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Swiss Family Robinson - 10 Ways to Build Anything

How would the Swiss Family Robinsons survive in an 'all hell breaks loose' scenario? Take a lesson in Survival Woodworking. Learn how to build anything with just a handful of tools, nails, and a few pieces of wood.
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When it comes to survival, the fact is, a lot of activities (like fishing, hunting, crabbing, and gardening) that are perfected with years of experience are simply not practiced by the general population.
Add one more activity to this list, and you now have what I dub the "Swiss Family Robinson" survivalist: That activity is woodworking. More on that in a moment.

What Can We Learn from the Swiss Family Robinson story?

The Swiss Family Robinson is a novel written in 1812, and later turned into four separate movies. The first in the 1940s, the second by Walt Disney in 1960 (which many of you might have seen at some point in decades past); one in 1976, and then the latest version, in 1998. The Swiss Family Robinson is a story that a lot of people are drawn to, even if some of it is implausible in real life.

For example several of the species of trees and the diversity of wildlife on the island in the story that the Robinson family survived on simply don't exist in the modern world -- not all in one place. Not to say that it's impossible to survive on an island if the right conditions exist, but just to say that in the original story they had things like naturally growing sugarcane and a variety of plants and animals that may not be present in most places.

In other words, in your "bug out" survival plans, don't factor in sugarcane -- not unless you live in a region of the world where sugarcane actually grows.

Not to take away from the Swiss Family Robinson story; it is an entertaining story, and one where good morals can be passed on to young readers/film watchers. In fact the story goes into detail as the Swiss Family Robinson parents instruct their children in building, planting, and even tending livestock (livestock were on board their boat, when it originally struck the reef, leaving them to fend for themselves and ultimately survive long term on the island).

Survival Woodworking

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The Robinson family had built themselves quite a life on the island. Out of this story, one of the most important pieces I think we can pick up is the amount of woodworking we see used in the story to make everything from a survival raft to a tree house -- a house high off the ground and literally built into the trees overhead.

So, what does it take to get into woodworking? Another word for woodworking is "carpentry"), which the general population at large simply doesn't have the time for. As a survival tool, the ability to construct weatherproof shelters and things like small aqueducts (for piping water to an area of planting and -- more importantly -- for drinking and bathing) can go a long way in an ongoing survival situation.

Basic carpentry is thankfully a skill that can be easily learned.

Surviving in a Remote Land

So you want to know how to survive in a remote land long term? Take a lesson from the Swiss Family Robinson story. Today, consider a simple "how to" course in woodworking from programs that will walk you through this, step by step. The point of learning from a simple woodworking program is so you can start using some of your spare time to start building projects, even small ones. That act alone can go a long way to getting you accustomed to working with wood. Then, down the road, building things like weatherproof shelters ("Survival cabin"), secure from wildlife and even well off the ground up in the trees ... isn't rocket science. Consider that tree houses are some of the first things primitive cultures (even today like the tree houses built by the Korowai tribe on the island of New Guinea) used successfully to live off the land and stay safe from dangerous wildlife and or people down on the ground.

Ultimately many of these tribal groups thrived in places that people from urban areas would believe impossible to live.

Yet, these primitive groups have stood the test of time in various jungles around the world. Though these tribes use primitive construction techniques, think of how far ahead of the game you can be with a number of modern woodworking techniques in your arsenal.

You, your children, your spouse, can all learn how to build anything with just a handful of tools, nails, and a few pieces of lumber.

Survival Tree House

So what all can you accomplish with just a few blueprints and some basic skills? Quite a bit. Skills that will teach you shed building in the real world for example (see link above), can prepare you for the actual day you have to build a shelter or cabin in the backwoods, even up in the trees.

Tree houses have coincidentally become trendy, with complex tree house designs showing up in a television series called "Treehouse Masters" currently airing in the evenings (many of these "tree houses" are way beyond what most might think of as a typical tree house). A number of people have posted photos of either their own tree houses, or others they've photographed when overseas (we can probably thank the National Geographic photographers for several of these in circulation).


With some basic woodworking skills, you can learn how to:

  • Build boxes for growing produce (think of the security you give your plants -- tomatoes, onions, carrots, sunchokes, etc. -- when you're putting plants in places people wouldn't think to look, if we ever find ourselves in a SHTF all Hell breaks loose scenario).

  • Underground hideouts and tunnels that won't cave in

  • Outhouses for primitive toilet facilities

  • Windows, doors, tables, and basic furniture like beds

  • Fences that can detour and even keep out dangerous wildlife from entering camp

  • Foot bridges and rope bridges

  • Mobile ladders and rope ladders

  • Ocean capable rafts and potentially small boats like canoes and oars or even a Jon boat or larger craft for the lakes or seas.
  • Check out Ted's Woodworking and My Boat Plans and give yourself a head start ahead of many preppers who are still only stockpiling resources and may not yet be learning what it actually takes to rebuild life, should a widespread collapse take place in our lifetimes.

    What if disaster strikes?

    What if one day we find ourselves living without amenities like grocery stores and electricity, should something really disastrous strike our world?

    Knowing how to build a cabin or tree house, weatherproof shed or shelter, and other useful tools like a boat or foot bridge could go a long way and even help save a few lives.

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