Made by Hands: Make it or Buy it?

by Todd Walker

Made by Hands: Make it or Buy it? |

My blogging buddy, Patrick Blair (Survival at Home), is credited with the idea for this post. He recommended I share all my DiY stuff in one photo. Haha… that’s a challenge which would take a wide-angle camera lens.

Instead, I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve made over the years in hopes of inspiring others to make their own.

We promote skills over “shiny object survival” gear around here. But honestly, I’m a gear junkie as much as the next guy. We’re members of a tool-using species!

Man is a tool-using animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.

~ Thomas Carlysle


There’s more to self-reliance than just buying gear and tools though…

It’s about making your own and living this philosophy… Prepare modern but practice primitive.

Could the 10 C’s of Survivability be reproduced in a 72 hour survival scenario?

Yup. However, specific skills, resources, and time are needed, which may be hard to come by. So, Buy it… but learn to make most, if not all, of these essential kit items.

  1. Cutting tools – Unless you’re a very talented craftsman or artisan, I recommend buying the best knife, ax, and saw you can afford.
  2. Combustion device – Learn to make primitive fire via friction and flint and steel. Flint or quartz can be used on the spine of your high-carbon steel cutting tool to light charred material. You carry a next fire kit, right?
  3. Cordage – Finding natural resources suitable for cordage expends calories. Making indigenous cordage is a good skill to learn though. I practice making cordage because I enjoy primitive skills. If you don’t, buy cordage for your kits.
  4. Cover – A USGI poncho or emergency space blanket doesn’t weigh much and can be found for under $20. I hammock camp with my bed sheet tarp but carry an emergency space blanket I purchased.
  5. Container – You must stay hydrated. Yes, you can make containers from the landscape but a metal container gives you anti-fragile options!
  6. Cotton – Never made it… buy this item for sure.
  7. Cargo tape – Practice making natural glues but buy and keep Gorilla Brand duct tape in your kits. If it can’t be fixed with duct tape…!
  8. Cloth sail needle – My metal repair needle is mounted on the back of my primary knife sheath with Gorilla tape. Primitive needles or awls can be made from bone, but, again, time and resources area factors.
  9. Candling device – Buy a quality head lamp that takes “AA” batteries. I carry a candle and have made fat lighter’d torches and oil lamps but a flashlight is too easy to pack.
  10. Compass – Navigation is the primary use for a compass. If that’s all your compass can do, you should consider buying another one. My multi-functional Alpine compass can also be used for combustion, signaling, self-aid, and tick removal.

Even if money isn’t tight for your family, there’s no better satisfaction than using gear made by hands… your hands!

Today is a celebration of making the stuff of self-reliance. Click the title links in the photo essay for details on how to make your own stuff.

Made by Hand

Below you’ll find DiY projects in two broad categories: Outdoor Self-Reliance and Homesteading.

Awesome photo courtesy of Connor M. Lamoureux on Instagram (adventureconwards)

Awesome photo courtesy of Connor M. Lamoureux on Instagram ~ adventureconwards

By the way, if you’re on Instagram, give us a follow at… ToddatSurvivalSherpa.

Make tag
Buy tagor



How do you know when it’s best to Make it or Buy it? Skill level, tools and equipment, space, time, and resources are determining factors on which project to tackle. The ultimate goal of making stuff is… making us more self-reliant.

What kind of person are you making?

Outdoor Self-Reliance

Wool Blanket Hunting Shirt

100% Wool Blanket = Awesome Hunting Shirt

My hunting shirt made from an Italian wool Army blanket

Oilskin Bed Sheet Tarp


DiY Hands-Free Ax Sheath

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System |


Outdoor Cooking Tripod

How to Build a Bushcraft Tripod for Your Outdoor Kitchen


Mountain Man MRE’s (Pemmican, Parched Corn, and Dried Fruit)


Smoke house teepee

Fixin’ Wax

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

Tree Bark Archery Quiver


Base Camp Sawbuck

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope -

Primitive Process Pottery

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery -

Brian Floyd, our main instructor, made a tasty stew in one of his pots for lunch.

Wooden Spoons

Spoon Carving with an Ax |

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery -

Blowing through a section of river cane to burn the bowl of my spoon

Char Material for Your Next Fire


Embers on charred punk wood

Waterproof Fire Starter


A door hinge pin chucked in my drill

Pine Pitch Glue Sticks

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks |

Fat Lighter’d Torch


Natural Cordage

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex |

Indigenous cordage I made this weekend. Clockwise from 12:00 ~ Dogbane; Tulip Poplar; Okra, and Yucca.

Base Camp Stump Vise

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects |


Sling Shot Bow

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Duct Tape Arrow Fletching

Ducttapevanes6 - Copy


Cigar Fishing Kit

Screw cap taped

Screw cap taped

Altoids Tin Oil Lamp

30 Ultimate DiY Gifts in Santa's Survival Sleigh

DiY olive oil lamp

Survival Gig


Used about 6 feet of cordage here


Compost Tumbler


30 Ultimate DiY Gifts in Santa's Survival Sleigh

DRG’s elevated compost tumbler

Rain Collection System



It’s not camo paint, but it blends in very well in the front yard.

Tomato Ladders

Todd's Tomato Ladders |

Four Tomato Ladders anchored and ready with an old wooden ladder on the far left.

Pallet Fencing

Up-cycled pallets, windows, and doors.

Up-cycled pallets, windows, and doors.

Rat Trap


Paper Fire Logs


The wet fire log ready for drying

Farmhouse Table

Pipe clamps putting the squeeze on the 2x6's

Pipe clamps putting the squeeze on the 2×6’s

Foldable Sawbuck

Sawbuck: Work Smarter in the Woodpile

Sawbuck in the woodpile!

Battery Storage Rack

Attention Men: Pinterest is a Prepping Goldmine

Power at your finger tips

Self-Watering Container Gardening 



Rendering Tallow

Almost ready.

Almost ready.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Get Your Gut In Shape: Down and Dirty Sauerkraut

Plumber’s Stove

How to Make a Plumber's Stove on Steroids for Cooking and Warmth |

Cedar Bench

Here she sits outside my shop

Here she sits outside my shop

Plantain Salve


This tin fits nicely in my haversack

Being a student of self-reliance, my expertise is limited in making a lot of the gear I own. However, it’s good enough to get the job done. For instance, the bed sheet tarp has been through extensive field testing and has performed like a boss!

Then there are DiY projects I’ve tried that failed miserably. The journey to self-reliance depends on failing forward.

Your turn. What’s your favorite gear or equipment you’ve Made by Hand? Let us know in the comments.

Keep Making the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Herbal Remedies, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills, Water | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Made by Hands: Make it or Buy it?

  1. I’ve said it numerous times, brother – you’re an inspiration to the bushcraft community! Thanks for letting us into your world and showing us all how you do the stuff every day!
    (Also, thanks for the shout out!)🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This article is super ! Compliments for the wool hunting shirt …there is a bit of italy 😀! Nowadays these army wool blanket are not so common!


  3. Vikki

    What is a “next fire kit”?


    • Hi Vikki, the idea behind a next fire kit is to have resources available to effect a fire with ease after starting your first fire. For instance, I carry a tin of charred material which can take a spark from flint and steel and be blown into my next fire. This mentality saves valuable resources in a survival situation.

      Hope this helps. I plan to do a post on the subject soon. Thanks for the question and stopping by!


  4. Pingback: Monday Musings 6/1/2015: Hurricane Season Starts Today! - Apartment PrepperApartment Prepper

  5. This article is great. I’ve learned something new . Thanks Buddy


  6. Pingback: The Number One Skill of a Good Woodsman | Survival Sherpa

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