Primitive Technology Handbook

primitive technology handbookPrimitive Ways makes use of the internet to teach us the lost knowledge of our Stone Age ancestors: making fire, tools, weapons, cooking utensils, musical instruments, shelters, and much more.

Not everything is that useful in the 21st century, but the site contains a wealth of information and many of the diy-projects sure look like fun. Moreover, they also combine traditional skills with modern materials, like in this four-hour kayak. Some articles are extremely short, but very useful – see the Inuit Thimble, for example.

Primitive Ways is also available as a book or a dvd, but all information is freely accessible on the website. Articles also appeared in the “Bulletin of Primitive Technology”, a print magazine from the Society of Primitive Technology.

Another good resource is “Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills“, available on Amazon. Update: “The origins of invention: a study of industry among primitive peoples“.

Pen Shaking Centrifuge

pen shaking centrifuge

“Sometimes, if a pen stutters, you can get it going again by shaking it. But sometimes it seems to take a lot of shaking. So I figured, what if I could shake it really really hard? What if I built a centrifuge to get the ink flowing again? And so this project came about!”

Hand tool overkill. Don’t miss the video (and the other projects by Matthias Wandel).

Via Make Magazine.

Low-tech Snow Scooters: Kick Sleds

kicksled“Kick sleds are the Scandinavian answer to winter bicycling. Kick sleds look like Zimmer frames on runners, or like a dog-less dog sled. Like bicycles, they increase the rider’s speed and freighting capacity while demanding very little extra physical input. Unlike bicycles they have no moving parts and are very easy to maintain”.

Read more:  1 / 2 / 3.

Kick sleds are sold by Esla, Kickbike, Norax en LjusdalsSparken.

Anti-skid detachable safety soles are a useful accessory.

Jailhouse Tech

jailhouse tech

Kevin Kelly notes an emerging category of street technology which might be called Jailhouse Tech:

“The material constraint of a prison inspire fantastic innovation and re-use of made parts. A lot of the devices made in this manner are crude weapons, but others include eating implements, tattoo instruments, music, and other tools.”

Above you see an electric cooking stove made with wire and brick. Kelly previously linked to Escape Devices, the work of photographer Marc Steinmetz. Also of note is Prisoner Inventions, a 2003 book which includes many drawings,some of them online (review 1 & 2).

Timbrel Vaulting in South Africa by Peter Rich Architects

Mapungubwe 12 Reader Sergio Carratalá informs us of yet another recent example of timbrel vaulting – a medieval building method that we described extensively in “Tiles as a substitute for steel“.

It concerns the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa, designed by Peter Rich Architects from Johannesburg. The project won the World Building Award at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) held in Barcelona last month.

The Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre, which is built to house artifacts from the region’s prehistory, was constructed using local materials and using the skills and labour of local people. Unemployed South Africans were trained in the manufacture of earth tiles and in building the
timbrel vaults.

Mapungubwe 17 Timbrel vaulting (or “Catalan vaulting”) is being rediscovered as an ecological building technique because it saves large amounts of building materials and thus embodied energy. This also makes it a cheap building method, at least in regions were hand labour is affordable. Via Sergio Carratalá.

More pictures below (courtesy of Peter Rich and the WAF).

[Read more…]

Windmills and Wind Motors – How to Build and Run Them (1910)

windmills DIY

“I have endeavoured in the following pages not only to interest the practical amateur in a branch of mechanics unfortunately much neglected, but also to present a series of practical original designs that should prove useful to every reader from the youngest to the most advanced.”

Chapter 1 : windmill evolution
Chapter 2 : a small working model windmill
Chapter 3 : a small American type windmill
Chapter 4 : a small working windmill
Chapter 5 : a practical working windmill
Chapter 6 : production of electricity by wind power

Windmills and wind motors – how to build and run them (1910).