Live Free or Die’s Coolest D.I.Y. Tools and Structures

Beyond it’s status as platform for the strange diets, habits and lifestyles of a select few back-to-nature Americans, Live Free or Die is also inadvertently one of the most interesting craft-making shows on television. Each week, virtually every cast member demonstrates a new way of replacing modern structures and tools with primitive and recycled alternatives – fishing poles are fashioned from tree branches, spears forged out of wagon wheels, sap becomes glue.

Here are some of the coolest D.I.Y. buildings and tools seen on the show so far:

Fishing Rod

While some cast members hunt for protein or raise chickens, the dreadlocked, gauge-sporting Thorn isn’t expending energy tracking wild game or waiting for eggs to hatch. He instead wields a handmade fishing rod glued together with pitch resin from trees and strung with natural cordage, or thin, yet strong wood fibers twisted into twine. Though not as reliable as other pre-nylon fishing line alternatives such as horse hair or silk, the pulpy cordage has one advantage: it’s surprisingly easy to find in areas by streams, making the fishing pole a fairly easy tool to fashion.

Treehouse of Fence Posts

If one’s only goal when living in the wild is survival, seeking shelter in a tree can actually be a fairly smart idea. Treehouses aren’t threatened by floods and are removed from (some) ground-dwelling predators and pests. They’re also not incredibly difficult to build. With the tree as a foundation, Colbert built his tree house out of loose wood recycled from old buildings and broken fences. Beyond a few literal nuts and bolts, most of the treehouse is entirely salvaged from scrap material. Extra points here for putting almost the whole thing together with just a hammer and an axe (that he made himself).

Composting Toilet

Life without running water is not for the faint of heart. Relinquishing plumbing has a lot of downsides, but few compare to the loss of a toilet. Of course, some creative, less squeamish “wilders” like Gabe see this as yet another opportunity to recycle. Not so much an invention as a refashioning, Gabe’s composting toilet is really just a few buckets with loose dead leaves and brush at the bottom. Once the bucket is full, Gabe takes it to a spot where it won’t interfere with the drinking water supply, and essentially buries the feces with other decomposing soil and loose ground matter in an effort to fertilize the soil.

Cabin Chicken Coop

When grains are largely of the picture, protein becomes the primary source of satiety. Tony and Amelia wisely invest in the protein source with the greatest return: chickens. To house the chickens without using too much raw material, the couple decided to build a coop beneath their home. Constructed out of the floorbed wood from an old cabin, the coop is wedged between a slope and their home, with thin strips of wood paneling keeping the chickens in.


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