SPRING GARDEN FESTIVAL: Gear up for gardening season

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Over the years, I have to admit, we have spent more money on gardening than we have ever reaped in an actual harvest. We don’t try to be spendy, trust me, but starting a garden from the dirt up can get expensive and buying high-quality garden gear and tools for women is one of my […]

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods

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by Todd Walker

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Image used with permission from the builder, Wiley Log Homes.

We built crude log forts in the woods growing up. They weren’t water tight or warm. The wind would cut through the muddle of sticks and threaten to take your hat off. Those were fun times. A bona fide log cabin was what I dreamed of then… and that dream remains.

At nearly my age (55), Dick Proenneke set out to live in a remote area of Alaska. For 30 years, he lived in a log cabin he built with his own hands. You can learn more of his remarkable legacy of self-reliance and conservation by watching the documentary, Alone in the Wilderness.

For those following my cabin project on my YouTube channel, I’m in the early stage of cutting and debarking logs. I don’t have the luxury of waiting a year or more for peeled logs to season. I could wait but patience isn’t one of my strong suits. I’ll build my little “practice” cabin with green logs. I’ve already been asked in video comments how long I’ll let my logs season before building.

Here’s the thing, I’m not going to use traditional saddle notches to connect corners. I may try my hand at saddle notches on cured/seasoned logs at some point. Until then, my research turned up a little-known (to me at least) construction method which uses green, unseasoned logs in construction. If you’re not familiar with this style, let me introduce you…

Butt and Pass Style Log Cabin

The advantages of using the butt and pass construction technique is it requires little in the way of tools and construction experience for a DiY log cabin builder. I’ve got plenty of construction experience and tools. My dilemma is that I have green logs and want to finish the cabin before the end of the school year. This no-scribe, no-notch method will speed up the construction process.

The top photo of this article is a butt and pass log home built by Wiley Log Homes. Ronnie, the owner, gave me permission to share a few of his beautiful handcrafted log homes here. I hope to have a few shots of my own cabin corners soon. Until then, take a look at the corners of these Wiley Log Homes.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This cabin has a stone basement.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Five foot eves help keep water off the logs.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A good shot of the butt and pass corner style.

No matter what method is used green logs will shrink. However, with tight-pinned butt and pass construction, settling will only happen if the foundation/piers are not properly formed. With each course of logs, holes are drilled through the top log through the bottom log. A length of 1/2″ rebar is driven through the logs (tight-pinned) about every two feet. As the green logs cure and shrink, the logs shrink around their center line. The gaps between the logs increase but the wall height remains the same. Touching up the chinking over the first few years will have to happen as the logs cure, so I’ve read.

Self-Reliance on Trial

I plan to build my cabin with hand tools only. That’s a tall order especially when I have power tools at my disposal. The pioneer method doesn’t trump someone who chooses to use power tools. I have a comfortable home and don’t “need” this cabin. But somewhere, back in my deeper, primal self, I want this cabin, if for nothing more than to put my self-reliance on trial. Who knows, I may not make it through the project using just hand tools. Either way, this project has been brewing in my gut for years and feels good to take the first step.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My cousin said this to me after he saw the first logs de-barked. “Hardest step is the first one. I’ve been told this but usually by someone who ain’t doing the stepping.” ~ Tim Hester. This is a photo of Dick Proenneke peering out of his cabin door (Image credit: National Park Service)

I’ve only bucked and de-barked one pine tree so far. My first attempt at skinning logs was with a draw knife. The tool peeled bark really well but would not be a sustainable method for this old man. I needed a method where I’m not bent over scraping with pine sap flying in my face. Enter the tile scraper. I ground the edge on this old long-handled tool and it’s a far cry better than my draw knife on my back. I’ve been using it like a draw knife, scraping long strips of bark off the length of the logs, but will try peeling whole sections off logs by prying around the round part of the log. Not sure how well this will work since the sap is not rising like in spring time.

Another hand-tool concerns that comes to mind is boring holes to accept the rebar pins. Twisting a half-inch auger through logs can’t be easy. Yet another challenge will be transporting 12 and 14 foot logs to the build site in the woods. I won’t be able to split them in half or into rails the way I did in last year’s Axe Cordwood Challenge. I need draught horses, or oxen. Seriously!

Progress Report

To keep up with the log cabin journey, I’ve created a playlist on my channel titled, Log Cabin Build. Most are mine but a few are of Dick Proenneke’s cabin. I’ll also be updating here on the blog.

This is the last video in the log cabin series. I traded my draw knife for a DiY bark spud…

With only one day per week to work on the cabin, progress is slow. Winter break should offer a few extra work days. Below are some photos of my progress.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A storm blow-over bucked and ready for de-barking.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two debarked logs.

After the first two logs, I mentioned in my video about the fun you can have debarking logs. In honor of Tom Sawyer’s fence white washing pitch, I had a buddy and his son show up to my first Barking Party. Evan Newsom, first picture below, was the first to party on!

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Tom Sawyer would be so proud!

I even have my school students convinced…

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Introduced students at RISE to the draw knife. They have acquired a liking for this tool.

Sure appreciate having the physical health to be able to attack this pioneer project. It will take longer to construct using hand tools. Patience may become a strong suit of mine after all is said and done.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

One Socket to Rule Them All! Tools for the Apocalypse!

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I’m of the belief that when the poop hits the fan, tangibles are going to be very important. The money in the bank will be worthless.  But if you have something in your hands that is of value, well, you will be in a much better spot!

As a prepper, I believe you should have food, water, medical supplies, a means to defend yourself, etc…  You should have an emergency fund.  And, if you are able, having some precious metals is good too!

But one other thing that I think is important is having good tools, specifically non-power tools. Think about it.  If you have tools, not only can you fix your things, but you could find work fixing other people’s things.  Good tools might be worth their weight in gold in a poop hit the fan scenario.

Lately, I’ve been trying to make wise purchases when it comes to tools.  I definitely don’t want to have a bunch of dollar store or inferior tools if I ever really need them.

So with that, I would like to share with you a tool that I recently purchased that seems to be a good choice.  It is a socket that can fit any nut and more.

I recently used it to change out the headlamp bulb in my wife’s vehicle.  I have to say that it worked just like it was supposed to.  And, it looks and feels like a very solid socket.

The socket is made by Blendx.  The tool is  the BLENDX 7mm to 19mm (1/4″ – 3/4″) Ratchet Universal Socket.  On Amazon, it has 25 reviews with 4.5 stars.

This socket will replace many other sockets since it can fit anything between a 1/4″ to a 3/4″ nut.  It will also grab other types of fasteners that need to be turned (see video below).

The socket is created with 54 small spring loaded rods inside.  When you push the socket down around a fastener, it grips around it and allows you to turn the socket.  It comes with a 3/8″ adapter.

Shown above with the Stanley Multibit Ratcheting Screwdriver.

The socket only costs $9.99.  It is made in China.  I know many frown on the fact that it is made in  China.  But like I said above, it has good reviews.  From the Blendx Storefront page on Amazon, “BLENDX is a Professional Online E-commerce Brand offering trendy Outdoor Products and Home Gadgets.We have Overseas R&D center in Shenzhen, where’s the core of the Chinese manufacturing industry. By taking this advantages, BLENDX provides you various kinds of great products at the lowest possible prices.”

If you would like to purchase the same type of tool from another country, the Gator Grip runs under $39 and is made in the Czech Republic.

The video below is of the Gator Grip version.  But the Blendx version will work exactly the same.


Do you have one of these sockets?  How has it worked for you?  And, which tools do you believe would be important for a SHTF situation?


Tools Talk!

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Tools Talk!
Brett Bauma “Makers on acres

Tools TalkOk here it is, my absolute favorite topic, The TOOL!  I love them for many reasons. They provide me with what I need to make a living as an electrician, and they also provide me the ability to fix things around the homestead.

3-12-16 images (1)On the show we are going to be discussing why we need a good assortment for our everyday lives. They play a pivotal role in keeping things maintained, repaired and help you to build new. There are so many different kinds available today and so many different brands, which ones do we need? What ones truly perform as they should?

I will be taking you on a journey through the world of tools, starting with hand tools and working up to power tools, the tools that we all need around the home.

3-12-16 images (1)1My past and present experience as a professional tradesman have given me years of trying out different tools and different brands as well. Being a person who depends on these gems to put food on the table, I understand the importance of a quality well designed and well-built tool. They are an investment, making sure you spend the money wisely to get years of use out of each one is an important move. Using the correct tool for a job will save you stress and frustration as well as being a safer way to work. Nothing is more frustrating than having a project go south due to a bad tool or having a tool break in the middle of a project. I will give you my tips for which ones to stock and which brands to seek out.
Makers On Acres Website: http://makersonacres.com/

Join us for Makers On Acres “LIVE SHOW” every Saturday 9:00/Et 8:00Ct 6:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat

Listen to this broadcast or download “Talking Tools” in player below!

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Archived shows of Makers On Acres Live at bottom of THIS PAGE!

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Episode 69 Tools

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This week I am joined by Jeff Radtke from the lost skills podcast to talk about tools. We talk about good ones, cheap ones and how to find the best deals. Like usual we get off topic and chase rabbits. It should be an informative and fun show.



  • Most used tools
  • Power over hand tools
  • When cheap is good enough
  • Finding good tools
  • Tool maintenance
  • Homesteading tools


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