I try to keep the materials and techniques as period appropriate as I can. I don't claim to be an expert. If you see something that doesn't seem right, please get in touch with me.
I'm trying to stay within the limits of a rural settler, out of indentures, making his way mostly on his own. I'm also trying to constrain my equipment to something that could be packed on a single mule. And my back.
Unlike Aristotle in the quote above, I am going to talk about equipment. And happiness does come from working with tools you've made. I'll admit that virtue is also important for happiness, but I'm not offering advice on that.
The basic skills you'll need for these projects are what any American settler would need: simple carpentry, simple sewing, and basic rope work. You can argue that these are skills that everybody should have in today's world also. There's a bibliography at the bottom of this page of excellent introductory books that will help if you're feeling rusty.
Pre-Revolutionary Ropemaking in the American Colonies
Sewing and Rigging
Marino, Emiliano (1994)
The Sailmaker's Apprentice
Underhill, Roy (1981)
The Woodwright's Shop
University of North Carolina Press