How to Make a Homemade Dutch Oven Lid Lifter (For Lifting Dutch Ovens & Their Lids: A Perfect Man Gift)
I felt the heat from the coals in the fire pit emanating outward, warming my hands as the contents of the Dutch oven simmered gently inside. There's really nothing like Dutch oven cooking outside over a campfire! It warms you, is delicious cooking, and brings people together over the fire. To be successful at Dutch oven cooking, you'll need a couple of tools! One is the Dutch oven itself. The best kind to use for campfire cooking is cast iron. Simply the best. The other tool that is MUST have is a lid lifter/oven lifter.
Now, you can buy these, but I find they are rather flimsy and just not as solid as the real "Cowboy Version". My Dad recently made us two of these cowboy style Dutch oven lid lifters--a large one meant for our large Dutch oven and a smaller one for smaller Dutch ovens. These will become family heirlooms, I'm sure, but in the meantime, their usefulness cannot be denied.
In honor and appreciation of my Dad, Ward Gubler, who has 80 years of outdoors experience, here are his directions for how to make a Dutch oven tool from hardwood. It requires some skill, but it's not hard, and these make wonderful handmade gifts for the men in your life who love cooking with their Dutch ovens!
By the way, I am NOT discussing the kind of fancy pants Dutch oven cooking, like the Le Creuset type you do in an oven in your house. I'm talking about REAL Dutch oven cooking. The kind you do outside in the wilderness.
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How to Make a Handmade Dutch Oven Lid Lifter
What You'll Need to Make a Lid Lifter:
1) A hardwood branch with a good fork
My Dad told me that the wood is very important. You can't just use any old wood or any old branch. You need to use hardwood for a couple of reasons. First of all, it won't break, and it's very strong. It will also last pretty much forever, and it's heat resistant to a large extent.
My father used Mountain Mahogany in this tutorial, because it's native here where we live. Depending on your area and ecosystem, you may have to choose from a good oak branch, hickory, or other kind of hardwood. Just be sure it's a type of hardwood.
You'll want to find a branch with a diameter of about 3/4 to one inch across. The fork should be a good size so it will be strong. The prong coming off the fork should be about 3/4 inch or so, but not too fat, or it may not fit through the lid of the Dutch Oven. Here's a picture of a good specimen:
2) A handy hatchet
The next thing you'll need is a good, sharp hatchet. I prefer the Husqvarna hatchet, but the Hults Bruk Compact Hatchet is SO on my wish list. You'll need some hatchet skills, and this project is perfect for the beginner. Here's a great book about how to use an ax/hatchet: The Ax Book: The Lore & Science of the Woodcutter. (At least I hope it's great---I just ordered it for my son and Mr. V. for Xmas.)
Directions for Making Your Dutch Oven Lid Lifter:
Step 1) Cut Your Branch
After you've found a good branch in a hardwood tree, you'll want to cut it out of the tree. You'll need to be sure to cut both ends (handle & fork) longer than you think you'll need because you'll be whittling it down somewhat.
Ultimately, you'll want the handle to be about 2 1/2 feet to 3 feet long and the handle off the fork to be about 4 to 5 inches long and about 3/4 inch (perhaps even a little less) in diameter.
Step 2) Skin off the Bark
If you don't have a hatchet, you can actually use a hunting knife, but a hatchet is definitely best. You'll just carefully shave off the bark around the stick until you have a nice, smooth surface. If you run across a knobby area from knots in the bark, just slice it right off.
Step 3) Enjoy Your Cowboy Version of a Good Dutch Oven Lifter!
The great thing about this type of Dutch oven tool is that you can use it to lift the entire Dutch oven by the wire handle or just the lid to check on your food!
You know, Mr. V. was thrilled with these Dutch oven tools made by my dad (and so was I). Because they are handmade gifts, they are so very meaningful. Not only is this a useful gift, it's also quite attractive hanging in the house or shed. Besides that, these can be passed down to our boys one day, at least those who love Dutch oven cooking---we have a couple of those for sure!
Perhaps you'll try making your own Dutch oven tool one day. But if you don't, I hope you'll consider learning how to make useful things for family members. Personally, these are my most favorite gifts in the world. My mom has made us the most amazing quilts, and like these Dutch oven tools, they will become heirloom treasures one day. These kinds of gifts have memories attached that are so much more meaningful than the kind you buy in the store.
If you are interested in some other skills you can start learning on your own to make handmade items, you might enjoy these articles: Hot Process Soap Making: How to Make & Customize Your Own Soap; 50+ DIY Natural Gifts You Can Make; Urban Homesteading: Is it Really Possible?; and 18 Things I Never Buy at the Store Anymore, and What I Do Instead.
What kinds of things do you make instead of buy? Have you ever given a great handmade gift? Do you have heirloom treasures made with love by family? I'd love for you to leave comments in the comments section! We all love hearing from you!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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P.P.S. This article was shared at To Grandma's House We Go and The Homestead Blog Hop link ups! Go check them out for more homestead information!