"Lamon's log cabin, the first built in Yosemite Valley, Calif." Their work completed, two men sit on stumps in front of the finished product, ca. 1895.
“Lamon’s log cabin, the first built in Yosemite Valley, Calif.” Their work completed, two men sit on stumps in front of the finished product, ca. 1895.

In this 7th installment in a series regarding the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919, we’ll build a table, bench and work on securing our food. If you missed the beginning of the series, please follow the links below.

1st Installment: Selecting a location and initial preparation of a wilderness camp

2nd Installment: Construction of walls, floor, door and windows for a wilderness cabin

3rd Installment: Construction of gables and roof for a wilderness cabin

4th Installment: Finishing the wilderness cabin door, window and filling cracks

5th Installment: The stove

6th Installment: The bed

Building a table and bench

From the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919

The table is next in order. Many trappers think a table too much of a luxury and accordingly dispense with it, but a home camp is far from complete without it and it is an easy piece of furniture to make. It should be placed on the south side of the cabin before the window, so that we can get the advantage of the light. We will stand up two posts of the proper height about two feet from the wall and six feet apart. These we secure in place by nailing them to the floor. From the tops of these posts to the wall we place flattened pieces of wood and secure them by nailing to the wall and to the posts. This is the foundation or framework for our table. The top we will make of three straight eight-inch logs hewn on one side to the center, and flattened on the other side at the ends. When placed on the supports, flat side up, and fastened by nailing at the ends, we have the table completed. It is rough, but it answers our purpose as well as a more finished one.

camp table and bench

In front of the table we will place a bench. This we will make from a hewn log, half round, and in the round side near each end we bore holes for the legs. These are bored at such an angle that the legs will stand about 20 inches apart at the base. The legs are made of two-inch sticks whittled to fit the holes and driven in, the lower ends being cut off afterwards at the proper length to make the bench stand firmly, and at the right height. We will also make another shorter bench which we will place by the side of the stove. Perhaps when a stormy day comes we will make a couple of chairs, but for the present at least these two benches will serve very well.

We cannot be long in the woods until we realize the need of some means of securing our food where it will be inaccessible to woods mice. These little creatures are a serious pest and can soon ruin a bag of flour or a side of bacon if they are able to get at it. In an effort to place my flour where they could not reach it I suspended it from the ridgepole with a piece of codfish line, but the nimble mice went up and down that cord like monkeys. Then I made a platform and suspended it from the roof with four pieces of hay baling wire. On this I placed my food; but even here I found it was not safe, for the mice dropped onto the platform from the roof poles. The only way I found that was perfectly satisfactory was to make a tight box with a well fitted cover in which to keep the food supply. As a result I made a food box for each camp.

We have now found that it is necessary to have some means of preserving our food from the ravages of mice, and profiting by experience we do not waste our time on theories, but set to work to make a tight wooden box. If it were a time of the year when bark would peel we would make a frame of poles and cover it with bark. But this is impossible now, so we split boards from balsam and cedar and hew them flat and smooth. For the ends we make these boards two feet long and fasten them together by nailing strips across the ends of the boards after they have been placed side by side with the edges fitting one against another. The boards for the bottom and sides are made three feet long and these we nail to the ends. The cover is fitted to the top, but is not fastened.

In the final installment in this series about building a wilderness camp, we’ll put the finishing touches on the interior of the cabin, including shelves and a tub to wash clothes.