In 1968, Dick Proenneke (1916-2003) set out to build his cabin in the Alaskan wilderness with only hand powered tools. During July 1967, he harvested spruce logs for his cabin. He returned to Twin Lakes on May the next year to build a small cabin and spend more than 30 years living there.
Because he made his cabin, in a remote area, by himself, and only using hand tools I am curious to know what methods and tools he used.
Here is a fragment of Alone in the Wilderness, the film about his time out there:
These are the tools that Dick brought to build his cabin and test himself:
A) Folding Pocket Knife
B) Woodworking Dividers (2)
C) Plump Bob
D) String Level
E) Mallet (made of spruce in the field)
F) Chalk and Chalk Line, for marking logs for boards
G) Adze, for flattening (hewing) logs
Files, including saw files for sharpening his tools
H) Augers, for building furniture, the saw horse, and door latch (1 ½ inch wide auger and other large auger)
I) Carpenter’s Pencil
Combination square (one-foot)
J) Double Bladed Axe, for everything
K) Drawknife, for debarking, flattening and shaping logs and poles
L) Flat Socket Chisels he made the handles out of spruce for his various chisels
M) Gouge Chisel
Hammer, framing claw hammer, for hammering nails and chisels
Thin Bladed Wide Chisel
Short Crosscut saw
Large Crosscut saw (36 to 40 inch one man tree saw)
Handsaw (ripsaw) to saw logs into planks (26” Disston D 8?)
Short Panel Saw, approximately 12 inches long, and with an aluminum handle
Keyhole saw, to saw the elaborate latch and lock for his Dutch door; also likely used to saw the crescent on the outhouse door and wooden spoons.
Folding ruler, used as a wood gauge
Level (24 inch?)
Smoothing Bench Plane (number 4 Stanley?)
Wide-bladed small cold chisel, used to tack moss between the cabin logs for insulation
Other tools seen in Dick Proenneke’s film
Crowbar, for un-boarding boarded up windows after winter.
Paint brush, to apply glue
Round Point Shovel, for gardening and cutting moss for his roof.
Bricklaying Trowel, for cementing the fireplace.
Hoe, for mixing mortar for his fireplace
Tin Snips, for cutting airplane fuel cans
Brace, for drilling (didn’t appear in the film, but he probably had one), with various bits.
If you were wondering what tools you need to build a cabin in the woods like Dick Proenneke, now you have a good idea.