Monday, 31 October 2011

BCNW-01 Dangler Sheath

Thought i would show off one of my latest leather work commissions.

The sheath was commissioned by a client in Australia to suit his BCNW-01 knife, the sheath is hand made in it's entirety from veg tan leather, that was dyed Medium brown per the customers specification. The sheath incorporates a brass suspension loop and double brassed popper dangler loop, also in medium brown.

I still have some work to do to finish it off, before sending it on it's way to the other side of the planet later in the week.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Essential Kit

I recently bought myself what is without doubt an essential piece of kit, especially for those times when you are doing a trip with a few mates, the essential kit is of course, a hip flask.

I bought mine off of EBay for a just a few quid, sure it's not the best of quality, but it is made of stainless steel and has a cap retainer so you don't loose the lid, mine will get filled with Sloe or Blackberry gin in the near future and then when we go on a trip, i can pass it around for people to have snifter from.

Hand Drill Materials

The boys and i made a trip to the woods the other day, whilst we were there i decided to pay my favourite Elder tree a visit, why is it my favourite Elder?, well quite simply, the tree has been crowded out by the other trees, the result is the new growth stems grow almost vertically and are therefore fairly straight as they are trying to reach the light.

Pictured to he left are four hand drill spindles i collected and removed the bark from, these are now drying out on top of a radiator in the house, when they have dried, i shall move on to  the next step which will be straightening them out over a flame, as they are bit lumpy bumpy at the moment, these, along with a few others i have here already should see me through for some considerable time to come,

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Medieval Style Spoon

I received a commission the other day to make a wooden spoon in the Medieval style, the client didn't want an exact copy of something in a museum and just simply gave me the brief to "carve one in the Tudor style", so that's what i tried to do.

The spoon is based upon Medieval pewter spoons that i have seen in museums and some of the books i have here, but also incorporates features that I've seen on Medieval wooden spoons at places like the Mary Rose and some of our local museums, many Medieval spoons had what they call "Knops" on the end of the handle, but rather than try to carve one of these, i decided to just taper the handle down along it's length, another feature of Medieval spoons is the large bowl and small handle both in length and diameter, despite this, this spoon still retains the strength of the wood, the handle also per others i have seen, is hexagonal in section.

The spoon still needs a little bit of tidy up work doing to it before it goes off, but I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

Poplar Ladle

Whilst i was in a carving mood today, i thought id use the other half of the Poplar branch i used for the Medieval spoon to carve a small ladle. The piece of Poplar wood i used had a small side branch which became the bowl of the ladle, with the main branch being carved down to form the handle, i still have a way to go as this it's only rough carved at the moment, i need to let the wood dry over the next few days before i can move on and finish it off.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I've been playing around with Lucet weaving recently, i made myself a couple of Lucet Forks, one is pictured to the left which was carved from a piece of Hazel.

The Lucet has been use to make cord and braid for well over a thousand years and is what was used as ties on the doublet of the middle ages and the bodice's of the Elizabethan period,  right up to the Victorians who manufactured braided cords from silk for use as neck chains and watch fobs.

Lucets have been found in the archaeological record dating back to the Viking age and have been made from all manner of materials from wood to bone, the weaving technique produces a square sided cord that has all manner of uses that are only limited by your imagination.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Local Show

I was invited to attend a  show/coffee morning yesterday, that was held by one of our local conservation groups that I'm involved with. The event only ran for a few hours during the morning, but it was great fun and all the products i took with me were well received and we made a bit of money for the group as well, so all was good.

I'm pictured to the left standing behind the tables i took over to display a few things on, although in the picture the tables look a bit sparse, they were in fact fairly well stocked with little spare space available.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Blanket Shirt

We have been making quite a few of these blanket shirts recently, they are loosely based on the popular Swandri design,  but have a few additions and deletions that make what is a good design, more suited to what i wanted.

The shirts have been made from fleece blankets, mainly because they were going cheap and we didn't want to start proving and altering designs using full on wool blankets, far better to make pattern adjustments on a cheap fleece, than a wool blanket.

Now we have the design down and know what we are doing having made a few of these, we can move on to making them from wool blankets, not that there is anything wrong with the fleece ones, they are superbly warm and have a nice small pack size, but the main drawback is when you are around a fire as the slightest spark can burn a hole right through them, but for a general knockabout, walking, hiking jumper they are superb.


Ive had a hankering for a pair of mittens for some time, not the woolly ones i used to wear as a child, but some shrafty ones, so with this in mind  and winter not that far away, we decided to make a pair.

These have a nylon outer shell and a double fleece layer inside each glove and they are incredibly warm, the mittens have been made from these materials to prove the pattern before we move on and make some out of leather with an inner made from a wool blanket, it's far far easier and cheaper to prove the concept using cheap offcuts before committing a leather hide to the project and finding you have to make adjustments and having to start over because you cocked up the pattern and wasted valuable leather. We did think about putting an elasticated section or drawcord type affair on each mitten, but when worn with a coat, it really wasn't needed.

Now we have made these ones, which are of course fully functional mittens, we have discovered the adjustments to the pattern we need to make and can safely move on to making the leather outers knowing that things should work out just right.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Fire Steel

I received a new fire steel in the post today, nothing unusual there you might say, except this one is hand made and came from Romania.

So how did i get a steel from Romania, well, I entered a small competition on You Tube some time ago that was being run my Mario on his channel Bushcraftmyway, the prize was the fire steel i received this morning.

This steel though as you can see from the picture is a little different to the normal style you see being used, for a start it's triangular, but the real difference is in the detail, the steel itself is made from a piece of spring steel, but the pattern that has been drilled onto the surface is not just there for decoration, it also has some significance, as it's the pattern of Ursa Minor, which also happens to be Mario's logo, but as well as being decorative, the surface decor also gives a better grip to the steel, the lanyard hole at the top, apart from being a lanyard hole also signifies Polaris, the Pole Star.

Mario has also incorporated a section on the reverse of the steel that has a beveled edge (not pictured) which is perfect for scraping small shavings from dry wood but can also be used to debark sticks or indeed to strike a ferro rod, it really is a versatile tool.

So thanks for the steel Mario, it's very much appreciated.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Wooden Dragonflies

Ive been busy making more wooden Dragonflies today, i made half a dozen in the end as i wanted to experiment with the wing/body joint to not only make it easier to make, but also stronger, i also played around with the wing shape and have now settled on a shape that is not only aesthetically pleasing (well i think so), but also strong.

These are only representations and not scale models of a Dragonfly, hence the single wing set, i also made a display stand for them for when I'm at events, the base is made from a slice of Elm and the pole is from a fairly wavy piece of Ash, the Dragonflies attach to the pole via a mounting pin in their noses, i have to admit to liking the manufacture of these, but time will tell if they are worth carrying on with as a product or if they will just be chalked up to experience.  I'm hoping to sell a few of these at some local events that I'm attending between now and the beginning of December and if they sell, I'll carry on with them and if they don't, well i guess, i wont.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Flint Knapping

Late last year i was privileged to be asked if i wanted to go to a flint knapping demo at the local school,  the guy doing the knapping was called Robert Turner who some of the Brits might have remembered from an episode of Time Team when they dug a prehistoric village on the South Downs, more info on the Time Team dig on their website -, back to the demo, well quite simply it was incredible to watch a master craftsman take a core of flint and in next to no time at all, have a workable hand axe.

Quite simply amazing to watch this tool appear from a block of stone, Robert took the time to explain exactly what he was doing and why at each stage of the manufacture, including how the strike of the hammer stone or tool travels through the stone and how to visualise what will happen when you strike it, the man is incredibly skilled and very modest as to his skill set not only did he knap flint, but he also demonstrated knapping glass and some of the flakes he got were incredibly thin, one of the teachers asked if she could have a go at it and only then did she realise exactly how difficult knapping is, mind you she did get some good flakes off, but Robert allowed her to have a go on the hand axe he had produced in front of us and it kinda lost it's shape a bit, but ten minutes work and it was back to where it needed to be, he has donated it to the school for their collection, bear in mind this was not a course as such, but a demonstration of the skill set used by our ancestors all those years ago for the kids who were studying archeology.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Fishing Hooks

Have just finished off a couple more 'Primitive' fishing hooks, the hook bodies are made from Ash and the point is a thorn from a hedge up the lane, the whipping has been done with jute twine, ie garden string from the local horticultural shop, the one on the right with the white flax whipping i made the other day.

I went a bit wrong with the larger one as i didn't carve the main body to quite the right shape and this has impacted on the whipping, as it's not as tight and even as it should be, i might take it apart and do it again, but there again, i thinking i could just make another one from scratch, it's not like it takes a long time to do and i also quite like the 'open weave' effect.

Wooden Dragonfly

I made a start on some new products today, one of which is carved decorative dragonflies, now before people start saying Dragonflies have four wings, and your right, these are designed as representations only and are decorative pieces and not scale models, although i do have a couple of larger versions in process that will have four wings.

The body is approx 8 inches in length and is made from a single piece of wood that has been carved to shape, the wings are made from pared down timber than was then further reduced on the shave horse with a draw knife, the completed Dragonfly is then attached at an angle to a stand, the entire finish on these is as it came off the knife, which really does add to the shape and general feel of it.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Slingshot Ratting

Spent some time up at the lakes today, had a few things to do, like cut the grass for one, while i was there i thought i would do a bit of rating as well, but rather than take my rifle this time, i took one of my own brand slingshots that i have fitted with double Theraband Gold bands.

Long story short, i took three shots at rats, the first one missed but not by much, the second one later in the day, i and a friend of mine who witnessed it, think it parted the fur, the final shot though was a pearler, a nice swift delivery of an 9mm steel ball from the slingshot, resulted in the 'thud' of a hit and over it went, the rat never stood a chance, just to be sure though, i then gave it another steel ball from zero feet, although the initial shot was enough to kill it, I'm afraid there is no kill shot as it was in some light undergrowth and i wasn't going to be pulling the thing out, just for the sake of getting a picture.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Birch Spoon

Birch spoon i started at the BCUK Sussex meet this past weekend, I still have a bit of work to do on it in order to get the symmetry right on the bowl  but apart from that it's turned out pretty well, although it's not one of my best, by any means.

I like to carve a spoon at each meet as that way i have a memento of the event and every time i look at the spoon i remember where it was carved and as per the past weekend, the fantastic company i enjoyed whilst it was carved.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pine Resin Candle

While we were at the BCUK Sussex meet this past weekend we undertook a few different projects, one was to make a fire wood shelter, which turned out really well and did it's job admirably, as on the Saturday night we had a bit of rain and the wood stayed dry, we also made a few spoons, practiced with flint & steel and ferro rods, used the bow drill, where as mentioned in a previous past some people got their first ever ember, one of the other skills we undertook was the manufacture of Pine Resin Candles, it was something the kids could do as well as the adults and as we all know, fire always connects with the soul.

We didn't make many candles, just enough to have some fun with, i cant claim credit for the one pictured though as it was made by one of the other guys on the trip and is by far the best looking candle from all the ones we made.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Weekend Away

Have just returned from a superb weekend away at the BCUK Sussex meet, met up with some old friends and made some new ones, all of them are superb company and are welcome around my campfire at anytime, we practiced a few skills, including some people getting their first bow drill embers, carved some spoons,  did some tree id, made some pine resin candles and some superb Walnut bread which had to be tasted to be believed, it was sublime.

We had a bit of rain on the Saturday night but this just added to the occasion, i was in my sleeping bag so it really didn't matter, already looking forward to the next meet in November, cant wait to be honest.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Fishing Hook

Made myself a replacement fishing hook to go in my exhibition / show / demo kit, the one had got broken at a show back in early September, this one has a Cherry wood main part and the spike is made from a piece of whittled down Hazel as this will hopefully be a little stronger than the thorn i had used previously, the whipping has been done with Flax thread, I'm in the process of making a couple more as spares, and these will incorporate longish thorns for the barb, but I'm going to use nettle cordage or at the very least, nettle fibres to make the whipping on them as i think it will be more in keeping with the ethos of such a hook.

Monday, 3 October 2011

It's Never The Dogs Fault

It's Never The Dogs Fault - a very true statement, below is a picture of a poster that was nailed to a fence post not far from home that reminds dog owners to pick up their dog CRAP rather than leaving it in the middle of the path.


It's a shame a lot of these apparently "responsible" people don't actually do it though.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Flint & Steel

This is without doubt one of my favourite fire lighting techniques, although of late i have rather neglected it in favour of the friction fire, via a bow or hand drill.

Pictured left is my standard Flint & Steel kit that i carry with me when I'm out and about and know I'll be having a fire or just want to practice the skill, the tin is an old air rifle pellet tin and i use this to not only store my char cloth, but also to make the char cloth, in, the brown patch just below the tin is a small piece of amadou.

The steels themselves, well these are just two of an ever growing collection, the top one was gifted to me by Sticks65 and it's one he made from an old file, the C striker, i cant honestly remember where i got it, but the important thing is both of the strikers work a treat, the flint, well, I'm lucky, because where i live the stuff is so abundant we use it as a building material, so finding or making a piece that's suitable for striking against a steel is never a problem.

All of the above fits into the leather pouch (made by me) and this goes into my pack or bag ready for use.