Watch this timelapse of a guy single-handedly building a log cabin the woods

Originally published at:


Interesting technique with the sheet shelling, and how he base-rooted the foundation.

(actually i just made that up, I don’t know what I’m talking about)


What? Everyone knows you can’t construct buildings without power tools and city code inspectors! That’s why before the harnessing of electricity, everyone lived in tents and caves. I mean sure, those castles and pyramids all look very impressive, but the Reptilians are very good at “antiquing” them.


we respect your candor


Lincoln Logs! Better than Tinker Toys.


But getting tent and cave insurance was a much simpler process back then.


I love these videos that remind me that I would die, alone and frozen, if you dropped me for even a fortnight in the 16th century.


The planks look very uniform; did he explain if he bought those or hand sawed them? In the old days, to saw planks required a pit and 2 people, one above and one below, to work the saw.

Does scorching the planks provide a barrier against wood eating varmints? I like the clinker-built roof; 3 levels of overlap should be fairly weatherproof, although I’m surprised he didn’t split his own shakes.


I am so very, very out of shape.


This guy and the Primitive Technology fellow should get together and make ba… oh wait, stupid biology, uh adopt some babies and restart civilization. Bet they get to Alpha Centauri before we do.


Cool. But Dick Preonneke is OG:


A job of work and well done. Though I was a bit disappointed when he pulled out the milled wood.

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Mad respect to this guy for building that awesome cabin. Having done something similar, myself, from 2005-2009, I understand first hand the amount of hard labor and love that goes into building something like that.

I wasn’t. The milled wood looked locally milled, not industrial. Maybe he milled it himself offsite, then hand-carried each piece up there.

He had a layer of bituthene in there. At first I thought the roof was overkill, but it served another purpose like the log walls: the thicker it is, the more insulated it is and the more snow and ice it can hold.

He also did a pro job on the interior. A little root cellar and a nice stove to keep warm.


It was milled. Whether industrially or on a small scale it was milled. I’m not sure what “milled it himself offsite” would mean. Maybe there is a one person hand tool method of getting planks like that. I’m not sure. I’ve just never seen a method of producing lumber from logs by a single person using hand tools which can produce anything approaching what he was using.

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Scorching the wood makes it waterproof.

I only learned that from watching HGTV


Milled/not milled is not the issue. All dimensional lumber is milled. Has to be, because it passes through some kind of mill. The thing I am talking about is the disappointment at using milled lumber, and I’ll explain why there isn’t really anything to be disappointed about, unless you’re sentimental.

In the North, you can hire a guy to come up with his Wood Mizer or portable bandsaw and mill out a bunch of lumber for you. You can get logs delivered, or you can log them yourself, stack em up in a side field and he will set up his rig and turn everything into a stickered pile of dimensional lumber. Some guys charge way too much. Some charge a fair rate by the hour. Some charge you for how many bands they go through, because they tend to break.

When you mill locally, you don’t get nominal sizes, where a 2x4 is actually 1.5x3.5. You can get actual 2 inches x 4 inches, unless you want the small ones for some reason. Also, the person doing the milling, if they are skilled, will pay attention when they are inside the wood and maximize what you get out of it, and what cut is best for the quality of wood in the log.

You also specify before they start: “I want more quarter sawn and as clear as you can get it in shorter lengths up to 6 feet because I’m using it for woodworking.” Or you can say, “I need lots of long 8/4 planks because I’m building a cabin. If you can get me two dozen 2x8’s 12 feet long, plus whatever else you can get out of it, I’ll be happy.”

I have personally milled lumber by hand with hand saws and axes, by using a chainsaw on an Alaskan mill, and also using a gas-powered portable bandsaw. I also am an avid shopper at lumber yards and I’ve been to a few sawmills to hang out and see how it’s done. There is no good reason to mill lumber by hand unless you want that “hand hewn look” that you can only get by chopping away. (Or you have no choice.)

The hand hewn way is 100x slower than the next way, which is to use a chainsaw mill that attaches to your chainsaw and rides a track that you nailed to a board that you nailed to your uncut log. You’d use the Alaskan mill if there was no way to get a real mill up into the woods where the logs are or you didn’t want to drag all the logs down the mountain and then have to drag all the lumber back UP the mountain. Or, again, if you have no choice or if you are poor or cheap.

The Alaskan Mill way is about 10x slower than using a real portable mill, as I described. Real portable mills are fun to run… for a while… but after a day or so, the vibration, exhaust and noise just gets to you and you kinda fall out of love with it. Although, there is nothing like taking a hunk of wood that you felled with your own hands, dragged over there and turned it into square sided lumber that you can do something with next year when it dries. It’s fun.

But the very fastest way to get lumber is to go over to Home Depot or Lowe’s and load up your truck. But, by this method, you get what they have and you pay for it. Typical industrially produced lumber is very dry, very strong and utterly consistent. Don’t pick any warped or checked sticks and you have pretty much the highest quality lumber available. You may have contributed to unsustainable forestry and industrial pollution, but you have your wood that you didn’t have to break your back for, and you can get on with the real project: what you’re building, not milling lumber.

No one way is superior: they each have their uses and situations.

Did you see the other video of the guy who builds a mud cabin and splits shakes for the roof? Maybe he’s more your style. :slight_smile:


I’m not really interested in how the wood was milled or what process is better/worse. It’s a bit more basic than that. As he began this looked like a video of someone building a log cabin using nothing but hand tools. A few minutes in and the lumber shows up which for me was a bit of a disappointment. Turns out that this is a video of how to assemble a log cabin using hand tools and not actually a video of the creation of a log cabin using only hand tools. See the difference? The former is neat but isn’t as epic as the later hence the “bit disappointed” comment. There are videos of this being done entirely by the work of a single pair of hands and simple hand tools and I had hoped this was another.

Well, you sound like a wet blanket, don’tcha?

Ever build anything with your own hands?


Nothing like a pointless mid day insult to brace yourself.

I have. I do. Why?

Like I said, this video shows a job of work well done. I was simply hoping for something a bit different. It’s a bit like watching a video of a car rebuild and in comes the crate motor. Still, the rebuild can be interesting to watch but I want to see the one where the engine is rebuilt too.

I follow Primitive Technology, although for the life of me I have no idea how to get approved to comment on the site; all my posts are still ‘waiting for moderation’.

I like this type of stuff because I’m planning to try my hand at building a cob/cordwood shed, using all the leftovers from my previous home improvement projects. I saved all my wood when I had to cut back some trees on my property and it’s been seasoning for about a year now, and have been saving bottles from all our friends to include in the walls. The tricky part will be getting the mix for the cob correct, as there is very little clay in the dirt here (mostly sand and silt). The roof will also be interesting; I’m going to try a real mashup of vigo, 2x4s, and whatever else I can get my mitts on cheap.