Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Rams Horn

I traded a chap on BCUK some Box Wood for a project he is undertaking for a couple of pieces of Rams Horn, the horn arrived yesterday morning and I'm pretty chuffed with it, i think i might use some of it as a bolster or spacers in a knife build, all i have to do now is get a knife blank, I'm hankering after a new neck knife with a stacked handle made from leather, horn & bark, i can already see the knife in my minds eye, i just need to order the blank now.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Knife Strop

One of the least used items of sharpening equipment i see people talk about is the lowly strop, many people i know, will take their prize and joy to water, oil or diamond stones when it becomes a tad dull and doesn't bite into the wood quite as well as it should, when in fact all they need to do is give the cutting edge a few swipes against a decent strop to bring the edge back to a decent level of sharpness.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Apple Pancakes For Breakfast

While we were out and about today i made us some apple pancakes for breakfast, very easy to make, the batter is just an over wetted bannock mix that we mixed up in a plastic bag, then cut the corner off so it acts as a piping bag, i cook the apples up first to release the sugars and then add some pancake batter to the pan, i cook it on one side until i can turn it, then simply flip it over to brown off the other side, lovely on a chilly winters morning with a fresh cup of coffee to go with it.

Trip Out

Eldest and had an impromptu trip out today up over the downs, we were hoping to go to the BCUK Sussex Meet yesterday and had our bags packed ready to go, but following a very late night on Friday, as both the boys were playing in various bands (Steel & Brass) at the Pavillion Theatre in Worthing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATuB-TcFZtA, events kind of conspired against us and things didn't go at all to plan on Saturday, so we reluctantly had to cancel.

But this morning we figured we would get out in the fresh air, even if it was just for a few hours, so we headed up over the Downs for a few hours, it was a little chilly at first, but once you were moving  it was quite pleasant, we had a great laugh, spotted some wildlife and generally just enjoyed being out there.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Compass Pouches

I made myself a few new leather compass pouches this afternoon, ideally suited for compasses up to Silva Type 15 in size and anything below that, the pouches are made from natural tanned leather with a nice suede finish so it's not too hard on the compass, the brass popper has no effect, that I'm aware of, on the compass needle.

The pouches of course can be used for anything you want to use them for, not just for carrying a compass, and indeed i use a smaller version of one of these as a small sewing/repair kit that is in my pack all the time, but also use one of the size shown to carry fire lighting equipment, trail snacks, even small hanks of cordage, their uses really are limitless.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Ben Orford Right Handed Crook Knife

Got my Ben Orford Crook Knife this morning, although i didn't get it from Ben, it was advertised on BCUK, the chap who was selling it had only used it a few times, so truthfully the thing is almost brand new.

Ive been after an Orford crook knife for a little while and this came up at the right price at the right time, so i grabbed it quick, as with all of Ben's tools this is well made and incredibly comfortable to use, I'm going to be using this for planing cuts on the handles of larger spoons and the exteriors of bowls amongst other things, i still want to get another Crook Knife from Ben fairly soon, but will be going for the version with the exterior bevel as that is far better suited to big spoons, ladles and bowls, this one, has the interior bevel,  i think then, other than a left handed big spoon knife, i will have a fairly comprehensive carving kit.

A Good Rat

The only good Rat, is of course a dead Rat, pictured one i shot earlier today using Accupel's in .22  at 20 yards from my HW97K.

Whilst i detest Rats, i do believe that if you are going to shoot them,  you should always aim to kill with one carefully placed shot, after all the Rat, although disease carrying vermin, are also living creatures and deserve to dispatched with as much reverence as any other quarry. You can see from the picture the entrance hole on it's head, one shot and it never knew what hit it.

It has been suggested we use poison in our quest for Rat control at the lakes, but we are loathe to do it, mainly because we have so many other creatures around, like Shrews & Voles that we don't want to poison, so we elect to have a shoot every so often to keep the Rat numbers down, we will never eradicate them, but we can try &  keep the numbers under control.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Foot Stool

Ive always had a hankering to make a decent foot stool for the lounge, i don't like these mass produced, plastic chip filled things you get at "chavmart" and the like, so i made my own.

The legs are from one piece of Ash that i cleaved into quarters and then cleaned up on the shave horse with my small draw knife, the stretchers are Hazel and i thought id leave the deep bronze bark on as it contrasted so well with the white Ash wood.

The seat covering is 6mm sisal rope and I've woven it in a four under, four over pattern which i think has worked really well, what is deceiving though is the amount of rope in this, in all there is approx 150ft of rope in that seat, I'm just glad i bought 300ft of it to begin with.

The frame is made using tenons and whilst the stretchers are made from dried wood, the legs are from fresh cut timber, meaning that as the Ash slowly dries it will grip the hazel stretchers and form superbly tight joints that wont need glue, I've made a few mistakes along the way, but now I've made them i can learn from that and (hopefully) not make them next time, it's been a pleasurable experience making this and I'm already planning the next one.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Ash Burl

20 Pence Piece Shown For Scale
I went out today for a bimble with a good mate of mine, when  i got back though, i felt like going for another walk, so headed out over the hills at the back of home

Whilst i was out i saw the chap who has a small yard just up the lane, got talking to him and he says to me 'have you got a lathe?', i said a small one but i do have an adze and a set of chisels, 'oh right' he goes, 'you had better have this then' and he dives in his van and brings the item pictured out of the cab.

My jaw hit the floor, when i first saw it i only saw the sawn side and thought it was just a slab of wood, but then he turned it round, this thing is huge and weighs, well one heck of a lot as you can imagine, im really going to have fun hollowing this puppy out, all im going to do is lever the bottom off so it's sits nicely, and then go to town on the inside,

Talk about being in the right place at the right time 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Another Lime Bowl

Going on from my previous post about carving a bowl from Lime Wood, i decided today that instead of going up the woods, i would use the other half of the Lime that i was sent.

I was going to make a Kuksa, but i hadn't left enough length in the wood to make a handle that was half decent or of a good size, so i decided to make another bowl.

I still have some work to do to it as the walls are a tad thick, but i figure it wont take me long to do that, like the previous bowl, i sanded down the exterior and left the inside with the tools marks, it had been mentioned that i should leave the tool marks on the outside as well, but it just didn't look right, so off they came, i can always put them back if i change my mind.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Lime Bowl

Following my earlier post about receiving a good sized piece of Lime from a friend of mine, on the BCUK forum,  today i made a start on my part of the bargain.

I drew out the rough shape of a bowl and got carving, i used a gouge for most of the carving on this particular project rather than my adze as the piece i Lime i have is a limited resource and i wanted to make sure i didn't stuff it up with a wayward swing of the adze.

The Lime was wonderful to carve and in pretty short order i ended up with the bowl pictured, to finish it off, i sanded down the exterior of the bowl, but left the inside of the bowl with tool marks, the best of both worlds i figured, it's also a look i quite like and in the case of this bowl,  it just seemed right, to finish the bowl off, i oiled it with a liberal coat of Walnut oil.

Now what to make with the other half ?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Poplar Eating Spoon

Finished off a nice new eating spoon earlier, this one is made from Poplar wood and was a pleasure to carve, the neck as you will see from the photo is fairly narrow, but don't think it's weak because of that, as it's not, the strength lays in the depth of the wood at the neck, not the width and the deep neck section also allows an elegant neck to be carved into the wood without loosing any strength.
I just hope it's new owner will be pleased with it.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Got Wood

You know it's funny what the Postman brings to the door, our Postie is quite used to delivering half a cows worth of leather, sharps etc, but this one had him stumped, not that it's any his business anyway.

So the story behind this is i was posting to a thread on the BCUK forum and the subject of Lime Wood  (Basswood or Linden for those outside of the UK) came up, now where i live it's pretty rare, even the local timber yard didn't have any and the young chap i spoke to down there didn't know what i was talking about anyway, so when i got a PM from another member (you know who you are) offering me a good sized chunk of Lime Wood i leapt at the chance, all i had to do was agree to  a couple of conditions,  which were, 1- i need your address & 2 - you post up a picture of whatever it is you make from it, do you agree? - deal says I.

I already have the block marked out and ready to go, so what am i going to make from it?, well i guess you will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

New Sheaths

I finished a couple of sheath commissions today, both sheaths are of the same popular dangler style, but one is in right hand carry in black with nickel hardware, the other in left hand carry in dark brown and brass hardware.  Both are made from 3 -3.5mm veg tan and are cut, awled, dyed, sewn and finished in their entirety by hand.

The dangler style  sheath enables a range of differing carry styles, either as a dangler sheath, or by removal of the dangler loop the sheath can be transferred to a regular belt sheath or it can be carried as a neck or baldric style carry with the simple addition of some suitable cordage to the integral nickel/brass loop, i still have some work to do on the sheaths to bring them up to the standard I'm happy with, but all being well these will be on their way to their respective new owners on Friday this week. Unfortunately the photograph really doesn't do these sheaths any justice whatsoever.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Bit Chilly

At last it appears Winter has arrived, it was a balmy -5C at the lakes earlier when i popped up there, the water has a nice cap of ice on it, which is great because it keeps the damned Cormorants off, the only ice free water is a spot about 4ft square where the overflow pipes come in from the lake above it and the splash has so far prevented freeze up, mind you if the cold snap continues, we should have some magnificent icicles from the overflow like we did last year, almost like a  frozen waterfall, but in miniature.

I love going up to the lakes when they are frozen, not only because of it's serene calmness, but it also means i can get a few jobs done without having to work round anglers, who always seem to sit, exactly where i want to get to.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Birch Eating Bowl- Update

I completed my Birch eating bowl today and have to admit that I'm fairly happy with the way it turned out.

I finished the outer surfaces of the bowl off so they are nice and smooth and then took some more wood out from inside the bowl as it was a bit heavy in places and then worked towards a uniform wall thickness, i left the hook knife marks on the bowl as, well i think it looks good for a start, but also being cuts, when the bowl is used the grain wont lift.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Task Day

I thought i would post up a few words about this mornings task morning at one of the local conservation groups i belong to, this particular group is brilliant, as it has probably one of the widest groups of age ranges and back grounds i think I've seen for a small local conservation group, what really impresses me is the group as a whole, it doesn't matter what your age or back ground, or how long you can spare them, everybody's opinion is listened to and everybody's contribution, no matter how big or small, is valued and appreciated - fairly rare these days, thankfully the same ethos exists in another group i belong to.

Today was brilliant for one fact, the kids out numbered the adults and they all worked and worked hard, and we accomplished everything we wanted to do ahead of schedule, the task days only last for a few hours, but are great fun and a superb way to meet like minded people and further your knowledge and at the same time, care for a small local nature reserve.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Eating Bowl From Birch

I made myself a nice new eating bowl today from a lovely piece of Birch that I've been saving for a little while, the bowl was originally designed to be circular, but as i carved it with my adze and crook knife, it just seemed right to elongate the bowl slightly,  giving approx final dimensions of 6 inches long and 5 inches wide.

I still have quite a bit of work to do to it as it is a little  thick and heavy in places and i need to fine carve the exterior and refine the lines somewhat, before I can enjoy eating my breakfast out of it, i guess to be fair, i probably need to carve myself a Birch spoon to go with it so it becomes a matching set, well, any excuse right?.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Sycamore Spoons

I spent a few hours today making some Sycamore Spoons, four of these are a commission from a chap down in the West Country, the others are spares/for my and the families use.

These are all still very rough having been carved from wood that was still standing as a tree on Wednesday, so before i can move on to making the finishing cuts, i need to let the wood dry just a tad, to do this, i place them into a zip lock bag to slow down the drying process a tad, but i leave the bag open, so moisture can escape, important as the bag is left in the house, albeit in a cool room, even so the drying process is accelerated and if allowed to dry too quickly the wood can warp and the handle of the spoon can pull over to one side. 

All being well in a few days time i should be able to get these finished, then four will be off in the post and the others, well  they will go into the ever growing pot of spoons i guess. The knife pictured is the one used to carve all of the spoons you see.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Hand Made Hultafors - Part 2

Following on from my post yesterday about the very kind gift i received from a friend of mine, i thought today, i would make some small alterations to the handle shape, nothing drastic, just some minor changes to suit my hand size and grip.

The changes i made were small and i just hope my friend doesn't mind me altering some of the hard work he put into making this knife?.

Ash Bowl

Finished the Ash bowl bowl I've been working on today, well, nearly finished it, still got some fine tuning to do as I'm not 100% happy with it yet.  The bowl was made from half a small Ash log which has restricted it's size, the bulk of the hollowing was done with my adze and then fine carved with my Crook Knives.

The bowl shape is similar to a dough bowl, albeit, considerably smaller, but i had to work with the materials i had available to me, at the time I've since 'foraged' some larger sections of wood and will be making a start on some bigger bowls in the not too distant future, for a first try with an adze though, it's gone fairly well.

Poplar Spoon

Made my first spoon of 2012 today, it's made from the crook in a branch which gives it a lovely natural shape and retains the strength in the wood, this spoon will only be used for display because of the knots in it which will harbour bacteria over time. Having worked a bit with poplar now it is quickly becoming one of my favourite carving woods, it's like, well how can i put it, i suppose it's like carving wax, incredibly smooth to work, even the knots which are usually hard to carve are dead easy in Poplar.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Hand Made Hultafors

I went for a wander over the hills and woods today with a mate of mine, but before we set off, he passed me this and said "Happy Christmas" - i know he reads my blog, so although i said it to your face, at the time, i will say it again now - Thank You.

The blade is by Hultafors and the handle is some locally "procured" Walnut and it's beautiful, even more special though is the fact it's a hand made knife, made with local materials, in fact i know the exactly tree the wood came from and now, every time i pass it with this knife in my pack or on my belt, the connection between tool and landscape will be made. It's certainly a knife i will treasure.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Plumb Hatchet

I picked this up about 18 months ago at one of the Woodfairs, if i remember correctly,  i paid about £27.00 for it and a  Marples draw knife and definitely think i got the better end of the deal.

I use this little hatchet all of the time for general carving duties and it works superbly well, i did have to do quite a bit of work on the cutting edge as it was misshapen after years of sharpening by it's previous owner and the bevel rather than being a nice convex, was more akin to a double convex with quite a pronounced shoulder on it between the two faces, but time spent on the water stones has paid dividends as the edge only needs a bit of stropping now and again to bring it back to good and acceptable level of sharpness.

Apart from reshaping the bevel, it's needed no appreciable work at all, other than removing the horrible varnish that had been applied to the helve with some wire wool and then treat the wood with some good coats of linseed oil.  

Ive done a bit of research on these and from what i can ascertain, they are highly sought after these days and fetch a good price on the open market, especially those that have the Scouts emblem on them, this one doesn't have that on the head unfortunately, just the Plumb USA logo.

This little hatchet is definitely one of my favourite tools and one that i just know will give me many years of faithful service, just as it did for it's previous owner

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Pocket Tarp

I eventually got round to trying out a 'Pocket Tarp' today, a little while ago i was gifted a piece of Ripstop nylon that had been part of an old tent, the piece of ripstop is triangular in section and i thought  it might be rather useful as a pocket sized tarp / mini shelter sheet.

The Ripstop still has the zips from the tent attached to it and I've left these in situ as edge reinforcement strips, all i have done to make this small tarp is to simply sew a loop onto each corner and one in the middle, this allows the tarp to be suspended from a central point and then each corner is tied out to give a small roof, i need to add a small tie out loop in the middle of each bottom edge to give further tie out options.

Trip To The Woods

Eldest and i went up to our private woods today to check the damage caused by the recent storms, we were expecting the worst as there are a couple of suspect Oaks here and really did expect to see one or more on their sides, but when we got there we found no damage whatsoever, well not in the part we use for our 'base camp', there was one old Sweet Chestnut down a bit further up the woods, and that really was about it, apart from half a dozen or so sub 2" diameter and less than a foot in length rotten bits that had come down, so once we had the fire going, we decided to do some house work around our camp.

One job was to replace the hazel rods on our table, these have been here for 18 months or so in all weathers and where very much past their best, so we grabbed some lengths of hazel from our hazel pile and cut them to length for a nice new table top, the old rotten ones can be seen underneath along with some off cuts and these ended up on the fire a short while later, we left one rod longer than the rest as a place to hang the bow saws up.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Busy Day

We went to lend a hand today at one of the local conservation groups we are involved with, had a really great time up on top of the downs, we split into two groups when we got to the work area for the day, three of us went on bonfire duty whilst everyone else head a bit down slope and continued treating the scourge of the Downs "Dogwood".

The three of us on fire duty had quite a task on our hands as we had to burn masses of Ash that has been felled by the local Forest School, the Ash is slowly being removed from this area to help regenerate and restore it back to it's former glory as prime chalk grassland. So today we were on burning duty, the fire was a pretty good one at it's peak and the heat off of it was intense, so often the case with Ash, at times with the wind the flames were horizontal and looked and sounded like an afterburner on a jet, still the job is done and it is rewarding to be part of something like this so in future years you can look back and say "i helped do that", oh yes, i also bought back two lovely Ash logs to make bowls from, keep you posted on that.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Adze Block/Table Vice

I eventually got round to making my Adze Block today, I've been wanting to make this since i got my Adze at Christmas, but unfortunately the weather has been very much against me, sure i could have gone down the workshop and done it, but i like making things like this outside, where i can 'spread out' a bit.

The block is made from a good sized piece of Oak that i collected when we took down a dead tree at the lakes, when researching adze blocks, i looked at all manner of different solutions, from some fairly elaborate bowl horses, to many different designs of blocks and flat tables, i elected in the end to go with a table type design, although i do have a nice Elm log on standby, just in case i cant get on with the table design.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Stone Bearing Blocks For The Bow Drill

While we were down on the beach the other day i made sure to look out for some pebbles that i could use for bearing block on the bow drill, some trips you find loads, on other trips you find none at all, this trip however leaned towards the latter and i only collected two suitable pebbles.

The two i collected are pictured left, both of these are wonderful to hold and fall naturally to the exactly the right grip needed for a bearing block, the light one of the two is lovely as the top is nice and rounded and the underside is as flat as a pancake.  Now sometimes you get really lucky and find a pebble that has an inclusion or hole that allows the tip of the spindle to sit in it with little or no work needed to bring them to a finished article, these two are not of that variety though, you can see on the darker one that i have marked out the position for the small depression to be ground out, when it's done though and the inside of the depression has been polished slightly, these really are almost frictionless and if you are prepared to put the effort in, quite simply one of the best natural bearing blocks going.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Winter Storm

The winter storm that was forecast arrived with some force this morning, we have some seriously heavy rain and storm Force 10, bordering Force 11 winds along the Sussex Coast, the worst is yet to come as well according to the radio forecast.  The picture opposite shows a screen shot of the storm system as it goes over the UK, unfortunately the radio has also reported a number of people being injured some seriously by falling trees and masonry.

Monday, 2 January 2012


The boys and i went for a trip down to beach earlier today and with the stiff south westerly wind blowing it certainly helped to blow a few cobwebs away, we did a bit of foraging along the tide line, where i found a couple of nice smooth pebbles with slight depressions in them, i will drill out the depressions a bit to make them slightly deeper and then use the rocks as bearing blocks for the bow drill, 

We also found some Mermaids Purses, Whelk egg cases, natural sponges and shed loads of Slipper Limpets & Mussels that had been washed up, there should be even more after tomorrow as we are forecast to get a good south westerly tomorrow (70mph winds) and that should throw all sorts of goodies up on  the shore line

I also made a point of telling the boys to look at the birds on the beech and where they were congregating, as they were all in one small area of the beach, which is also where all of the food stuffs, like fresh shell fish were being washed up by the roughening sea, as always, even a simple walk on the beach will result in mother nature offering a lesson or two, but only if you keep your eyes and ears open and observe what is going on around you and are willing to be taught.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

To all the friends i have made around the world, through our shared passion for the wonderful lifestyle we call Bushcraft.

I wish you a happy, healthy and most of all, a safe, 2012.

Your Good Health......