Primitive Technology — Where Tiny House Meets Survivor Man

As I am neither a millennial nor a survivalist, it might seem kind of strange that I am a fan of both the “tiny house” movement and the survival/wilderness teachings of Les Stroud and Bear Grylls. I could blame it on a childhood with too many fond memories of playing with my cousins in the tiny ice fishing house my grandfather built and the decades of tent camping, hiking and backpacking.

Or, I could just confess to a fascination with the creativity that comes into play when people are challenged with limited resources, conflicting priorities, and endless compromises.  Given both excuses, it seems fairly obvious that once exposed I would immediately be hooked by the videos and the blog of PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY. And I am!


The video and blog of a man (he doesn’t give his name) in North Queensland, Australia who has a hobby of makes things from scratch in the wild without using any modern tools or materials. Relying strictly on nature’s supply of rocks, water, plants, dirt/mud etc, he builds up from there.

In one of my favorite videos (embedded at the end), he takes tiny home building to a whole other level. He starts with a celt stone chisel to makes an axe, which he uses to fell trees, to frame his hut… He uses mud to build a kiln… He uses a rock and stick to start the fire to heat the kiln, then he uses twigs to form the clay, to make tiles, to fire in the kiln, to roof the hut… He uses rock and mud to build the floor and …

You get the picture. Simple and very compelling…

What makes PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY videos so compelling?

In no small part because he doesn’t talk in his videos. Not a word. Not anywhere. All you hear is the sound of his work and the sounds of nature around him. You become one with the moment. You commune with nature and the slap of wet mud on rocks and you focus on what he is doing. There is no drama. There is no one to tell you what you missed, no one to explain why he is doing it and no one to cue you into to what will come next.

So you watch, you learn, you become surprised and you become hopeful.

Surprised that for all the primitiveness of the tools and the simplicity of construction, he always manages to incorporate an unexpected level of sophistication. His considerable skills allow him — create a kiln, build a forge blower, incorporate an underfloor heating system…

Hopeful because PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY is a reminder that there are so many useful things that are doable with a few simple tools and materials, and a whole lot of sweat equity.

Here’s my favorite video so far — Tile Roof Hut (h/t KennyE):

Make sure to check out the PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY blog also.  He gives a lot of insight about each project – how long it takes, what types of tools and materials he used…

Screen clip making clay tile - Primitive Technology
Screen clip making clay tile – Primitive Technology

“A typical day of tile making was divided into a morning and afternoon shift: The morning involved firing a batch of dry tiles while simultaneously making another batch and leaving it to dry. The afternoon shift involved mining, processing clay and collecting firewood.

In total I made and fired 450 flat tiles and 15 curved ridge tiles. It took 25 firings with 20 tiles per firing (the 24th and 25th firing made up for breakages). A 26th firing was done for the roof capping tiles.”

I’d love to hear what you think!




  1. Thanks for introducing us to such an interesting blogger! Love the idea of that lifestyle but fear we have gone too far in the other direction as a society to be able to put down our smart phones and go out and do 😉


    1. I hear you. I love the idea of living simply, but being digitally connected is very important for society as a whole. I do think we will all need to find a more simple and sustainable balance. Though I would hope not to PT’s level of primitive, I appreciate PT’s need to learn and challenge himself and his willingness to share that knowledge. We assume too much has to be done mechanically and/or mass produced.


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