Survival furniture might be a strange turn of phrase if you have never considered it before. Do you need furniture to survive? Is a certain kind of furniture suitable for survival purposes? What does it mean? And actually means a little bit of both.
Just because you are in the middle of a long-term survival situation that does not mean you will not have any call for or need of the various kinds of furniture we use every single day.
Obviously, you won’t be able to run down to your local big-box furniture store, IKEA or department store and grab a flimsy bookcase that will invariably fail in a couple of years after a society has started to smoke and rattle.
Like everything else you have to do as a prepper, you’ll have to come up with new furniture yourself.
To help you accomplish that, we are bringing you 10 dirt cheap survival furniture ideas that are perfect for thrifty implementation today, or for emergency implementation during a long-term SHTF survival situation.
All of these ideas are useful, achievable, and definitely have a survivor bent to them. Grab your saw and let’s get to work!
Table of Contents
Life Goes On, and That Means You’ll Need Furniture
Before you dismiss the idea out of hand entirely, hear me out.
You won’t necessarily need survival furniture for dealing with a short, sharp emergency or crisis when lives are on the line but you’ll definitely need it when you’re trying to persist and endure in a new world the emerges in the wake of a regional, national or even global catastrophe.
Don’t think so? Will you still need a place to store your things? Will you need a table to gather around? How about a bed to sleep in?
Do you have a garden? Will you need things to grow your plants in? How about just a place to sit down? Chances are you are starting to get it now if you didn’t already.
This survival furniture isn’t some crazy contraption that will help you get the drop on the bad guys, conceal your goods or do some other slick, Macgyver-esque trick. It could be, if you work hard enough!
No, most of these pieces are exactly what they appear to be. Functional, sturdy furniture that does what it is supposed to do and is easy to make from easily sourced materials with a minimum of tools.
The style is rustic, putting it kindly, but the functionality and the value is definitely there.
10 Dirt Cheap Survival Furniture Ideas
Below you will find 10 dirt cheap survival furniture ideas with links to plans and other information so you can create them and implement them yourself.
Obviously having serious woodworking or other DIY skills and appropriate tools will make your job a lot easier, but I took pains to pick out furniture plans that would be suitable and easy enough to whip together even under very austere circumstances.
Sharpen your pencil, grab your gloves and let’s get going!
You’ll always need a place to rest your head, and hopefully you’ll still have use of a proper bed and mattress in the aftermath of a major event, but if you don’t, you need not despair of spending the rest of your days sleeping on the hard and unforgiving ground in a sleeping bag atop a pile of pine needles.
With just a little bit of scaffold tubing and some appropriately strong fabric you can easily craft yourself a durable and surprisingly comfortable hammock, one that rivals all the features of a commercially produced model that you are likely to see swinging in someone’s backyard.
In fact, this is the ideal survival furniture project that you can put to use right away even before the apocalypse and not get your partner scowling at you!
The parts to implement this build should be easily sourced from any hardware store, construction sites for multi-story buildings and any other place where above ground work was ongoing.
One of the simplest human requirements is that of sitting down. Taking a load off. To rest, to eat, to think, to palaver. Of course, you can sit down pretty much anywhere, including anywhere in nature.
You’ll find no shortage of grassy patches, stumps, rocks and other improvised seating solutions. But none of them can truly rival a prop chair or stool for comfort, and being in contact with natural materials always raises the possibility that you’ll get damp, come into contact with insects or just get dirty.
No, it is better by far to get up off the ground in a reasonably ergonomic position for any number of purposes. That is why you should always have a comfortable, compact folding stool with you especially when taking off into the wilderness.
If you don’t have one, you can easily make one using some heavy duty fabric or strong leather and some thick wooden dowels.
This is a project that you can easily whip together in very little time assuming you have the materials and a few basic tools on hand. Even better, the whole thing folds up into a compact bundle that can easily be stuck into a pack or lashed to the outside of one in case you need it.
Sometimes you need sturdy, outdoor seating for multiple people or a rugged utility platform capable of supporting you or your gear.
For placement in a garden or in a household mud room, a bench is ideal. Most benches of this type are highly decorative in nature and embellished with all sorts of personal touches from trim to scroll work and customized finishes.
This bench is not a bench like that, but it is no less useful or practical. Made from wooden pallets that practically grow on trees, despite being made from trees, you can easily carve one up with a few simple cuts and then reassemble it into a sturdy seat that even provides out of the way storage beneath it.
The nice thing about this plan is that it partially relies on the existing, strong structure of the pallets themselves to improve the strength of the bench. You might be surprised to see how little cutting and assembly you’ll actually have to do for this build!
If there is one facet of life that is constant in every culture and every civilization in the world over it is the need for storage.
A thing to put other things in, for organization, for protection or to prevent loss. Most storage solutions take the form of a box in one form or another, and one of the most ubiquitous and useful of these boxes is the chest.
with the preponderance of modern storage solutions, you might think a chest or trunk is just a quaint and rustic luxury accent piece, but when so many of these modern accoutrements go the way of the dodo in the aftermath of a major catastrophe, you’ll have to come up with your own.
A chest should be the go-to choice, and is capable of resisting weather and pests alike for storing utilitarian and valuable items alike.
As simple as it is, this storage chest will require comparatively little effort compared to many more intricate designs, though building a box that is square and plumb is never as easy as the uninitiated believe. Even so, this is a worthwhile project in our selection of survival furniture.
It is hard to imagine life without tables as mundane as that sounds! You’ll always need something to set other things on, and the broad, level surface of a table is perfect for all sorts of purposes, from storage and workshop tasks to dining and planning.
There is just something about gathering around a table that is elemental to the human existence.
While building a table is usually one of the sophomore projects of the amateur woodworker, it still requires a fair amount of skill, knowledge and tools to pull one off that is both durable and useful.
An excellent shortcut is this one created from metal piping. Using stock lengths of metal piping along with the appropriate connectors allows you to create a table that is square and plumb while also being fantastically sturdy.
The hardest part for you will then just be finding a flat and level wooden surface to attach to the frame you build from your metal components. This could be something as rudimentary as a sheet of thick plywood or even scavenged materials like an interior door. The plan above will give you plenty of ideas.
No surprises here, most preppers love guns and have plenty of them just in case, if you know what I mean. But if you have guns, you don’t want to leave them lying around all willy-nilly, especially if you need to have them out and set handily around for good reasons.
If you need to keep your gun ready to go at a moment’s notice but out of the way, you need a gun rack.
Long guns are much more difficult to manage than handguns when it comes to keeping them conveniently located, and this gun rack can be used as a floor mount or wall mount anywhere required so that you or your group can grab your weapons and head out the door whenever it is required.
Compared to many other DIY gun rack plans on the internet this one is decidedly spartan but it is no less durable or useful.
Easily whipped together from any wood and pretty much any fasteners you can find, you won’t need to lean your guns up in the corner of the wall behind the door anymore.
Another useful table entry on this list is one of the most sublime and simple. You know those giant, industrial cable spools you see at the hardware store and at construction sites for larger commercial or industrial builds?
As generations of construction workers already know, those things work wonderfully as a table when flipped onto their side. They are the right height, the right diameter and definitely sturdy enough for almost any purpose.
They can work just as well for you as an indoor or outdoor table, and the only difficulty you’ll really have in this build is procuring the cable spool.
They are hefty, and large, and if you cannot roll them a short distance back to your home or domicile you’ll need a truck to move them. That being said, this isn’t really a build at all as they are ready to use as is.
That’s not entirely true, of course, as they can be modified for better usability, storage and other things but that is not strictly necessary when using one as a piece of survival furniture.
As anyone who has tried will tell you, planting and managing a garden is hard work, and you’ll never seem to have quite enough Land open in the right spot when you need it. Accordingly, most gardeners rely on a combination of role planting, raised beds and various containers to get the job done.
As you might expect you’ll be kissing over the counter planters and containers goodbye in the aftermath of an event, so what is a good green thumb to do in such a situation?
As you are no doubt expecting, the answer is make your own, and luckily making flower planters is not particularly difficult and can be done with any scrap lumber you happen to have handy.
Give yourself a leg up in your garden so you can work more efficiently while saving space but this clever cascading flower planter design linked above.
This isn’t the sort of build that is going to set the gardening world on fire, perish the thought, but it will allow you to tend to your plants, whatever they are, a little easier and even reposition them when the time comes.
If there is one problem that every serious, veteran prepper can feel just by mentioning it, it is a lack of shelving space.
No matter how diligent, no matter how efficient and no matter how clever, it seems like preppers entire lives is just a matter of filling up shelf space before complaining about a lack of it until they add more.
All jokes aside, it is a serious problem when you’re trying to organize supplies and equipment in a space efficient and easy to access way.
Everyone has their preference when it comes to shelves but for most of us we are purchasing free-standing shelving from any of the usual suspects.
Those days will come to an end in the future after a major catastrophe, and we’ll have to make our own shelving like we make and take care of everything else if we need more.
Luckily, building durable and reliable freestanding shelves is not particularly difficult if you follow the plan outlined above.
Common materials, be it lumber or metal piping, can be used to design and construct freestanding shelves to your own specification that will fit the space you need to place them in.
You might need shelving, but maybe you don’t need freestanding shelving. Instead, something on the wall perhaps? Nothing wrong with that, and can be just as useful and as sturdy as freestanding showing so long as it is made from durable materials and installed correctly.
We have plans that can come to your rescue to make some seriously strong wall shelving using scaffolding pipes and connectors similar to one of the plans above.
These materials are readily available pretty much everywhere as long as you know where to look, and you stand a better than average chance of nabbing them even after the end.
As with all such projects, you must ensure that these are being drilled and installed directly on wall studs or anchored into a sturdy masonry surface if you want them to hold any weight whatsoever.
Failing to do this will only result in them tearing out and ruining your wall once you load them heavy!
Survival furniture is just furniture that is useful in the context of long-term survival when life must continue more or less as it always has, and it is also furniture that is easily built using scavenged or repurposed materials for the cause.
Every plan included on the list above is well within reach for even a beginning DIY prepper and all are eminently useful.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.