An 18-Year-Old Spends a Year Alone Building a Log Cabin in the Swedish Wilderness: Watch from Start to Finish




Henry David Thoreau has at times been upbraided by critics for “everyone’s favorite incriminating biographical factoid,” writes Donovan Hohn at The New Republic: “During the two years he spent at Walden Pond, his mother sometimes did his laundry.” The author who became “America’s original nature boy “played at rugged self-sufficiency,” it is said, “while squatting on borrowed land, in a house built with a borrowed axe”; he played at rugged individualism while relying on friends and family to support him.

Who did Erik Grankvist’s laundry, we might wonder, while he built a log cabin alone during the year he recorded in the edited video above? Grankvist shows how, at 18, he “ventured out alone with only a backpack full of simple hand tools to actualize my dream… [to] build my own traditional off grid log cabin by hand from the materials of the Swedish wilderness. Just like our Forefathers did.” You may notice, or not, the cleanliness of Grankvist’s clothing. You may wonder, “who washed his forefathers’ clothes?”…


Or, you might say, “this isn’t a video about laundry but about building a log cabin!” And you would be correct. As an experiment in building a log cabin from scratch with (mostly) just a few hand tools, it is an extraordinary document: “I had no previous experience in building, gathering materials or filming,” Grankvist writes. “So I started studying myself the old arts and learning from my grandfather and mentor Åke Nilsson. I began to cut down trees and film with my phone, learning as I go.”

The project really picked up steam once Grankvist graduated high school, he writes, suggesting he did not actually live full time in the woods but that someone fed, housed, and clothed him while he worked. We see none of this in the video. We do see a tractor at one point, and Grankvist admits he’d rather the modern extravagance have been a horse.

Does it ruin the magic a little to wonder about the mundane details of the builder’s life — food, clothing, healthcare, etc. — while watching him cut his own timber, clear the land, build a stone foundation and, on top of it, a rustic little cabin? Maybe a little. But as extraordinary as it is to watch an 18-year-old Swede build a log cabin by himself, one also can’t help but remember it takes a village worth of forefathers, and mothers, to make an 18-year-old Swede. But Grankvist does not present his visual Walden as a how-to guide (any more than Thoreau did), but as his own statement of independence, one worth making even if it doesn’t tell the full truth about self-sufficiency.

Related Content: 

Japanese Carpenters Unearth 100-Year-Old Wood Joineries While Taking Apart a Traditional House

How Frank Lloyd Wright’s Son Invented Lincoln Logs, “America’s National Toy” (1916)

How to Survive the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: An Online Course by Michigan State

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


by | Permalink | Comments (6) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (6)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • lilly says:

    funny, i didn’t think about his mum or his laundry once. just his accomplishments, which are many.

  • Hans Bumgarth says:

    Såg ni inte att han hoppade i sjön med kläderna på sig, och sedan plockade av dem, kanske var de så han gjorde hela tiden!
    Varför hänga upp sig på detta, bättre se till vad han ensamt fixade och ställde allt ensam det tycker jag är värt att framhålla, Typiskt en amerikan, skulle komma med denna saken, det visa att de är avundsjuka, de vill vara Störs, bäst kunna allt, så kommer en kille på 18 år och drar dem vid näsa, det har de tydligen svårt att ta in,
    Nä, heja Erik, du är bäst, stå på dej, du kan göra storverk, Önskar dej all lycka till. Har du fixat någon brunn nu, så du får vatten?
    Vi hörs kanske om du har tid, vill se mera av dej.
    Hälsningar
    Hans Bumgarth
    Kalmar

  • ken long says:

    it only ruins the magic if you are dumb

  • Drew Hillier-Cicconi says:

    I agree with Hans who stated: “Did you not see that he jumped into the lake with his clothes on, and then picked them off, maybe they were like he did all the time!” This 18 year old kid is impressive, especially when he takes a swim in an ice pond. His woodworking skills are excellent. Sir, only a complete wanker would throw shade at this wonderful kid.

  • Mary Brown says:

    I saw him do his laundry! In the lake, he took a bath and wrung out his clothes.

    All that he did was simply amazing! He gave us a true picture of what our forefathers did, for their families. There were no lumber mills, chainsaws or hardware stores to pick up nails and screws. Not to mention grocery stores or food delivery.

    He had to plan when to plant those veggies, so they’d be available to him, at the same time building that cabin.

    I never saw what he did with the window, but I saw the door he built, so I can imagine!

    Those cold baths killed me to watch. Lol I love my hot ones. The sauna was epic!

    Where did the 2 dogs and the cat come from? How nice for the company. :)

    His blacksmithing was as amazing as all his woodworking, and stone cutting too?! Wonderful! And so precise! I could sure use that kind of work on my 3 acres, in this forest!

    I bet your family is so proud of you, young man! Awesome job! Big hugs!

  • REGY says:

    HOLA ERIC, TE FELICITO. ERES UN JOVEN ASOMBROSO…CUANDO VEIA TUS VIDEOS TE ADMIRABA PORQUE SENTÍA QUE SOLO UNA PERSONA CON DESEOS DE MOSTRAR QUE TU SOLO PUDISTE CONSTRUIR ESA CABAÑA EN MEDIO DE ESA MONTAÑA SIN SENTIR MIEDO A LOS ANIMALES SALVAJES ES DIGNO QUE ADMIRAR.
    YO VI EN UN VIDEO QUE EN EL LAGO UN DIA SALIO COMO ALGO EXTRAÑO QUE NADABA. ¿ QUE ERA ESO ERIC?.

Leave a Reply

Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.