Six-Day Cabin: What we learned in the woods

by Aaron Flack at

6 days, 264 two-by-fours, and a $6,000 budget = a place of our own.

Last month, three friends and I ditched our cramped apartments in New York City, Chicago, and Raleigh and met in a tiny town forty minutes outside of Portland, Oregon. The goal: fulfill our dream of building a cabin in the woods.

For six days, we worked to turn a small clearing situated in a stand of stately Douglas Firs into a place of our own. Our fearless leader, a builder by trade, had the right experience to guide the project. But the rest of us were total novices.

Why would a group of twenty-somethings burn a week’s worth of precious vacation days and travel thousands of miles simply to wake up with the sun, lug heavy pieces of wood through rain and mud, and essentially build a fort? It might sound nuts, but we wanted to use our hands for something other than tapping away at a keyboard or smartphone; to be directly responsible for building a place that we can enjoy together in the coming years; to use vacation for creation rather than escape; and, above all, to learn something new.

Despite dozens of small screw ups, as well as a few bigger mistakes, we managed to erect a solid ~200 square foot cabin over 6 days of building. The project consumed 264 two-by-fours, ~40 working hours, 3,000 photos (which add up to this time-lapse video) and about $6,000 (excluding the land we built on). I returned to Manhattan convinced that there is no better way to spend a week with close friends — a cabin build will beat a week in Cancun every time.

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