Cabin restoration project – The final episode!

I thought I’d begin this post with a brief explanation as to my lack of posts here this summer. Besides keeping my nose to the grindstone at work, I have been working hard on the cabin and old homestead. Truth be told, it hasn’t been all work and no play, as the Woodsboy and I were privileged to enjoy a month-long visit to Finland by my parents in July. Before I get any deeper into this blog post, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to my parents for the many hours of hard work they put in at the cabin while they were here. If not for their multiple weekends of laboring in clouds of mosquitoes and horseflies, this post would not have been possible, because I would have been much further behind in my work there. I promise I’ll go easy on you the next time you visit, guys! ;)

Now to the business at hand! I entitled this blog post “The final episode!” not because it’s the last time you’ll see the cabin (far from it), but rather because it has reached a stage of completion where the remaining work is minor interior work, such as figuring out the final layout of the kitchen, decorating, hanging curtains etc. Before I show you the completed cabin, I thought I’d share a little of the history of the building. Based on an inscription in pencil which I found on one interior wall, the original structure (a storage building) was built from aspen logs by Herman Kröger in 1918. Herman and his brother Ville first established the farm at that location in 1880, when the old farmhouse was built. Several roof replacements over the years fortunately kept the logs in good condition, which made it possible for me to have the building disassembled, reassembled and finished by a builder almost a century after its original construction.

Without further ado, may I present to you a few pictures showing the progression of the building from a dilapidated storage outbuilding on its last legs in the summer of 2014 to a 22.3 m2/240 sqft (or 33.5 m2/360 sqft if you include the loft) 4-season cabin in the summer of 2015…

The middle and right-hand parts of this building would become the cabin, whereas the left-hand section was discarded because it was in in bad condition.

The final appearance may not be what some of you expected, as it looks less like a backwoods cabin and more like a traditional Finnish farm cottage, but to be honest, that’s exactly what it is. I plan to build a rustic cabin in the woods myself someday, but until then, this place will have to do. ;) You may have noticed that the sauna building behind the cabin hasn’t changed since last summer. Rest assured it will get new front steps and a fresh coat of paint before the winter.

“And what about the inside of the cabin?” you ask? Well, I have not managed to do too much work on the interior because of the sheer amount of work still drawing my attention outside. Every time I go out to the cabin, I scramble to get done as much as possible, because once the snow falls, a lot of outside jobs will be nearly impossible to do. When the winter comes, I’ll focus more on finishing the kitchen, decorating etc. Since I have made some small additions since my last post, though, I’ll include a few pictures of the interior. You’ll notice in the first few pictures that the woodstove is near the loft stairs. This was only temporary, as it had not yet been installed when I took the pictures. It has since been installed on the opposite wall and used both for heating and cooking.

Living room area with mostly vintage furniture.

Kitchen area also has older furnishings, including the vintage propane stove.

Besides working on the cabin itself, a few other projects have been in the works at the old homestead site. Since there will be nowhere near enough time to clean up the wood pile where the storage building and wood shed once stood, I covered it over with a huge green tarp to make it a little more pleasing to the eye.

I also had a backhoe operator demolish an old sauna building which was literally falling off its foundation and could not be salvaged. The demolition debris is under the green tarp in the second picture and will be disposed of this fall. The building used to stand directly to the right of where the tarp is now.

The old sauna is the little red building on the left.

Finally, I got rid of the biggest eyesore at the old homestead: a huge pile of garbage that accumulated over a period of two years as I cleaned out the old house and storage building, demolished the old outhouse, cleaned up garbage I found in the woods etc.

As I mentioned above, my parents were instrumental in helping to get the cabin to where it is today. Besides doing a lot of grunt work clearing piles of heavy branches and garbage and also handling many other odd jobs, they helped tremendously in painting the exterior of the cabin. This blog post just would not be complete if I didn’t show them in action!

So what’s next for the new-old homestead? I’m hoping to get an electrical hook-up and indoor plumbing before winter so I can do my day job from there, but these things might have to wait until the spring. I will build a few structures to house firewood, continue repairing the facade of the old farm house and do some autumn landscaping as well before the winter hits. I’ll work on the cabin interior and clean up inside the old house during the winter and then work on a greenhouse and garden in the spring. Now that the cabin work is winding down, I will be able to spend some more time on my outdoor pursuits as well. :)

Thanks for reading!

Cabin restoration project – Construction is finished, furnishing has begun

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know that I have been spending just about all my free time working on getting the homestead site into shape and have not been able to do much bushcraft-related stuff. I’m hoping to bring you more bushcraft posts once the homestead work slows down. Until then, may I present you with another cabin post. :)

I’ll spare you the list of a million odds-and-ends jobs I’ve been working on out at the old farm and cut to the slightly-more-intersting chase, the cabin progress. The contractor finished the tiny bathroom shell, built a safety railing next to the stairs-opening in the loft floor, fitted the remaining molding, finished the front porch and covered the ends of the logs with boards in the traditional style. The only job left for him to do is to install the wood-burning stove.

Once this work was complete, I had to brush off the entire interior surface of the cabin to remove the sawdust which had accumulated from the construction work. Then I oil-treated the floor, and when that dried, my friend Juha and I moved some furniture in, hung cabinets etc. By the way, the kitchen setup is still VERY temporary. I’m still not sure what kind of counter and sink will be there, but I had to put something there in the meantime. Decorations and such will also be added as time goes on.

Juha also graciously helped me to demolish what was left of the old storage building whence the cabin came and the old wood shed as well. There’s still a lot of wood to clean up, but at least the most dangerous and tricky part is done.

The Woodsboy and I have spent two nights in the cabin since my friend and I set it up. With a total floor space (including the loft) of 33.5 m²/360 sqft, it was a lot more comfortable than staying in the 3.7 m²/40 sqft changing room in the sauna building! While we were there, we set up the kitchen with cooking and eating implements and a 20 L water tank over a basin for use as a temporary sink. We also installed a Nature’s Head composting toilet in the bathroom.

The first night we were there, we slept a little cool (as I mentioned, the wood stove hasn’t been installed yet), so the next day I had to figure out a way to warm up the place. I rediscovered a vintage Swedish kerosene heater in the old farm house, dusted it off, checked the fuel (full tank), adjusted the wicks and lit it up. It worked perfectly, and we had heat! To be on the safe side, we stayed nearby outside the cabin while the heater was running and then vented the building after turning it off to let any fumes out.

I’m happy to report that we also have our first piece of “farm machinery,” a classic Stiga riding lawnmower given to us by the Woodsboy’s great-grandparents and repaired by his grandfather. This will be a huge help in keeping the lawn under control, not only so it looks nice, but to keep ticks and snakes away as well. It can also be used for light-duty hauling jobs around the future homestead.

As with the lawnmower, all the furnishings you see in the cabin were either given to me second hand or scavenged from the old farm house, with the sole exceptions being the wood-burning stove and composting toilet, which I bought new. The stuff may not be pretty, but the price is right! ;)

I’m very happy with the progress that has been made so far, but there’s still much to do. By the end of the summer, the cleanup work should be done and the cabin should be painted, set up with electricity etc. I’ll also throw up some kind of firewood shelter in preparation for winter, as we will be spending a lot of time there then as well. Projects for the fall and the coming years include a greenhouse, chicken coop, gardens and lots more.

Until next time!

Cabin restoration project – Construction nears completion

For the past several weeks, the building contractor has been working hard to get the century-old brand-new cabin into shape and ready for occupancy. Since my last cabin update, all the windows have been installed and trimmed, the door has been installed, the floor insulation and flooring have been installed, the bathroom shell has been largely completed, the loft stairs have been built, some exterior insulation has been installed and covered and a lot of the front porch has been constructed. I imagine all the rest of the work by the contractor will be completed over the next week or two, and then it’ll be my turn to furnish the cabin, set up the kitchen and bathroom, paint the exterior etc.

Meanwhile, my friend Alex and I did some work of our own to the sauna, namely raising it up onto six concrete blocks left over from the cabin construction and digging out the area around and under the building for better ventilation underneath, to preserve the wooden beams the sauna is built on and to prevent mice from finding their way inside through the drain holes in the sauna (the beams/sauna used to rest directly on the ground).

I’ve spent just about every weekend for the last two months out at the future homestead site doing extremely uninteresting things like yard work (no yard work had been done there in 20 years, so you can imagine how much there is to do…), collecting all kinds of interesting garbage from around the property and throwing it onto the mountain of trash which has been accumulating and also fixing up the exterior of the old farm house to make it a little more presentable. After one or two more weekends of yard work, I think I’ll have the place the way I want it. Then I’ll start dismantling what’s left of the old storage building where the new cabin originally came from and sort through the wood to see what I can use for firewood and future building projects (chicken coop, greenhouse, firewood shelter etc.).

I’ll leave you with a picture of a stoat (mustela erminea) which seems to have made the old farm its home. Hope you enjoyed this update!

(Belated) overnight trip report – March 21st/22nd

Toward the end of March, I spent a weekend exploring the old farm woods and the surrounding area, finally locating all the boundary markers of the property and discovering some other interesting features of the “neighborhood” as well. At that time, there was still a good bit of snow on the ground, most of which has since melted, and the temperatures were a lot lower, too, with about -5ºC/+23ºF during the day and -12ºC/+10ºF at night.

Before choosing a new campsite and setting up camp, I wandered around looking for the back property markers, taking some pictures as I went along.

I found a nice, reasonably flat spot at a far corner of the property and set up the MIL-TEC tarp in my beloved Holden tent configuration. So far, I’ve been very pleased with this tarp, which I bought a little over a year ago.

Once my camp was set up, I located some potential firewood nearby. Besides a few smaller dead pine saplings, I found a nice larger dead pine which had partially fallen over some time ago. Getting a hung-up tree like this unstuck can be very dangerous, so I’m not going to give instructions on that there. All I will say is that it’s a good idea to read up on the subject and have an experienced tree feller go out into the field with you to show you how to do it. In general, though, the idea is to first cut the tree at the base and then carefully move up the trunk, cutting section by section, until it can be freed from the other tree.

I cut the trunk into campfire-sized pieces and also collected the dry branches from the top of the tree.

To ignite the dry branches, I would need something finer and easily flammable, so I went back to an area where I had remembered seeing lots of birch bark on the ground. This bark had been stripped off some trees when the loggers came through to thin out the forest last year.

After splitting up some of the sections of the pine tree I had dislodged and sectioned, I laid down some lower-quality, partially rotten pieces of wood in the spot I had chosen for the campfire. On this I placed a piece of birch bark, which I scraped with my BushProwler knife from Ilkka Seikku to create a fine pile of paper-thin shavings to ignite with my ferrocerium rod. I then added progressively bigger pieces of wood until the fire was ready for me to start heating up some food.

Once I had eaten and relaxed a bit, I decided to spend the evening exploring the area some more.

Plenty of animal sign:

Curiosity led me to climb some of the higher hills in the area, which rewarded me with a really nice view. First, looking down at my campsite:

This was followed by a short hike down to the lake, where I plan to do some fishing this season.

After hiking around, I sat by the fire for a long while, ate some dinner and watched the stars appear one-by-one as the sky darkened to night. I slipped into my nested sleeping bags in my poncho bivy and continued watching the sky through the doorway of my tent until I drifted off. After a good night’s rest, I arose in the morning, shook off the sleep and started the morning fire. Once again, I dined on Finnish rice pies (riisipiirakka) and a meat pie (lihapiirakka). I also boiled up some water for instant coffee in my Swedish mess kit lid.

Wanting to take advantage of being in the neighborhood, I packed up camp and hiked back to the cabin site, where I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the future homestead.

Hope you enjoyed this quick overnight trip report. Stay tuned for more!

Cabin restoration project – The rebuild has resumed!

After being on the back burner for several months due to other larger jobs, the building contractor has resumed work on the cabin! As you can see in the pictures, the windows are at varying stages of completion, the roof insulation and interior roof have been put in place, most of the exterior roof has been completed, most of the loft has been constructed (the ladder is temporary and will be replaced with stairs), floor construction is coming along and the old doorway on the front right side has been filled with logs taken from the interior partition wall, which has been removed. The contractor will be at the site again this week, so I am looking forward to going out there this weekend to see what has been done. We have finalized all the plans for the rest of the work, which should be finished over the next few weeks. Keep in mind that there is still a good amount of work to be done, so if something doesn’t look finished, it probably isn’t!

Stay tuned for a (belated) overnight camping trip report from late March!

The Woodsboy’s first knife

A little over a year ago, when the Woodsboy turned 5, I bought him his first knife. While this may seem too young an age to some people, I think this is largely a 1st-world viewpoint. From evidence I have seen, children in rural areas of developing countries and tribal societies around the world are accustomed to using knives at even younger ages. It’s true that this is largely out of necessity, as they don’t live in a world full of pre-packaged, store-bought items, but the simple fact is that they would not be allowed to handle knives like this if they were not capable of it. So under constant supervision, with safety always in mind and with a clear set of ground rules (e.g. always cutting away from himself, always returning his knife to its sheath when not in use, only cutting things Daddy lets him cut, letting Daddy keep the knife in a safe place when we’re not practicing with it etc.), I have begun teaching the Woodsboy how to use his first knife.

The knife in question is the Condor Junior from Marttiini:

Image linked from

I bought this knife from a local sporting goods store for around 25 Euros ($27.50). A few specs:

  • 8 cm (3.2″) Scandi-ground blade
  • Rounded tip for safety
  • Finger guard
  • Grippy rubber handle
  • Rugged leather sheath

So far over the past year or so we have used the knife together about half a dozen times, and our use has been centered around safe handling, as well as getting to know how the blade works and how to cut effectively. Most of what we do is cutting sticks, whittling and cutting string. As he gets older and progresses, we’ll work on wood carving and other things like that. I’m happy to say that the Woodsboy has never come close to hurting himself with the knife and am proud to see that he handles it in a safe way (praise for good behavior goes a long way!). If you are looking for a starter knife for a child, I highly recommend the Marttiini Condor Junior or a similar knife with the same level of quality and safety features. The Condor Junior is a solid, well-made knife which should serve my son well for years (BTW, the tip can be ground pointy later on when he is mature enough and can begin carving with the tip).

I will leave you with a picture from last weekend showing the Woodsboy practicing his feather-stick/shaving making skills. Needless to say, we were both very proud of his pile of shavings (which by the end was more than enough to get a campfire going). :)

DISCLAIMER: Utmost care is necessary when allowing children to use bladed tools. They should NOT be left unattended. You alone as a parent/guardian are responsible for deciding whether or not your own child is old/mature enough to handle bladed tools and for teaching and supervising them.

Will the real Weekend Woodsman please stand up?

It appears someone in Canada has purchased the domain name, is calling himself “Weekend Woodsman” and has been running a blog of the same name since July of 2014 (almost 3 years after I started my blog “The Weekend Woodsman”). I have never been contacted by him regarding use of the name “Weekend Woodsman,” so perhaps he was simply unaware of my blog and meant no harm. However, since both the content of our blogs and the climate we live in are similar, I would appreciate it if he would change the name of his blog (for example “Weekend Woodsman in Canada,” “Weekend Woodsman in CA,” “Weekend Woodsman in Newfoundland” etc.) so as to avoid confusion. I do not wish for people who are looking for my blog to think his is mine by mistake. Unfortunately, I’m having a tough time getting in touch with him, as I can’t log in to leave comments at his blog, send him an email etc. If anyone knows the owner of this blog/website or if you are able to contact him, please ask him to contact me.