Saturday, 30 July 2011

Help For Heroes - Update

Following this post, I'm glad to report that the boys and their friends completed the 15 mile sponsored walk yesterday, very proud of them, so far they have raised over £1000.00 for Help for Heroes, but as always, more, and i/we/they appreciate times are tough, would be gratefully accepted for this more than worthy cause, in order that they may continue their incredible support and work with the rehabilitation of our wounded service men and women.

A short photo montage of the walk is shown below

To show your support for our brave lads and lasses who are putting their lives on the line for the likes of you and I, please visit and pledge your support to this more than worthy cause.

Friday, 29 July 2011

In The Garden

We were sitting out in the garden earlier today and noticed a slight movement amongst the variegated ivy that we have growing up an old wall between us and next door.

We kept watching for a short while and then this little chap poked his head out from the undergrowth, made sure everything was safe and then proceeded to sit on a largish Ivy leaf and sun himself, he certainly wasn't intimidated by me poking a compact camera in his direction either.

For those that don't know it's a Viviparous Lizard  (Zootoca vivipara)  also known as the Common Lizard, not that common around here though, wonderful to see though and hopefully the first of many sightings of this little chap in the garden.


Part of my work load today was making a load of stock for an event I've been invited to attend in a few weeks time, knowing that whistles are always popular with the kids, large & small, i figured id better make a few, 65 made so far and about the same amount to go, think I'll leave those until next week though, as it gets a bit tedious making these in large quantities after a while..

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Netting - How To

A short while ago i was asked if i could show how to make simple nets, well not wishing to disappoint, i made a series of three video's yesterday whilst in the woods, showing how to do this, we covered the tools and equipment used and made two simple nets, one being just a mesh square the other a small hammock/purse net, as I've said before, netting is often viewed as a dark art, but when you know how, in all honesty it's dead easy to do.


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Trapping Practice

The boys and I spent some time up the woods today, we accomplished a few things that we wanted to do, like practicing our slingshot skills, having a wander round, we were treated to a pair of Roe Deer at fairly close range and enjoyed watching the Buzzards soar over our heads at  tree top height.

One of the other things we did was a bit of trapping practice, one of which is pictured to the left, it's a fairly simple trap to make once you have the components made, like some cordage and a net, i have a video that's in process showing how the trap works and I'll post up the link to it, just as soon as it's uploaded to You Tube in the next couple of days.

Leuku & Puukko Combo

Two of my most used tools and without doubt two of my firm favourites are this Leuku & Puuko combo made by Iisakki Jarvenpaa, i traded these a long while back with a friend of mine in the USA, i cant even remember what i traded, but i know it was one of my better decisions.

Out of the two blades the Leuku gets used the most, typically for splitting, trimming etc, basically any rough work where an axe is too much, although i have also used it to fashion an axe helve from seasoned Ash in the past.

The Leuku is one of those use and abuse tools, sure it's not the most refined tool out there, neither is the Puukko, there are far far better tools to be had in the same vein as these, but for what i use them for, they will do and do, do, just fine.

Another Slingshot

It's confirmed im infected with slingshot mania at the moment, love em to bits, love making them, love using them, not so fond of the odd finger slap though, that damn well hurts.

So i made myself another slingshot and this time i got round to ordering some Theraband Gold for the bands, this has to be the best one yet, the frame is made from Multiplex and has a more refined ergonomic shape than some of the others Ive made, it's similar to the one i made called The Bat, but has a  slightly offset handle and ever so  narrower fork, thereby making it much more comfortable to use.

I took the slingshot to the woods today and had some target practice with some 9mm ball bearings, now i know i made this myself, but I'm impressed, it's light, it's comfortable and  it's impossibly accurate, i shall be making a few more of various designs in the coming days and may well be adding a few to my website for sale, either with or without bands fitted. oh yes, that's my ugly mug in the above picture holding the slingshot, the below picture shows the slingshot in all it's glory.

Tinder By The Ton

The farmer who is local to me has recently cut and turned his hay crop, so in true bushcraft fashion and not wanting to miss an opportunity to gather materials, i gathered a good bag full of dry grass to use as tinder, now, before people kick off saying it's theft etc, yes, technically it is, but the stuff i took was not from the main field, it was taken a way up the farm track where it fell off the tractor, so it was never ever going to get baled up and stored, just left to blow in the wind until such time it got lodged in a bramble and/or rotted, so in my mind, I'm making good use of an opportunity that was presented to me and i don't think the farmer will give a rats ass to be honest, i should add that i don't condone nor would i ever entertain taking ANY of the hay crop from the field, this stuff as mentioned above, was a good distance away from the Hay field and was lost anyway.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Slingshot - The Bat

Been busy making a few slingshots today, including this one, that I'm calling The Bat as, well to me anyway, it has a slight "Bat wing" quality to it.

The design came about as i was trying to find a more ergonomic shape than the regular "forked" style of slingshot that you tend to see, I'm pleased to say that your fingers and thumb fall naturally into the cut outs on the side of the forks and make it very comfortable to hold and gives a  more secure grip.

The slingshot is made from 18mm ply and is sanded to a smooth finish before being treated and sealed, the bands are regular tubular bands that i normally use on my Black Widow, sure flat bands would be better, but I've still not ordered any so I'm using what i have available to me, to be honest they are not the most powerful bands, but they work just fine and dandy for my needs.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Buck Saw - Made In The Woods

Following on from my woods made bow saw, i thought id show one of the bucksaws I've made over the years while up the woods.This particular saw was made from Hazel and worked brilliantly, there are no joints to speak of, the whole saw is held together by friction alone, the cross bar has each end carved to a scallop shape so it sits on the round surface of the upright, and when the windlass is tightened up, the pressure generated is enough to keep the cross bar in place and securely locked.

As per the bow saw, the blade is kept in place by gently splitting the lower section of the upright and then inserting the blade into the split, i did on this occasion though, add a lashing just above the saw blade to stop the split running, as per the bow saw, the blade has two seasoned hardwood pegs located in the holes at each end of the blade to give the uprights something to push against when the windlass is tightened up.

Short video below shows the saw in action cutting a piece of well seasoned Oak.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Woods Made Bow Saw

Following a thread on BCUK about folding buck saws and the like, i thought id post up a pic of a bow saw that can be made in the woods in double quick time.

The bow saw pictured was made from a piece of fresh cut Hazel, a small split (make sure they line up) was put in each end to accept he saw blade and a peg of seasoned wood was placed through the hole in each end of the saw blade, then, one end of the blade is tapped into one of the splits, the stick is then gently bent (you can also aid flexibility by gently warming the stick over a fire) until you can put the other end of the blade into the opposite split, the tension on the stick will keep every thing nice and tight as the stick will push against the hard wood pegs and effectively lock the saw blade in position.


I decided to make myself a new slingshot (catapult) today, this one was inspired by the old Milbro catapult, but as they are a little expensive for my taste, i thought id make one in a similar style out of 19mm marine ply.

The slingshot has been sanded down to 600 grit and all the edges rounded over for a comfortable grip before it was given two good coats of varnish to protect the wood, the bands i have fitted currently are an old set from my Black Widow (post about it here), and are used in the up and over style, ie the elastic comes over the top of the fork. The only reason I  used the the Black Widow bands was because it's all i have available to me at the moment,  i need to get some Theraband on order later, but for the moment this will suffice and there is certainly enough power in it  with the cut down bands for my purposes.

Rear View Of The Slingshot

I have blanks for another four slingshots marked out and I'll hopefully get those cut out and made over the weekend.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Help For Heroes - Sponsored Walk

On the 29th July, eldest lad (14), his brother (12) and few of their friends are doing a 15 mile sponsored walk over the South Downs in aid of Help For Heroes, they decided to do this entirely off their own backs and in their own words when asked why they wanted to do it, the answer was "because", well that's good enough for me.

So far they have achieved sponsorship from the family, friends, some of their teachers and neighbours of £600.00 for H4H, but, and we appreciate times are tough, they will always accept more, so if you can spare just a couple of pounds for this worthy cause it would be appreciated, they have a page on the H4H website where you can donate.

Thanks for reading and for your support.

Display Tree

I was asked by the owner of the shop where i sell some of my products, if i could make a small display stand for some of the products she sells, this came about after i made a display tree/stand for some of my Fan Birds.(see this post

So today, i made the stand for her, it stands about 2 feet high and the "tree" itself is a piece of Birch i collected earlier this week that has been deleafed and had it's twigs and branches trimmed, the base is a simple cross that was built from some Redwood that i had in the workshop and is joined with a cross halving joint for neatness.

Should work a treat i reckon.

PS. Ignore the rifle barrel sticking up behind the cabinet

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Display Table For Shows & Events

Made myself a display table for use at shows and events today, it's only going to be used for displaying a few odds and sods, like spoons, painted spatulas, etc and/or things that are used in bushcraft, like bow drill sets, birch bark baskets etc, you know the type of thing, anything to get the public engaged basically and hopefully spending a few pennies as well.

I wanted a small table that would fold flat, but rather than buy one i made this one from scraps, the table tops are offcuts of 9mm marine ply left over from a boat build we did, the legs are a piece of pine banister railing, the lower shelf is held in place by gravity alone and rests on three 8mm dowels, the table top is held in place with three M6 flat head bolts that go through a small bracket that is screwed to the leg, the bolts are tightened with a wing nut, the shape of the table was determined purely by the shape of the off cuts from the boat build, i quite like the shape, it's a bit different to the normal square or rectangle you see at shows.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Flint Hand Axe

A little while ago i made a visit to one of the local village museums purely to look at and study the flint tools that were on display, as i was looking at the tools and making some drawings of the facets etc of a hand axe, the curator came over and asked if i would like to see a flint tool that was a little special, i didn't need asking twice, he disappeared out back to the store rooms and came back a few minutes later with a box and an object wrapped in bubble wrap, he opened it up and there in front of me was this hand axe, it's only 250,000 years old and was found locally, the workmanship on it is incredible and it was an honour to be able to look at and study the tool, but the best bit was, i was allowed to hold it and as people say, "when you find a bit of flint that looks worked, if it just falls into place in your hand and feels "right" then it's probably man made", well this hand axe, did feel just right in the hand.


I find it awe inspiring to think, that this tool was made by someone, probably not a lot different to you and I, a quarter of a million years ago and was used in the same area where i practice my shrafting today,  it's incredible to think that where i go for a day or a couple of days in the woods to practice some skills, there were people doing what we play at for real, in order to survive.

It was an absolute privilege to be able to study let alone hold the tool, makes my 6000 year old flint scraper that i found in the garden seem like it was made only yesterday, well i suppose in the great scheme of things, it was

Monday, 18 July 2011

Ripstop Nylon Stuff Sacks

Made a load of stuff sacks up today, well not personally i didnt, the seamstress of the family did, ie: me mum. 

The sacks are approx 11x8 inches in size and are made from Parachute grade rip stop nylon in Olive Green, always a useful thing to have around are stuff sacks, and being these are made from rip stop they are incredibly strong and when empty pack down to next to nothing in size and weight.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Birch Bark Container

I made this small birch bark container about a year ago, the pot is simply scored and folded into shape, the rim is Fuchsia wood that is held in place with some artificial sinew that is whipped around the entire top edge, it's not the biggest pot in the world, but Birch Bark in my part of the world is pretty thin stuff and even getting a piece this big locally was a small miracle in all honesty,  i use the  pot to hold business cards at shows and events i attend.

Bamboo Containers

As part of some preparation for an event I'm attending on Saturday, i realised that i had a distinct lack of containers to hold not only products but a few leaflets as well, on the woodpile i had the last three sections of a big piece of bamboo that was given to me by a friend, so out with the tools, not that they are usually away for long, and in quick time, two long containers were made  from a section of the bamboo, these will be used to hold things like key rings and whistles and a further pot was made from a half of bamboo that i added a Hazel frontage to, to act as a leaflet holder/dispenser.  All of the bamboo has been sanded down and every single edge has been rounded off to avoid people getting impaled on bamboo splinters, the containers were finished off with a good coat of Tung Oil, all i have to do now is finish off some walking sticks, carve a few more spoons, oh yes and go build a 9x4m gazebo, looking at the forecast for Saturday, we are gonna need it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Flight Tracker

Ever been out and about and wondered where that commercial jet flying overhead is coming from or going to?, i know i have, well now you can find out using this website there are a couple of free downloads on the site for smart phones or you can just follow stuff on your computer screen.

You can zoom in to your area and see where that plane going overhead is going to/coming from, if you click on the small picture of the plane, then all the info about the flight appears in the left hand column, neat eh?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Carved Walking Staff

Finished off a small project today, yeah, i know, like i need another stick or staff, this one like many of my others is made from Hazel of about an inch in diameter and around four and half feet high, I decided to carve a simple Wood Spirit into this one, just by way of change, the lanyard is 550 cord finished off with false Turks head knot for decoration.

I haven't gone as far as taking off all the lumps and bumps from knots etc in the staff, as in this instance they really add to the appeal and general overall feel and look of the stick, the stick is finished with a couple of good coats of linseed oil which i will add to over the coming days with some additional coats.

I'm not sure at the moment as to whether I'm going to cap the top of the stick with some nice Cherry wood or just leave it "as is" with the natural grain of the hazel showing, time will tell i guess, as i have tendency to "tinker" with things at a later date, sometimes it works out well, other times, well perhaps i shouldn't tinker as much and just let things be, dunno, I'll see how the stick ages i think and see how things look in a couple of months time.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Ideas Please?

Ive been making a lot of holes recently for a project I've been working on, and I'm left with a bucket of, well, holes i guess, they are all Pine and the central hole goes all the way through, rough dims i suppose are 1 1/4" in diameter and 3/4" thick, seems such a waste to just throw them away, so I'm looking at things i could make from them, i should point out that they are fairly rough cut so wheels for kids toys, draughts sets etc are not an option as i really cant be arsed to sand  these down.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Net For Live Capture Trap.

Yep, I've been making nets again, this one is a rather large purse net with a 2.1/4" mesh, I've made it as a net for use with a live capture trap,  the trap  that it will be used with is based on the sprung snare trap, but, with the snare aspect replaced by a net, not that this trap will be used in anger anyway, it's only ever going to be used as a demonstration piece to show another way to trap for food whilst out and about in the wilds.

The Mora 510 is shown for scale

Stuff Sacks

Why is it, you can never have enough bags or stuff sacks to store things in?, a quandary i found myself in today, so out with the sewing machine and a piece of nylon fabric and in pretty short order a load of stuff sacks were born, a couple of which are pictured to the left, the Mora 510 is shown for a scale.

Having made these, I'm already finding other things to put in bags and sacks, problem is I've now run out of the bags made today so I'm going to have to make some more, if anyone is interested in rip stop nylon stuff sacks of approx A5 size drop me a line and I'll make some additional ones whilst the machine is out.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fire Steel / Ferro Rod Belt Hangers

Had a bit of a leather working session this afternoon, i was waiting for some materials to arrive for a project I'm involved with, but apparently they will not be with me now until next week, so being at a loose end so to speak, i decided to make a load of Fire Steel / Ferro rod belt hangers with the quick release system on them, (same as seen in the Ray Mears programme - Canoe Journey), i made quite a few as you can see from the picture, all of the ones pictured are for stock.

I personally prefer this way to carry my fire steel and not just because i make these, but I've always felt that it's a little daft to have your fire steel attached to your knife sheath, if you loose your knife, you have lost your means of making fire as well, at least with one of these the fire steel is separate to your knife and should you loose your knife, you still have a means to start a fire with you as the fire steel will strike a spark off a piece of flint if need be.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sheath For JLT Knives Bushcrafter

Made a good start to a Woodlore style sheath for a JLT Knives Bushcrafter knife, the sheath is finished in British Tan, but per the customers request, I've "tinkered" with the dye a bit to obtain a Chestnut type of colour, I just have to get the sheath finished off tomorrow and then it will be in the post to JLT Knives to have the the knife installed in it before it heads westwards to the USA.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Magical Wine Bottle Holder

Made a few of these today to sell on, there are Magical Wine Bottle Holders, they are quite a talking point when they are used as unless you know how it works, the geometry is all wrong.

Certainly when i took a few to the shop down town today, they got a few glances and looks along the lines "how the heck does that work?", the bonus is they don't just work with wine bottles, the ones i took to the shop today have an empty Scotch bottle in them as a demonstration of how the holder works, there are no brackets or gimmicks to hold the holder in place, per the title of this post -  it's just magic.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Steam Rally

Took the boys to a local steam rally today, lots to see and do, not as good as previous years i thought, but there again this is the first time it's been held at this particular venue, i think this perception is because they are now on a much larger site, so everything is more spread out than it was at the previous site, we will no doubt go again next year though as i for one love looking at the engines.

I took some video while we were there, can be viewed here STEAM RALLY VIDEO

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Walking Stick

Made myself a new walking stick, like i need another of course, this is made from a piece of hazel that i collected on Thursday last week while i was out and about, the stick has been debarked, well the bark damn near fell off, i don't know what it is with the Hazel this year, the bark seems to peel off easier than Willow bark, to the point i debarked the entire walking stick using nothing more than my thumb nails, it comes off incredibly easy.

I can only think it's because we had a very hot dry spring, anyway, i digress, the stick is approx 4.5ft  in length and has a neat curve at the very top which lent itself very nicely to becoming the handle, I've capped the top with a piece of really nice Ash that has an incredible grain pattern to it, the bottom of the stick has a brass ferrule fitted.

Where the bark has come away from the wood it has left an effect that looks a bit antler(ish), so rather than sand this away, I've incorporated it into the stick as a feature, the photo to the right kind of shows it, the other thing that the stick has is just at the base of the radius on the handle area, you can see it just at the bottom in the form of a collar of raised wood, this combined with the natural curvature of the handle makes for a very comfortable grip.

All the stick needs now is a few good coats of pure Beeswax polish to protect and nourish the wood and apart from adding a lanyard, it's pretty much good to go.

Fire By Friction - Bearing Block

New bearing block i made this morning for my fire by friction set, the block itself is an old Beech wood door handle that i drilled out in the middle to remove the threaded insert and then epoxied a bearing that has been in the tool box for years into the hole, i have no idea what the bearing was from, but it fits the top of the spindle a treat.

I guess this is as near frictionless as you are likely to get, well unless you go the extreme and make a Teflon block and holder for the top of the drill, OK it's not traditional, but hey it works, just makes life a little easier and why not have a little bit of modernism now and again?.