The glow of a lantern light joins the flicker and crackle of the fire in a potbelly stove to keep you company while your boots dry by the stove, and the November wind howls outside. Warm and comfortable, you’ll get a good night’s rest in the cabin, ready to get out to your stand at the crack of dawn.
Who hasn’t dreamed of building their own hunting cabin? A place to get away from the smartphones and computers of the everyday rat race, to stay warm and dry on a cold night, and be able to hunt as soon as you step out the front door.
Land to build a cabin on is one hurdle (that’s for another story), but building your own cabin, do-it-yourself style, is not out of reach. Sure, it’ll be a learning experience and plenty of hard work.
But with a few extra tools and the right materials — it’ll be well worth your sweat equity.
🏠 The tiny house concept
The tiny house movement has gained a lot of followers in the past two decades, and many preppers are following this trend because it can offer them great alternatives to expensive bug out location or complex survival shelters.
A tiny 10- x 12-foot shack is an ideal size for minimal living. It’s a comfortable space for two people to store some gear in, cook, eat, and rest during a week-long hunt. Its dimensions are especially versatile. The design includes a space-saving loft (with a small window) for sleeping or storage, plenty of windows on the ground floor, and the option of a skylight if even more light is desired.
There are plenty of alternative interior plans, or you can adapt it to your needs and dreams. This cabin is built using conventional 2×4 construction methods and can easily be modified with sustainable construction in mind. For example, a metal or corrugated plastic roof will allow you to collect rainwater, and solar panels will generate power for electric light, a radio, or a computer.
There is room for a fold-out double bed downstairs, in addition to the 4- x 8-foot loft space. A wood-burning stove provides heating and cooking facilities; it can be moved outside during the summer to help keep the interior cool.
If you’re looking to save some extra cash, windows, doors, screens, and other assorted items can often be found for reduced prices as factory seconds or minimally blemished models at building suppliers.
Step 1 in building your survival shack – The floor
Cut two pieces of 2×8 pressure-treated lumber 11 feet, 9 inches long for the front and back floor frames, and two pieces 10 feet long for the side floor frames. (The back and front pieces are shorter than the final length of the house to allow for the two 1½ inch thick side floor frames.)
Assemble them as a 10- x 12-foot rectangle on the blocks, and nail them together with four 3½ inch galvanized nails at each corner.
To strengthen the floor, place two 12-foot-long 2×6 P.T. boards (nailed together) under the middle of the house floor. Depending on your building site, you might have to dig and/or add support such as compacted dirt, rocks, or concrete blocks to take the girder level with the bottom of the floor joists.
Place a mark at 16-inch intervals along both 12-foot sides of the floor frame, and cut eight pieces of 2×8 P.T. lumber 9-feet, 9-inches long. Nail metal joist hangers at each 16-inch mark. (Use special joist hanger nails.) Slip the joists into the pockets of the hangers and toenail (nail at an angle) through each joist and into the center girder as well.
This type of corner block foundation is considered “temporary,” and makes it possible to move the building if the need arises.
We used economical #2 pine boards for the flooring. They are easy to carry, have an aromatic smell of the Northern pine forests, and leave little waste. Small leftover pieces can easily be split with a hatchet and used as kindling.
Installing the floorboards is not difficult. Install the first board with the lip on the bottom and face-nail the board to the joists. Spread a bead of PL 400 construction adhesive on top of the joists and use 3-inch galvanized finishing nails to face-nail the boards. Use a nail set to sink the nail heads 1/16-inch below the surface.
Step 2 in building your survival shack – Wall framing
Start the back wall frame by cutting two 12-foot 2×4 pieces for the bottom (sole plate) and the top plate. (You will be adding a second top plate later to tie the walls together.) Use the floor that you have just completed to lay out the pieces to be nailed together.
Cut nine 2×4 studs 79½ inches long and assemble them as shown. Measure and mark along the 2×4 plates at 24-inch intervals and nail them to the studs using two 3½ -inch nails at each joint.
The two end posts consist of two studs with three 18-inch 2×4 blocks spaced between them. This will allow for a 1-inch nailing surface in case you decide to finish off the interior with drywall or paneling. Measure the diagonals of the completed wall to make sure they are equal and nail 1×4 braces onto the top corners to keep the wall square.
Cut the 1×4 corner braces 36 inches long and miter the ends at 45 degrees, then nail them to the top plate and the end stud. Set them into the studs and plates if you plan to finish the interior.
To raise the rear wall frame, temporarily nail a 2×4 to the outside of each end stud. These will act as braces until you add the adjoining sidewalls. To keep the wall frame from slipping off the edge of the floor while you raise it, temporarily screw three short blocks to the floor frame.
Lift the wall frame up in place, check the vertical with a level, and temporarily nail the bottom of the 2×4 braces to the floor frame. Raise the other three walls the same way. Add another layer of 2x4s, with overlapping joints at the corners.
Step 3 in building your survival shack – Rafters
You will need 14 2×6 rafters spaced 24 inches apart. Start by cutting 2½ inches off the end of an 8-foot 2×6 to make it 93½ inches long. Following the Rafter Detail, shown above, measure up from the bottom edge of the 2×6 and make a mark (see Mark 1).
Place a framing square on the mark and adjust it to measure 4¾ inches to the top edge of the rafter and 2¾ inches to the bottom edge. Mark this profile and cut off. For the top end of the rafter, measure down 4½ inches on the end of the rafter and cut off.
A bird’s mouth notch enables the rafter to sit properly on the top plate. Measure up 7 3/8 inches from the bottom edge of the rafter and make a mark (see Mark 2). Again, place the framing square on the mark and adjust it to measure 1 inch up and 1 7/8 inches across. Mark and cut the bird’s mouth notch using an electric jigsaw.
Using this rafter as a guide, mark and cut an identical rafter to make a pair.
Lay the two rafters on the shed floor, so their tops are touching, and place a temporary 10-foot-long 2×4 in the bird’s mouth notches to act as a spacer. To hold the rafters together, temporarily screw a 1×4 across the middle.
To join them together at the top, cut two triangles of ½ -inch plywood, 18 ½ inches across the base and 12 inches on the two other sides. Screw these plywood gussets to the top of the rafters with 1.-inch screws. Using a jigsaw, cut a 3½ – x ¾ inch slot in the top for the ridge board. Place the pair of rafters on the top plates to check for fit and adjust the cuts if necessary.
Using the first rafter as a guide, mark and cut the rest of the rafters.
To locate where the rafters will go, make a mark at 24-inch intervals along the top edge of the ridge board. Lay the ridge board down flat on the top wall plates and transfer the marks onto the outside edge of the top plates so that the rafters will rest directly over the wall studs. This will help distribute the weight of the roof directly down to the foundation.
Nail a temporary 12-foot 2×4 (mast) to the center of the end walls to help stabilize the placement of the rafters in the next step. Starting with the end rafters, lift them into place and screw them to the wall plates. Screw the ridge-board into the two slots and continue adding the remaining rafters.
Installing the roof is fairly simple with 1×2 shiplap lumber, which comes in 12-foot lengths, and the building is 12 feet long.
Step 4 in building your survival shack – Siding
We chose 1×8 tongue and groove, V-groove horizontal siding for this cabin because it is attractive, easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and can be painted or stained any color. If this does not fit your taste, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
The lowest boards should be back-primed with a rot-preventing sealer, because this is where rainwater will splash up when it falls off the roof. The bottom board should overlap the top 2 inches of the floor frame.
Install the siding with the tongue facing up and the V-groove facing out. Each successive course is nailed through the tongue at an angle, using 2-inch galvanized finishing nails. Corner trim will cover the ends of the boards later.
Step 5 in building your survival shack – Loft
A loft is ideal for storage or even to sleep in — plus, it’s easy to build. All you need are two 4x4s 10-feet long, one 2×4 10 feet long, and four 1×12 shiplap pine boards 12 feet long.
Space the 4x4s on top of the wall plates at 24-inch centers and the 10-foot 2×4 on top of the plates on the end wall. Secure them in place with screws. Cut the 1x12s into 4-foot lengths and nail them in place.
Step 6 in building your survival shack – Interiors
There are no limits to the variations on this design. A few cabinets, a sink or washtub, a small table with chairs, a mirror, lamps, the firewood box, and a few other basic amenities are all this hunting shack would need to be comfortable.
If you are looking to really go green, there are some additional features you can add: two 100-watt solar panels, a portable wood-burning stove, a catchment system for rainwater, and fold-out furniture to maximize living space.
There are a few more choices to make for your cabin, such as roofing material, siding material, etc. Plus, whether to insulate it, add plumbing, propane, or electricity. But those are all totally up to you.
This article was submitted by Dan F. Statorn.
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