One Man, Hand tools only Cabin. Outstanding!

USS_Silversides

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Bought the Dick P. film for my siblings for Christmas years ago. It’s become part of our holiday tradition to watch it every few years. Nothing better - although I’d prefer to watch on an old reel to reel.
 

MGnoob

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I dispise working with wood, so i find this extra impressive.. my goal is to build a stone cabin.(so it doesn't get burned down). This guy is probably more isolated..
If not a cabin a serious staircase....or both.
 

enbloc

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Only thing I don't like about this style of videoing progress is it makes it look TOO easy.
If I were to make a similar video (yeah, right) I would show it all. The good the bad and the ugly.
Every time I crushed a finger between timbers, mashed a fingernail with a hammer, fell off the ladder.

I guess it would look like a Benny Hill build at that point... [rofl2]
 
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did you guys know that if you get 4 ft underground, it STAYS 50F degrees? Sure, you need solid shoring, but it saves you all of that firewood cutting and hauling, and is cool in the summer, too.
 

whacko

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Bought the Dick P. film for my siblings for Christmas years ago. It’s become part of our holiday tradition to watch it every few years. Nothing better - although I’d prefer to watch on an old reel to reel.
I read his diary before the video was released. That guy was amazing. My son and I bring out that dvd about once a year.......still astounds me at how strong and intelligent that man was.
 

BigTimber

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I read his diary before the video was released. That guy was amazing. My son and I bring out that dvd about once a year.......still astounds me at how strong and intelligent that man was.
Yup. Seems right around the dead of winter for a few nights one will find alone in the wilderness on a endless loop here in the man cave while i tinker away.
 

calsdad

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ive been following that guy on YT for a while. Everything done with handtools.

Everything?

Where does he come up with the squared off timbers I see in some of the frames of the video the OP posted?

Also - he's got a bunch of flat boards that he used on the roof - not saying he didn't use hand tools to make them ( I haven't watched any of his other videos) - but those would be tough to make with hand tools.
 

headednorth

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Everything?

Where does he come up with the squared off timbers I see in some of the frames of the video the OP posted?

Also - he's got a bunch of flat boards that he used on the roof - not saying he didn't use hand tools to make them ( I haven't watched any of his other videos) - but those would be tough to make with hand tools.
Those are valid points. Everything Ive seen him do has been with hand tools. I dont recall seeing anything electric or gas powered. Also I dont really recall him ever going out of his way to brag about everything being done by hand either. Of course one guy building a cabin alone is going to be heavily edited so who knows?
If he's bringing in planks or timbers that were milled by someone else, cutting them to length with a handsaw and then installing with hammer and nails or pegs, does the fact that the planks or timbers were commercially milled blow the whole "hand tool" aspect out of the water? Tbh I was just saying there were no skilsaws, drills, nailguns, etc involved afaik.
 

calsdad

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Those are valid points. Everything Ive seen him do has been with hand tools. I dont recall seeing anything electric or gas powered. Also I dont really recall him ever going out of his way to brag about everything being done by hand either. Of course one guy building a cabin alone is going to be heavily edited so who knows?
If he's bringing in planks or timbers that were milled by someone else, cutting them to length with a handsaw and then installing with hammer and nails or pegs, does the fact that the planks or timbers were commercially milled blow the whole "hand tool" aspect out of the water? Tbh I was just saying there were no skilsaws, drills, nailguns, etc involved afaik.
My answer would be : yeah - a little bit.

Building that cabin using nothing but hand tools is impressive. I built my own house and barn - and did the majority of the work myself using power tools. The thought did enter my mind numerous times during the whole exercise: " This would really suck if I had to do this all with hand tools". And that was using commercially bought dimensional lumber, not cutting down the logs and stripping them all by hand.

But those flat boards on the roof - doing ALL of those by hand - would be as much labor just to make the boards - as it was to build the entire cabin, if not more. Plus - it would be extremely hard to get them all flat and straight - hard but not impossible. To my knowledge saw mills have existed since the 1500's - and I believe sawmills have existed in the US since the early 1600's. All hose old homes you see around New England were built "by hand" - but they still had mill sawn lumber.

The problem I have with stuff like this saying " It was all done by hand!!" - is that it's totally misleading to the never-done-any-real-work crowd. They literally have NO IDEA how much work something like this entails - and also there is a certain element of person out there who does shit like buy a piece of property , buy a log cabin kit, and then pays a bunch of Mexicans to put the whole thing together for him. After it's all done they run around telling everybody who will listen that they "built the whole thing myself". So there's a huge BS factor out there around things like this - because people just outright lie about it.

I tell people I did all of this work - and they don't believe me. It's because they simply cannot imagine ever doing it themselves - and I guess they have some mental disconnect in their head that makes them think that houses get built by magic or some other crazy shit.

I went and looked at the site about Dick Proenneke, if you look at the pics - you can see the timbers he put up on the roof were flattened out on top and bottom sides - but just left them alone on the other sides. That's because it's too much damn work. Looks like he also didn't cover his whole cabin roof with timber - but created a framework and laid moss over it or something like that ( I didn't dig too deeply). Again - that's because it's too much damn work.

The Dick Proenneke site also points out that it took him a while to build that cabin. Something a time lapsed Youtube video doesn't adequately get across to people.

There's a couple on Youtube who have a channel called PureLivingForLife who have been building their own house. I think they've been at it for 2-3 years now and they are still not done. If you follow their videos it's a cold dose of reality for a lot of the "I did this myself " crowd.
 

headednorth

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Building that cabin using nothing but hand tools is impressive. I built my own house and barn - and did the majority of the work myself using power tools. The thought did enter my mind numerous times during the whole exercise: " This would really suck if I had to do this all with hand tools". And that was using commercially bought dimensional lumber, not cutting down the logs and stripping them all by hand.
IIrc, this guy did start by chopping down trees and stripping bark. Tbh I follow or have watched tons of these type of vids so I may be wrong but Im almost positive he cut his own logs.

But those flat boards on the roof - doing ALL of those by hand - would be as much labor just to make the boards - as it was to build the entire cabin, if not more. Plus - it would be extremely hard to get them all flat and straight - hard but not impossible. To my knowledge saw mills have existed since the 1500's - and I believe sawmills have existed in the US since the early 1600's. All hose old homes you see around New England were built "by hand" - but they still had mill sawn lumber.
I agree. I think it would be cool to do a board or two just for the experience and to learn how it was done, but it would be way too much time and effort to do them all like that. Im probably just a few years younger than him and Id be thinking doing all this work on the weekends would not leave much of a lifetime left to enjoy it.

The problem I have with stuff like this saying " It was all done by hand!!" - is that it's totally misleading to the never-done-any-real-work crowd. They literally have NO IDEA how much work something like this entails - and also there is a certain element of person out there who does shit like buy a piece of property , buy a log cabin kit, and then pays a bunch of Mexicans to put the whole thing together for him. After it's all done they run around telling everybody who will listen that they "built the whole thing myself". So there's a huge BS factor out there around things like this - because people just outright lie about it.
A pet peeve of mine also, the guy in the clean clothes with the soft hands who made a shit ton of phone calls and emails, wrote a bunch of checks and says "I built it" rather than " I paid to have it built." Most people have no idea what goes into a kitchen remodel never mind building a house. Its doen in 22 minutes on HGTV or YT.

There's a couple on Youtube who have a channel called PureLivingForLife who have been building their own house. I think they've been at it for 2-3 years now and they are still not done. If you follow their videos it's a cold dose of reality for a lot of the "I did this myself " crowd.
I follow them as well, but havent watched a vid in a while. I cant imagine doing a project like that as a married couple. Im willing to bet they hate each other and are only keeping it together for their channel. Either that or theyre more devoted to each other than any other two human beings in history. Must see for people who think they want to go build something nights and weekends with their wife or husband.

Not sure where the line is between "built by hand" and "not". If I rip open a bag of ready mix and mix it with a shovel rather than my hands or a stick am I blowing my "built by hand" status? Dont want to sound too much like Im going to bat for this guy because I dont really care one way or the other. Those are good points though when you look at one guy who is buying commercially milled lumber and another is hacking away at a tree all day to shape it into what he needs and in the end theyre both called "made by hand" or whatever.
 

whacko

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My answer would be : yeah - a little bit.

Building that cabin using nothing but hand tools is impressive. I built my own house and barn - and did the majority of the work myself using power tools. The thought did enter my mind numerous times during the whole exercise: " This would really suck if I had to do this all with hand tools". And that was using commercially bought dimensional lumber, not cutting down the logs and stripping them all by hand.

But those flat boards on the roof - doing ALL of those by hand - would be as much labor just to make the boards - as it was to build the entire cabin, if not more. Plus - it would be extremely hard to get them all flat and straight - hard but not impossible. To my knowledge saw mills have existed since the 1500's - and I believe sawmills have existed in the US since the early 1600's. All hose old homes you see around New England were built "by hand" - but they still had mill sawn lumber.

The problem I have with stuff like this saying " It was all done by hand!!" - is that it's totally misleading to the never-done-any-real-work crowd. They literally have NO IDEA how much work something like this entails - and also there is a certain element of person out there who does shit like buy a piece of property , buy a log cabin kit, and then pays a bunch of Mexicans to put the whole thing together for him. After it's all done they run around telling everybody who will listen that they "built the whole thing myself". So there's a huge BS factor out there around things like this - because people just outright lie about it.

I tell people I did all of this work - and they don't believe me. It's because they simply cannot imagine ever doing it themselves - and I guess they have some mental disconnect in their head that makes them think that houses get built by magic or some other crazy shit.

I went and looked at the site about Dick Proenneke, if you look at the pics - you can see the timbers he put up on the roof were flattened out on top and bottom sides - but just left them alone on the other sides. That's because it's too much damn work. Looks like he also didn't cover his whole cabin roof with timber - but created a framework and laid moss over it or something like that ( I didn't dig too deeply). Again - that's because it's too much damn work.

The Dick Proenneke site also points out that it took him a while to build that cabin. Something a time lapsed Youtube video doesn't adequately get across to people.

There's a couple on Youtube who have a channel called PureLivingForLife who have been building their own house. I think they've been at it for 2-3 years now and they are still not done. If you follow their videos it's a cold dose of reality for a lot of the "I did this myself " crowd.
My research and reading dicks journal.....it took him 2 years. First summer he stayed at a friend's cabin a good paddle from.his site and harvested and peeled the logs......left them to season.....then the next summer he built the cabin and over wintered in it.
 

calsdad

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My research and reading dicks journal.....it took him 2 years. First summer he stayed at a friend's cabin a good paddle from.his site and harvested and peeled the logs......left them to season.....then the next summer he built the cabin and over wintered in it.
Yeah - that sounds entirely realistic. Not what you typically get from some of these HGTV shows or people putting stuff up on Youtube videos
 

coastie

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My answer would be : yeah - a little bit.

Building that cabin using nothing but hand tools is impressive. I built my own house and barn - and did the majority of the work myself using power tools. The thought did enter my mind numerous times during the whole exercise: " This would really suck if I had to do this all with hand tools". And that was using commercially bought dimensional lumber, not cutting down the logs and stripping them all by hand.

But those flat boards on the roof - doing ALL of those by hand - would be as much labor just to make the boards - as it was to build the entire cabin, if not more. Plus - it would be extremely hard to get them all flat and straight - hard but not impossible. To my knowledge saw mills have existed since the 1500's - and I believe sawmills have existed in the US since the early 1600's. All hose old homes you see around New England were built "by hand" - but they still had mill sawn lumber.

The problem I have with stuff like this saying " It was all done by hand!!" - is that it's totally misleading to the never-done-any-real-work crowd. They literally have NO IDEA how much work something like this entails - and also there is a certain element of person out there who does shit like buy a piece of property , buy a log cabin kit, and then pays a bunch of Mexicans to put the whole thing together for him. After it's all done they run around telling everybody who will listen that they "built the whole thing myself". So there's a huge BS factor out there around things like this - because people just outright lie about it.

I tell people I did all of this work - and they don't believe me. It's because they simply cannot imagine ever doing it themselves - and I guess they have some mental disconnect in their head that makes them think that houses get built by magic or some other crazy shit.

I went and looked at the site about Dick Proenneke, if you look at the pics - you can see the timbers he put up on the roof were flattened out on top and bottom sides - but just left them alone on the other sides. That's because it's too much damn work. Looks like he also didn't cover his whole cabin roof with timber - but created a framework and laid moss over it or something like that ( I didn't dig too deeply). Again - that's because it's too much damn work.

The Dick Proenneke site also points out that it took him a while to build that cabin. Something a time lapsed Youtube video doesn't adequately get across to people.

There's a couple on Youtube who have a channel called PureLivingForLife who have been building their own house. I think they've been at it for 2-3 years now and they are still not done. If you follow their videos it's a cold dose of reality for a lot of the "I did this myself " crowd.
While they had sawmills in the 1600s, they were very labor intensive, with most of the work accomplished by hand. Most of them were small local affairs that were essentially custom cutters. You brought your wood to them to cut and then got it back milled with the sawyer taking a percentage of the wood. All the wood was felled and bucked by hand, transported to the mill to be and then brought to the site. In areas without waterpower the pit saw was used sp then it truly was all by hand.
 

BigTimber

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Watch alone in the wilderness people. I guarantee it’s better than whatever you’re gonna watch next. It’s very well worth it. It shows dick making the cabin from start to finish. Clearing moss just after ice out from the plannned site to the first fire in the new digs come Nov. Think making long flat boards with nothing but hand tools is impressive? Child’s play, wait till you see his front door lock. The man.
 
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but you have to cut all that wood, every year, just to heat it. When if you go 5 ft underground, it STAYS 50F degrees, year round. No need of cooling or heating. Just some walls, insulation between them, and shoring. Save you 90% of the work making it and ALL of the work trying to heat or cool it. Wouldn't be hard to seal out the bugs, and bears wouldn't be tearing into it, along with no risk of wildfire. If you make it long and narrow, you wont need big timbers to make it, or to replace them every few years when they rot, either. Yes, you have to arrange for drainage and be careful where you locate it, bfd. A little side benefit is you'd not be at risk from fallout or bullets when you're in it. and you'd be safe from blasts, if they were distant enough. You'd also be a lot harder to find if hostiles are moving thru your area. Especially if you put a concealed lid at each end of your tunnel. wire a .22lr noisemaker to the lids, if such hostilities are the order of the day. A lot of the Viet Cong lived in their tunnels, at least during the daytime, for 30 years.
 
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do you know how the Egyptians got the pyramids level? They cut intersecting trenches, filled the resulting checkerboard with water, and cut the dirt down to the level of the water. The huge interior stones are made of a form of concret. That's how they are so closely fit. Wooden forms were built, and guys carried long handled hods of the stuff up and poured in the concrete. Move the form, repeat. The outside,, pretty stones were the only ones quarried and moved.
 
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