Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Knife I Used As A Boy

I was reading a post of the same name as this on Abo's blog this morning about the knives he used as a boy (see here for the original post on Belfast Bushcraft)  and, well it got me thinking about the knives i used as a boy, one of them was the same as Abo has listed in his post, albeit mine was entirely in Tacticool Black, the now famous Rambo knife with a survival kit in the handle, at the time as Abo says it was the bees knees as we knew no better and had yet to fall into the "knife trap", i used to love mine and beat the living day lights out of it, sadly though it is long gone, although i think if i found another, id buy it regardless, just for the nostalgia aspect of it.

Mulleted Wood Spirit

Just a bit of fun this one, carved from a piece of the scankiest, crappiest Ash you could find, the bit of old branch was originally destined for the fire pile, but looking at it, i could see this fellow hiding away in there and the canker lends itself superbly to a good old fashioned mullet hair style, not sure about the massive growth on his right cheek though, and as a test i stained his beard a light brown by painting on some coffee dregs with a small artists paintbrush, just to add some colour variation against the white wood.

Turley Knives - Current River Sheath

Finished this sheath today for a Turley Knives Current River knife, left handed carry, double popper dangler in British Tan with artificial sinew stitching.

I still have a good amount of finishing to do on the sheath before i can send it out, quite pleased with this one, but what i don't understand is, why is making a left handed carry sheath so much more difficult than making one that is for right hand carry?, the only thing i can think of is because i make considerable more right handed sheaths than i do left handed, think i have only ever made four or five left handed ones in all honesty, and therefore I'm more attuned to making a right handed sheath, dunno, just one of those things i guess?.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Red Kite Water Colour

Thought id show the latest from my Dad, inspired by the recent sightings of Red Kites overhead the back garden.

Apologies for the poor photograph, taken indoors under less than ideal lighting conditions.

Larger Wood Spirit

Yep, I'm about as addicted to making these at the moment as was with making Fan Birds just a few weeks ago, larger Spirit carved from a small Ash log, guess he stands about 6 inches high with the log having a diameter of about 3 inches or there about, i have a few more in process as well, garden is full of them now, I'm almost at Battalion strength now.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Paintings For Sale

I'm putting these up on behalf of my dad, a series of water colour paintings and pencil drawings that he does to "pass the time" bear in mind my father is 75 years old and disabled with deteriorating health.

He sells these to supplement his pension, all of the below are offered for sale WITHOUT frame, priced at £20.00 each including Paypal and postage worldwide, size of picture is approx 8x10 Inches.


Wood Spirits - Again

Had fun making Wood Spirits again today, this one is a bit bigger to the ones i made yesterday being approx 8 inches tall, took about an hour to get the rough carving done on it.

The Spirit is carved into a small Ash log, needs a bit of tidying up doing to it before it's finished though, not a very good picture I'm afraid, i should have located the spirit in an area with a little less direct sun light on the white wood.

Might make some more later in the week, I'm very tempted to make myself a new walking stick with a carved Spirit on it, not sure, will see what the week brings.

Red Kite - Pt 2

Was out in the garden earlier today and heard the Seagulls screeching, always a good sign that something is amiss, a look up and there it was again, the Red Kite in all it's majesty, we think we saw it yesterday as well being mobbed, but not having a pair of bino's handy we couldn't really make it out properly, but there is a good chance it was the Kite again, really chuffed to have seen it once let alone twice possibly three times in as many days, I'm going to have to spend some time out and about with the bino's i think to see if i can spot them over the Downs.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Wood Spirits

Been amusing myself today by carving a few Wood Spirits, did a couple this morning, watched the Formula 1 from Australia, then carved a couple more this afternoon, not all of the ones i carved are shown, not carved from the best woods either , carved from Ash and some scanky Hazel (basically all i had available to me), my favourites are the all white one on the right and the smaller one at far left, they were all carved using my Carvin' Jack.

All of these have sticks implanted in the bottom and are now "planted" in the garden, if i remember correctly there are eight spirits out there now guarding the garden and it's contents and although this is a total coincidence, ever since i started putting these spirits in the garden, the damn cat from over the road hasn't been crapping in the borders - perhaps the spirits really do stand guard after all?.

Red Kite

Stock photo - NOT taken by me.
This actually happened a couple of days ago, i was out in the garden having a coffee and just happened to look up, don't know why or what made me do it, but I'm glad i did, because overhead at perhaps only 50ft altitude was a Red Kite, and only the sixth Red Kite I've ever seen in my life.

Whilst i appreciate the Kites are doing really well in other parts of the country, where i live (South Downs National Park), they are still a bit of a rarity, although i do know of one nesting pair not too many miles from where i live, I'm assuming therefore that this bird was from that site, of course it may not be - lets hope so, certainly it's the first time I've seen one this far south, normally we sit in the garden and watch anything up to a dozen Buzzards soaring overhead, along with Sparrow Hawks, it's quite common to have a Sparrow Hawk in the garden, we also see the odd Kestrel, although the Kestrels are not as common around here as they used to be, certainly though in the past few years there has been a massive increase in the number of larger Birds of Prey around the area.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Mirror Finish

I was just sorting through some old videos and came across this video i made ages and ages ago showing the mirror edge i achieved on a Frosts Carbon Clipper, video shows the bevel on the knife before and after stropping.

Fungus Strop - Update

Following my previous post about a knife strop i made from some dried Birch Polypore fungus i thought today i would add a piece of leather to the reverse side of the board thereby giving me the best of both worlds, the leather side for polishing and the fungus for the final finishing strokes to get that razor sharp edge we all allude to.

I also added a small section of leather on the fungus side of the stop, partly for aesthetic reasons but also as an additional small stropping area.

The photo to the left shows both sides of the strop with the fungus side being shown in the top photo, the board the fungus and leather is attached to, is a piece of Hazel that i pared down from a well seasoned branch.

Hand Drill Practice

Took some time today to practice the hand drill, I've not done this for ages and my hands are very much out of condition resulting in a nice blood blister appearing on my left palm.

Despite the blister i managed to get a few embers with the Yucca set that was kindly sent to me by Michael in the USA (2nd from top in the photo), in fact this is the best set I've ever used as i got an ember in less than 30 seconds on the two occasions i used the Yucca set today, the rest of the time i was using Elder drills on either Clematis or Sycamore hearths, whilst it is a lot more work than the Yucca to produce an ember it is possible, but you certainly need the muscle memory to be right to do it time after time, i do hasten to add that not all the holes you see in the hearth boards pictured were created today.

All i need to do now to now is to re-accustom my hands to the hand drill method again, then regain and rebuild the muscle memory in my arms, harden my palms up again, even though they are full of callouses already, they are in the wrong places for fire lighting with the hand drill and then, well start lighting fires i guess, oh yes, the blood blister i created is pictured to the right, whilst it doesn't look much, it's fairly sore, but hey, no pain, no gain - right?.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Went for a quick bimble this afternoon for a few hours, only went up the lane for a mile or so, but it was lovely being out in the warm spring sunshine, lot to be seen, loads of Cleavers (Goose Grass), Alexanders, wild Chives, some huge Violets and one of the best displays of Celandine's I've seen in a long while, they are absolutely magnificent this year.

Excellent Blog

Make sure you visit Belfast Bushcraft Blog, lots of superb information and updated regularly, with not only the success stories but also failures, well i like to call them learning experiences rather than failures, because that's what they are, we dont fail, we learn from experience and try again.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Axe Block

Made myself an easy transportable axe block today, i wanted/needed a block that i could take to shows and events, but it needed to be easy to carry and transport and i didn't want to be lugging around a 2-3ft high, 18" diameter Elm log as it's damned heavy for a start, so yesterday afternoon a quick trip out, resulted in the collection of a felled Elm pole, i do hasten to add  that it had already been felled as part of the hedgerow management program being undertaken by the local farm, and considering it was just going to be burnt, i figured there was no harm & no foul in putting it to a better use.

The block itself is also a piece of Elm that was collected  last week from the same pile as the pole came from, all Ive done is to take off a section that's approx 6-8" deep from the main log (which still stands 2ft high) and augured three holes in the underside, the legs are tapered at the top and just hammer into the base being retained by nothing more than friction, the legs being tapered will always provide a good joint and will only ever tighten during the course of a day, as the axe blows above force the block onto the legs,  the legs however, are easy to remove at the end of the day , just a few gentle taps from the the side and they free up enough to be removed without fuss, as i can break it down into four pieces, it is dead easy to transport home or to safe storage for the night ready for the next day.

The Sharpened Axe

While i was messing around re helving axes and the like today, figured id take the opportunity to sharpen my Kentish pattern, came up a treat with not a lot of effort at all, there is actually shiny metal under all those years of crud. :-)

Axe Helve

I decided today to re helve my Kentish pattern axe, well i say re helve, all i wanted to do was change the alignment of the head on the handle so it sat on the helve at a slight angle, more akin to the alignment between head and helve you find on a side axe.

The picture to the left illustrates what i mean, the helve is  now aligned in the axe head so it has a slight sweep to/is angled to the right, being right handed this set up works a whole lot better and it certainly feels a lot more comfortable to use with the handle cranked over, albeit only by about an inch, but it's enough to make it a whole lot more pleasurable to use.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Birch Eating Spoon

Made myself a small birch eating spoon this afternoon, took me about 30 minutes to do the main bulk of the carving using my new JLT Woodlore Clone, the fine carving and the bowl were carved with my Ben Orford spoon & pick knives.

The spoon has my favoured faceted finish and has been oiled with walnut oil to seal it, the spoon is a bit narrow in the neck, but still retains enough depth  to it to remain  strong enough to use.

Bow Drill Practice

Ive not practiced this skill for a little while now, so seeming as it was a gorgeous day outside, i grabbed the bow drill kits and set to work keeping the skill alive.

Click the link to view the video


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Super "Perigee Moon"

Tonight bore witness to a rare and magnificent sight, when the moon rose just after sunset it was almost 14% bigger and 30% brighter than a "normal" full moon, why?, well the Moons orbit is not circular, it's oval and at this point in it's orbit it's a mere 356,577 km away from us, but it's at it's closest point to Earth that it gets in it's orbit, something that only happens approximately every 20 years.

The last time this type of perigee happened was way back in 1993, so for may this is the first time they will witness the sight of this magnificent perigee Moon rise, the best time to witness it is when the moon is low to the horizon and you can view it against a tree line for instance as the foreground clutter makes the Moon look huge in the sky, it's an optical illusion though, as the size of the moon on the horizon is exactly the same as it is when it's over head, don't believe me, OK, cover the low lying moon with a coin or even your thumb, then hours later when the moon is overhead, do it again, it will be the same, even so tonight's moon was spectacular in the extreme.

Woodlore Clone

I received my new toy from Adam at JLT Knives today, a Woodlore clone with ivory micarta scales, red liners and brass pins, it feels wonderful in the hand with it's gentle coke bottle shaped scales fitting my grip perfectly, it was nice to see that Adam has updated his makers mark too, much better than the previous one he had, as per normal this arrived sharper than scary sharp, I'm really looking forward to giving this one some hard use over the coming months.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Just For A Change - A New Sheath For Me.

Thought id make myself a new sheath today for my  Woodlore Clone, the sheath design is basically a rip off of the Woodlore belt sheath design, but ive added my favoured dangler loop carry style, the sheath as you can tell is very much narrower than my standard sheaths, this is very much a bespoke one off build to suit one knife. The sheath is made from full veg tan leather, dyed in British Tan and double stitched with artificial sinew, i still have a bit of work to do on it, but that can wait until next week now.

Bernie Garland Bushcrafter Sheath

One of my latest commissions, this time, it's not for Turley Dogwood, but instead it's for  a Bernie Garland Bushcrafter, the sheath is made form full veg tan leather, dyed in British Tan and double stitched with artificial sinew, the sheath also incorporates a double popper dangler loop and at the customers request a  tooled Deers head, again the sheath still has some work that needs doing to it, but all being well it will be in the post on Monday to it's new owner.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Project Leuku - Part 6

I did a bit more work on the Leuku today, this time concentrating on the sheath, I've elected to go with a variation of the original retention method, but I've also incorporated an adjustable carry strap into the mix

The retention method is just by friction, but it's enough to stop the blade slipping out of the sheath, plus it's the original method employed by my friend as well, all I've done is to bring four loops of 550 cord through the two holes that were already in the sheath from when it was first made, these four loops bunch up enough on the front of the sheath and provide enough friction on the handle of the knife to stop it moving, to avoid cutting a length of 550, i made a double sliding knot on the cord, this gives me an adjustable "shoulder strap", but if i need it, i also have about 10-15ft of cord with me, i also added half a dozen or so pieces of bicycle inner tube over the sheath to give me an option of using the rubber for fire lighting in the wet, but also as a place to carry stuff on the sheath and a way to secure rod and sticks for carrying should i collect some when I'm out and about.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

More Fan Birds

Ive been preoccupied with making fan birds lately, as you may have guessed from the number of post i made on these earlier in the month, in fact i think I'm addicted to making them, but by following the advice given to me on the manufacture of these, i think I'm making progress in getting significantly thinner feathers and therefore more of them, i did wander off the path a bit as i confused myself by reading up on Fan Birds and i think i absorbed so much information, some of which was contradictory, that i lost sight of what i was doing, so i took a step back and thought about what i was doing, and things seem to be heading int he right direction again, certainly some of the birds I'm producing now are far far better than those i was making 2 weeks ago.

It has to be said that at times i still struggle to get a good number of feathers made and at one point most of the feathers were falling out as i made them, looking at what i was doing different i soon realised that i was taking the hinge point far too thin before i spent the time riving the feathers, again a re-evaluation of what i was doing soon saw this problem rectified and now i don't take the hinge line down as far as i was before riving the wood, all i need to do now is practice, practice and practice some more, oh yes, this picture shows some of the practice I've done recently.....

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Project Leuku - Part 5

I was intending to not work on the knife itself today, but it was too much of a distraction not to finish it, all the time i was working on the sheath for it, it was there in the corner of my eye, taunting me to finish it, so i succumbed to temptation.

A quick check confirmed the epoxy had set, so  i drew on the handle shape i wanted and then using a draw knife and sheath knife i carved the handle to the required shape and then came the long hard task of sanding it all down, starting at 60 grit and ending up on 2500 grit and every grit in between, the handle is a little thicker than a traditional Leuku would be, but as i was making this to suit my hand, and as i have big hands it made much more sense to make it to fit the hand that would be using it, once i reached the desired finish i gave the handle a liberal coat of Linseed oil and i shall repeat the process each day for a week of more to ensure the wood is fully treated and protected, although being Elm, it's  naturally split and water resistant anyway.

I might add a small plate made from Ash or even another bit of Elm over the pommel end to cover the end of the tang that is just visible, there again the pommel end shows of some magnificent grain patterns and colouration it would be a shame to cover it over, I'll leave that decision for another day i guess, I've had a lot of fun restoring this knife, learnt a few things along the way as well, I'm pretty chuffed with how it turned out as it's only the second blade I've ever put a handle on, all i have to do now is fix the carry strap and retention system to it.

Project Leuku - Part 4

I made some progress on the Leuku project today, this time i turned my attention the the sheath that came with the Leuku, i had thought about making a nice leather sheath for it, but in the end i decided it was better to retain the wooden sheath for a couple of reasons, the main one being it's part of the Leuku's history, after all my mate out in Norway made the sheath and i thought it would be nice to continue using it.

All i have done to the sheath is to sand it down and remove the wood stain that had been applied using various grits of sandpaper, finishing on 2500, the sheath was then given a liberal dose of Linseed oil to help protect it and bring out the colour of the wood, all i have to do now is to devise a carrying method and i have an idea for that in my minds eye already , I also need to devise a method of blade retention, but i have a cunning plan for that as well.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Project Leuku - Part 3

I eventually got round to working some more on the Leuku project today, first job was to split a nice bit of Elm (not the easiest of woods to split), then using  a combination of draw & push knives, along with a couple of spoke shaves and some coarse sand paper i took worked the inner face of the Elm flat.

Once this had been done i drew around the shape of the tang and then carefully chiseled out a 1/16" recess in each half, checking the fit against the tang on a regular basis, once this was done it was time to bond it all together using some strong epoxy and then get it all clamped up with a liberal coating of epoxy on all of  the surfaces, the picture shows the blade and handle blank all clamped up as tight as possible, I'm just waiting for the resin to set properly before moving onto the next stage of the build, which will be to carefully carve the handle to shape and then the sanding begins.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Bit of a rant.

This post was going to be a real rant, i was going to post something up at the time the event depicted below happened, but having typed everything in, i thought better of it and deleted the lot.

Having had a few weeks to calm down, i thought i would still voice my opinion and make some comments on the event that spawned this, all i will say is, attack or offend my friends, then you attack and offend me as well, yep that's what i said, I'm as loyal as hell where my friends and family are concerned and if you attack or offend them either over the Internet or in person, then you also attack and offend me, and that is something you probably don't want to do, not that I'm violent, because I'm not, never have been and never will be, I'm a gentle giant, and will respond with a rhetoric that the offending party probably wont understand in the slightest, as they will no doubt respond with profanity and bad language, which to me is the sign of a weak and feeble mind and means they have already lost the arguement.

Fungus Strop

Ive had a piece of Birch Polypore fungus drying in the shed now for a good year, possibly longer, so today, having "rediscovered" it in a box of bits, i decided it was time to actually put it to use, so a bit of time on the shave horse saw a piece of Hazel taken down to a suitable thickness, then it was out with the sheath knife and carve a comfortable handle, then trim the fungus to just slightly oversize and glue it to the board using some epoxy resin.

Once the resin had set, i trimmed the fungus down to the board shape and sanded the sides smooth and dead flush, then using a sanding block i took the top of the fungus down to flat using a coarse grit paper initially and then finished it off with 120 grit paper to get a smooth finish to the fungus, many of you will know the other name for this fungus as the "Razor strop" fungus, the reason for this is because the barbers of old, used to use a strop made from this fungus to hone their razors and yes, it really does impart a razors edge to your tools.

Feather Flowers

I was practicing my feather stick making earlier this afternoon and although i didn't start out with this in mind, it soon became a personal challenge to finish it, when it became apparent i was going to get a good feather stick out of it.

I dread to think how many curls there are in this, the feather flower is made from a single piece of seasoned Hazel, the stick started off with a diameter of approx half an inch, and the feathered section stands at a good six inches tall, I'm going to try and make some more as soon as i get up the woods and gather some more dead standing Hazel rods.

I think just one of these would be good enough to start a fire up the woods, although in reality it would be a shame to burn something that looks like this.

Pump Drill

A little while ago i decided to make myself a very simple Pump Drill that i could use on some of my projects, but also as a more suitable and "in keeping" drill for when i doing demonstrations, a woods made drill just seems so much more, how can i put it, honest, than a Black & Decker.

The drill pictured has a shaft made of Elder, the counter weight is from a piece of well seasoned Ash and the plate is Hazel, the string is from Tesco's, the drill has an interchangeable chuck, which i didn't plan, but it just evolved, the end of the Elder is hollow and what i have is a couple of drill mounted in Hazel, that simply push into the end of the shaft and are held by friction only, the shaft is whipped with cordage top and bottom to prevent the wood splitting.

To use the drill, you wind the string around the shaft so the plate rises, place the drill tip on the item you want to drill and then push down on the plate, the counter weight provides enough momentum to wind the string up the shaft again, it takes a little bit of practice to get it right, but once you have the technique, it works brilliantly and works fast and at the end of the day, everything used in it's manufacture will return to nature.

I intend to make a much larger version with a much deeper drop on the push stroke and a considerably heavier counter weight so i can use the drill for friction fire, at the moment the friction between the drill end and the hearth board is greater than the energy released by the drill, so it grinds to a halt after the first down stroke, a drill with a longer shaft and heavier weight, will alleviate this, albeit the operator will also need to provide some extra effort to provide the extra energy required, but in the end the drill will carry enough momentum to create an ember for friction fire lighting, more to follow as the project progresses.

Antler Drill

I've been meaning to make myself one of these for ages ever since my last commercially bought one broke, it's one of those bits of kit that wont get used very often, but when it does it's absolutely priceless.

The drill bit is a 8mm (5/16) wood bit, set into a length of Red Deer antler using good old epoxy, the antler is capped on the end with a piece of cherry from the workshop floor, picture shows the drill alongside a British Army pocket knife for scale.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Cramp Balls

No I'm being lewd, Cramp Balls (Daldina concentrica) are one of THE best natural tinder's going, the fungus found commonly on Ash trees, are also sometimes found on Beech and i have personally found them growing on dead Cherry as well.

The fungus has a defining concentric (hence the Latin name) ring system inside and is easy to identify, when dry they will take the spark from a ferro rod or flint & steel and will burn hot and long just like charcoal allowing you plenty of time to get your fire going, they also make superb ember extenders, don't believe people who say you can cook over them, you cant, Ive tried, they just about generate enough heat to keep a mug of tea warm, luke warm at that, they do however burn without generating a great deal of smoke and the smoke they do produce is superb at keeping midges etc away from you so they make a great smudge fire in the warmer months around camp.

Just a word of warning, if you collect them, only collect the black ones as they have already released their spores, the brown ones are unripe and if you take them home, they will spore and then you have a bit of a clean up to do.

Fossil Find

On a recent trip out to the woods, the boys and i were digging around the root ball of a fallen tree, just to see what we could find, so what did we find?, well we found the object in the picture.

We had no idea what it was, at first i thought it was just an odd shaped flint nodule, but upon further investigation we saw a honeycomb like structure on the inside and a "fissure" where the narrow part meets the wider part, so ever hopeful, we thought it might possibly be a fossilised bone, wanting to find out for sure, eldest took it to school and asked one of his teachers (Geology & Archeology) if she knew what it was?.

When he got home he told me that i would be disappointed as it wasn't a bone, but it was a fossil and that it was in fact fossilised Coral, was i disappointed, no, not in the slightest, i think that's even more incredible than a bone to be honest, here we are playing in the woods on the side of a chalk hillside and finding a fossil of an entire community of small creatures that existed in this very spot tens of millions of years ago when it was a  shallow tropical sea, now that is incredible.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

New Leather Sheath

Ive spent best part of today leather working, with a brief divert to the lakes, to take delivery of some fresh fish stock to replace the fish we lost during the winter, one of today's projects was the sheath pictured, it's designed for a Turley Dogwood Creek knife, the sheath itself is made from full veg tan leather, double stitched with artificial sinew and dyed in British Tan, as you can see the sheath has a removable double popper dangler,  other things made today were key rings & honing strops.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Took a short walk up the lane yesterday afternoon, despite the chilly NE breeze, it was decidedly pleasant out there, even more so when you could get out of the wind when it was dare i say, warm, but a sure sign that warmer times are on the way, lots to be seen, fresh flowering Violets, the Alexanders are growing nicely, and a sure sign of Spring are the new born lambs, some of which were barely a few days old looking at them.

I must try and see the Shepherd when he's over this way and see if i can blag a few dozen castration rings off him, i use them as markers on my tracking sticks, sure i could buy them, they are only £ 2.50 or so for 500 rings, but i don't need 500 rings, nor would i ever use 500 rings, so a chat with the Shepherd should get me a few that will see me through for a few years.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Dog Shite

Whilst i don't own a dog, i do like dogs, what i don't like is dog owners, ok, perhaps that's a bit strong, what i don't like are the dog owners who seem to feel that just because they are out in the countryside, they don't have to clear up after their pets have had a dump!.

Well the same rules apply in the countryside as they do in town I'm afraid, at the very least get a stick and knock the turd into the hedge rather than leave it in the middle of the path, or as I'm seeing more and more these days, suspending the turds in plastic bags off of fence lines or trees, like some archaic form of offering to the dog turd god, i have nothing against people having pets, but it's their responsibility to clear up it's mess after it's had a dump, just because they are in the countryside doesn't mean their responsibility has ended as many dog owners seem to think.

Is it too much to ask that when a dog has a dump that people make some sort of effort to remove the offending article, rather than leave a huge steaming pile, smack bang in the middle of the path?.

Bunch of Heathens, perhaps i should go and take a dump in their garden and see how they like it, better still, collect a load of shite and leave it on their garden path.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Gathering Materials

We enjoyed a day up the woods today, amongst tracking Deer, following Badger paths and watching the Buzzards soar overhead, i wanted to collect some Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) to replenish my wood pile at home, it's become a little short of Ash since i started the Fan & Bird carving.

So today armed with a big Karrimor Sabre rucksack and a saw, i set to and felled an Ash, not an overly large one but certainly big enough to give me an ample supply of materials for the foreseeable future, in the picture to the left you can see me sawing the tree into sections, albeit the section I'm cutting there is shorter than the rest i trimmed off, if anyone knows Ash trees i guess they will be able to figure out how tall this one was by the diameter of the log in the picture, rather than waste too much, i trimmed and hauled out all the usable wood, right down to stuff  about an inch in diameter, after all, waste not want not and as the tree sacrificed itself for me, the least i can do is to put as much of it as possible to good use, being an Ash though, it will grow back, oh and yes the hillside i was on, really is as steep as it looks in the photograph, I'm just glad that when it was time to leave, i went down hill carrying the logs, rather than up the hill.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Watch The Birdie

Following my recent exploits into wooden fan carving, this afternoon, i figured it was time to bite the bullet and try a fan bird, so having selected a nice bit Ash with a good grain in it, i carved out the basics and then following some superb advice Ive been given i split the feathers out as thinly as i could, still a lot of room for improvement on this, but I'm getting there, the result of my effort is the bird pictured to the left.

I really enjoy making the fans and the birds, it's very therapeutic, I'm off up the woods tomorrow to collect some more raw materials, so all being well i can practice some more over the weekend, i think I'm going to have to make myself a better riving knife for this though, as the blade I'm using at the moment i don't think is best suited to the task.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Fan Mail

Ive been practicing my fan making again today, i should have been doing other things, but having received some invaluable help & advice from Sean Hellman and taking his advice on board, i have spent best part of the day paring down some Ash and then practising riving the wood as thinly as possible, Sean advised me to go for a thickness of about 1mm, I'm not there yet, but I'm getting close, time and practice are now the key, thankfully i shall be collecting some more Ash on Friday.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Netting Needle

One of my favourite things to do is making nets, mainly purse nets for rabbiting, the side effect of this is making netting needles, sure i can buy plastic ones for a few pence each, but why do that, when it's so much more satisfying to carve your own netting needles from scratch, it's also a good way to hone your knife skills.

So having had enough of the regular day to day BS, i figured id hit the work shop and chill out a bit by making a new needle, not that i need a new needle mind,  as i have a good stock of them already, but because it's a great way to wind down and relax, the needle pictured is carved from a piece of Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and should hold a good amount of cordage, certainly enough to get a good sized net out of, it just needs a few finishing touches and it can join the rest of the needles in the netting kit.