The Foxfire Book Series a Break-Down of Contents and Review

Today we present another article for our non-fiction writing contest – by Victoria S

The Foxfire books are widely collected by preppers, mainly because they cover how to do old time skills from the Appalachian mountains. There are 13 of them, although only 12 are numbered. However, they aren’t actually “how to live like a mountaineer” books, and they aren’t systematic in their coverage.

The various books include not only the “how-to” articles, but many historical articles and interviews and life stories of people in the Appalachians. Their usefulness to preppers can vary from book to book. To help others, I’ve gone through the first 10 (I don’t own the last 3) and pointed out which books cover topics of interest and how useful that coverage is. This will hopefully help folks pick which books are of interest to them, or at least prioritize which books to acquire.

Overall, I’ve found the first five books to be the most of use for me in my prepping career. The later ones are more concerned with history and folklore as well as interviews of people. That’s interesting also, but it is more difficult to get useful information out of them.

Foxfire 1:

– Extensive discussion of wood types, the tools and skills needed for felling and working lumber, and building a log cabin. Also how to build a chimney for your cabin. Many photos and diagrams of various designs and techniques.
– Making white oak splints that you then can make into baskets. Lots of photos.
– Chair making covered briefly with a few photos.
– Soapmaking. More anecdotal than a systematic step-by-step discussion of the process. Photos.
– Cooking in a fireplace, with a dutch oven, and on a wood stove. Also recipes to go with the article, including how to preserve vegetables and fruits. Very quick coverage of a very extensive topic.
– Slaughtering, dressing, and curing (smoking and salting) a hog, along with recipes. Many photos.
– Hunting, dressing, and cooking wild animals. Reasonably extensive but not many photos.
– Weather signs. Quick coverage.
– “Moonshining as fine art” – discusses some of the tools needed as well as how best to hide your still. Not a lot of diagrams or photos. Certainly not a “how-to-moonshine” guide.

Foxfire 2:

– Beekeeping, with mainly text coverage and a few photos.
– Finding and using spring edible wild plants. Many photos and diagrams.
– Making an ox yoke with photos of the process and diagrams
– Wagon and wagon wheel making, although it’s not terribly extensive
– Making a tub wheel for a water mill. This would be used in place of an undershot or overshot mill wheel. Lots of diagrams and photos.
– Making a foot powered lathe. Lots of photos but only one diagram of the design.
– “From raising sheep to weaving cloth” – covers production of cloth including spinning wheels and looms. Lots of photos and diagrams.

Foxfire 3:

– Hide tanning, including rawhide making and small discussions of various ways of using bark, brains or alum.
– Cattle raising – mainly historical, but including a brief discussion of ear-marking
– Banjos and dulcimers. Making and using them. Extensive discussion with many photos and diagrams.
– ginseng finding and uses. Lots of historical coverage along with some photos and discussion of uses.
– summer and fall edible wild plants. Many photos and diagrams, very large section.
– smokehouse construction, small section with a few photos and diagrams
– building a lumber kiln, just a few photos and diagrams, not extensive coverage.
– construction of butter churns. Lots of photos and diagrams illustrating the process.
– sorghum harvesting and pressing, a very quick treatment in a few pages.
– a quick coverage of making brooms and brushes, with only a few photos. Only a couple of pages.

Foxfire 4:

knife making. Pretty much a basic introduction, with diagrams and photos.
– fiddle making, with diagrams and photos. More of an introduction to the subject than an in-depth treatment.
– a section on gardening. This is more anecdotal than systemic. Lots of hints and tricks, not so much a how-to-guide.
– wooden sleds. Diagrams and photos of making some.
– bird traps, deadfalls, and rabbit box traps. Diagram of each, but not an extensive treatment with many different types.
– making tar along with photos.
– logging. Not many photos or diagrams, but some historical discussion.
– water systems, including spring houses. Several different designs and plans are given. Includes a brief discussion of dowsing.
– cheese making, with some photos. Very brief coverage.

Foxfire 5:

– a large section on ironmaking and blacksmithing, including blast furnace construction, making a variety of tools, and some on horseshoeing. Lots of photos and diagrams.
– a very beginner’s guide to gun smithing, including barrel making, stock making, and black power basics. Includes information on flintlocks, including how to create the flints.

Foxfire 6:

– making wooden locks with tumblers. Very interesting, with photos and diagrams.
– shoemaking, including diagrams, patterns, and many photos to illustrate the process. Doesn’t cover many different types of shoes, however.
– very large section of games and how to make handmade toys. Toys include apple head dolls, wooden ball and cups, bull roarers, stilts, toy ride-on wagons, etc.

Foxfire 7 is mainly concerned with religious information on denominations active in the Appalachians. Includes a section on snake handling churches (which I strongly suggest folks not pursue as a hobby, because we’re all sinners and well… handling rattlesnakes strikes me as pushing your luck a bit much).

Foxfire 8 mainly deals with information about southern folk pottery makers, as well as a section on cockfighting. The pottery section has diagrams of kilns, as well as photos of people making pottery. Very extensive. (I’m not a fan of making animals fight for amusement so I’ll pass on reading the cockfighting information).

Foxfire 9:

– very extensive section on wagon making, with many pictures and diagrams for the whole process.
– another section on log cabins, including some more details on tools used to make them. Also details of construction of some older examples. Includes a section on making a puncheon floor and making a maul and a broadax handle for tools.

Foxfire 10:

– making a pole lathe made from wood. Has diagrams but not very long or many photos on the production process. A few photos on using it also.

I do not own the next three books put out by Foxfire, so I cribbed these notes from their website.

Foxfire 11:

– beekeeping again
– more on preserving food
– more on wild plants usage
fishing techniques

Foxfire 12:

– coffin making
– square dancing

“Singin’, Praisin’, Raisin'” – (2011)

– building a farm sled
– making basic woodworking tools
– braiding a leather bullwhip

Prizes For This Round (Ends October 11 2015 ) In Our Non Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  Two Just In Case… Essential Assortment Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival a $147 value, a  Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill courtesy of a $219 value, and a gift certificate for $150 off of  Rifle Ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo… Total first place prize value over $516 dollars.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – A case of Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals and a Lifestraw Family Unit courtesy ofCamping, and a One Month Food Packcourtesy of Augason
  3. Third place winner will receive –  $50 cash.


  1. MY Forfire set was one of the casualties of my many moves. After 19+ years we have finally finished going through all the boxes of books and they are nowhere to be found. Time to start picking them up again. My old collection I started in the late 1970’s.

  2. Thanks for the reviews. I have not gotten any of these books yet but I will definitely be on the lookout for them.

  3. Chuck Findlay says:

    I can’t remember where I found them, but I downloaded book 1 to 5 in PDF format for free. I have them on my computer, Nook E-Reader and burnt to a mini CD as a backup.

    Look for them on-line. They seem to pop up occasionally and get removed shortly.

    I have also found “The Encyclopedia of Country Living, Hour Of The Time Advance Course In Herbology DR Edward Shook, Nuclear War Survival Skills Book PDF, USDA Complete-Guide-to-Home-Canning, A2473-EMP-Commission Report, Drip Irrigation for Home Gardens, Bushcraft_Notes,Herbs for First Aid-Trauma &Wound Care, The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency by John Seymour, Off Grid Antibiotics For When There is No Medicine,Humanure Handbook Third Edition, how-to-build-a-rotating-rack, How to Start your own seed bank, Self Sufficient Gardening and several other prepper / homesteading books.

    The key to finding them is to read prepper sites and when someone post a link to them, go right then and download the PDF as it’s likely to go away soon. Over the years this has helped grow my library of self sufficient / homesteading books to a respectable level. I still buy a lot of real books, but these help and the price is right. Other then net access a bit of time looking they are free. I would bet I have 40 or 50 PDF and E-Books and I haven’t ever bought an E-Book.

    I’m going to buy a spare Nook E-Reader (basic one) as a spare so I have the ability to read them if my main Nook and computer ever died.

    • BlueJeanedLady says:

      Hey Chuck (and any other interest packmate) – One suggestion, one reminder:

      Suggestion – – – Print out all of your PDFs (do so in B&W to keep down color print costs), 3 hole punch each sheet and store all in 3-ring binders. I also keep a different binder for each of several different general subject areas such as food, shelter, clothing, construction / building, product manuals, etc., and I use 3 hole punched, index tab dividers between each PDF for quick access within each binder.

      By keeping a physical, hard copy of each file I won’t have to depend upon a challenged computer and or questionable battery / electrical / solar, etc., power to access such when I need it should SHTF.

      Reminder – – – To the best of my knowledge (then again, technology grows much quicker than I can afford – mentally & financially – to keep up with) not all ebooks are readable on all different brands of ebook readers. For example, you might buy a spare “Nook” reader but if the original ebook was formatted only for “Kindle” or only for “Ipad” you might be S-Out-Of-L with a “Nook” reader as a single back-up. However, admittedly, if you’ve been cautious to download all of your ebooks in the same ereader format then, of course, you are good to go with a spare ereader of that particular format . . .

      None-the-less, I still prefer a physical hard copy of many a computer file because that’s just the way I am wired! :) I do understand there are multiple ways to access downloaded computer files without internet and electricity in some emergency situations, but I simply prefer the printed page far far & above the illuminated electronic device screen if & when I can make the printed page an affordable option.

      Just MHO. :) Ya’ll take care!

      • BlueJeanedLady says:

        Ooops, Chuck – I just reread your post and realized you were downloading ebooks specifically for your Nook reader . . . My bad on not picking that point of yours in my first read! :)

        • BlueJeanedLady says:

          Ugghh! The above should have been typed as “not picking up on that point” instead of “not picking that point’. This is what happens when I think faster than I type! :)

          • Chuck Findlay says:

            My Nook reads EPUB and PDF formats. Lots of good info on the net for free is in PDF format.

            I also like hard copies of books, but when a book is free on-line why not download it?

            Many of the PDF books I also have hard copies of, just one being The Encyclopedia of Country Living, I have a hard copy (10th edition) and also a PDF copy (9th edition.)

            I have several solar panels to charge things, I also burn things to DVD’s and CD’s to have a backup copy if a hard drive or memory card or disk dies.

            With the disk I think I will always be able to get to the info. I don’t see all computers going away and even an old Win-98 computer can read PDF files.

            I also download and save lots of U-Tube videos to DVD’s so I can access the info later if I need it.

            • Chuck Findlay says:

              I don’t keep up or know that much about the Kindle e-readers. I think they are a different format then EPUB so they may not read it.

              And I also don’t know if they read PDF files, but I would think it would be something Amazon would have built into the software of the Kindle.

  4. There’s also 3 other books: The Foxfire 40th anniversary book, The Foxfire 45th anniversary book, and the Foxfire book of Appalachian cookery.

  5. neat….ordered #5 4 a relative

  6. Americana pacrat says:

    Four years ago in a used book store I happen to locate Firefox book 1 and 2 while I was searching for old gardening books. Told my dh, guess we can make moonshine now that I found these books…he laughed.

  7. Encourager says:

    We are missing just one of the Foxfire books. We love them. My dh won’t read fiction, but he will pick up a Foxfire book and read all evening.

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