Saturday, 29 January 2011

JLT Knives - Convex Woodlore Clone

I thought this morning i would move on to a short review of another one of my users from JLT Knives, this time it's the JLT Convex Woodie.

As you will see from the photograph this is a stunning knife and a bit different to the normal Woodlore type clone you see gracing the forums.

If i remember correctly this knife came about as Adam wanted to get into making convex blades in order to expand not only his repertoire but also his knowledge of knife making, as you can see, he excelled himself with this one, on to the all important specifications ;

Friday, 28 January 2011

JLT Knives - Woodsman

Thought it was about time i added a few notes on one of my main users, that being the JLT Woodsman, I'm a little biased towards this knife, in a good way of course, as i had a bit of input into it's development with Adam of JLT Knives, this little write up is not a review in the normal sense as i tend to do a full review on video as this allows me to show and describe things of note in better detail.

Many people who know me and know my ethics, also know that i do not review or appraise items on first inspection, i take the products out and use them, and use them hard for a period of time, before i will pass judgement on strengths and weaknesses of any particular product, the same applies to this knife, as you can see from the photograph, the blade is a bit grubby, but nowhere near as grubby as it has been in the past, i will admit to giving it a bit of a clean up for the photograph.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Leather Knife Strop / Honing Strap

No not getting into a strop, but hey the day is young, but a honing strop, made from 3mm thick veg tan leather, dyed in a rich British Tan on one side only, leather thongs at each end allow you to easily attach it to a tree, fence post or door handle, approx 27 inches in length +/- an inch and 2 inches in width, this style of strop rolls up nice and small and takes up very little space in a pack.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

JLT Woodsman Knife Sheath

I made a start on my latest sheath commission today, a left handed sheath with double popper dangler to suit a JLT Woodsman knife, the sheath is made from natural veg tan leather, dyed in medium brown and saddle stitched with artificial sinew, there is a full brass dangler loop on rear of sheath. I still have quite a  way to go yet, i need to spend some time tomorrow working on the welt edge and final; finishing touched, once that is done the sheath will be on it's way to it's new owner.

The knife wrapped in cling film inside the sheath is my own JLT Woodsman knife.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Natural Scaffolding

We spent a day in the woods yesterday and despite having spent many years visiting these woods, yesterday was the first time we noticed (to our shame) this superb Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) tree.

Obviously many years ago the tree was damaged resulting in the tree falling over to one side, the fall was arrested by another tree though and the Ash has made good on it's damage by growing a covering of bark over the damaged area, throwing up a new growing shoot and reinforcing the small area of bark and wood that was still attached, giving this amazing "eye" in the trunk.

We will be keeping a close eye on this tree now and when it eventually succumbs to natures reign, we will harvest it, as i bet it has wonderful grain patterns in it.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


I popped into one of my local charity shops the other day when i was down town, these places are a treasure trove, you might have to make a few trips into them, but your patience will eventually be rewarded with some absolute bargains, i picked up a couple of books, one of them pictured left has a price of £18.99 printed on the inside cover, what did i pay?, all of 49p and looking at it, i don't think the book has ever even been thumbed through, let alone read.


Velvet Shank Mushrooms

I decided to go for a bit of bimble this afternoon, only a short walk of a couple of miles, but very enjoyable nevertheless, amongst other things that i noticed and recorded whilst out and about was the sheer number of Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes) mushrooms growing on the Elm stumps that have been left by the landowner following their recent hedge management program, the shrooms are edible and are supposed to be very good, i cant say i have ever tried them so i cant comment on that particular point.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Turley Dogwood Sheath Commission

Finished off another sheath commission this morning, again it's for a Turley Dogwood knife for a customer in the USA, sheath is made from 3mm veg tan leather and is finished with artificial sinew stitching and a medium brown dye coat, the commission piece is the sheath in the foreground of the photo to the left, more info on Turley Knives here.

The other sheath with the Mora 510 in it is a narrower version of the Dogwood sheath and has a great natural flaw in the leather, it's obviously where the Bull had a few wrinkles, i managed to work these into the sheath and made a feature of them, the sheath also has a tooled Deers head towards the top of the sheath, a feature that is carried over to the removable double popper dangler loop, this sheath is available for sale if anyone would like it, priced at £39.95 including P&P in the UK, overseas customers, please contact me for pricing in your local currency and the postage costs, for further details on this and other available products, please visit my Leather Working website (link above).

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Ben Orford Carving Tools

Ive been a user and long term happy customer of Ben Orford for a long time, i bought my first Ben Orford spoon knife from the Ray Mears web site many moons ago, not because Ray used them, but because id heard nothing but good things about Ben's tools and i therefore wanted to try one for myself.

The first spoon knife i bought was a Small Spoon Knife (the very top one in the picture) and it has served me well for a long long time, since i bought that first knife, i have added (top to bottom) the Small Flat Spoon Knife, the Medium Spoon Knife, a Sloyd Knife and yesterday a Big Pick knife.

Sure Ben's tools are not the cheapest ones going, neither are they the most expensive, but i like them, and having had the opportunity to handle and use some seriously expensive spoon and detail knives from other makers,  i still don't think they hold a candle to Ben's tools, the thing i like about Ben's tools is the fact that he has designed and made them from a users point of view and that to me means everything, if you don't use it, how can you possibly understand it and then expect to sell it to other people.

Elm Eating Spoon

Eating spoon made from well seasoned Elm, it was like carving Iron at times, although i did make it hard for myself by electing to leave three knots in the bowl of the spoon, because i thought they would look nice, don't think i was wrong either.

Despite the spoon being full of knots, it isn't going to split or crack as the log it came from was more than well seasoned, i think Elm seasoned or green is one of my favourite woods for effect as the grain patterns you get are incredible, it's one of my least favourite for effort though, hard work at the best of times.

As per most of my recent spoonage, the spoon is fine carved/faceted rather than sanded, and despite it looking a bit rough in places it's actually very smooth, it's a bit of an optical illusion due to the nature of the grain.

Flexcut Carvin' Jack

I've had one of these small pen knives come carving tools  for a while now and thought it was about time i spoke a little about it as there appears to very little on the web about these great little tools.

Firstly what is a Carvin Jack?, to put it simply, it's a carving kit in your pocket, it has all the tools you could ever require for carving and whittling wood, the one notable exception that i think would make this tool even better though is a small saw, like the one you get on a Swiss Army Knife.

Above left is a picture of the Carvin' Jack, as you would expect from Flexcut, it is solid and well built,  the Carvin' Jack is much bigger than most EDC pen knives, OK it's a bit heavier than your every day EDC, but for what you get, i think it's worth it, so what tools does it have on it then?

The Jack comes with a

Friday, 14 January 2011

Cherry Bowl

I spent a few days last August making this bowl from the lower section of a Cherry Trunk, the lip of bowl is actually the buttress from the tree, all i have done is to turn it upside down, making the bottom of the tree, the top of the bowl.

I got a bit carried away with carving it and totally forgot to take any in progress pictures, the entire piece was hand carved and hollowed using gouges, chisels, crook knife, spoon knives, pick knives and a sheath knife, i have since added a couple of finishing touches such as a felt base and have given it a few more coats of polish,the bowl was fine sanded to 1000 grit, gone over with fine wire wool, the base has a good dose of clear varnish to fill and help reduce cracking, the bowl itself has so far had six coats of bees wax polish inside & out with a further couple of coats to come.

Making this was hard work as it was a semi seasoned log, great fun to make though and the end result is pleasing to say the least.

Leather Dangler Sheath

I was supposed to be out today teaching friction fire lighting, but the course was cancelled due to the torrential rain we have been experiencing today, it wouldn't have been much fun at all being out there in  the woods in all honesty, apart from the fact that trying to teach fire lighting to complete novices in that weather would probably have turned them away from the outdoor life, rather than encouraging them into it.

So, having had my plans scuppered, i caught up on some leather work, more importantly i made a start on a sheath for a customer of mine in the USA, the customer already has one of my sheaths and this week commissioned another, it's a great honour when people place repeat commissions, makes you feel good.

The sheath is for a Turley Knives Dogwood Creek (More info on Turley Knives here) and is made from full veg tan leather, that has been hand cut, hand awled, hand dyed, hand sewn with artificial sinew and this weekend will be hand finished to a high standard, the above picture shows the sheath, with it's detachable double popper dangler loop, prior to finishing, the welt edge needs to be finished, then i can set to and get the overall finish of the sheath done, give it a good half dozen coats of wax polish, then get it mailed out to the USA in the early part of next week.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Mors Kochanski - Try Stick - Part 2

I have received a couple of emails and messages from people who have read my blog asking if i could show photographs not just of the Try Stick as i did in a previous post, but if it was also possible to show detail shots of the cut's and carving on the stick, thankfully, i took a lot of photographs of the stick when i first did it, so, in line with people's requests, here they are. The pictures shown below depict a simple Try Stick, these cuts will serve most purposes  though.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hand Carved Axe Helve

About a year ago i decided to carve a new helve for a very old Kentish Pattern axe we have had in the shed for as long as i care to remember, it was certainly in the shed when i was growing up and was basically a very neglected tool, all blunt and rusty and very much unloved.

So last year i hand carved a new helve for it, from a piece of well seasoned Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and it worked well, but me being me, i wasn't overly happy with it as it was a little too chunky, so late last year i replaced it with a new helve, again made from Ash, this time however, when i put the small metal wedge in, i split the top of the helve, i wasn't too worried about it as the axe is never going to be used for heavy work, just general carving in green wood.

I noticed the other day that the head had become loose though, so today, it was round three, the helve is again from Ash and was carved using my draw knife and spoke shave, with some of the finer carving being done with the Mora knife shown, the helve is a perfect fit to my hand and the head is offset slightly to the left, it was a bit of a boo boo originally, but, as I'm right handed, it feels perfect with the slight offset in it, almost like a side axe, the helve now has a long wedge in it, but no metal staple/wedge, the axe like i said above, is only ever going to be used for carving duties, stuff like spoons, spatula's and the like and not for any heavy work.

The helve is the perfect length for me and balances the weight of the head beautifully, meaning that carving should be even more of a pleasure and as the helve is designed for my hand, it fits like the proverbial glove.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Fruit Wood Ladle

10p Piece shown for scale
This is another project i completed a while ago, a small ladle carved from a piece of fruit wood, don't ask what type of fruit wood as I'm not 100% sure, i think it's Apple, the wood came from a wood yard located just up the lane from me.

I have an agreement with the owner, that if i can carry it, i can have it, he sometimes has some good stuff there, i bagged a load of Cherry last autumn, he sometimes has Birch & Yew as well, as well as things like Acacia from time to time, it's all off cuts and what can only be considered as rubbish from his garden clearance work, all the good stuff, like big logs and such never get to the yard, but for spoons and small bowls, the off cuts do me just fine.

The Ladle was carved from a piece of wood with a natural V in it, the bowl of the Ladle is where the main trunk was and the handle is a side branch, i was petrified that the thing would split and crack as it has two pith cores in it, one smack bang in the middle of the bowl, the other towards the back of the bowl at the base of the handle, lucky for me, it hasn't split or cracked at all, the leather wrap on the handle finishes it off a treat as well i think.

Big Serving Spoon

Seeming as I'm on a real spoon fest of late, thought i show a serving spoon that i finished a while ago, it's carved from Hazel and has my favoured tooled/faceted finish, i know one thing, it's a big beastie as the Ten Pence piece next to it shows.

The leather wrap on the end of the handle is for hanging the spoon up in the kitchen, as yet this spoon has only been used as decoration rather than for serving anything up.

The Moon

I decided last evening that it was time to go howl at the moon again, although this time with a small compact camera attached afocally through a 40mm EP on my telescope.

Pictured left is one of a hundred plus photographs that i took of the Moon, the pictures are nothing compared to looking at the moon through the scope itself, especially at higher magnifications when you can see the mountains casting shadows on to the lunar surface, although if you look closely at the photo you can see the sunlight just hitting the top of a peak inside some of the craters.

Many people think the best time to look at the moon is when it's full, it's not, the best time is now, when you have the terminator line between light and dark, the contrast reveals some amazing details that are just lost when the moon is full, so go on, grab your binoculars, go outside and howl at the moon and while you are there, pan slightly to the left and look at Jupiter as well, Bushcraft is not just about being in the woods, it's about your environment in general and that to me includes, the environment that is right above you.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Birch Spoon

I managed to finish off a small Birch serving spoon today, i started it during last week and for one reason or another never quite got around to getting it finished.

The spoon is 7 inches long and the front of the bowl is just over 1 1/2 inches wide and is made from the other side of the small Birch log that produced the spoon in this entry  from earlier this month, , whereas the earlier spoon is an eating spoon, i elected to make this one slightly larger and to use it as a small serving spoon,  it's going to be ideal for serving up all sorts of wonderful things in the kitchen, when it's finished properly that is.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Look Up

Stock Photo, NOT taken by me
How many people do you know, when they are out and about, actually take the time to look up, you would be surprised how many people don't, and they are missing some of the best sights to be seen in nature, especially on a cold, clear night such as tonight.

I've spent a bit of time outside this evening with my small telescope, so far Ive observed The Pleiades, The Hyades, a gorgeous early moon where the Mare Crisium looks like the central part of  the Death Star from Star Wars, have also observed some Binary Stars, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Orion Nebula and the obvious target of Jupiter.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Wood Spirit Walking Stick

Made a start on another wood spirit walking stick today, shaft is Hazel that i have had seasoning behind the shed for over a year, the stick has a leather lanyard that passes directly through the shaft.

I'm not overly happy with the carving on this one at the moment, it's been a bit of a labour of love to be honest, at one point i was seriously considering putting a saw through this and chucking it on a fire and starting again, but i didn't, as you can see.

Still a long way to go before it's finished, got to sort the eyes out as it looks like he's asleep at the moment and the forehead is reminiscent of the 1980's Tefal adverts, part of the problem is I'm over critical of my work, but that's just me, I've always been far too critical of anything i make.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Gallery - A Craftsmans Shop Front.

No, it's not a new picture library or the like, it's the name of a new shop in my local town, that has been set up purposely to cater for local artisans and hobby crafts people.

I popped into the shop earlier today, pictured left, on my way back from the hardware shop after buying a litre of Tung Oil, albeit this is not a photo i took today, it's a photo of the exact location when it was an Off Licence not that long ago, but it shows the size of the shop, i also got rid of the Off Licence name and put the new name on it, I'll replace the above photo asap with a proper one showing the place as it is now.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Partial Solar Eclipse

The morning of 4th January 2011 saw the first first partial solar eclipse of the new year, unfortunately despite all the hype surrounding this magnificent display of nature, we were not allowed to view it from my part of the UK as mother nature had decided that it was going to be grey and rainy, hey what;s new?, it's the UK and it's Winter, was a real shame though as the next partial eclipse that is visable from here is not until 2015 now.

The photo to the left is one that i took back in August 2008, using specialist equipment i hasten to add, like a proper sun filter that was attached to my astronomical telescope and using a digiscoping mount on my camera to align the shot on the rear screen on the camera, rather than peering through an eye piece, it goes without saying and i will reiterate it here - NEVER EVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN, NOT THROUGH A SCOPE OR BINOCULARS OR EVEN WITH THE NAKED EYE, it's a sure fire way to go blind and you will go blind as lets face it, you are looking directly into a nuclear reactor!!.

Although i wasn't able to photograph, or even see the eclipse this morning, a quick search of the Internet, will reveal a number of stunning photographs that were taken by people around the world of this event.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Walking Stick Commission- Continued

Well, i decided not to wait for the client to advise on the stick and just went ahead and added some extra embellishments myself, i enlarged the Spirits beard both in width and length, which i have to admit does make it look better.

I then decided i would carve a spiral vine up the shaft of the stick, this is a freehand spiral and is designed to signify growth & strength, the vine eventually meets up with the lower portion of the Wood Spirits head, after carving the vine representation into the stick shaft, i lightly sanded it with some 2500 grit paper, then gave it a good oiling with Tung Oil, i will give the stick another good dozen or so coats of oil over the next few days, so the wood is well protected.

Walking Stick Commission.

I got around today to starting a walking stick commission that i have had on the books for the best part of a year, if not longer, the reason i hadn't started it before now was purely because i was waiting for the blank to dry & season a bit, I realise many walking stick makers like to use their collected blanks within 2-6 weeks after harvesting them and generally dry/season them inside a shed, this blank however has been hanging horizontally outside since the day i collected it.

The main reason i wanted to leave the stick for so long before starting work on it was because of the detail the client wanted me to add to it, and although it would have been easier to carve a semi green stick than a seasoned one, i didn't want the detail int he stick to suffer as the stick dried and seasoned in, what, will be a warm environment, when it gets to it's new home, as, from what i understand, the stick, will be a display piece rather than a stick that will get used to walk with.

Part of the brief was to make a walking stick and to just go to town on it, ie a free reign to do whatever i wanted, the client also wanted a Wood Spirit carved into it, the stick blank lent itself wonderfully to having a Spirit carved into it as the very top section of the stick was more oval than round, and the orientation of the oval was perfectly aligned so when the stick was being held the Spirits face, once carved, looks forward along the path you are travelling.

Having spent some considerable time working on the Spirit, getting it's features just about right and in proportion, I'm loathe to add any further detail to the stick, i was going to add another Spirit to the stick, but the diameter of the blank is such that unless it's very lightly surface carved, the stick is not going to retain  it's inherent strength, as it is, the Spirits beard already comes down the stick by three of four inches and i, personally think that adding more carving to the stick would detract from it, but hey that's not my choice, if the clients wants me to take the spirits beard down further then i will, after all, he's paying for it.

I might enlarge the area of the spirits beard, but I'm not sure, it's one of those things where you can keep adding things and you can go just that little bit too far and totally knacker up the project, don't know, i will wait to see what the client thinks, it's his stick and therefore his choice.

The stick itself, is Hazel and is about 5ft in length, the bottom has a full brass ferrule, whereas the top of the stick has just had the bark removed and them the join between white wood and the bark on the lower section of the stick has been carved down and sanded to give a smooth transition between dark and light, the effect is quite nice as the top of the stick looks like it has a cap on it, the lanyard is made fr5om leather cord and is finished with a hangman's noose knot.

New Blog - The Victor Hat

I want to keep this blog about being in the outdoors, wood crafts, my trips out, skills & projects etc, rather than let it get filled up with moans and groans, don't worry, there will still be a few, but  these will be in keeping with the subject matter of this blog, rather than general moans and groans.

So  i decided last evening to set up a new blog to cater for all the things that i like to have a moan and groan about, or have just driven me mad with frustration through that particular day (quite a few things do this by the way) anyway, having a moan and groan is good for you, it gets all the pent up frustration of dealing with the idiot brigade, be it face to face or on the Internet, out in the open, and man there are some pure bred idiots out there, some of which, as people will know from my previous posts on Guru's here, seem to think they are the Internet Police and that their god like statements and decisions should not to be challenged in any way shape or form, even if they are wrong, but, hey that's another post, for another day, on another blog.

So, back to the new blog, I've given it a name that my family members will find amusing, but to the layman , basically means nothing.

If you want to know why i chose that name for it, i guess you will just have to go and have a read of the welcome thread i posted over there, clicking on the above picture will take you there, or just use this web address

I'm not sure how often it's likely to get updated, fairly regularly i would guess, as there are lots of things, and indeed lots of people in the world that just plain and simple "drive me nuts".

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The First Finished One

The first finished spoon of 2011 that is, this is the one i started making yesterday, i spent a couple of hours this morning doing some fine carving on it to finish it off, I had a few comments from people who wanted to know more about a "tooled" finish, so for your viewing pleasure, here is a brief explanation.

Firstly, the idea is not to sand the spoon, but to get a fine knife and remove hundreds if not thousands of tiny shavings from the spoon, like i said in a previous post, this can take longer than carving the blank out in the first place, below is a representative sample from the pile of finishing shavings for this spoon.

and you just keep going over and over and over the spoon until you get a finish you are happy with (by the way, I'm never 100% happy with anything i make like this), eventually though with a bit of patience, you get something that has a nice feel and look to it, like this