deep internal qualities of mind' & expe r tence are the strongest factors.

the heaviest external componerrt s are probably

the tools, all those i know who build well

choose tools carefully. cost is a factor but the price of one i tam 1 ike a steel tape won't

br-eak you.

THE RASP/one of the most indispensable tools is a ~our-in-one rasp (sometimes called

a. 11 shoemaker' 8 rasp"), it is a no+hand I e wood file with fine & coarse teeth milled on both sides.

one side is flat & the other is s l i ghtly cur-ved for curved surraoe s .. it' 11 eat up the wood

&0 ,your hand at fi rst but once you get seris i ti ve to it, what a great tool. it's hard to get

a good one where the tee t h are really s ha r-p now because the toolmakers se·e·m to be on. a .McLuhanesque trip where they supply a piece of metal wi th visual texture, bl ister-pa:okaged artistically, btl t you find the rasp teeth are no t really sna rp . the best one i am using ~ow is

a Nicholson,

GARAGE SALES & FARM AUGrI ONSJt ry the gar age sal e s ·for good buys. get into the country to the Saturday farm auctions for the lowest prices.

go early so you have a chance to meander 3, handl e & examine the stuff so i t ~ s not .a bI ind t.r ade . the old fanners pass & the younger people

don't uspally feel that those old-fashioned junky tools are supportive a f the Gran Pr:ix

life style, suburban garage sales are good because many tools are purchased ,just for the thea t:r Lca.L ba.ckground effect & they get dumped for little money after the new wear-s 0 if.


WHAT KIND OF SAW?/handsaws come two ways, rip & crosseu t . rr lip'! means to cut parallel to the grain. this type has less teeth per inch &. more set.

• set 1 r e re r s to the way the teeth are bent (alternately)out or the blade plane. this widens the rlker-f"

rl sawn 510 tin the wo od "& pr-even t s bi nd i.ng ,

"cr oasou t s" are designed to cu t across the gr a.Ln (as in cutt.ing the 2x2's to length).

WORK SPACE/it r s ea.sy. to buy a saw bu t it I S not

qui t eao easy to find a good place to work & concentrate. a 2t-room apartment offers a couple of choices, clear the "bedr oom" for building & sleep tempora,rily in the 1'1 iving" room. thi s is optimum because you can c I o.se up the workroom & isolate it. you can alternatively oompress the furniture into one end. 0 f the ma i n r-oom & wo r k in t h e 0 pe ne d=up end. keep a vacuum cleaner handy & pick up the sawdust at frequent intervals. inexpensive plastic painter's tarps over furniture beat air-borne dust.

for general use i have an old 12-teeth-per-inch crosscut. the fine teeth cut smoother & it still works for rare rips. it cuts plywood with,minimal bottom-side splintering.


.T. . ~' •• : I ,. ~ t! '..... ,. _. ~ 1"~~·':~~I·~"'·r"-"'.:>.:" ::--:.. . .-: .. "11

. THE OPT'IMUM ~DRlir~:LlNC:; S'YJ3TEM!t,tiB:'hest·:oT~ :a;11' .',:.' " .p.6.s~fbl.e:·wQ.1'1:a.~.,.±,~~ d.1-j:l:i:t!lg~·'i $:i'lYB~':,.r .:,: ~"- :'::;',:.> .

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ACCURACY/layout & mar-k I ng ar e of primary importance in getting fine results in building. the working of wood &. carpentry has acqu.i r-ed

a kind 0 f stopgap cobb l e r ' s appr-oach as if fine work could not be done wi th wood anymore.

in some golden age in the past, yes, but not now. the sur:ge of industrial production using metal s in this ooun try in this. century ha.s somehow blunted our approach to wor-k ing wood! & we assume that the results will be crude.

the truth is that with reasonable oare even the

so lft woods can be worked to very o l o se tolerances.

SAWING SQUARE/one good appr-oach to saw.i ng

t.h e ends 0 f 2x2 1 s square (so the end p.l ane is ps rpend i cu Lar to the long axis Q f the board) is

to mark 3 adjacent sides of the piece for Gutoff with the combination square. make a shallow sawcut a Long each 0 f these 1 ines before t u rn i ng

the middle marked side up & sawing Ln the

ordinary manner. hesitate periodically to check if your cu t is wi thin the 1 imi ts establ i.shed

by the first shallow cuts. just keep making sure you are remaining in the plane 0 f the cut.

try to establ ish that plane in your mina

&. really feel the paths 0 f the handsaw in r e I a tion to the ideal plane. Gut slowly, not pressing

too hard because the tool isn r t a steak kni fe, it's a saw. probably this attitude about

cobbl i ng when using wood seems to cause u.s to attack the pi eee viciously & hur ry. hurry

to sepa.ra,te it. most 0 f us seem to use handsaws 1 ike we are killing the we r-ewo Lr ,

the way 0 f precision & r-e su I t s which give inner sa tis fact ion whe n working wood coma in stately rhythms.

the way is not jump cu ts .


THE SHA.RP PENCIL/make sure you are using

a good sharp pencil with not too soft lead

when making the cutoff 1 i ne s for sawing; the 2:<2! s , when you mention wood, some well-meaning clown shows up with a oarpenter's pencil that has

lead as big a r'ound as a Pepsi bottle & is

terri bly proud 0 f hi s tool choice which he

bolsters by saying" carpenters use it> don't they?" i use a 4H drawing peric.i I sharpened wi ttl

a fine fila to a sharp point. ~ou may find it bet t e r be ginning; to use a No. 2 pencil

with eraser. itl11 flatten out as you mark with it, 80 make light. accurate lines

& sharpen. it from time to time"




EXPERIMENT/a good way to open up any operation

which is n&w to you (or tbat you have done before

bu. t with un sa t i s rac tory r e su l its) is to experiment on a. sc rap two or three times before committing your good material in the process. in this way

one can improve the technique & act with assurance & confidence, avoiding the ruining. of material is, waste & the attendant gnil t & negative emotions.

i always cut 0 ff the ~lill (exist i ng ) end 0 if' the

2x.2 becaus e .1 t III:!. gh t be 51 i gh t ly damage d o r r ou gh .. the better 1 umbe r mills usually seal

this h i gh l v abaor-pt t ve end grain with a wax or coding paint. it seems be t tel' to make your own cut & have it consistent wi th

all your other cuts

lJSING THE RASP/now use the f'cu r=Ln=o ne rasp to. smoo t.h & improve the tela tionship of the sawn e nd- to the other planes of the 2x2, i do it wi th the pr sce in

the same position a.s sawing; holding it down wi th

my Ls f"t hand & 1 eft knee! working the r a.sp wi t h my right hand. it seems important to rotate the stick

as you work as this sort of canc eLs ou t the massive d!istortions e ve rvone seems to get when just work i ng

in one pos i t i.o n only. the original pencil marks remain to work from & you can help by imagining the ideal plane you want to acbiev@ as you work. th.is I nf'I uence s your hand. ue e the flat fine side of the rasp mostly until you get hip to the tool's wa;yT 0 f 1 i f'e .

the rough .side really grooves & ea ts up the wood so you want to gain some sensitivity before unleashing it. try to work from the edge near you t.o a little past the middle of the end face. sometimes the rasp will splinter the opposite side

if your st roke is too long. s i nca you are' working from all sides

rota ting you 'Nill pick them all up in sequence. try to think flat,

the general tendency is to round the end, wi th a loopy stroke of the rasp.

i.f you concentrate & stick wi th it you' 11 be surpfised.at how much control you can develop. one of the old Englishmen who started R.olls Royce was so good with a metal file that

he could put a piece 0 f r-ound s t.ook in a vise &

fille, 6 f'La t s on it to make a hexagon within dimensional variations of about a hundredth of an inch. just wi t.h a hand tool without marking or laying out be fore. that's real concentration & skill, more important.

it must do something rea.lly great for your head,

DOING IT/OK, so mark a 24" length on one a f your

2x2's. cut with the handsaw about 1/64" to the right of yOUE' line, that is! leave the line sh owi ng after your cut is finished, this provides a guide later for rasping the end aqua ~e. a I so it never .seemed emar t to me to ob l i t e r a t e your gu i ds 1 ine as you go because this prevent'S re f'e r r i ng back to it to see how you are doing. if a. surveyor wo r ke d w.it hou t leaving

stakes behind him at the principal intersections of his si gh t 1 in.es he would lose hi s frame 0 f refer·enc8" so w iI I you if you are sloppy & cut through the la.you t use the master to ma rk your other pieces

(marking from the 1 Lns , not the eu t ) . better aaw after mar k i ng , then mark then saw, that way no trouble

with the saw kerf.

DETUNING/keep in mind that you are trying to beat the enculturation of mindless hurry & try to ease yourself deep Lnt o this sawing like the old hippo in the mud in the Tarzan

movies. get sensitive to what's

going on, it's a whole new world

of phenomenal events on a different scale. body stance, position 0 f the he ad . good fi I'm spot to rest the piece on

(at an unstraining height between 18Y & 24" from,the floor) ar-e all components which have the, sawn r'ace as a resultant. bad luck doe sn ' t figure here. if the faoe

comes out pe rpe ndf cu Lar to the long axis of the 2x2 fairly cohesive in plane it is the result of having a.ll the' forces d.i s t ri bu ted in t he r i gh t places.


IMMOBILIZING THE 2x2/plaC9 the master 2x2, with

hole ce n t e r Li nea marked, in position under the drill, prepare three small triangles (0 r squares) 0 f plywood with one perfectly s t r aa gh t edge & two 1" brads {small nai Ls ) in each one. lower t he drill to within 1/8" 0 r the centerline cross marks so the relationship can be evaluated & move the master around until the hole nearest the end is centered under the bi t .. t ack two

of the pieces of plywood to the baseboard a.Lorig the back long edge of the 2x2 (about 5" apart}. make

sure you're holding the po s i, t Lon &. wheri i t Ghec~s

out take the third block & nail it in as an

end stop for the 2x2.


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YOURIPE:RSONAL INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION/you havej u s t built a simple jig. shades of Henry Ford,

, A.rl1:wright.& James Watt, at. long last a citizen is able to tCi.ke direot advantage of a simple but outrageously helpful technique 0 f the industrial age, most often these techniques have been

used to make a hip few rich while the salesmen

& interior decor-a to r-s have exhorted us to love irregular i ty 0 f form be cause by doing so we

I somehow express some uniqueness about ou r se.I vee. simultaneously, those guys were proving all too c cno Lus r vely that a cor'nucopi a of plenty can be bu i I t b;}F observing regulari ty '& fidelity in

the structuring ·0 f fila t.s r La.l obj e c t s ,

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DOING IT/anyw.ay, go ahead & d r iIi all twenty-foll.n snd holes. have ca.re that these holes are kept par-a ll e I {in the same face 0 fihe 2x.2, that is:1 when sw i tehing ends because that's sometimes

a problem. all holes a r e made with a 5/16J"-diame te r hi t . since 1/4;' bo I t s ar-e used to as se mb.I e, the se holes give some tolerance (leeway) when bo~ting, beat the nega ti v·e 0 f spI Lrrt s ring on the uncle r st de of the 2.x2 where the dr ill bit comes out

by always ho.Ld rng it in. contact wi th the baseboard,

CHECKING & DETUNING/spot-check w it h measuring tape from time to time to be sure the blocks or drill

or stand have riot shifted from the kinetios of use as to appr-oach i.ng the ac tual pu l l ing down 0 f the handle which causes the bi t to travel t hr-ough the wood-i t 'I S a simil ar proposition to the handsaw.

gi ve the tool time. let up on the handle i:- the drill packs wi t h wood r.r agmen t s & slows down.

our general tendency despite the powerful myths of Arne r i.can know-how are to hurry, hurry & end by

almost punching the b i t through the wood. this causes splintering when the drill leaves the wood & it is negative, reset the end-stop block properly for the second pair of holes from the end, dr i 11> then reset for the center holes. now you have fabricated at le'ast 12 beau ti ful universal member-s wi til 2 or :3 spares from the fourth 8'- piece _ if you' r e human there 1 S no sense in d.i scuas i ng sanding & f i n i sh i ng

at this point because the big charge now is to assemble the s t r uctu r a & see what t.s ,


F ASTENERS/to e r-ae tit yo-u need bol t.s . if you don' t already know one, pick out a hardware store.

DDt just anyone will do these days because most "h ar dwa re " stores seem to be appl iance stores (or something) with lip servioe to the original idea in t.he form 0 f some Taiwanese tin foil

tools & top-heavy r acks of b l i st s r=pe.ckaged screws & bo I ts. nothing will convince us so completely

that we are in the twentieth century as purchasing fOUT tiny bolts & nuts cleverlyimpri soned ina

lit t Le ch rv sa.I is of ca.rdboa r d & plastic

for some ridiculous prics.

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IDENTIfYING A REAL HA·RUWARE STORE/look for the oldfashioned hardware store where the olerks are grim as deacons since they are the last guardians of scarce & arcane products. if the guy puts you T bil]_ in a little cannister, twists it onto an overhead carrier that looks 1 ike a long-span ski 1i ft,

& shoots it to ali ttl e c row I s-nest mezzanine

in the upper back by pulling down vigorously on an overhead rope t ha t r s a good sign. if he exhibits the gener-ous but icy civility of a vatioan di.plom.a.t upon hearing your order. you have scored .. just hope

they neve r go ou t 0 f business.. .

Q_lIA.NTITY BUYING & Sf'EGIFICATIONS/dependill!g on how much you- are moved by t.h i s trip so far be aware tha.t you '/!o'ill pay through the nose for rela ti v§ly small quanti ties 0 f anything. we ate commi t ted so we buy in larger more economical amounts. at least in packages of 100 units. which generally has more favorable pricing. be sure all the har dwar e you buy is br' ightly p.l a t ed (either z inc 0 r cadmium) . raw bo l t s & waahe r s will rust quickly j u s t from the humidi ty in a house.




PUTTING IT TOGETHER/find a fairly level surface & assemble the two opposite side frames 0 f the cube _ the bol t heads [0 on tboard of the un i t, all nu t s & washers inside _ just hand-tighten

to start. ge t her all together then wTench-tighten one corner at a time. when you use the wrench, draw the bolt heads slowly into the wood until they are flush wi t h the sur face wi t h no splintering. make sure faces of

adj acen t members are f'Lue h be fore

ti gh t.end ng , this will help the whol-e square up. when all bolts are

se cur-e d . turn theuni t upside down & gerrt.Ly tap the gll.des into the cent.s r Q f the ve r t.Lca I members.

r emembe r to cut abcu t li8" t'r-om the nail po Lrrt so it doe sn ' tinter fere wi th the bol t . your analog is now weight-supporting & ready to go

to work for y01L if your projected use r equ i r'BS a top, cut a 24'" squa r e from a ao r ap of 1.12" 01'3/4" p l.ywood .

& bo I tit in place using the midpoint holes in the two top horizontal members.


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INTERCHANGEABLE PAR TS!.i ndu st r ta I production ha.s always de'panded on the many advantages coming from the idea of dup I acat e parts ; fabricated with minimum variation. we can get profound beneficial results. as ~Ddividuals. from this concept. anxiety levels

are lowered in building & standard members can be r acyo I ed wi.th great 9'8se because they haven! t been so specialized either in design or by eyeballed inconsistencies in making,

SANDING & fINISHING/cut a sanding block from some 2x2 scrap, make it

4" long. instead of ordinary sandpaper we Ulse 3/0-120 C,-wt. open coat aluminum oxLde production paper, tear it as shown &. it will just wrap up the sidles of the sanding block. three Goats

of rubbed 1 inseed o i 1 0 I'" a pane t r a't t rrg resin sealer 1 ike Firzi t e with aand I nge ~ftBr each coat makes for great smoothness & du:rabili ty_


'THE NEW FREE-STANDING SLEEPING LOFT/marshaling long arguments in favor 0 f the sleeping loft

I .. right now is about as gratuitous

as pape r-back i ng un eskimo ed i t i.on of Sir Fr ano i s Bacon's early food-refrigeration exper i ment.s, the 10 ft bed is SO ni fty & axel. ting to r e t i re'

to & makes SO much. sense spatially that it il.seven rune red that politicians use them, sleeping ab~ve floor level

frees a Lar-ge area of the room for other uses. the traditional static world view plops

a monster BED down 1.11 t he middl e of a room - & forever after that room is a bedroom.

it doesn ' t even matter how big the room is,

) traditional beds. space-eating monsters hunker .ing on the f1 00 r , are such a presence that three of them couLd crowd the Astrodome. we are just getting onto ths fact that wha t

we can r ea.Ll.v use now are mu lt i functional spaces

I which can be camera. workshops in t he mcr ni.ng rehearsal halls in the afternoon, friendly

r e s t.au r ante in the evening & sleeping, areas for only about six hours late 8!. t [Ii gh t ,

111 apac e is too precious to be lim.i t€'d ritualistically to single funotions_



,PROBLEMS ·OF' THE SLEEFlING LOF'T/despi t.e the recognized & obvious advantages 0 f lofts.

two obstacles appe.ar' to r ul e out this del i gh t for a lot 0 f people: [lot eve ryone is lucky

enough to have the high ceil Lng usually r equ I red for the sleeping loft, and most

10 ft beds involve fastening the s t ruct ure in some brutal way to the landlord's walls. floor & cailing. even if your landlord is a regular St . Francis

& doesn" t mand , there is. still a hangup for you. the heavy members & mean fastenings represent

a heavy investment in moving mat ilEn' through spaoe, lag screws, star dr ills> molly bol ts & fall.ing p last e r _ yOU! do all this monster with. the salvaged r ai I road ties & bridge bolts then

twenty minutes after it's .in place you disoover your kar-ma demands you ap l I it for Oregon.

we all believe in the wor t h 0 f t he expe r Lerrt ial Li, fe p rooe s.s but the bee who never gets

any 0 f the honey is be 1. ng sho r ted.,


THE LIVING STRUCTURE IDEA/this mobili t;).T problem & the he i gh t problem we re two of the heavy ones i, thought about wl)€n fi rst developing the Living St r uc tur ee back in the aa r l y 1950 r s .

, we r,et ripped OIl t.ha t when i came out

to Chicago in 1970, some guys at the university there thought it would be a good idea

ifi came out & talked 'id th the arch! tectural students there about building Microhouses

& 1 i v i n.g in them, i was. yo-yoing around

New York Ci ty then & had just finished four

months doing a thirty-six-slide projector environmental structure for a broadway show_

i wa.s also gently helping a maj or f'u r n i, t ure manuf'ac t ur e r butcher some of' my Li v t.ng Structures. h s had t he fond hope that if they could be made tore se nib 1 e so f'a s & G r-edenza.s then the idea

could be exploited for money. that didn~t work

so great & i noticed that casual hostility

was r each Lug new highs in Gotham that aumme r ,

my arguments w i t h cabdrivers & newsstand guys

were increasing in tempo & frequency

so i thought, why not go to Chicago?

CHICAGO-LATE SUMME,R 1970/1 went & i twas good.

the sweet winds from the lake felt good on the skin &, the sun sparkled so brigh t you fel t like 1 i v i.ng forever. i met a lot 0 f really noble people, ip.side & outside the university, the school people

seemed sincerely interested in the students

as persons & it looked like a place which mi gh t become a real researoh node for new ways

of 1 i v ing 011 Earth. outside the school .i, met vickie, who may still succeed in making sense out of the present voodooism of nutrition

& phYSical therapy. i could breathe almost

as slowly as peter, a fry-coak-saint close to peace of mind mak i.ng the long journey f'r om being a Canad i an bike r with a busted back to

doing some t.h Lng wi.th the land. hi s lady, j udy , was a deep earth. person who could probably do up a

Pac i f tc sunset in a mason j ar & play it back

to you next wi n t s r . she carne with ali ttle boy named t.hys who once sanded two old pain ted-up

dr aw i nz boards wi th me. i watched & 1 earned

much ab"'Qu t inten-si +v 0 f concerrt r a t i on .

THE STUDENTS/Garole helped me that fi r s t year

in the begint!ing a.r ch i tectural class & we really connected- with the people on a new basic

48"-cube module that was aupe r r l.ex.Lb.l e .

before leaving N~w York i'd spent twenty-nine seconds t h i.nk.i.nz about something to bu I ld wi til them a n Chicago -& a structure like that aounde d good

bu t i wanted to work out with the students,

not just lay it on them like john & the Magna

Carta _ so we went through a whole process

which was pret ty ~egi t & ended

with our g-oup producing fifty units.

ea.ch g,uy in the group used one as hi s own to study, sleep over in & store his equf.pmerrt -



• [l'E81GtUNG-' THE",SFACE·MODt.i8El. :' .. ~-lways,' when;yql,l wor k. QI].' a nei!; . .. t.h.ing', pai,t 8 f ttra:t ~vopk ':takes

.: ." , p.l~ft,ce .'i n 'te TltlS '0 t: H '/{,ha t 'r~3' ;11" , ,

>,' '"a·l;(h,ou.gh 'm.Oost 0 f' it involves' ,

.. /whq,t 'yqy' bel i·eye 0 r think" ,"

",sl':nuuld be , II S'O to ~o~e degree tke '218" - ct"iins'nsion w"as a function ~of' the fact that 'l.u:mber.&

• ,p,l_YWDOd a re mill'ed& ,produced ._' • :J,Il sl,z'es relating to t.ha t

, ,djm.ensiol1" but moore impartan t , that, cue ice results Ln Eli um. t which allow,s you to .g\;l't' the

. , sle,eplng surface el€iva,tedwi tho space f()T srt udJ,', '1oung;ing & storage' in the liberat'ed space underneath, all this' will fit into the' most riequen·tlY found 8; ceUhlg he i ght.. -thEme units ar-e inde'pendent o r wal-ls & ceiling' & can be- moved about the' roam,' they aren't anen'o,red' to one st:q, tic ,arrangemeri't. ~he:y

a re 'ea.sy t.o kp:oC,k ttOWitl,

move ,& e reo t in. a new

place '. the movab-Le pack is compac t & the s t.ruo t.ur-e s adapt to di~tereht rooms pr e t ty nicely.

. some guys took the 48'; dimension sort 0 f ",' h,a.rd, bu t i t h t nk it was because th~ir ,e'oIlslciou.sne-ss was still atrophied at the

'J!l9:S'te rn-Eur opean ego-tripping lev'al of e.h.igher the ce i Lf.ng, the more important , e-rnan . rr a,ft~ t" ycm get into it' physically &; -.'e'xp,erienoe it fully, these fears disappear, ',,: after all, you can' 't stand up in 8, Pe r-r ar L.


THE "BLUE BABY"/last year our group at the sohool combined ei gh t 0 f these modules to make

an 8'-cube Mic r onouse , e I eva t ing it

off the ground on tetrahedrons.

this was a eomprehens.t ve app li ca t i.on of my Ma trix Idea using muI tipl€ cell s .

it .i s 1 ike a med i eva I a I che mis t 's dream. Vie took simple um versal components &

aggr-ega ted t.ham. it could wo r k in a larger size too, the pallet arrangement in this one was complex but workable &: support i ve of

the ac t i vi it i e s 0 f working! Gooking& sleeping. since the pallets can be rearranged w i thou.t tools. it is truly responsive to changes in

the life pa t tern of the person. some change from the r i t.ua'l Let I c de s i gn pat terns 0 f the pas t which lacked mobili ty & were locked onto a

fixed pattern like a dead bulldogrs jaws.




I ECOLOGIC.AL RESULTS/the Mat rix Idea. presents a very different reali ty in terms of r e cyc Li.ng materials, t raai t r onaI de s i gn & f'ab ri.oa tion techniques special ize & shape mat.e r ials ao par-t icularly

that to reuse the only way is to apply power to break it down then r-e con s t t tu te it.

i n usi 11 g t he Mat r Lx Ide a we ke ep par t s general,

- universal & all-purpose"" wh e n needa chango & situations change the response is to alter the assembly relationships of these parts. thus very 1 i ttl e power & e r ro r t are i nvo i .. ed in adapting

to new conditions.


HOW TO USE IT/w€l' had t.ne system set f.i r s t, to provide each of us wi th a study, cosy & cont.a.i nad on the low level, these areas convert easily (no tools) to extra seating or sleeping; surfaces, we used these spaces face to face, which translates & aids our aotive collaboration, it also feels good, the underspac§

of the thi rd! module was used for clothes s t cr-age. if you don't already know. get on with the fiber con-

t a.i.ns r-s that bulk ice cream ccme s in. 8:, lot 0 f places wa.sh them out & gi vo them away when empty_ great for holding clothes (or almost anything}. we don't use much clothing because it doesn' t seem to make uS happier or more at peace to have a lot or

III a big var iety. ao t.ual Ly t.he effect is v,ery much the

, opposite _ i guess if i wanted to spend a lot 0 f time caring, cleaning & nursing clothing, i.! d have become an Eng.I ish valet or a tuxedo-rental guy in Cl evs l and.

I carole just wan t.s to simplify the supporting stuff

I 1 ike clothing & really fOGUS on study & development, no t a bad ide a ,

LIBERATED SPACE/traditional furniture was never organized as a whole system, the pisces were a bunch of sepa,rate. unrelated obj €lets determined by inertia, & sen t Lmerrt _ feeble efforts were made to organize them "v I sua.Lkv" but that was just another trap,

the old Gulture has always tried to make the unworkable endurable by overlaying it with

whichever "good taste" is go rng at the moment. unfortuna.tely t.h.i s is like trying to make airplanes look like birds _ that never worked either _ that I s because you can't make feathers out of a.l umf num . Living Struet ur-e.s wor-k wi t h inte I'penetra tion 0 f spaces & systematically. geometrically get more

per f'o rmance frO'm a smaller array 0 f components

in a more cohesive area. away from room walls they aid c i r-cu.Lat.ton , movement & cleaning. one of the most profound resul t s a f the Living structure synthesis is tha.t .i t frees a larger part of the space in any room fo r open & inven ti v e uses,

you have room left ave l' for tearing a motorbike down; gallery-mounting pre-Columbia sculpture collections or restoring great-grandma's Singer sewing machine. in a t.r ad i tt ona I rr 1 i vi.ng room" all these so t i vi t i as wou Ld not fit in ve r-y well.

STORAGE/the fourth module was OUT Lnf'cr-ma't i on Bank wi th small cassette recorder, slides, books & papers. you can notice there is a lo_t of uncommit ted spa.ce in the storage cells. if you are media-conditioned you will tend. to react strong nega ti VB to thi S J but if you

think a m i nu t.s it' s possible to real Lz e that the fashion.able (tyra,n.niQal.~ idea of rrefficiency" &

"u t i.Li z i ng gIl the space" has such built-in disappointments. say all yOut~ space was used "per feetly ,i' then

a. friend give s ~roiU a paoke t 0 f sew'ing needles hut

there won't be anyplace to put them because by axiom

all the' space has a.l ready been exp.Lo i ted, the old farmers knew that good 1 i v Lng on earth was based on careful use of their space but also rnaint.ainanae of

a portion of it open & fallow for expansion. changes

or unforeseen happenings. the current societal notion of efficiency as total consumption is unbel i,evabl e

& unliva.ble be caus e it is so static.

__ 'I



ST'IFF UPPER LI..EJt ry not to get funky & fade doing these holes. there are so many that a pe r son just na tu.rally wan t s to qui t tbem & go home to mo t he r . it isn't even that you will use them all, all the time, it's just that when

you do need them they are dynan l te. a I so if Hie holes

are consistent, it· is truly a standard un i vers.al member whioh can be plaoed anywhere in the structure.

BUILDING IT/this Living Structure is real easy to rabr r ca te . it's just bigge r than the 24"-Cube Moduis. the ma i.n skeleton is made from universal nembers 48" long. the inc r ea se to 48" members will infl ue nc s ~Tour lumber-picking techniques, you have to be a little mor e observant in sel ec tz ng the 2x2'.s

at the yard because warping & torquing distortions increase in se r i ousness with Longer pieoes. length is critical, che ek the raw pieces for actual length. cut length at different mill s varies be,tween ri gh t on 961' & '96 1/4"" those pieces

just over 8' enable you to clean each end

& to do the cerrt.e r-cu t ending wi ttl two 48" pieces. this won't happen if you cut an exactly 96" piece' into two parts

because about 1/16" gets converted (& lost) to sawdust &

your final s w i Ll be short, wat.c h out for pieces which are only 95 1/2" long, it makes waste not to check & know,

MEASUREibecause t he 2x2 cr-o se-ose c t.Lon remains the same, the pairs of holes at each end are Loc a t'ed ju.st 1 ike those in the 24" cube, the addi tional holes allowing more flexibility occur every 3~. the best way to tool for

these is to mark wi th penci 1 the 3" inte rva.l s along each oft wo adj acen t rae as 0 f th e 2x2, then uae two 1 oca t Lng blocks nailed into th£ plywood baseboard under the

drill stand to posi tion the piece so holes w i Ll be

for sure on the longitudinal centerline. the blocks

pl US get ting the mark under' the dr i t ; every time will resul t in good accur acv if you don it hurry & blow it.

you could e1 Lm.Lna t e this marking & jig that part of it

but the ,j ig would get pretty c omp l i ca ted & time-con.suming.





MAKING THE PALLETS/the pallets. are made f'r om 1/4'" hardboard, sometimes it I S called "Masonite" G,fter one of the earlier producing companies _ it is a hard; dur-abr eo & derrse re cons ti t u t,ed.-wood p roduc t made from fibers wh i.ch are either' waste from other cu t ting or trees which are not sui table for dime-nsion Lumbe r or plywood. avoid bargain hardboard & the superexpenaive. me'di um+pr ioed stuff I s good because it is a highly compet i ti va market. check out the stack yours comes from to be sure it I S been kept flat. aome t i me s the piles are resting on 4x4! s or two rough skids & the crazy warps go right up t nr-ougn the pile . always

seek the material that has been stored indoors in

p re f'e r e nce to that wh i ch is just unds f' a. shed 1"0.0 f

wi th open sides or completely in the open wi t.h poly taped over it. look at the edges to make sure the

steel strapping used to bind the packs for shipping hasn't dented or chewed up the edge.

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CUTTING HARDBOARD/some 0 f the resin binders & rille r materials used in this stuff are unmer-o Lt'u.l Ly hard on t ool edges bu tit does eli t to a. fine precise edge.

if you are onto the handsaw use the fine flat sectioD

I of the four-in-one wood rasp to smooth the tooth t r acks out, then finish with block & sandpaper.

FINISHING/Fi r-z I te 0 r boil ed lin.seed oil is a good sealer. dilute the oil with a slight (1/2 tsp, per cup) amount 0 f pure t.ur-pen tine for pene t r a tion. be au r e to wipe 0 ff all excess oil _ be mat u r e & cool & finish before assembly. sanding between coats. the uaua 1 super-hype sc r-Lp t in our society is to bang out the mambe r s &' be in a hurry to as.semble to see how

it hangs. then it's too much hassle to disassemble, finish & re-erect. i.f you try to finish the skeleton whan it r s together the sanda ng & seal ing is not complete on 8,11 surfaces & you get r-unsS drips _ it" s like an adhe s i on. of your internal o r-gans . try to do it the adul t way, taking these un i ts up & down is good for your head anyway. it makes you be1ieve in your own real i ty ,





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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN UNIVERSITY CUBE &. OUR MATRIX/one 48"-cube module for the loft requires 12 ~niversal members for the basic skeleton, p.I us 4 or 6 more depending on what you do inside it. one additional member Should be used under the topside panel to .stiffen it. if you need a

48" module with the skin for a study area, chlld's domain, athome office or p r i vacv space, there are some slight deviations from the pieces used to make

the loft. the main difference

is the pair of 24" members supporting the pallets at the table level. tbese are used instead of 48" members to allow use of the foot hatch. it's

p re t ty neat to retain this feature just in case somebody wants to fallout &: lie down . good for a kid. or an extra

v.isi tor.

SPACER BLOCKS/note the use of . the spacer blocks to insure against the skins waiping. this is good to do no matter what thickness plywood you use, to keep the skins triru. because the sidB skins are initially bol ted just to the vertical

ake Ls t.on msmbe r s, the top & bottom panel edges are unsupported .& unbo l ted

un.le s s the blocks are used.


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MAKING THE SKINithi s draw ing incorpor~ atas all bolt-hole patterns & all hatch dimensions_ select from it for the combination you need. evaluate plywood as you would hardboard. see the stiok it was Ln . che.ok that it was under cover' & flat. don r t ao c ap t, a piece with dinged or shredded edges, f rom ba:d handling.

t.he skins requi r e full 48'1 s qua.r-e s .

try for grade A~C' bu t check on A-D j us t for price' say.€) _ sometimes the D sides aren't too bad. a few artistic knots didn't stop the old Japanese & added a lot to what they did. 3/8'/ thick is fine bu t you can use 1/2" for ex t r n muscle. avoid the lumberyard where t ne people are on some kind of La i ssez-frti re fantasy t rip in prici.ng. some yards ar s amusing themselves pu t"ting lip crazy prices just to s§e how f'ar they can go.

BOLTS, HOLES &, HATCHES/use 4"'-long bel ts to secure skin panel s. coun t e r s inkf ng heads in f'aee s (~ p , 93) _ we put a gene r-a l j zed h o I e pat te rn in the skins so they"ll f i.t; anywhere .. mark & layout these holes carefully. designing

n ax i.b i I i ty does no good unless the making is good .. use mas t e r , clamping panels together & do several at a. time with the drill stand. f'o r Layou.t you need a

long straigb t-edge & 8, good one. a T-square or metal rule is fine.

yardsticks are no good & neither is

the wood-butcher' s dream 0 f j aU.14 t Uy picking a semistra.ight piece of scrap

that happens to be nearby & drawing

along it. one good be t is to have a friend with a good table saw (fine-tooth blade) cut a 3"x 6 0'" piece of har-dboa rd perfectly s t rai gh t , don.' t sand ita Lot & make

it curvy.





I 70 po s . 2"x2"x48" (univ. membe r s )

~ 32 po s. 2"x2"X44 3·/4" ~ 32 pes. 2iIX2"x 11 7/8'/

4 pes. 2 "x 2 "x9 3l4"

8 pc s. l/2"x48J/x48" DFPw ..

I 16 po s . 1/4"x 11 7/8"x44 3/4" hdbd ,



120 pcs. l/4"-20x3 112"fl thd. bl t s .

Ma.trix, pallet rails & overhead support & ladder pallet beams

pallet limit blocks

28 pes. 1/4"'-20x2 1/2'/ flthd. b I t s . 64 pc S. 1 14"'-2 0 x3'" fl t hd , bl t s .

12 pc s. 1/4/,~20x4" f1 thd. bl ts. 224 pes. 1/4"-20 hex nuts

224 pes. 5/16" fl t. wash.

224 pc s . 1/4/1 Spl i t-Sp ring Lock Washers

12 pes. l"-di arne t e r furniture glides. with nail (Domes of Silence)

ladder (steps) pane l s


basic cube joints, cube to cube , ladder panels to Matrix pallets-hdbd. to 2x2's

panels to Matrix all bolts

all bolts

all bolts

bottoms (verticals)


CHANGESieVEH'Y morning for the last six hundred days or so carole & i have awakened to a new

I & different kind of wor-ld. we have been joined by another person, full-fledged; intelligent & active. all my life i've thought in some

Cal v i n i s t.Lc , Baptist way wi th a quas i=sci en ti r i c twist that "yes, it is neoe saa ry toexpl are

the possib.ili ties of genetic combinations

bLah , blah, blah." supercool d Ldn ' t prepare

me for the wonder 0 f the benign explosion

which was the en try 0 f joshua henry isaacs

into our cc ll ec tt ve life. i tended to tbink

of abs t r-ac t reasons for r ea.r tng children making it worth the hassle. the awesome truth is that rt ' s some, experience. like having some exotic strange r comeTo r a long visit . it I So the one life experience i've found impossible to take

for granted even a ft er all this time. no ego trip like the old-fashioned world but more 1 ike watching a. beautifu.l little peach tree grow.

the only ego thing involved is watching

rein terpreted echoe.s 0 f your own b'ehavior

& a't t i tudes appear in this midget like the

I r.eV8 rb from some mighty speaker in the sky driven by the DNA spiral. sometimes this is OK bu t sometimes it makes you cringe & h op e for

I the best.

CRISIS & THE, SHOEMAKER'S CHILD/we we re working pretty steady at the university & in

Groveland when josh henry was little so we couldn't seem to get o e rrt e r ed on desi gn.i ng & fabrioating a Structure for him. i think

part of my holdout was rooted in the fact that

i had neve r lbeen ar ound lit t 1 e ki ds &: was uncertain of the parameters .. most of my knowledge of babies was der-i ved from wa tehing old mov i es-

on television. we were also moving around a lot

so he ended up Ln a. simple, clean> wh i t e ,

Shake resCj\,l€l room in the Chicago apartmerrt whi en ca.role fixed for him. his tools (toys) were nicely organized & he slept at fi r s t u n a folding

cloth thing w i, th a, metal frame. in tile mov i es

i'd watched they never grow much but in real life it r s 1 ike God is blowi ng up a ba.lloon. so he was soon too big for that thing. carole was already making dr aw.i ngs of a Living Structure for him

but i still cou Ldn' it get focused on starting actual building. trouble in eden. one day

i found mJoTsel f in a suburban depa r-tmen.t store ha l Luc t na ti ng carole ask i ng the lady if she could buy a crib. this immedia.tely induced hyperventilation in my system & i Kot ready

to demonstrate new audio highs for the very proper aud i enc e 0 f clerks & ma t r ons . together we managed a ra.i r Wagnerian racket.

RESOLUTION/oarole is funny. at some human points she becomes a r o ck w i t.h the power 0 f speeoh,

she calmly said that the kid' s he ad was go ing to be flat On top (or if we were lucky. slightly geodesio) unless be got a bigger place to sleep. sbe really understands motivation technology. there was

no other cho Lc e though, so we got the nifty

crib & it hung t her e for qui te a whil e like the albatross, a reminder of a monstrous negative act. it sure got us on for his Structure though,


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BUILDING THE, ACTIVE GUBffiit.he'se msmbe r s will r emi nd you a f the 24" cube. but they are assernble'd, using 1!4"-20x2 1/2" hexagonal-head bolts & have a secondary ho Le pattern

on 6" oenters. it r s a good tactile sa.fety idea to put a 1/4" radius (rounded corners) on the long edges 01' the members. w,e do this with a high-rpm ahaper (see p . 7),. but you can do it wi tn pat Lence ,

a good eye & the fine side of the four-in-one rasp. don it hurry.

it '11 build your character. don I' t do thi s to the short edges.



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sttJs. <S\c'..UJ ~I,jE \.,.. m lje£ilCAL <:::)1.lL"'- 2.'1 rLT. I~D. ~,!..;t" (J-\66.D lUosl t:E)

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37 pes. 2"x2"x36" (U:I11 V'. memibe r s]

2 pes. 2"x2"x9" 2 p c s , 2"x2"'x5"

4 po s , 1/4"x36."x36" hdbd .

I pc , 3/8"x36"x36" D?F'w . 1 pc , 1/4"x26"x361! DFPw. 1 pc : 1!4"x16"x33J1 hdbd, 1 pc. l/4"x9'rx36" hdbd


41 pc s , 1/4"-20x2 1/2'" hx _ hd , blts. 30 pc s . l/4"-20x3" fl t hd , bl t s .

2 pes. 1/4"-20x4" hx _ hd. b I t s ,

6 pce , 1/4"-2,Ox2" n t.hd . b1 t s .

73 pes. 1/4"-20 hex TIU ts

6 pes. 1/4"-20 cap (acorn) nuts 120 pes. 5/16" rtt . wash.

79 pes. lf4" Spl it-Spr .i ng Lock Washers 2 pes. 2" back flap hinges (loose pin) with fasteners

8 pes _ l"-diameter furni t.ure gl Lde s, with nail (Domes of Silence)


clear Firzi t8

blackboard paint acr yl i 0 enamel

36"x36'r naugahyde & adhe s Lve 3"x36"x36" foam mat


two Matrix cells, rails, table support, bed sup~ port, sea.t & ave r he ad paneI suppo r t ,

seat limit blocks table clamp blooks

top panels (active area) side panels (rest area) bed pane].

access panel (rest) table


2x2 to 2x2

panel to 2x2

2x2 table clamp access pan~l to 2x2 all bolts (except

acce s s pane l j aocess to panel 2x2 all bolts

all bolts

bottom (verticals)

finish members & access

panel panels pane Ls panels

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COUNTERBORINGlthis uni t is intended primarily f'o r children so '.ve counterbored some ,6 f the bel tholes _ this means taking a 7/8" speed hit & dri Ll.Lng no more than 1/2"'_deep be fo r-e do i.ng

. the 5/16'" 11018. this prevents the 2 1/2" long bol t from proj ecting past t.h e 2x2 faces. we have ap+ plied this to some of the other Living St ructures & you may want to fo].low sui t . the main negative is that it specializes your members into r igh.ts & lefts so they are standard members rather than universal ones-

STORAGE MORALITY & LOGIC!i t T S a big one. i guess the c o nd i t ian that dr i ve s most storage [ana ti o.s is the fact that production & merchandising have

become our religion in the last thirty years. most 0 f us bave a real warehousing problem because we are

the pampered reo a.p i en t s ofa flood of things allegedly developed to

make us happier, we are now beginn.ing to tumble to the queasy paradox that this preposition sounded great in theory but worked 1 ike a lead

sur f'boar-d in practi ce . eVEH'y new acqu i s i U. on .rus t loads us down wi tb more obI i ga t i ons & expenses in time & productive effort. it's bec ome evident that this is a crusher l 1 aav I ng I it t1e time for inventive work & the individual search for peace of mind.


LIVING STRUC1'U.RES & STORAGE/this c onda tioning

sometimes I ea.ds people to wonder why my st r-uc t.ure s

don't include superstorage. it seems marginal or improvised to them. after all, the guy's wife has twenty-three pairs of shoes & beots fof several different outdoor role-taking shots. my thoughts on the

qui cksa.nd of ,pI"oduG t s & services,.hi nge around

using such 0 r rer ings very ae l e c t i ve I y . that's the

key word. the old-fashioned wo r Ld wa.sn ' t per feet.

the re we r e wonde r CuI aspec ts 0 f sd.mp l ; city which.

we can observe & apply in. ways appropriate to our

con text but there were some st r ong nagatt ves .. i f

only we could have entered the twentieth century with a bead-set 0 f obj ee t i vi ty & select ivi ty t owar d the deve l opmen t.s of high technology. instead we put

all the basic-informa;t ion r eaear-ch insights & spinoffs in the se r v ic e 0 f a manic, pr imi ti ve , ego-tripping, anx ie ty=r i dden sca.re! ty psychosi is

tha t was showing massive fractures even be fore the social cr i t i.que.s 0 f the rr!id~1800' s. if our

so c.i et y had been rna re conscious & hip in ways to join & nurture evo l ut ion we mi.ght have avoided some of th.e pain & hurt of that whole era.

STUCK WITH STUFF/it r s the ni gh trnare 0 f the sorce rer ~ s appr-errtt ce with stu ff floodi.ng& distort illg our Ii ve s & feelings. all the things that we are engagingly assured we "need'!! truly answer no fundamental cry from the soul or murmur 0 f discomfort from the body

bu t are an at tack of collective mania like the dancing cui t,s of the Middle Ages. the only resolution is to ' use less, consume less. have less in your field of action. this will heigbten the signifioanoe & the enjoymen.t of what you have &, give the same sort of peace that exercise outdoors gives the body,

f. Soot t Pi t zgs r e.l.d 's rich boys were bored & sated 'because

they had everything. witty

& humane Lincoln was excited by mi Ldawsd law books & f i relight vented through a clay chimney.

EGG CARTONSJeven if y'pu try to wear 1i rs 1 ike a loose gar,ment

. you bu 11 d a su rpl us, wo rk , t.irne & fri ends con t r Lbu t e , some 0 f this is rare information & some has tali5maD~c importanoe in ~ human way, some obj e o t a lfke I t.co Ls we· conserve ... again\st the, time when we can reo:ycl o them', so ws discovered. t.hs e·gg cart.ori .

supermarke~s, restaurant~i& ,. hotels get elggs In tneS'e .grea t cartons. they measurEr 12'" w.;ide x 24" Long .x n" deep. wna t d i nensi ons [ not since' " '~,'.: the Pe r i clean 'press ccnrerenoe & t.he announcement '0 f .; the discovery of the Golden. Section have such ' pr-opor t ions been La i.d O.n. us mortals. ·they hold file foldere. papers & magazines. ~lides. toys. folded.

o ff~seasQn c l.o t hi ng, tools & volley balls. they can stack four high with stability & have neat holes cut in each end for handles when lifting.


PHOTOTYPING THE INFINITE STORAGE SYSTEM/so chuck & lou came to Groveland that first summer & we put together the first pr-oduc t i on on a 16"-Panel Ma tr Ix , . we didn't have too much money so v;re got some V4'" ply~ wood out of joe's old bread truck storage. it

was ext.e r Lo r so it was gene rally sound except for' the .. work 0 f the field mi ce & the bi g black an t s . on any country place you discover new colleagues in the race for su rvtva I . the mice have large brown eyes & the destructive abilities of G9Dghis Khan on amphetamines. the black ants are big & tough & would eat a Cadillac EldoradO if they though tit was wood.

FURTHER PROOF/in the sprLng 0 f 19'71 we buil t th ree prototypes of the 8' Mi orohol1S€) using the stressed-load carrying-skin method & no framing. during the first test assembly i, got up on the

sl eeping sur face. it was 3/8'" plywood sl ightly less than 48" square, c I i.ppecl to vertical pane.l s around the edg'e. what a neat confi rma t ion 1 it

had full structural integrity with the resiliency of the rig,ging on a racing sailboat.


IDEAS ON' ., SORTHIG" lthe other ccmpone n t in the general context that nurtured the development of the En f'Ln'i t.e Stora.ge System was from the past. i was in childhood riding down a dusty Illinois oount r y roa.d with Aunt Helen. she radiated good humor. generosity & Baptist theology in ~oughly equal amounts. she is something even now. we were on

the limy to a Lit t1 e town called Fancy Pr a i r i e to Gene Baugher's general store. even a sortie to

the general store was exotic in those preconsumption days, about equal to jetting to xanadu from

t he yurt courrt ry, but a hi g part of the charge was that the store was also the post offica the

main event there was an unbe Li ev ab l e wall grid of compartments each w i t h its own brass door) Leek

& sma.llg1ass pane. the deep interest was in the

o r-de r invol vad here & i thin.k it r-e La t.es to ideas years later abou t the concept. 0 r 11 so r t I ng" physical objects.

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MYSTERIES OF THE WESTERN MIND/these considerations led to the r aa.Li za tLon that we are stalled wi til fanatical 1 Inear c on s t ru.c t s a.n ou r minds yet these

c ompar t.eie nt.a l Lz.a t t ons are so limi t i ng . they kill inven U vene as & play in though t. 3. t the same time

it seemed we haven't pursued at all the very real sorting be nef'd t s of highly disciplined Aristotelian categor Lz a't i on in the storage of our

artifacts. what a paradox. we use restrictive methods r.n though t & give our obj e ot s freedom.

i decided to work on a. new Storage Matrix.

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THE 16'.' GRID/anywa.y, we f'e I t lucky to have some sheets

a f this so we worked cu t an ideal 100 per cent consistent grid pattern partially based on the reality that the actual panel size of 15 3/4"x15 3/4'" would cut good

ou t 0 f 4'x8' plywood. i call the grid. "conat at.ent."

because Lt can he filled in any or all 0 f the three

main direotions in space without problems or compro-

mi se (or special unresolved conditions) just by

adding the one-size, one-drilling-pattern universal panel.



120 pes. 10-:24 "Sta r " lock waahe r-s 4 pes. 1'l-diameter threaded-shank furniture glides

bottom pane I

ORDERING MATERIAL$/i t' s difficu:l t to gi v e directions for buying with this system because everyone wants someth.ing di fferent in size, or shape.

bu t si noe a three-cube' tOW8 r can be built from one 4'x8' sheet a f plywood (with two pane Ls 1 e ft over) , i suggest you get started by doing that, the

order 1 ist below will Bet you up for it ..


1 pc , 1/4"x48"x96" DF'Fw ..

panels ( plus 2 spares)

120 pes" 1/2"xl"xl"·Stanley coroner angles

120 pes. lO-24x3/4" r ndhd , bl t s , 120 pes. 10-24 hex nuts

72 pcs. 10-24 flt. wash.

conneotions conneotions connections under bolt

he ads (ou t side :11 all bo1 ts



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5 pes. 3/8"'x235/8'Jx235/B'" DFPw. 2 pes. 3.J8"x8 3i8"x235/S" DFF'w _ 4, pes .3i4"x3"-diameter DFPw.


29 pes.
29 pes.
29 pes.
29 pcs.
4 pes.
24 pes
1 p o .
16 pcs. 1/2,"xl"xl'J Stanley cor-ner a.ngles

lO-24x3/4" r-hd , bl ts. 10-24 hex nuts

10-24 "Stat!1 lk. wash. Ij4"-20xl" fl thd. b l.t s . 5/l6"x8" cold roll ed steel rod

311 6 "x 1"x4" sn as t steel 5/16'" nylon wire r e t a.i ne r s


front & seat beam feet

connectors connectors all bo I t.s all bolts feet t o legs


feet t.c Ie gs legs to panel s

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,SOCKET/thi,s is kind of a speoial socket so if your hardware man doesn't have it try an electricil supply house, do DDt substitute another socket because this one is covered in heavy rubber &'

has pr-oved safe in practice for use wi th the very intense reflector flood bulbs. ask for it as a

II rubber push so cke t , No. 161, made by Rodal e . H the plug used is a black rubber industrial plug called

II r ubbe r cord, grip cap, black, 15 amp " 1.25 vol ttl, " made by Hubbell.

ELECTRIC GORD/the numbs r spec I f i oat d on.s f'o r the cord just mean get 16-gauge> .3-w,ir-e cord, because triple wire is becoming standard now. if you are un f'ami I a ar with wiring get ali ttle on-the-spot advice from the electrio supply people but don't fool around. do it carefully. we use 10" 0 f wi roe on every ALB.

APPLICATIONS/the ALB can be used wi th any Living Struoture or piece of equipment in this book . existing holes may be used or a modular hole

can be added as in the Infinite Storage System. for ch i Ldr-e n r S use i.t may be good to double the pivot blocks & immobilize the pivot so the kids avoid acoidents.

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PIVOT BLOCKJthis is just a .3 1/2" square sawed ftom a 2x.4 wi th no l es dr illed for the a I um i.num rod, cord

& the 1/4" hex-head m.ounting bolt. drill 3/8'/ holes for rod & co r-d . note that the rod isa f'o r ce fit

wi th a I j2'" length of clear vinyl tubing slipped

On the rod to secure it (as the woad wears & the hole enlarges'). fiui sh with o Laar- Pi rz I t e , sanding

.' be t.we en Goa ts to. make a beauti ful pi-ece of wood.

FRICTION PIECt:/cu tal 1/2" squar-e from an old car inner tube & dr I l 1 a 1(4" hole in it. make sure it' s c Ls an '& always use it for safety reasons.

also use a lock washer under the nut on the

moun t ing bolt to pr-sven t its loosening up.


HOW MICRODORM 2 GOT BUILT/one day in 1963- i went to the Groveland post office box & found a letter from a guy at the Uni.ve r s L ty of Chicago __ he was

a psychiatrist for children & was doing some work with handioapped children for a government agenoy. he had heard of Living St r-uc t urea & though t they

might have meaning for kids in the state-care situations_ his response was strong to my idea that new avo Lu tionary equipment could support & aid the individual in highly positive ways. it was appar-en.t, to him t hat old-fashioned furni t ur e just didn I t do it.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE DESIGN/when i firs.t started working, after discovering the Matrix Idea, i used

a very general, comprehensive, statistical program to explore many configurat ions & use-pat terns of the Living Structures. the ground was pretty well

cove t-ed . Microdorrn 2 was a par t of a process growing from some early work. the Living Struoture fo r

the kids was a stage 0 f that process, we '170 r ke d out a un i t wi th '.vork space, sea t i ng=Loungf ng &, study, c.Lo th i ng . storage & the usual high bed (wh i.oh eased ano t.he r

problem of oonfl.ict growing out 0 f other kids

si t ting on your bed & wrecking it), all these were supplied on an individual basis to cool the friction of Ln t s r-pane t.r-at.Lng actions. if 'ove use terri tory int,elligently J sharing can come forth as a na t ur aI result of peace 0 fmind. old-fashioned des! gn

forced sharing & that won 't :make it now. one of

the best possibil i tLe s 0 f the un i t was a panel system. integral, to give some privacy to the individual_ we even developed a procedure to

supply fabrioated 2x2's & let the kids. finish & assemble them, with this kind of real accomplishmen t the pr o j e c t began to sound 1 ike r-eal l' fa,


I me some eighteenth-century demi-horror stories about the way the hospitals were functioning equipped wi t h t r ad i tiona.l furni ture . expensive ho,spi.tal-type

beds (negative & alienating to the kids) which had

to be "made" in the morning so when the afternoon rest pe r fod came there was no place to l.ie down

( that didn I t mess up the bed) so they ended by

lying on the floor under the beds. the large ward-

I ike rooms apparently had the usual tlOspi tal kind

of small metal cabinet at the head 0 f the beds,

these d i dn I t offer any storage for proj e c t s that

kids like to do, also there was no individual br adequat e wo rk space for building models or study,

all in all it sounded like a great factory for ensuring .[3, p l en.t I ful supply 0 f insti t'ut ional Lz ed wards -0 f the state,


WASTE/the s1 t ua t i.on w i t h t.h ass children was so poignant because, they just had a slight edge taken off thei r ab.i I i ties & it seemed possi ble t ha t. 1I.'i th the r i.ght kind of nurture they could develop, become independent & live pretty much like anyone else _ it wasn't di f heul t to respond to this

s i, tua ti.on be cauae it was a classic example .o f waste of resources, human & physical_ it just

didn it make sense. .

.MOMENT ARY DEFEAT/we 1 e t 1 ac k 0 f funds de f e·a t u s.

the state refused funds for such an "experi.mental" project & the foundations were unmoved by the doctor1s lyrical logic about the Matrix & territory. i always felt very negative about it but we

couldn r t buy materials for the fifty prototypes

they wanted to try it out.

but the configuration & the idea survived in this new de s i gn for NIi cr cdor-m 2 & maybe we can do some good thin.gswith it now,



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, .sLT_UDJ :A:REitlthe lJ,fiB9)' 'TgT.iP.in'g,"

;.~t-,lle"l;wttom:.or the" s::tl!ld:jr~ ha.s .

~:a:.:~~:i '.r.ou fl~' h ci,ie- for fe:~-r t 0, ~ .. go thrOlign'~ so 'you can ~~ t .,

• '8, t> tIle' tabl'e, it is adj u at--'. ' " -, a.bi:s: 'fo r' g.r,ow.t,h. wi th: cfamp.ill§·

. nie.mbei'S: ·t.WQ p~oRle can 'u,ge the' table Itane 'insi_d.e &.oJle· 'Outside sea.bad' on a free"

r:;ube'. .. .

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CUTTING THE PAHELS(use 3/8" Douglas fir plywood (A-C faces).

the eleven panels are'all .

35- 5/8" square & can be ga.ng-

eu t two or three at a time wi th a portable electric saw & care,

lay out master pane.I & stack securely, clamp wi th at least two G-clamps. guide saw

against hardboard s tr-a i gh tedge that is also olamped securely to pile. don't hurry.

. '




them all before nipping off 45-degree corners because you

1 cca tEl them in terms of the diagonal of the whole pane l.. most good aabe r saws now come with a radius bar for outting r-ound h o I es, thi s is a very precise way of doing it, sharp poin t at end 0 f bar presses into wood & you just push saw around the circle. use the straightedge on the table hole.

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supe rc ar-ef'u.I master panel .& ga.ng-drill three b.l anke at a time wi t.h e l ect r-t o drill in stand . olamp pile securely. these

holas are critical for good assembly & st r-e.ng t h of the

final structure.

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14 pes. 3/8'''x:35 5/8"x355i8" DF'Pw" 120 pes. 1/2"x 1 "x 1" Stanley Co rne r


pc s. lO-24x3/4" rna. hd , blt s . po s , fl t , wash.

pes. hex nuts

pes. pes-. pes. pos. pes.

1 pc , 4 pes. 4 pes ..

16 pes. 1 po. 1 po , 5 pas. 5 pes.


II St ar-" lock wa.she r s 2"x2"x30"


1/4"-20x3" hex. hd , bl t s . 5/16"x8" cold rolled stl. rod

3/16"xl"x41J sheet stl. 114"-2.0x1" f'l t. hd , b l t s ,

3/4"x3" d i a , DFPw. d i sc s

5/16" nylon wire r-eta i.ne r s 112" d i a , x 5' EMT condtui t 1/2" dia. x 10' EMT c cndu I t

1 1/2"x3 1!2'''x3 1/2" wood blocks 1!4"-20xl 1!2'Jfl. thd . bl t s .

oonnections connec t i o ns connections connections connections clamp beams blooks clamp beams


feet to legs feet to legs feet

legs to panels safety rail safety rail safety rail safety rail blocks to panels


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=,0..:..:::;::=""-'.1 designed the grandfather of this structure 3> long t.Lms ago when i began to disc over t ha t there might be some hope for an effort to put -t-ogether a bunch of whole-syst,em shel ters that would offer some real human & acoLogf.ca.I advantage. there were several components & events in my exp€rience whioh set up the resul t ..

OFF THE SHELF/aboll t this time i started to wonder if the kind of uni t i spoke abou t to dan :might be Quil t

of three o r foul' simple existing components by as.s i gn i ng them new uses to bu.ild a. shelter syat en wi t hou't

sta.rting from g round z;e r o in terms 0 f fabrica.tion_

it seemed this approach would make new systems really accessible to more people at less o os t, w i, th more personal involvement, since they would do assembly,

MO.BILISM/i "d been analytically working OlU t wi t h an old fri end named dan a new 1 i fe style we were

call ing "mobil ism," it .i nvo.I ved par i ng your i.dea: of "hous s" down to the simple, painful mi.n.i nrum & pu tting one un i t on the East Coast. one in the Midwest & ODe in northern California. ea.oh unit wa.s to be simple. eupe r-du r-ab l.e like an anvil & casual about complicating factors like insulation & middle-class wea the r'p r oo ring, the three 1 o ca t i ons allowed some compensation for this simplicity by letting you follow the benign weather as it occurred in each area r a the r than overbuilding only one shelter determined by the W01-st wea t he r encountered in just ODe place. our individual head-reasons for these

p r o j ections were pr s t ty inte testing _ i was moved

by warm climate & traveling. but the best hook for me wa.s that this scheme fi t ted my hope & fantasy

of bea ti . ng the system. it was early nomad i c s ..

moving l i.ke a desert man over tile land wi thou t

subsc r i bing to what seemed likeantili fEl nonsense

of thi rty-fi ve yeats 0 f mortgages & time clocks _ dan '8 tho\].ghts had even a, mor-e compe Lli ng base . what

could be more bravely human & appropriate than a

guy in a wheelchai r wo r-k i ng out ali re <0 f movement? he go t polio in the Navy ,&, was left w i, t h a r-emnan t

10 per Gent opposable thumb fortunately buttressed with a fine f'ar=r ang.i ng mind & a truckload of gu ts . he did anthropology & hung on to bang out of the Congo wi t h a van full of pl"'eci ou s woodcarvings ;3

few hours ahead 0 f Belgian ne rcena r ies in that era when Pa tr 1.C8 Lumumba was tossed in the di toll, i miss hi s company, i think he's out in Davis doi ng something academ i c & making ci tizens crazy by 1 ooki rig

sl Lgh tly 1 ik'8 a merry Lenin who made it. .

CHOOSING COMPONENTS/i was working fo r a guy pu t ti.ng hydraulio dump bodies on grain trucks & the flat bed we used was g rea t; industri ally produced wi t h a

steel channel underframe & edge, supporting heavy

2" timbers for the bottom. i worked out a system of horizontal planes on various levels supported by

ver t Lca I ut il i ty poles on a modular grid, the whole structure hed a b8enlike roof (from hitching through Pennsylvania) & ~ind-rain panels at strategic points. iT d dream 0 f crawl ing cu t of a sleeping bag on one

of the high platforms into the sunrise & washing up with the breeze drying my skin; a pr i.ma te .i n his Platonic tree,

FURTHER ONii di dn 't ge t to bu.ild that one but La ter

L translated the idea into 2x21 s because i got on to lightness & dernou~tability by then. no foundations,

j u st tension members & canvas roo r i rig . t ha t was the fa the r in HIe s er iss _ the last one is here> indelibly 1 abe 1 ed II the Fun House" by an i ngr at i a t I rig magaz i fie ,edi tor who persisted in sa.y Lrig "far out tr when he meant "how odd! II this ou tdoor Living Str'Uc t ur s C8,n

go on your own land 'when you are opening it up; on short-term-lea,sed Land Q r on a friend 1 s land in a: tentative way_ it's a bas~ camp for hiking, fishing or just witnessing the wonde r of Ear th . decks get

you 0 ffmuddy ground. & the sleeping vo l ume gives a. plaoe to dry out when you hit rain for a day, the Matrix is a total referenc8 frame wh'ch gives

shs lt.e r & handy spo ts to dry wet ge.a r, a.i r sleeping bags o r hang a string of trout. the cook Ing cabinet keeps things together & the table is to hang ou t at,


, I




BUILDING THE MATRIX/the network is the basis of the st~ucture. it's made of 27 lengths 0 f 1" pipe (real outside measur-e is abou t 1 5/16") .

t he se can be connected wi t.h any of the several temporary scaffold-type joint fi ttings now on the market,

i can't reoommend the ones we used because they were made for us by

a ne a t 1i tt Le lady near Cleveland who has since retired. see p. 83 f'o r al t e r na t i ve.

THE' PADS/th.9se ar s 11 1/2" waterproof laminated plywood squares.

use a waterproof glue like Resorcinol to sa.ndwich the two 3/4"~plywood pie'cas & drill 1 If4'!-diameter holes in t he top pi eoe s before gluing

to accept the leveling screws.

we cut the r threaded rod into

18" lengths & pu t the large

washer between a hex nut &

t he pipe end,

GETTING IT UP/level the sand or earth in 9' spots & place the pads level to beg i,n, assemble 3 planes of 6 pipes each, then til t up

& hold. 2 of these in posi t i on on pads. put in ;3 or 4 t ranave r se horizontals to make it stand, then just continue. two. people can do it fine because i did it aLone one time on the beach at Westport.

pads give good bearing area on the ground & the leveling screws equalize slight variations & changes in ground 1 evel .


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SLEEPING VOLUME/cut the sides from 3/4" ex t er ior-type fir plywood using ei t he r' handsaw or po r t ab l e electric saw & olamped Masonite straightedge. stack & gang-drill the ends together, then the two sides & then top & bot tom toge ther. the last pair is tricky: use clamps & move the lit t.Le dr ill s t.and to the hole, holding down Oil the base with Le ft hand & using r i gh t to pull dr.ill through the wood (base is reversed) ,

all. hales are 5/16" diameter & countersunk outside ror 1/4'1-20x2" flathead machine bolts {connectors are

co un tar-bored for nut 8 & washe r s ) bol t the bot tom to 2x4 beams like decks, then put up sides wi th tOoP &

ends last, cut hatches & covers w.i th saber saw,

o.l.amped ha rdboar d straightedge & radius bar. apply foam gasket around opening SO hatch cover compresses it for a tight ae a.L. we put storage shelves in the blank end for gear, books & f'o.l ded clothing, i think the clear plastic skylight-ventilator is a necessity for pleasure & air. staple nylon screen on small hatch,


COOKING CABINET/this simple box is made 0 f3/4" exterior p l ywccd wi.t h a back of 1/4" (sti. ffened by shelves} .

the parts are screwed & glued together in the oldculture way. sounds funny for me because it counters

my directions for dernounta.bility, but it seems good now & then to check your intense feel i.ngs by trying it out again from the polar point of vi e«, it works OK this

way but is bulky when moving. anyway, the three vertical door panels axe piano-hinged together & close aga i nst foam gasket applied to the face edge of the cabinet. place the magnetic catches st r at ag i c a.Ll y t o hold the door closed. the twin baams under nea th hold the

cabinet in posi t ron wh i Le YOoU run the horizontal pipe member through it. make the .l3/8"-diamete r hole with

an expansion hi t & a hand brace. don' t forget the

clamp blocks under the cabinet either, you may w~nt

to modify the shelves for your gasoline stove & equipment. we used Coleman s t uf! & this worked

very n.i ce Lv .


DECKS/there's no substi tute for exterior Douglas, fir plywood. 4'x8' sheets of 3/4"

are carefully ripped r i ght down the middle. these are pallets. 4" flathead b o I t s fasten panels toa pair of 2x4' s with 7/8" coun t.e r= bores on the underside of all mounting holes. de tail on page 82 shows how elect rLca.l stand-off clips are used to secure the pallets to the Matrix.

TWIN BEAMS & TABLE/sal,act four straight & dr~l fi r 2x4 r S. CD t to 66". lay out & drill pieces individually. do the counte~bbring first. then do the 5/1611 holes for the 4" hex-head

b o I t s : two beams clamp on two ve r t i oa 1 pipes wi th the bolts doing the clamping. don ' t pull too ti gh t, t-he table ts 3/4" p l ywcod , 24'jx48", wi th ;:3 coun te rsunk holes on

the can t er Li ne (li!i.@. drawing at Le f t., top} Lo r the 5 112" f11l thead bolts to the

clamp blocks _ hand-ttgh ten a Ll bolts, then 1 ev e L & center parts be ro r e usd ng

wrenches to snug up.


FINISHES/blocksand all parts with the f ina a.Lum i.num oxide paper _ we used acrylic outdoor paint in green, YBllow & orange over wl1i te undercoat for cooking cabinet, t ab l s &. twin beams. everything else was na.t u ra I wi th two or three eoa t s a f boiled Li n.se ed oil, laced with turpentine for penetration. r emembs r to' wipe .off all exoess oil, if

you don't it s t avs sticky & collects ai rbcr ne dust & vegetable rna t t.e r . it's a mess-


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TAPESlthe sleeping volume can be sealed, after finishing wi th either a.lum i num weatherproo.f ae l f-st I ck tape or clear

po l y at.hv Le ne tape, the aluminum tape is a little more difficult to get on smooth but it sure .i s durable. e i the r should keep the volume dry & enug .


LADDER/we built this up fairly conventionally using 2x4~s fixed with Resorcinol (waterproof) glUB & sorews, sa.fety is a big thing w.i tn a ladder so this work must

be done carefully. i think you ah.ou.Ld use long panhead sheet-metal screws through the verticals into

the steps, t he se do not taper 1 ike wood. sorews bu t

have a uniform thread diameter. choose a drill bit (after count er-borrrrg fo r screw head & oversize hole through the vertioal) a ha i r larger than the screw

d i ame t s r minus the thread pa,rt& then it w i Ll make

i is own threads in the wood as you turn it in, t.he

large olothesl me hooks may have to be opened a

little to accept the horizontal pipe but don't over-

do it. try for really square cuts on the pieces so

the~' assemble without gaps for weather to get into.

AWNING/support this with 8., 2x4 ridge 66" long with

1" holes 2 1/2" deep to .s1 ip on the I" threaded rod

stuck Ln the tops 0 f the two vertical pipes, hex nu ts

& washe rs pos i t i on the 36" rods. the 4S"'x96Ji b r t 0 f canvas has open seams on both short sides wi t h 66"

pipe lengths st lick through. the wei gh t of these pipes was sufficient to posi t i on th.e· awning in any but the' heaviest blow & has the advant age of great simplicity, i "vs considered s i.t ua ti ons when it would be good to have over-all cover' & this can be worked by making three ridge 2x41 S each 12' Long to support

a. 12'x16' rect.angle of polyethyl ana tied down on

two opposi te sides to the middle outside ho r-Lz orrt a.I " water drainage could be promoted by tying. two nylon lines Q.Y.21:. the poly sheet & down to two top oppo s i te horizontals thus creating two valleys between the ridges.

THINK/all drawing & pho t.ogr-aphs only show one

real i ty or set 0 f rela ti o ush i ps using t he components. the Ma t r ix is open to ma ny other po as i bil i ties. respond to your own dialect ic .





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FASTENING DECKS TO MATRIX/the neat li ttle old lady

in Cleveland used to make us great cast fittings for seouring 2x4' s to pipe, but since she wen t out we've had to develop an alternative. itrs based on an electrical condu.it stand-off clip. what you must do wi th accur-acy & care is out off the Sit vert ieal bolt .so

the bottom (threaded) end almost touches the top of the pipe. this helps support ve r t f ca.I loads on the stand-off., dimensions & contours 0 f these cl ips vary sligh tly so set this one up vour se l f wi tn. scraps

so you are 'sur e before Gutting a.ll the bolts. experiment with small, easily managed scraps of

plywood. :2x:4& pipe until you can really see & measure it.

TENSION MEMBERS/some el aments of a s t r uct are have we i.gh t pressing down on them r tending

to crush or squash them. thi s is called a "compression member; 1'1 as would be the wai t e r I S arm when he holds a heavy tra.y of dishes ove r his head. another kind 0 f loading is called" tension," when you carry a bucks t of water by the hail, you r arm is boeing stretched by the weight. it is in tension.

the lightweight aircraft-cable tension members here make the structure more rigid & taut like a finely rigged sa.i Lboa t. this cable has loops formed in its e nde-, held by the smallest e Le o tr Lca.I spI it bol t s . cu t the ey,ebol t shank short to fi t in the stand-o rr & open the eye to accept either th6 cable loop or

the end of the turnbuckle (which allows adjustment of t he cable tension-don't overdo it here or you' 11 have a mouth :f1.l11 of wi res). these' fit on the 1'/ pipe sticking outside the j oi . nt s . use two sets Ln each of two modu l s s,

this detail may also be used to fasten wind & shade screen planes to the vert Lea.I pipes in the MatrIx,



27 pc s . 1"xlO'4" galvanized pipe 2 pcs , 1 "'x66" gal v anlzed pipe

4 po s . 3/4"x24"x96"

4 pes, 3/4"'x:48"x9'6"

,2 pes, 3/4"'x46, 1/2"x,48" I pc . 3/4"x4.2"x42"

I po . 3/4"x24"x24"

18 pc s. 3/4"x 11 li2"x 11 1/2" 1 po . 3l4"x24"x.42"

2 pcs . 3/4~'x24"x41 1/4" 1 pc. 3!4"'x24Jix40 112" I pc . 3l4"x9"x40 1/2"

1 pc .3/4"x21"x40 112" 3 pes, 3/4"xI4"x4.£"

1 pc . ,s,/4"x24"x4S"

1 pc , 1!4"x42"x42'J

12 pc s , ,2"'X4"x96" 5 pes, 2 "x4"x66" 2 pc s. 2";.;4"x72"

6 pes. 2"x4"xI0 1/2" 1 pc. 2"x4"x13 1/2"

28 po s. 2"x2I'x6"

6. pcs . 2 ">;;2 "x 4 7/8"


9 pes. 2 pes, 36 pes. 24 pes. 32 pcs. 84 pcs, 32 PCB,

8 pos. S pos. 4 pas.


8 pes.

1"x18" plated threaded rod 1"x36" plated threaded rod 1 l4"'-20x4'" fl t hd . bl t s . 1/4"-20x5- f1 t hd , b Lt a . 1!4!'-20 x 1'" hex hd . bl ts . 1/4"-20>::2" fl thd" bl ts , elec. conduit stand-offs 114"'-20xl/2" hex hd. bi t s . l/4Ifx2" eyebol t s

1/4,"x6" turnbuckles

1/8" wire cable

smat l es t el ec . split b.l t s .

Matrix awning

decks {pallets) sleeping, volume sleeping; vo I ume 1 g. hatch cover am, ha tch cover pads

cooking cab (top) cooking cab (sides) cooking cab (bot .. ) cooking cab (shel f) cooking cab (shel f) cooking cab (door) table

cooking cab (back) beams (deck)

twirl. beams & awm ng ladder (sides) ladder (steps) Ladde r (top) connectors

clamp blocks


11 pes. 1" hex nuts (' we.she 1'8) ;3 pes. 3J4"x42" piano hinges 8 pcs. magnetic catches

5 pes. 2" back flap hinges

level ing sc rews cooking ca.b (door) cooking cab (door)

hatch oovers (sleep, vol,)


1 1/2" fla t.ncad wood screws: 2" ehee t~metal sc raws

wate r-pr-oo r glue

48!'x96" hemmed canvas

HSr,x 1/2" 010 s ed-c e 11 se If -s tick large olothesl i ne ac rew hooks


NOTE::/i know it l' S repetitive, but remember that all metal hardware bas to be plated bright to stand up in the real world 0 f sun, rain & temperature ohanges.

level Lrig screws awning support plywood to 2x4' s decks to Ma. t r rx s tand=of'f's

conneotors (sleep, vol) decks & te·nsi on members tension members

tension members

t e nsLon members

tension members

tension members

ALTERNATIVE JOINT FITTINGS FOR PIPE/tl1e fitting that is most like the ones used in our Ma tr ix St r uo t.u r e s can b@ pu r cha sed from the McMaster-Carr Supply Co" , P. O. Box 4355, Chicago, Ill, 60680. it is shown on page 41 of thei r ca t al og No. 79. it is listed under (L) #46'9.8Y69 (for 1" pipe), the pr ice is $4,55 each. this is a three-way symme t r i.ca), j oint cast of

"hi gb -e t reng t.h , lightweight, aircraft qual i ty alu~inum alloy which meets ASTM, SAE. Federal &

Mili tary Speci fica.tions ,11 because it is made of aluminum it is relatively non-corrosive so it

might have some advantages over our original.

it has two set sc raws per pipe & each fit t.i ng

is rated " at more than a ton of holding power,,"

from this information i sure wouldn't hesitate to use it&: we· r e going to test some at Groveland soon" these guys ar e very good aupp l ier·s bu t don I t e t.and back from shopping ar ound Ln your own area because you mi ghtget a better p r.Loe . since you need

a.Lmos t thir-ty of the units.



CONFLICTS/the r e "s neve r been. any unce rtainty in my head abou t the idea that all new life das i gns must be' ba.ae d on a more real set of' assumptions & objeotives than thcs e motivating; the presen t orgy of production, my inner conflict has revolved around the question

of whether it' 5 be iter to at tempt new act ions from the center of the system or to work more on the outskirts. a little isolation from the old-nulture obsessions w i th b i g-mcney/b i g=powe r seems to give

me very precious liberty. it becomes apparent that concrete & inventive living response~. undiatracted by cultural fantasies, are the best approach to the problem of survival. the b i g-cie aI attack is sometimes very seductive though. it panders to the western idea 0 f se.l f & holds ou t th.e promise of

quick. easy results. the truth is that propaganda efforts to encourage slow9-own in .. c cn sump t ion

. are a lot like trying to get a shark to e"a t w.i th. a kn i, fe & fork.

STARTING/Superchair is not a structure built of all un ive r sa L members like. some 0 f the othe rs, but the bones do have a high degree of correlated ho Le

pa t t s r n Lng & 1 ength.s ~ the o Lea.re s t way to begin i.s

to cut to length. drill & test-erect the basic twelve-member Matrix. o nc s you get this you can fabricate the other parts in related gr-oups , bo l t Ing

them. in as you f.inish them. t.h i s will keep your

whole ope rat aen t ogat he r & preven t mistakes. all

the bolt hoLes are 5/16" d i.amet.e r except the four acting as pivots between the seat & back. these are

1/4" holes for precise hinging ao t i on w f thou t p l ay

or slop, it's sl i gh tly tricky to, get the pi vet bolts in place but hang on. don't forget the two washers between facing 2x2's to cut friction. oounterbores are gener a.Ll y 1/.2'" deep made wi t h a 7!8"-diallle,ter speed bi t in the drill stand or a wood auger b i t

in the hand br ace .

WITHDRAlIilAL& RETURN/my r eao Iu t i on of the confliot was .to spend long peri ods at Groveland bu.t Lc.i ng , thinking' ~ Be taping the mud off my boots, pe,riodI caLl.y .t r'et.urned to the 'urban cent e r s , u sua.Ll y because some one individual showed a desire to nouri sh the Mat ri x Idea, you can r t respond to a

c o r-po r-a tion bu t you do to a pe r-son even if you lack fal t h in. some of the pr@mises.

DAVID & LEONARD/david was a quick, g,ener,ol1.s N .. y, C. guy interes ted in Li v i ng St ruc t u r e s & Mi or-cho use.s , he sent me to 1 ecnar-d . who ran a big bookstore on Pi fth Avenue. leonard was diversifying from books into Picasso p.l at.e s & Bantu necklaces so he allO'lllsd as

how he could sell a reading light of special design if he had it. this wasnl texactly a ol ear mandate

for a Structure bu t i got down to work & bui It the prototype Superchair anyway. leonard sold quite a

few i guess even though his fabrication was grisly

& his prices astronomic, i learned something va.luable.

CUSHION/yoOu rui ght want to r e s o.l v e thi.s part before getting totally immersed io the construction,

the one in the prototype was k i.nd 0 f elaborate,

it ~ad a foam rubber core, rounded with Daoron fiber &: t.u f't.ad . the cover was black Le a't he r . the sea t was made separately from the back & the two segments

we r e hinged togs t her by a lea the r strip" the cushi on was not attached to the panels, some people have built them with squared-off foam & simple box

covers o r vinyl or canvas. this s'eems fine '& is

less expensive.


CONSIDERATIONS!i t ' s pr-obabl y an OK idea to round the I_on.g edges of the .2x2! s wi til the fine section of the rasp. aotually all the Structures benefit from this operation. it cuts down on ap l in t e r s & snags. use c ap (acorn) nuts as indicated &

whe rever thre-ad·ed bolt ends protrude - we always use lock washers on the

flat wa sher (under nut) to keep

them t i gh't .

TUNING/most wood structures in this co~ritry are subjeot to central

heat Lrig , meaning high tempera iura level s & ex t.reme dryness. wood shrinks a lot & assemblies get

loose. bolts should. be snugged up

eve ry couple 0 f man t h s . the best wrenches for the counterbored holes ar s called" Spin Ti t s s" or "socketdrivers." tb.ey look like se r-ewdr i ve r s w i th a hollow sooket instead of a blade on the business end. get the '7/16;' size for 1/4"-20 hex nuts .

. TE:NSION MEMBER.SJtwo pairs of cables with turnbuokles go in the lowest rectangle a f each side frame to resist stresses resulting from

1 o adz ng on the back. replace the

2 lower 2 1/2" bo l t s in e ach frame with 4" ey ebo I ts .. j ust above these (between arrar ee t 2x.2 I s on each side) drill & counterbore holes for 2 1/2" eyebol t.s . open the ,eyes

to admit turnbuckles & cable loops. make the cable loops with electric split bolts.


SEAT & BACK/get hardboard that 1 S smooth on both. sides _ cu t to s.ize & nip 314" off the corners at a 45-degree angle. use t.he fine side 0 f the rasp to smooth saw marks from edges_

layout. drill & countersink w i th oa r e . clamp & gang=d r i 11 the seat panel s together & the back panels t.o get he r

but the lamp panel has to be dODe s.eparately,

BENDING THE LEG/use 1/2" Reynolds

soft a.Lumf num rod (p _ 64}. the vise & scrap-pipe lever slipped over the

free end is good. if this is your first time bending, start by ma rkd ng a se rap wi th a series 0 f reference 1 t ne s 1" apar t , then bend gen tJ...y_ to ge t the

feel 0 fit, compare the posi t Lon 0 f the lines with the radius (shortest possible) you get, remove burrs from ends, polish with fine steel wool & insert legs in 1/2" holes in t ne

upper 2x2 on the seat back . retain

it wi th a shaft collar on ea.ch side

of this membe r .

PLATE & LOOP STRAP/pla te is 1/4"'x 1 l/4"x3 1/2" wi HI two 5/16" holes

for bol t s retaining the st rap _ cut

with a metal blade in a hacksaw, after drilling all four holes with the bought piece intact & seourely clamped to the drill-stand base. remove burrs with sandpaper block_ the strap is ma.de from heavy (not thin & stretchy) natural cowhide belts 1 1/2" wide, aandwi ch o Lamp them between two scraps of plywood to drill the holes_ this is more accurate

t han layout on the leather & punching

wi th a regular leather punch





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THE' LAMP CHASSIS/use the hardboard panel as a. guide & drill the two 38 3-i4"-long .2x2! S _ coun te rbcr e these hc l.e s. 7/8" diameter 3/8" deep. the fluorescent f'Lx t.u r e is a common garden variety unde r ahe I f k i nd , ours measured 1 V2"x4 112"x18", discard the

bent plasti c shi el d t ha t comes 'Ni til the light & through the top of the sheet-metal body drill

two 5/16" mount Lrig holes 10 112" apart. drill & countersink ma t.i.ng holes a t appropriate spots in the panel. mount the panel on the 2x2! s wi th the 3" fla t.head bolts, then secure the fixture between the 2x2's

wi th 1/4" f'La t head bol t s , Gut these Q if short to eli~inate interference with the bulb_

FINISH THE GRID/cut the plastic grid (Sea,rs is the good source 11:.0 buy this stuff) to si z e w i, th a 40~: fine-tooth keyhole s aw , make a cutout to get your f i.nge r in to the switch, smooth a.1I edges -wi th a fine flat metal file & blacksand, put a stack of

nine 'wa.shs r-s on. each bolt sticking out from the bot tom of the chassis. lay the grid over these bol tends & washer- s t.acks F then secure wi t.h washers uride r cap nuts" 't he grid will now r l oa t free beneath the 2x2' s &, the width of it will keep the assembly from sliding off

t ae top 0 f the frame _ r-ewi r e using the heavy cord & plug because the f'u r m.ahed cord is junk_

MOVABLE ROUND TABLE/we used a 15" ci role of wh.i te Carrara, marble wi th a. 10" piece of 2x2 wood glued

to the underside with Elmer r s glue, two 2"x12"

strips of fel tare glued on both sidles 0 f the block to decrease friction when the tabJe slides on the supporting members. the wei gh t of the ma r bI e results in e t.abi.Li, ty combined wi t n good sliding act ion. because 0 f inertial effects,

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BOOKREST ARM/bend this arm from the 1/2" a.I umi num rod. if you want the rest to fold back parallel

to ths bookshelves (completely out of the way). put a. 30° bend I: se~ p . 89') Ln the top part. remove burrs, pol ish & then insert it in any 0 f the three 112" holes in the right hand armrest 2x.2. retain it

at a good level for you by using a shaft collar above the lowest 2x2 framing member.

PLEXIGLAS PANEL/you can cut this stuff wi th the finetooth keyhole saw, a aabs r saw (wi th acrylic blade")

& o Lamped at r ai.gh t.edge , or on a tabl e saw. the 1/4'" thickness eli t s nicely. run the flat me tal file very religiously on the edges to nix tooth marks of

sawing .. then b Lock sand & close by polishing the edge with a soft o l.o th & any ordinary tooth powde r . it

has a fine abrasive in it that doesn't scratch the

soft ac ryl ic. nip 't.he co r-na r s at 45.0 like the other panels. & countersink the 1/4" hcl.e s . to prevent scratching, leave the adhesive paper masking on the Plexiglas during all these tooling operations then remove it as the last act. to make the stops that prevent books 51 ipping down, stack s-ix or eight washers on 11' hex=haad boL t s & mount in th·€! two bottom holes

in the pane L: put cap nuts on underside.

CLAMP BLOC.KS/piok a 12>1 or 14" piece of clear, sound

2::<2 scrap. layout holes & cutting lines (allowing for the saw kerf between pieces) in sharp No.2 pencil. drill all holes, then rip to spl i t leaving some -0 f the original plec·a intact so the whole thing doe sn 't

fall apart. cut to length ve ry care fully the last

thing. assemble w.i th P'l exdg.Las panel. o n the arm wi th four 2" flathead bolts. don1t overtighteri. panel

Should still tilt for moment-to-moment adjustment

wi th just hand pressure .


4 pes. 2/x2."x48'" 14 pes. 2"x2"x42"

4 pes. 2'ix:2,i'x40 1/2" 6 pcs. 2"x2"x38 3/4"

4 pes. 2 pes. 2 pes. .2 pes. 1 pc.

21'x2"x3'7 1/2" 2"x2"x3 1/2"

1/4"x15 3/4"X38 11/16" 1/4/x15 3J4"x35 1/2" 1/4"xll 3i16"x3·8 3/4"


32 pes. 1/4"-2.ox2 1/2" hx . hd. bl t s . 6 pes. l/4"-2Dx4" hx. hd .. bl t s,

4 pes. 1/4"-2.0x2" hx. hd '. b I t s .

20 pes. 1/4"-20x1 3/4" fl t hd . b1 t.s , 26 pes. 1/4"-20x3'" fl ihd. b l t s .

4 pes. 1/4"-.20xl" n t hd , bl t s ,

4 pes .. 1/4"-20x2" f1 thd. bl t s ,

4 pc s . 1/4"x2 1/2" eyebolts

4 pes. l!4"x4'! eyebolts

124 pes. 1/4"-20 steel hex nuts 300' pca . 5/l6"IDx3i4"OD med , -wt . steel fIt. wash.

100 pes. 1/4" Spl it-Spring

lock washers

24 pes. li4"-20 cap (acorn.} nuts

4 pes.
1 pc.
B pcs.
5 pcjs .
1 pc.
2 pes
4 pes. 4" turnbuckles

20' 0 f liB'" wir·e cable smallest alec. spl i t bIts. 1/2" shaft collars

l/2"x8' round a.I uminum rod 7/16" socket-dri vers

1 li2" Bassic.k plated furniture glides

Matrix verticals Matrix horizontals & shelves

sea t suppo rt s

lamp, seat & back

horizontals back verticals clamp blocks

sea t pansI s (hd bd , ) back panel s [Iid oct. ) Lamp panel (hd bd . )

Matrix & pivots shelves

belt loop & plate sea t & back panel s lamp J sea t & back book stops & lamp bookrest panel tens i on members tension members general use

general use

ge ne ral uas where noted &

as necesss..ry tension member-s tension membe r s tension members l·eg (bookrest) leg (baokrest)


GOUNTERSINKING/th.is tool cuts a cone section from the hole. this allows the top (slotted) face of flathead bolt to

fi t down flush wi th the

face 0 f a panel.

F'INISHINGlthe 2x21 sgo good w ith a na t ur-a l finiSh

like Firzite & loving rubs, i painted the hardboard

a durable flat mustard color with a roller. a short nap 7" roller is the next bee t thing to spraying.

if you get sensi ti ve & t ake time it turns out extremely oonsistent, slightly textured surfaoes. danlt try to hurry & Load it all· on in one coat. use whi t e primer first. concentrate on evan coating. use

light pressure on the roller because all tools

seem to work best if you don! t push them,

TIMING/hub, who built & designed the Unipak Vehicle, took approximately one weekend to cut, drill &. fabricate the parts for a Similar structure. i think

he used a second weekend to sand & finish everything. but he has a really hi gh skill level so

maybe most persons should allow 3 little more time.


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MAKING THE PANELS/the she I I is unframed exterior plywood only 3/8" t h i ck.. it's li ghtweigh t & strong pu t together

wi t n corner angles just like the Panel Matr.ix (p. 58). use a protractor, beam compass (p. 51} & gtea. t care to lay

, ou it. one Mas it € r Pane 1. meaau r e one 42 1/4'" 1 § ng t h (1 i ne AS J th~n mark another 4:2 1/4)/ l,ength (1 a.ne AC.) at an 89-degree. angl e to .i t . set HIe beam compa s s at 39" & strike two

arcs in t e r-se c t i ng at point .Q;_ w i t h oen.te r s at poi.n t li & point £. use a good 8 traightedge to connect the points. double-double check it & clamp this Master Pane l OIl. top

of two 48" blanks.

CAREPULl.Yfgang-sa1/il, gui.ding portable electric S3Vi' against a clamped Masonite straigh.tedge. if OK, use Mast@r Panel to mark a r cund remaining, blanks then gangaaw e.Ll 24 skin panels, 2 or 3 a.t a time .gan,g-dr ill 1/4" holes for j o i m ng angles 6 panel sat a t i me , distance from edge should match your corner angles \ rai.ne we re 5/8"). add 3-/16" to th.is d.imension along joints where skin pane l s join interior pans Ls , use elec t r ie

drill in stand. layout openings, then cut individually with guide & fairly high-speed saber saw.


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WINDOWS/use lightest bronze tint 1/4" P'l ex ig Le.s . it's beCtut i f'uI & cu t s solar hea t.. saber-saw blanks t.he n

lay out hole pattern on pr-o t sc tI ve paper, buy ClJ twist drill sharpened for plastic (sharp angle point). remove pape r &; use PI exi as pat tern to d r I 11 plywood panel.

be oare ful, holes are 1/4" so p Ls.s t i c can expand 8:

con t r ac t . 3/8'.' neoprene faucet washers go under

bolt heads fo r cushioning plastic. lock "msher&

double nut but don't overtighten. lay silicone sealer bea.d last. one window by .food area. to watch quail run while cooking, one low under sleep sur rac s to wa.tch ants & one as a skyl i gh t to wa t ch the' stars whil e .falling asleep is not had.


HATCH DETAILS/usin.g clamped st r a i gh tedg'e& radius bar wi t n eabe r saw, cu t pl~e,cis,e 1/8" strip from en t i.r e perimeter of cove r . staple & oement plastic weI ti ng to new edge. using a pile of SlX or eight washers on each hinge bo I t , raise hinge 0 ff sur face so weI t is not crushed. do the same with bolts holding

trunk la t.ch es . put lock washers & double nuts inside to prevent' casual 1!JhSC rewing from cu ts i de , use 1/4"-20 flathead bolts. & 3" stop discs. 1/4" holes

for hinKe bol t s allow movement, for careful centering, but drill latch-bol t holes for close f1 t on 10-24' s. Lcca te chopped. turnable 3'r latch d i sc s

to serve as locking device from inside.


I, INTERIOR PANELS GOME TOGETHER/the twelve inside panels guaran tee safe ty & str.ength 1 ike the taut. bulkheads in an ocean-racing hull. they also function as the n furni t.ur e" f'o r sleeping, 8i tting, shelving & space division. nine

have openings for movemen.t & flow. la.y

out, drill & saw using the same techniques & mania conoentration as on the skin.




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TABLE/cu t top from piece sawed f'r-om one 0 f the'

openi nga . support it with two 3,3" lengths 0 f 2x2. these clamp on the sides of hole in the low interior panel next to the food area. drill & counterbore holes for oLamp bo l ts 4" from each end, locate the exact center' 0 f the 24"-square table top (by drawing t.he two int,ersect rng d Lagona Ls l & drill a 1 (4') hole there. round the oo rner e for ant Lsnag , put a 4"

fla t h ead bol t through this ho I e, between clamp members into the 2"x2"x4'" block. this block locks

the table top in place. adjust to a comfortable level for you & 13i t one person on each side on a floor cushion. glue naugahyde scrap on top for

easy c l ean i ng ,