Friday, 30 December 2011

Flash Tinder - Clematis Fluff

One of the best flash tinder's around the area i live in is the fluff (seed pod) from the wild Clematis (Clematis vitalba),  also commonly known as Old Mans Beard.

The Clematis is an incredible fire lighting ally to those in the know, the wood from the larger vines can be used as a hearth board for friction fire (please don't cut down live vines though, there are plenty of dead ones around), the bark on the vine sheds easily and makes a great tinder and of course the fluff will ignite from the slightest of sparks and will help to ignite other tinder's, and is especially useful when used with coarser tinder's such as dead grass or even fluffed up Clematis bark, as it gives the spark from a ferro rod something to grab  onto which in turn ignites the more fibrous tinder.

At the moment the hedgerows around here are white with the Clematis fluff and the time is right to go and collect a few bags of it and place it into storage for use later in the year, although listening to the rain on the window, i might leave it a while before collecting some.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sharpening A Spoon Knife

One of the questions i see fairly often on the various forums is "how do you sharpen a spoon knife?", well the answer is simple and very cheap, there really is no need to go out and buy expensive water stones or slip stones, all you need is a bit of flat wood with radiused edges, a piece of thin leather and some 600 grit wet & dry, total cost?, probably less than a quid.

I first came across this method when i was watching one of Ben Orford's video's on You Tube and to be honest, it's such a simple no fuss method of sharpening a hook, crook or spoon knife it's a wonder more people don't use it,  i have  built my own system up with the addition of more 'sticks',  but it is based entirely on Ben's method.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Hans Karlsson Adze

I received my long awaited Hans Karlsson Bowl Adze this Christmas, I've been itching to get my hands on this ever since it arrived a few weeks back and now i can.

Ive been after a decent Adze for carving bowls, kuksa's and larger spoons for some time and now i have no excuse, it's certainly going to make life a lot easier than trying to remove all the waste wood with a big spoon knife as i have been doing, all i need to do now is to make my self an Adze block (angled chopping block) so i can use the Adze with some safety, i was going to make a bowl horse, but having thought about it i think i prefer the Adze block to the bowl horse for a couple of reasons, one being limited storage space at home and whilst both are portable, the Adze block will be easier to transport in a small car than a bowl horse would be.

Now all i need to do is get the Adze block made and then i can start producing all manner of bowls, cups & Kuksa's.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Boxing Day Bimble

This has become a bit of a tradition for Eldest and i over the years, regardless of the weather we go for a bimble on Boxing day, one - so we can clear our heads, two - so we just get away from it all for a few hours, we always walk the same route as well so from year to year we get to compare the countryside against the previous Boxing Day Bimble, there was a huge difference to last year on this occasion, as, well basically, last year there was still snow on the ground and everything was frozen solid, this year however we basically walked the route in shirtsleeves as it was about 55F.

This bimble, as per so many of my bimbles presented us with all manner of natural wonders, from the hunting Kestrel, to the huge flock of Starlings, some wild edibles and as pictured a glorious sunset out over the English Channel as seen from the top of the South Downs, as I've mentioned many times, to truly understand the natural world, you have to see it at all times of the year and in all weathers and just sometimes, it gives you a really good excuse to get away from it all for a couple of hours.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Strap On

Made myself a nice new neck strap for my binoculars today as i was fed up, especially with the larger 12x50's, of having the pathetically narrow and useless  strap that is supplied, keep digging into my neck.

So out with the pig leather it was, the strap pictured  is made with a pig leather upper & with pig suede lower section so it grips my shirt/jacket, the nylon strapping is the one that was originally supplied with my Bins, so i cut in half and then stitched it into the new, far more tactile and indeed, comfortable neck strap, best bit is, as the strap ages it will take on a wonderful lustre from skin oils and general wear, tear and dirt, the strap  is so comfortable, that i made another couple to go with two further pairs of bins i own and after Christmas, i think another couple will need to be made to go on my SLR camera and Spotting Scope.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Whittling Kit

I was gifted a kit the other day by youngest for my birthday, the kit in question is called the "Worlds Smallest Whittling Kit" and it's seriously cool.

The kit contains a few pieces of wood, around which is a piece of sand paper also in the tube are instructions and a tiny Swiss Army Knife, the knife even comes in it's own little pouch, now i just have to decide what to whittle?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Monkey Boy Burner For The Crusader Cooker

I saw this idea back in October at one of the BCUK Sussex meets, the guy who showed me the burner goes by the name of Monkey Boy on the forum, hence the title of this post and had made it as an alcohol burner for the Crusader Cook Set, as like many i think he wanted a better more economical way to use the Crusader Burner unit than using Green Heat or Hexi blocks.

The idea is incredibly simple and i really don't know why i never thought of it myself, now I've made no secret over the years about how crap the Crusader Cooker unit is and this fact is even backed up by the guy who designed it i believe?, but when I'm out and about and don't want to take a Trangia,Hobo stove or even have a small fire, i do use my Crusader Cooker unit, after all I'm not cooking anything on it, I'm just warming up some water that I've bought from home for a cup of tea or coffee, but in the colder months stuff like Green Heat just doesn't cut the mustard, i know some of the stove guru's will say it never cuts the mustard, that's their choice, but i choose to use it.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Flexcut Roughing Knife

One of my latest acquisitions in the blade dept is a Flexcut KN14 roughing knife that eldest gave me yesterday for my birthday, I've been after one of these for a long time and now i have one.

Ive wanted one of these as the blade shape is perfect for some of the carving i do, up to now I've used the smaller version of this blade that is on the Carvin' jack, but even though that has a locking blade, it's never felt 100% for some of the cuts i make with it, it's a superb tool, but at times i want the security of a fixed blade, the KN14 has roughly the same blade shape as the one on the Jack, but is slight longer, which will have benefits when it comes to carving fans and some of the other projects i intend to use this for, i just have to make a sheath for it now, not that, that will take me a long time to do.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Got The Horn

I received a couple of Buffalo Horns through the post this morning  from a mate of mine on the BCUK forum as his part of a trade we did.

These things are amazing, it almost seems a shame to cut these up for projects, I'm very tempted just to clean them up  and mount them on a nice piece of Oak and make a display of them for use at some of the shows i do, but, I'm also tempted to use them for projects, a simple one to begin with, as i need some buttons for a smock that we are making, other bits I'm going to use as spacers on some walking sticks and them the rest I'm going to use for whatever comes to mind, i might even buy a couple of Hultafors HVKs and re handle them and use the horn in the handle, time will tell i guess.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Hultafors HVK

Going on from the post i made about the Mora 510/511, i thought id write a few words on one of my other go to knives, the Hultafors HVK.  I got my first one of these from a friend of mine in Norway (Cheers Jontok) and I've not looked back since.

These things are incredible in their resilience to use and indeed abuse and like the Mora, they laugh it off, to prove the point i made a series of videos back in 2010 showing the abuse one of these knives will take, the tests were suggested by members on a web forum, and OK, some of them are bit beyond the pale, but they did and do serve to prove the strength of this knife, rather than list all of the virtues of this knife in a lengthy post here, I'll post the first video link below and then as each video completes on YouTube the next in the series should appear. Enjoy.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Swedish Army Cookset

A bushcraft favourite these, cheap, reliable and well made, sure the SVEA burner is not a great deal of cop compared to a genuine Trangia, but you know what, i don't really care, it's not the end of the world, it takes longer to bloom, but hey what's the rush?,  I'm out there to enjoy my surroundings, I'm not in a race and i don't need to boil water in 30 seconds flat, so if it takes five minutes or more it takes five minutes or more.

Pictured is my one which I've used for cooking up all sorts of things from boil in the bags to making flat breads, I've even used the thing as a small oven to make small bannocks.  I really love the versatility of these cook sets, ok, they are not the lightest ones going, especially the steel ones, but does it really matter?, i guess not, because you wouldn't have bought one if it was - would you?.  

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Mora 511/510

One of my all time favourite knives is the Mora 511/510, sure I'm lucky as i have all manner of high end knives from a variety of different makers, and all bar a couple of 'specials', they all get used as well, but my everyday go to fixed blade knife is the 511/510.

Unfortunately Mora stopped the production of the 510, so I've been buying the 511's and cutting the finger guard off, to make it into a well a 510, the Mora is legendary amongst outdoor types such as ourselves, so i don't have to tell you the virtues of a Mora, but for those who don't know or are unsure, just get one, you wont be disappointed, and despite what many say about partial tang knives (although the 511/510 does have a good length tang) and how they are 'unsafe' and 'not strong enough', i have never  had one fail on me, even during tasks where by my own admission a different tool like a small axe would have been better suited to the task, like battening hard woods and even felling small trees.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

More Leather Notebook Covers

I made some more leather notebook covers today, albeit these are of a totally different style to the journal type i made yesterday.

I much prefer this type of note book when I'm just out on an impromptu bimble with minimal equipment, as the size and style of this notebook means i can slip it in a back or side pocket on my trousers, they are pretty useful to have in the car as well.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Leather Note Book Covers

I made a load of A6 sized note book covers today from some gloriously tactile pig suede, the leather is a lovely fawn colour and is almost 'waxy' to the touch.

I use a note book on a regular basis and like to use a leather cover, not only because it's more tactile, but i can store things within the cover behind the note book, apart from the fact that people, myself included, seem to like leather clad notebooks.

As I've posted before, I've used a notebook for as long as i can remember, albeit at home, in the office, in the car and of course when I'm out and about to make notations of whats going on around me or interesting finds for further investigation at home, as you just sometimes find something that needs more study, but you need to draw it to get the details right, rather than take a photo.

Most of the ones i made today and will be making tomorrow, will be going to friends and family during the forthcoming festivities, i will probably make a few more as 'spares', as you tend to always get the 'that's nice' comment from someone you forgot.

So if anyone would like to purchase one, including an A6 notebook,  drop me a line and we will get something worked out.

Storm Cloud

Just thought id share a picture of one of the storm clouds that was going up the Channel earlier today, pretty impressive i thought?.

We have had a few rain showers and even the odd bit of lightning and rumble of thunder as the evening drew in, thankfully the weather is nowhere near as bad as it was last evening, the highest recorded wind speed around where i live was 78mph, we have replaced four fence panels today, not because they were broken, but with another big storm system due to hit on Thursday, it was better to replace them before they did fail, as they were getting a bit "past their best".

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Enzo Trapper Sheath

One of my recent leather working commission was a dangler sheath to suit an Enzo Trapper, after working out all the details with the customer, we decided on a right handed tapered end sheath with a dangler option in dark brown.

The sheath is made from 3.5mm veg tan leather and as per all my sheaths is entirely hand cut, dyed, double stitched and polished,  the welt edge is also finished by hand to achieve a high quality finish, granted,  using hand tools takes longer, but i really do feel you end up with a higher quality of finish doing it all by hand, as like my wood working, you have to work with the materials at hand, rather than force them as you would with power tools, there is nothing wrong with using power tools, it's just my personal preference not to use them.

I have a few finishing touches to make to the sheath tomorrow and then it will be winging it's way to Germany and it's new home.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Pig Leather Possibles Pouch

I made myself a new belt pouch today from some of the pig leather i have, but having made it, I'm not sure I'm actually going to use it.

The pouch is wonderfully tactile and measures approx 4.5 x 6 inches, the closure is via a leather thong and a button, the button is sewn onto the flap and the thong has two closure settings, as pictured for light loads, but if you fill it right up, the upper loop misses the small slit on the bottom of the flap and secures directly behind the button, the belt loops will accept a belt up to 2" wide, i have some wonderful suede on the way so i might make another next week with a gusset in it, dunno, time will tell i guess.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Pig Leather Pouches

Ive been busy this week making leather pouches/bags from some gloriously tactile pig leather i bought, I've made two different sizes so far, some for my own use, but others I've sold on via the Makers Market on BCUK, the two sizes I've been making are 6" x 4" (Small) and some in a more popular size of 7.5" x 5" (Medium).

I use these pouches for all manner of things, the smaller ones i use to hold flint and steel fire kits, steel balls for my slingshots or pellets for my air rifles, the larger ones i use to hold dry ingredients, such as flour, powdered egg, sugar etc when I'm out on the trail, but really the pouches are limited in their use only by your imagination, i suppose with Christmas coming, you could even put some nice jewelry in one for your partner?.

If you would like to buy one, i keep an updated list going on BCUK, links to the relevant threads below

Medium  Pouch - Click Here Small Pouch - Click Here

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Chilly Bimble

Went for a bimble over the South Downs today with a mate of mine from the BCUK forum, we only covered about 4.5 miles,  the wind was blowing hard and cold, but it was just being out there that mattered today, all the time you were moving, you were warm.

We had a bit of a laugh, did some tracking, mainly deer and saw a few birds from Buzzards to Robins, we also found a load of camps that the local kids had built, a couple were really well made, but one we took down as it was made from builders plastic and polyprop rope and was just flailing around in the wind, we left all the materials there, tucked under a big log, just in case they come back and decide to rebuild it, roll on the next trip.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Schrade Old Timer 34OT Pocket Knife

Over the years I've amassed a good collection of locking and non locking pocket knives, some are  complete junkers, some are admittedly drawer queens and will never be used in anger, others are users and one of my favourites is without doubt the Schrade 34OT, of which, as you can see from the photo, i have amassed a good collection, some of these I've bought myself at car boot sales, and the like whilst others were sent to me by friends in the States.

I use one of these and/or my Alox Farmer as an EDC as it's small and unassuming and therefore nonthreatening if you open it in front of the uneducated masses. I do find the three blades cover most of my options, both in the shop, in the garden and even in the kitchen, it's also one of my favoured go to pocket knives for a bit of whittling, stick chickens and the like. 

I'm always on the look out for more 34OT's or if i can find them the 33 (33OT) Series, otherwise known as the Middleman Jack, but these are becoming quite difficult to find in the UK.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Vibrating Shuttle Machine

I was very lucky over the weekend as i received a Frister & Rossmann Vibrating Shuttle Machine, commonly known to you and I as a sewing machine.

I had advertised my requirement for one of these on the Freecycle network and within two or three days of making my post, a very nice lady contacted me as said she had this and if i wanted it, it was mine, so off i went to collect it.  I needed a machine to use with some underprivileged people i work with as it's slower and therefore safer than using a more modern electric machine, and being hand cranked, it will also mean when they use this machine, they will have to think about what they are doing.

Ive done a bit of research on the machine and from the serial number I've ascertained it was made in the late 1920's, but despite it's age, it's still incredibly smooth and quiet when in use, also with the machine were all of the original accessories, including spare feet, screwdrivers and would you believe the original packet of spare needles, all I've had to replace on the machine was the small rubber ring on the bobbin winder, and apart from that, all the machine needed was a bit of a clean up, a bit of oil here and there and off it went, it's wonderfully smooth to use and will no doubt become a favourite tool of those who will use it.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Double Ended Stuff Sacks

Following a conversation with a member on BCUK, i have made some double ended stuff sacks for use with hammocks and/or tarps, the stuff sack is threaded onto your hammock and stays there, much like snake skins, but the difference being these have a draw string closure at each end and are much wider meaning you can, as the description suggests, stuff your hammock or tarp into them.

Ive tried one of these this afternoon with my DD Travel hammock and it fit's a treat, simply tie the hammock to a tree in the normal manner then pull the tapes out of the opposite end of the bag and tie on, your hammock stays off the ground and damp and the sack stays on the hammock and just slides to one end and is kept safe and sound out of the way, when it's time to pack away, just reverse the process.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Second One

We completed our second craft/Christmas fayre today, it was a good show, not as much throughput as we would have hoped for, but unfortunately it clashed with a major elsewhere that nobody could have foreseen and it was just plain unfortunate that the Lions club or whoever it was who organised the thing down town decided to do it on the same day as this show, regardless though, there were a good number of stands and stalls selling all manner of things to help raise money for the Band, according to the organiser, Laura, they made a good amount of  money and can now go and spend the money on some much needed music stands and some new music and perhaps a few other sundry items as well. They are planning another event for April and I'm already looking forward to it.

Friday, 2 December 2011

One Down

I completed the first of a weekend of shows this afternoon, the first show was a small Christmas Fayre at one of the local primary schools, it went pretty well to be honest for such a small event, that, lets face it, is aimed at the kids and their immediate families rather than inviting the general public in in their droves, but despite being in the library area and away and unfortunately a little remote from the bulk of stands and therefore attendees in the main hall, the overall foot fall wasn't that bad.

I managed to sell a few items, spoons, spatulas and gypsy flowers and as i always do at events such as this, i will donating 10% of my takings to the school as a thank you for allowing me to be there, now i have to go and replenish the stocks in the display stands and baskets ready for an early start tomorrow for the next one.

Draw Knife

Picked up a nice 'new' draw knife the other day, it's made by Brades and apart from needing some work on the bevel and having the flats lapped it's in pretty good nick.

The handles, peened tangs and ferrules are nice and tight, as i mentioned above though, the bevel did need some work doing to it, as whoever has owned this in the past decided to attack the bevel with a file and they, well, buggered it up basically, there where huge great rifts and scratches in the bevel edge from the aggressive file they used and the bevel was every shape under the sun except what it should be, they even managed to file away some of the Brades lettering on the thing as well,  i just wish i had taken a photo of the knife before i cleaned it up and restored the bevel.

A few hours work with an oil stone and some wet & dry has restored the edge to a condition I'm happy with, not totally happy yet, but it's considerably better than it was, most of the deep scratches have gone and the bevel has a shine to it now, the flats were lapped and really didn't need a great deal of work, it's now a usable tool and over time and use it will only get better as the tool is lapped, stropped and basically cared for, I've already tried the blade out on some Hazel & Ash and can feel already that this tool will become a valued addition to my tool box.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Highlander Forces 33 - Day Pack

I'm often asked what pack i choose to use for my day pack, well to be honest, it all depends on what I'm doing, if I'm just going for a quick bimble, i take a small shoulder bag, but if I'm doing a full day out, either up the woods or going on a longer walk, i take a Highlander Forces rucksack, until recently i used a Forces 25, but i have now 'given' this to youngest to use as his old pack, well, basically it fell apart, so now I'm using a Forces 33 and to be fair the 33 is much better suited to my back than the 25 was, just because it's 33 litres in size, doesn't mean you have to use all of the space does it.

I was lucky when i got this pack as i found it on Ebay and paid £15.00 for it, way under the usual retail price and when it turned up you could see the thing was nearly new  and it still had the rain cover in it as well, although it's a mid sized pack, I'm religious on not filling it with junk and/or items that are subject to requirements on whatever trip I'm doing, yesterday for instance we went on a 12Km walk and as rain was forecast the pack contained, my Swedish Army Cooker, Crusader Cup and tea making stuff, two 58 Pattern water bottles, a 1st aid kit and my poncho, all of this fits into the pack with masses of space to spare.

Having used this pack for some time, I've had no problems with it at all, it's comfortable to wear, well made and strong, it's been dropped, overfilled, sat on, thrown down scree slopes, kicked, i have even used it to bring a load of timber back from the woods and it laughs it off, would i get another, you bet, OK, it's not built to the same standard as my Sabres, but there again it also doesn't have the price tag of a Sabre either, for the money, i really don't think these packs can be bettered.