A guide to self reliant living












1. Food

2. Manna

3. Water

4. Sanitation

5. Medical,

6. Kerosene heaters and cookers

7. Lighting

8. Wood
cooking and heating

9. Communi-cations

10. Essential

11. Home
built items

12. Electrical; generators
and power

13. War preparedness

14. Gardening


Miles Stair's SURVIVAL










Miles Stair's SURVIVAL
























Woodworking Tools For Cabin Building, etc.

See also:

Tools - Restoration and Rebuilding

Tools For Cabin Building


How to make sheathes to keep tools sharp.

The photos below show tools that can be used to make about anything from wood, right up to building cabins and homes.  Many of these tools were purchased on eBay in relatively good condition, then refinished.   To keep the tools in top shape, sharp and ready to use, I made sheaths for many of them using old Levi pants material.  The tools are old and rebuilt so they can last another century - the ultimate recycling.

Short, small adze used for notching logs for cabin building, in corners and ends where a large adze will not fit.

For post-and-beam construction, augers are mandatory to make the holes necessary for pegs. The selection shown above is typical of those available on eBay.  #3 is very versatile for smaller auger bits while #4 is the strongest type available.


Auger bits, the two small ones at top for using 1/2" rebar to secure logs together, the larger two at the bottom  are for wooden dowels.  Long dowels can be purchased or shaped from hardwood using a spokeshave (below).

This ratchet auger handle is for working in tight confines like corners and window and door frames.  The left handle unscrews and fits on top. The adjustable chuck will hold about any auger bit. This is a serious auger handle and very heavy.


Pant legs from an old pair of Levi's sewn to make a sheath to keep the auger bits secure in storage.  When stored like this the cutting edges don't get banged around and stay sharp and clean. Part of a leg from old Levi pants for storing the auger handles so they are always clean, rust free and ready to use.


A brace and bits are used for shallower holes where required.  The brace is also used with dowel making tools, as shown below, right. The ratchet auger handle shown above but with the handle fastened to the top.  With this arrangement it is possible to drill straight holes when working in a corner. The upper part of the top handle rotates to avoid causing blisters.


The broadaxe is used  for making flats on logs for foundation beams and square beams for flooring.  This broadaxe was hand forged over a century ago using high carbon steel as the cutting edge with softer iron forge-welded to the top for strength without brittleness. These tools are used with the brace to make dowels.  #1 is the starter, cutting a tapered cone on a piece of wood.  #2 can make to make a dowel to fit the bit used to make the hole.  #3 is used when a square shoulder is needed at the end of a dowel, such as when making primitive furniture.


Draw knives are used to remove bark and to shape logs, make flats on logs, etc.  The 6" draw knife is very handy to carry and use when needed, but the handles are too close together for working large logs and thus can cause real knuckle bruising.  There IS a use for large fixed-handle draw knives, but for little jobs like tool handles and small logs, these work fine. This shows why I like folding handle draw knives - a sheath can hold one right on a tool belt.

Ancient adjustable-handle draw knife

Above is an unusual adjustable-handle draw knife. The handles don't fold, they rotate to any upward position and lock in place, and can be removed for compact storage.  This draw knife was made by Watrous & Co. in Elmira, N.Y., based on the Richard N. Watrous patent of Dec. 15 1857.  Watrous went out of business in 1883 and it is impossible to date this tool closer than that.  And it still works!


A froe is used to cut roofing shingles from a "bolt" of 3 foot long, knot-free cedar.  This particular froe was made in Langlois, OR in the 1930's from a truck leaf spring  and the handle shaped with a spokeshave. A leg vise is a super-duty vise and clamp used for forging and metal work, and holding tools for sharpening.  At least a century old, after my refinishing it looks and works like new.


Old spokeshaves, dual blades, one curved, one flat.  These are used for making spokes for wheels, of course, and also make tool handles. A new inside curve spokeshave, stainless steel, from Lee Valley Tools.  A handle or spoke is tapered flat at one end, round tapered in the middle, and then curved up to the size required to fit into a tool head.  This was a Christmas gift to me from a very special friend.


Spokeshaves are lumpy and have sharp corners.  I make belt sheathes for spokeshaves using thick canvas with inserts cut from the corners of gallon milk jugs.  The inserts are shown at left, then covered with another piece of thick canvas and sewn into the shape required to hold the spoke-shave. One side has a belt loop sewn on, as shown above. The halves are then sewn together and Zig-Zag stitched around the edges. The result is a sturdy belt sheath that conforms to the odd shape of a spokeshave and the plastic inserts prevent wearing a hole through the canvas over sharp points and ridges in the tool.


New hatchet/adze tools made by a fellow in Bulgaria who sells these and many other hand-forged tool on eBay (World Thracian Pickers).  His handle on the bottom one, the top one has a hammer handle I fitted and finished. A selection of adze tools.  Long handled at left is at least a century old.  The short-handles curved adze (3rd from left) was Italian military issue for making log walls in trenches.


A child's bench seat made very quickly using a slide off a log.  The bench is drilled for legs. The legs are cut from limbs and a dowel maker on a brace (see above) is used to make dowels to fit the holes drilled in the seat at left.

The Ultimate in Recycled Tools

Three knives hand forged from old files.  The handles were made from dry hardwood found in the forest, shaped and riveted in place using nails for rivets and copper pennies as washers. The leather for the sheath was from an old tractor implement power belt found in an abandoned barn, hand riveted so the knives all nest as shown above. The cost?  Some nails, rivets, and pennies.