I built this hut in the bush using naturally occurring materials and primitive tools. The hut is 2m wide and 2m long, the side walls are 1m high and the ridge line (highest point) is 2m high giving a roof angle of 45 degrees. A bed was built inside and it takes up a little less than half the hut. The tools used were a stone hand axe to chop wood, fire sticks to make fire, a digging stick for digging and clay pots to carry water. The materials used in the hut were wood for the frame, vine and lawyer cane for lashings and mud for daubing. Broad leaves were initially used as thatch which worked well for about four months before starting to rot. The roof was then covered with sheets of paper bark which proved to be a better roofing material (*peeling the outer layer of bark does not kill this species of tree). An external fireplace and chimney were also built to reduce smoke inside. The hut is a small yet comfortable shelter and provides room to store tools and materials out of the weather. The whole hut took 9 months from start to finish. But it only took 30 days of actual work (I abandoned it for a few months before adding bark roof, chimney and extra daub ).
Building A Primitive Thatched Dome Hut From Scratch
I built this thatched dome hut on a mountain ridge using completely primitive tools and materials. The frame was 2.5 m in diameter and 2 m tall. It was made from 8 thin saplings 2.75 m long, the thatching material was split palm fronds and vine was used for tying it all together. A stone hand ax was used to chop the saplings and a sharp stone flake was used to cut fronds. The pointed dome profile is half way between a spherical dome and a ti-pi. This shape sheds rain and funnels smoke effectively while still providing a large inner volume. A moat was dug around the hut to drain water away. As an afterthought I planted sweet potatoes and taro around the moat to hopefully provide some food later on.
Making fire sticks primitively from scratch, making a fire using the sticks and making and firing a small pot to test clay from the hut.
The species of wood used for the fire sticks is ‚Abroma mollis‘. In the hibiscus/cottonwood family (Malvaceae).
Making A Celt Stone Axe From Scratch (including handle)
The manufacture of a stone ax including the handle from using only primitive tools and materials. It is a celt (pronounced „selt“) a type of ax with a polished stone head wedged into a hole or mortise at the end of a wooden handle (not to be confused with a „Kelt“ referring to a Celtic person). The head took about a week and a day to make as I chose to make it from a particularly large piece of basalt. This involved hammering, pecking, grinding and polishing the head into the final shape. The handle took a day and a morning to make. A chisel was made from stone and a mallet made from a log. These were used to cut the tree for the handle and shape it once down. Fire was used to harden the wood and also to help shape the mortise. The ax was then used to cut down a tree the day after the handle was a tree itself. It is a more efficient tool for felling trees than the hand ax I made and at the time of uploading this video has cut down 4 trees which I will use later.
Making poisonous Black bean safe to eat (Moreton Bay Chestnut)
Cooking and leaching Black bean to remove the poison making it safe to eat. A basket was made to leach the poison out in a stream. Also shown are Atherton Oak nuts. The Aboriginal artifacts found near by were probably made by the Yidinji people (if you’re reading this leave a comment below). It seems like a lot of effort to prepare black bean to eat but consider the effort that goes into making bread from scratch (plowing, sowing, winnowing, storing, milling, baking etc.). With Black bean it is collected when needed, storage is unnecessary as nothing eats it raw and it can be left in the stream till needed. It contains more energy than potatoes(but less than grain) and contains lots of starch and protein. This was a staple food of the rain forest people once.
The video shows the construction and use of a stone adze.To put this video in context, the dome hut you see in the video is in the same spot as the wattle and Daub hut is today- only 2 years earlier (first started filming these builds). I shaped the head from basalt using a hammer stone to roughly shape it (pecking) and a grind stone to polish it (grinding). I used an L shaped piece of wood to form the handle, carving a backrest to absorb the shock of each strike and lashed the stone to the handle using lawyer cane. I then cut down two trees and a sapling to demonstrate the time taken to use it (note-this land is an abandoned cane farm and not virgin forest). I would say that a stone adze is easier to make than a celt ax and is also quite effective at felling trees. The stone adze was the all purpose wood working tool in Papua New Guinea and favored over axes by most canoe building cultures. Later I discarded the adze, demolished the dome and built the wattle and daub hut without any previous technology I made- just to see if I could.
Wood shed and Native bee honey
It has been raining here quite a bit in what should normally be the dry season. The wattle and daub hut is standing up well despite this (see video). However this has held back some other projects I had planned. So I decided to build a wood shed across the creek in Eucalypt woodland (where the best firewood is). Keeping firewood dry cuts down the amount of firewood needed and decreases the amount of smoke produced. Also keeping the firewood in an external structure saves room in the hut and leaves no place for snakes and rodents to hide. The shed is simply a 1 x 1 m thatched hut with a lower area used to store fire wood (1 cubic meter) and an upper level for storing fire starting equipment (fire sticks, tinder, stone blades for carving new holes in the sticks). I built it using wood from a previous hut to save effort and trees. It is tied together with lawyer cane and thatched with large palm leaves- These are a poorer quality than those in the mountain and will probably need replacement in a few months. I keep a large stone in front of the shed to break firewood over to save effort. Also while looking for fire wood I came across a fallen native sting-less bee hive. I ate some honey from it and stored it on the fireplace out side the hut. This keeps it sheltered from the rain, exposes it to morning sun to keep it warm and keeps it away from ants. In return perhaps the bees will produce honey (1 kg/year) and wax that I may use.
Palm Thatched Mud Hut
This is an old hut I built 2 years ago and have since demolished. It was a 2 m square floor with wattle and daub walls 1.5 m high topped with a pyramidal roof thatched with Alexander palm fronds. The building method is my usual plan- get a roof up first then build the walls. From start to finish it took 27 days (it could have been faster though- this was at a casual speed). This was the first wattle and daub hut I built and is larger than the other one I built later (my idea for now is to build small but well although I’ll try larger huts again in future).
The roof lasted for a few months before becoming rotten and bug eaten. As an important note the species of palm used in thatching makes all the difference. Had this hut been built in the mountain with wait-a-while palm fronds it would have lasted 2 years at least.
Instead it was thatched with alexander palm fronds that deteriorated quickly.
I wasn’t to know this and was trying to adapt hut building practice I learned in the mountain to low land conditions (I’ve built similar huts up the mountain with the same roof shape that have lasted a long time). I hope in future videos to explore better roofing options to use in areas like this.
Also of interest in the video is another pot I make showing more detail than previous videos. The fire place for the hut is a simple pit in the center of the floor. It is a good hut design though it requires a simple ladder to construct.
Primitive Technology Blog: https://primitivetechnology.wordpress…
Building a tiled roof hut
I built this tiled roof hut in the bush using only primitive tools and materials. The tools I used have been made in my previous videos. It should be pointed out that I do not live in the wild and that this is just a hobby. It should be obvious to most that this is not a survival shelter but an experiment in primitive building technology.
To cut and carve wood I used the celt stone axe and stone chisel made in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN-34…). To carry water and make fire I used pots and fire sticks made in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCKkH…). Finally, to store fire wood and dry, unfired tiles, I used the wood shed built in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zajpk…).
The wooden frame was built with a 2X2m floor plan and a 2m tall ridge line with 1m tall side walls. 6 posts were put into the ground 0.25 m deep. The 3 horizontal roof beams were attached to these using mortise and tenon joints carved with a stone chisel. The rest of the frame was lashed together with lawyer cane strips. The frame swayed a little when pushed so later triangular bracing was added to stop this. Also when the mud wall was built, it enveloped the posts and stopped them moving altogether.
A small kiln was built of mud from the ground and a perforated floor of clay from the creek bank. Tiles were made from clay pressed into rectangular moulds made from strips of lawyer cane. 20 tiles were fired at a time. 450 flat tiles and 15 curved ridge tiles were made with only a few breakages. 26 firings were done in all and the average firing took about 4 hours. The fired tiles were then hooked over the horizontal roof battens.
An underfloor heating system was built into one side of the hut to act as a sitting/sleeping platform in cold weather. This was inspired by the Korean Ondol or “hot stone”. A trench was dug and covered with flat stones with a firebox at one end and a chimney at the other for draft. The flames travelled beneath the floor heating it. After firing it for a while the stones stay warm all night with heat conducted directly to the sleeping occupant and radiating into the room.
The wall was made of clayey mud and stone. A stone footing was laid down and over this a wall of mud was built. To save on mud, stones were included into later wall courses. The mud was dug from a pit in front of the hut and left a large hole with a volume of about 2.5 cubic metres.
The finished hut has a swinging door made of sticks. The inside is dark so I made a torch from tree resin. A broken tile with resin on it acts as a small lamp producing a lot of light and little smoke. The end product was a solid little hut, that should be fire and rot resistant. The whole project took 102 days but would have taken 66 days were it not for unseasonal rain. For a more in depth description see my blog (https://primitivetechnology.wordpress…).