Monday, 30 April 2012

Medieval Spoon Carving

I enjoyed another great day up the woods today with my old mucker Hugo from BCUK, whilst we were up there he wanted to learn how to carve a Medieval style spoon, so that's exactly what we did.

Pictured are the two spoons we carved, the lower one is Hugo's the other is mine, he did pretty damned good in all honesty, this is not the normal style of spoon Hugo carves and it incorporates some cuts that he wasn't used to making, but he captured the basics really well, the spoon has a good shape and the handle is Octagonal, all he needs to do is spend some time refining the spoon so it has a narrower handle and he will be spot on, all in all a seriously good first attempt at a Medieval style spoon i thought.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

And Then It Rained......

Oh boy oh boy has it rained or what?, OK we desperately need the rain because the reservoirs are way down on the levels they should be, following  a very dry winter and the farmers need the water for the crops, but this has to be the wettest drought on record ;-). The picture shows a screen print taken from the Met Office website of the rain fall we had overnight and it's still raining as i type this, still it's all good, now where did i put my water proofs, i fancy going for a bimble?.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Iron Pyrite

While i was out in the woods yesterday with my mate Hugo from BCUK, i was lucky enough to stumble upon two good sized pieces of Iron Pyrite, one of which is pictured, the other picce i found was of a similar size,

I did offer a piece to Hugo, but being a gent, he turned it down as he wants to find his own piece, i can understand that to be honest, mind you he did get a superb Beech Burl that he is going to make Quache from.

Friday, 27 April 2012


Enjoyed a superb day out to day with my good mate Hugo from the BCUK forum, we didn't really do much, just enjoyed being out in the sunshine in good company.

While we were out though we had a bit of a bimble around the immediate area we were in, Hugo found a Badgers skull which we have place alongside the other we found on a previous trip in this area, i found myself a nice bone (pictured), from which I'm going to try and make some bone needles and/or a scane channel for basketry, will see how it goes when i start to work on it as to what i use it for.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fried Spoon

I was supposed to be out working today, but the torrential rain and strong winds has put paid to that, so having dome a Post Office run in, im figuring what can i do?.

So I'm having a look through some things and i see this spoon that i carved ages ago, then i thought, lets fry it - well, as you do.

I got the idea a while back when i was up the woods with Hugo & Rockmonkey from BCUK and it was my turn to cook the bacon butties up, i left my spoon in the pan for a bit too long and it started to cook, so i grabbed a small frying pan, put a little bit oil in the bottom and fried this spoon up, the result was this

I quite like the effect it has given, amazing what comes to mind when you are at a loose end on a wet & windy day. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

A Trio Of Medieval Spoons

Pictured are three Medieval style spoons I've just finished against a commission i received for a set of these.

They are all hand carved from Hazel and feature a fully tooled finish, as would have been the case back in the medieval period, the style of the spoon, is what is commonly referred to as the "Lollipop", the handle is carved into a octagonal section in keeping with some of the examples i have seen & studied elsewhere.

Cherry Spoon

One of my favourite woods for carving is Cherry, not only does it carve well, but the grain patterns and deep rich colour you get with it, are, well, quite simply, stunning.

The spoon pictured was going to be a new eating spoon for myself, but during the carving, i discovered a larvae had made the cherry it's home, you can see the route it took at the top of the bowl, but rather than throw it away, i carried on with the spoon and will just use it for a bit of decoration around the house now.

Parcel From Germany

The Postman bought me a small parcel from Germany this morning, it came from a chap i know out there, who originally got in touch for a sheath for his Enzo knife, but since then, we have become firm friends.

He told me last week he was sending something over, but didn't say what and today it arrived, upon opening the parcel, i found a small axe stone which is going to come in very useful, but i also found an "Erbswurst".

As soon as i saw the name, i recognised it and upon further reflection, it transpired it was in the book "Camping & Woodcraft" by Horace Kephart, where he, to be honest, doesn't rate it too highly, but, i will reserve judgement on it until i have actually tried some for myself later today.

More info on Erbswurst can be found in this blog entry that i found courtesy of our old friend Google.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Death By Spoonage

Just a few of the spoons i started yesterday for some shows and events i have coming up in the near future. There are number of differing styles, from the Medieval style (lollipop shape) to those based on the GI Issue spoon (ones in Yew), i made ten blanks in total from a variety of different woods, including Hazel, Poplar, Willow, Cherry & Yew, still a way to go before they are finished, but they shouldn't take too long to do once i get started.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Woods Wizards

Made a load of Woods Wizards yesterday to go into stock for a couple of shows I'm doing in the not so distant future. All of the ones shown have been carved from Weeping Willow, which is a gorgeous wood to carve, when wet it's like carving sift butter and dry, i suppose it's more akin to Balsa wood. Whilst the ones shown are in natural wood, we have also painted a load up in different colours, just for something a little bit different.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Crook Knives

Thought it was about time i did a short post on some of the Crook Knives i use on a regular basis.

Pictured left, are the three crook knives i use the most often, from top to bottom, unknown maker, but i know it originated in Canada, the middle one is a JLT Knives blade that Adam made for me, shortly before he disappeared off the scene, i mounted the blade into a handle of locally sourced English Elm and i use this particular knife a lot when making Shrink Pots as it has an external bevel, which i find preferable for that type of hollowing, the bottom one is a Ben Orford that i recently acquired from a chap on BCUK and although I've not owned it for long, it is already a firm favourite.

I don't use these knives every day, but i certainly use them a couple of times each week in the course of my work,  superb tools, that in my opinion, should form part of every carvers tool kit, if you don't have one, get one, you wont regret it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Lid For Lightweight Cook / Brew Kit

Since i made the post yesterday about the lightweight brew/cook kit i made from junk, I've had a couple of mails from people asking for more detail on the lid i made from the top of a Tuna tin, so here it is for your viewing pleasure.

The lid was removed from the tin using a side cutter type of tin opener, this is important for two reasons, One - you retain the lip which adds strength to the lid, Two - you tend not to get a razor sharp edge on the lid.

The lid was at first slightly smaller than the diameter of the cup, meaning that as soon as you put it on top, it slid down inside, easy to fix though, all i did was to go round the circumference of the lid about a dozen times with a rounded piece of metal and slowly worked the lip outwards until it got to a stage where it no longer fell into the cup, but sat on the top, well it actually sits just down inside the lip of the cup, which works really well.

Once this had been down and any rough edges smoothed off with a piece of 120 grit sand paper, i drilled out three small holes to use as a strainer / steam escape holes, which help stop the lid rattling around on the cup when it reaches a boil and then drilled a small hole dead centre and made a knob from a small piece of seasoned hazel, which is attached via the hole with a small stainless steel screw.

As you can see from the photo, it all goes together quite well and i can still get everything mentioned in the original post about this kit, inside the cup, all i have to do when putting it all away, is to put the lid on upside down.

Hope this makes sense to those people who asked for more information?.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lightweight Cook / Brew Kit

I decided to make myself a new lightweight cook kit for those times where you perhaps want the option of a hot drink, but don't want to be carrying a whole load of stuff around with you ie my Crusader kit, i figured you will have a bottle of water with you for a cool drink, so this adds on quite nicely and gives an option for a hot drink. So i had a dig around in the box of bits/unused gear and made myself a new brew kit.

The kit comprises a  a beer can stove, 2 oz bottle of alcohol (gives four to five brews), pot stand from a piece of old aviary wire, wind shield from a foil baking tin, piece of old bed sheet as a pot grip/wipe, folding plastic mug & an old metal cup that cost me about a quid if i remember right, not shown - lid for the metal cup that i made from the top of a can of Tuna.

All of this fit's in the metal cup, with the exception of the pot stand which goes around the cup which in turn gets stowed in a draw top bag that is made from a recycled nylon sheet, the total weight of the kit, including a full 2oz bottle of fuel but excluding water is 9.6 oz or 271g, so pretty light.

So having made it, it was time to use it, i picked myself a load of Dandelion flowers and made some Dandelion Flower tea, placed some water in the cup, added just enough fuel to cover the convex section of the bottom of the stove, lit her up and four to five minutes later, i have a boil going, i used the cloth to filter out the Dandelion bits and tasted the tea, what did it taste like?, well absolute piss actually, it was bloody horrible.

It's not a bad little kit and I'm pretty pleased with the way it has worked out, i can replace the beer can stove and pot stand with the stove i made the other day if i want to, which would shave off another ounce or so i guess. 

A basic cook/brew kit made from, well, junk basically, the essence of Bushcraft i feel?.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Bearing Blocks

Further to the post i made on 21st February about the bow drill bearing blocks that i fashion from pebbles, well, I've so had so much interest in these, that i made a few to sell on, the price is £10.00 each, including Paypal fees and UK delivery, for shipping outside of the UK, please add £ 3.50 to cover P&P.

These blocks work superbly well and are almost frictionless in their operation, you will not believe the difference one of these blocks makes to the ease of using the bow Drill, when compared with using, say, a piece of green wood.

Shown to the right are the blocks i currently have for sale, if you wish to purchase one, drop me a message or email noting the number of the block you would like.

I should add that each block pictured has been used once to make an ember, i do this so i know the divot is deep enough to stop the top of the spindle flipping out while the spindle is moving, I don't plan on making these that often as they are a lot of work, so grab one while you can.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Day Of Two Environments

Have enjoyed a good day today, this morning i went down to the beach, as i wanted to collect a few things that are only found down there, while we were there, we had a bit of a walk round and a climb on the rocks that were imported from Norway for use as breakwaters, why we had to import rock from Norway is beyond me, as we have plenty of perfectly good Granite quarries in the UK.

I suspect it's probably down to cost, still the rocks do make a good feature in the area and nature is slowly starting to colonise them, the seaweed is taking hold and hopefully at some time in the not too distant future, Limpets may may make an appearance, i do hope so as they are very tasty.

We also had a look round at some of the foreshore plants that are in the area, things like Sea Kale, Valerian & Silver Ragwort to name but three, all protected by law, and rightly so.

After lunch i was at a loose end, so i went for a walk over the fields and up the lane for a hour or so, lots of wild foods are in evidence, Alexanders, Burdock, Nettles, Silverweed, some very tasty Blackthorn blossom and nice young Hawthorn leaves.

A lot of the early spring flowers and blooms are now receding, but there are still a few Violets & Celandine's to be seen, the Beech leaves are just starting to break out, so it wont be long before i can go and collect some to make a spring time tipple called Noyau, it's a bit like Marmite, you either love it, or hate it, there is no in between with it.

Further up the lane where the Elms have been felled as part of the disease control, there is an incredible amount of new growth, all of the pollarded Elms are budding like mad and in some places the hedge is already looking nice and thick again, on top of this, the is farmer has undertaken an incredible amount of tree planting, mainly with whips, but there has been a lot of planting going on, and of course, where the Elms have been taken down, sunlight is reaching parts where it has not been for years and all manner of seeds are now germinating after years of laying dormant, it's going to be interesting watching the area regenerate and keeping an eye out for previously undiscovered plant species.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Bow Drill Sets

Ive enjoyed a busy day making Bow Drill sets today, these are destined for use in a  couple of classes I'm hosting in the near future and for two events where I have been booked to demonstrate "primitive" fire lighting techniques.

For classes, i normally have the customers make their own sets directly from materials we find in the woods, with the exception of cordage, but as the classes I'm doing are only half day jobs, there is not really enough time, especially with a group, to make the sets and get everyone spinning that spindle in three to four hours, so what i like to do, is to make a basic set, with no notch or spindle depression, essentially, i have taken out the "locate and fully prep" section of the course, but have still left in enough prep for the customers to do, so they appreciate the work involved and importantly, still gain the knowledge as they still have to burn in their sets etc.

The picture shows about half of the sets i have prepared, all of the sets (hearths & drills) are made from Sycamore & Hazel.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Birch Burl Bowl Pt 2

Following this post where i wrote about being gifted a magnificent Birch Burl by my good mate Hugo, well, yesterday, eventually saw me with enough spare time to make some further progress with it.

So, i grabbed the Adze and started hollowing out, i had got a good way in, when it started spitting with rain, so i put the tools away and it was just as well i did, as about five minutes after i stopped, it threw it down, then as quickly as it started, it stopped and the sun came out again, by this time i was entrenched in the workshop and was slowly surrounding myself in an ever growing pile of wood shavings.

Ive taken the bowl down to a wall thickness of about 3/4" and I'm now waiting for it to dry out a bit before i move on to reducing the wall thickness to the final size, that's about it for now, more on this project as it happens.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Bag / Pot Rack

While we were up the woods the other day, we made a little something that i have been meaning to do for ages, which was to make a bag rack to keep our ruck sacks up out of the mud and to make getting things out/putting things away a little easier.

All we did was to auger four one inch holes along the fallen Oak that is central to our camp, into these hole we inserted some pieces of Hazel and then cut the ends off at an angle.

We put four pegs in, that way all three of us has a peg to use and we have one spare, we can also utilise the pegs if we are staying there for a few nights, as we can use it as a central place to hang pots and pans and keep them off the ground and out of harms way when they are not in use, next time we go up there, I'm going to take the auger with me again and add a few more pegs i think.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Alcohol Stove

Was messing around a bit earlier and decided to make myself a new alcohol stove to go in a lightweight brew kit I've been messing around with.

The stove is made from an old aluminium deodorant can, that I've cut into three, the bottom of the can is the base and the neck section of the can is pushed down inside the base to create a double wall burner, and yes, i made a boo boo and pushed it in too far - oops, still it hasn't cost me anything really has it and it doesn't effect the way the stove works?.

As i pushed the inside down too far, I've restricted myself on the amount of fuel the stove can take, but that is not a bad thing, as I'm only going to be using a small metal mug with this burner for making the odd brew and a 1/2 oz of fuel brings a cup of water to a rolling boil, albeit under perfect wind free conditions inside the house, even when used outside without a wind shield or a lid, the water gets to a temperature where you can just about stand the heat if you dip a finger in the water, so with a shield and lid it should be fine, and as anyone who knows me knows, i tend to let my tea and coffee go cold before i remember to drink it anyway.

You may notice that i don't have many jet holes around the outside, this is for one very good reason, i don't have a small enough drill, so i figured as the holes are bigger, I'll have less of them, in reality the area covered by the holes is probably the same as comparable stoves with more, but smaller jets, even so the holes are around 1mm in diameter and the stove works really well.

Now all i need is another empty anti pong can so i can make another stove, and remember not to push the insert down inside too far so it will hold more fuel and instead of using a drill to make the holes, I'll use a needle instead, so i get smaller jet holes around the outside of the stove.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Bow Drill Bows

I made myself two new bow drill bows today whilst i was up the woods, i necessarily need them, but it's always nice to have a few in reserve.

The two pictured are made from the same Hazel branch but offer totally different styles, one being a straight bow where i have thinned the wood down, the other utilises the natural curve of the Hazel, which i will use as a handle, as you can see they have been debarked and when I've carved them a little more at home, I'll put them in the boot of the car to dry out, i might reduce the thickness of the curved one slightly as it's a bit thick in places, but i shall retain the natural shape of it.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Hammock Pillow

My Mum was busy on her sewing machine today, so while she was there, i asked her to make me a pillow for use in my hammock, well, i say a pillow, it's more of a soft round fleecy stuff sack to keep my head off the hammock fabric when I'm sleeping.

The 'pillow' has a slit on the reverse of it, so i can insert a spare t shirt or sweatshirt in it, so it forms a padded pillow of sorts, the tape on the top allows me to add some elastic cord, so i can suspend the pillow from the apex of my hammock, which stops it sliding down and underneath me when I'm sleeping and in turn also ensures the pillow is exactly where you want it in the hammock.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

My Old Tent

I got my old ridge tent out of the loft the other day with the intention of turning the fly sheet into a light weight closed end tarp for use with my hammock, however, it's in far too good a condition to even consider doing that, as well as it being collared by youngest as his new tent, it doesn't matter that the tent is older than he is, he likes it, therefore he can use it if he wants to.

Considering the age of this tent it is in remarkably good condition, all or the parts are there including the spacers for the ridge pole and it even has a surplus of tent pegs to boot.

The tent itself is an old Lichfield Combat 1, it's a one man tent and it really doesn't take that long to put it up, youngest had a practice in the garden yesterday and from start to finish it probably took him 5-10 minutes to get it up and get properly pegged out, youngest wants to use the tent this week when we disappear up the woods for a few days, keep you posted on how it fares.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ferro Rods

I was having a bit of a sort out earlier today and found three ferro rod blanks tucked away in a bag, in the cupboard, id obviously put them there for safe keeping and then forgotten all about them.

I also found a few bits of antler that id  previously used as tool handles, so i cut these down to make the handles on the fire steels.

The antler was drilled out with a 9mm drill and then the rods were glued in place with epoxy, I'm just waiting for the epoxy to cure properly, clean them up a bit and then they will get stashed away in various packs and bags or given away, well,  except the one with the Coronet on it - that's mine.

Friday, 6 April 2012

New Hammock

Yes, folks i bit the bullet and spent some of my hard earned cash on a new hammock, a Warbonnet Blackbird to be exact.

Ive been toying with a new hammock for a little while now, i got myself a DD Travel Hammock a while back and just cant get on with it, too narrow and too tippy for my liking, i also cant sleep at an angle so i lay flat, because in my opinion it's far too narrow, so that will get passed on to one of the boys to use, i know DD have a huge following, but they are just not for me.

At one of the BCUK Sussex meets one of the guys had a Blackbird so i had a look over it and spoke to the owner about his experiences with it, then i did the same with other Blackbird owners, on top of this i did some research on the Internet and even that drew nothing but good reports from users of the hammock, from all over the world, so my mind was made up and last Monday  i ordered one from Mat at UK Hammocks and it arrived on Tuesday morning - stunning service.

Today was the first opportunity I've had to set the Blackbird up and actually use it, albeit for a short period of time and very comfortable it is too, the set up time, even for a first time hang in it was minutes, and the lay, well i kid you not, this hammock is more comfortable than my bed at home, I'm going to use the hammock in anger for at least one possibly two nights away next week, that will be the acid test, sure this hammock has a healthy price tag, but you know what, I'm going to echo what every other Blackbird owner has said - at the moment, i reckon it's worth every penny.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Whimble Set

Enjoyed a grand day out at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard today with the family, although, it comes to something when you see tools you use on a fairly regular basis making a centre piece in a museum exhibit, these bits were in the Dock Yard Apprentice display.

I have a set just like these, minus the brace, that i use all of the time, still id rather be using them for the job they were designed for, than looking at them in a display case

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Throwing Stick

Made myself a Throwing Stick today whilst i was on a trip out to the woods, the stick is carved from a piece of fallen Ash with a natural kink in it, around which the limbs revolve when the stick is thrown.

Whilst hunting with the stick is not an option, it is great fun to set up some targets in a suitable and safe open space and have some fun with one of these, the momentum these things carry when thrown is quite incredible, id highly recommend making one and having some fun

Monday, 2 April 2012

Response Pack

Ive had this little Response Pack for a number of years now and never really used it, i got it when there was quite a bit of hype about the Snugpak version, but being tight, i refused to pay what Snupak wanted, but did find a supplier of a "clone" that, looking at genuine Snugpak ones, seems, at least to me, to be more or less identical, with the obvious exception of the embroidered Snugpak logo on the front, oh yes, i removed the zip pulls and replaced them with cord myself.

So, having bought this thing, i never really found a use for it, I'm not into survival kits or bug out bags, never have been, it's not big enough for some uses, ie cook kit bag, day pack etc, but on the flip side, it's too big for other uses.

It seems a shame to let this little bag go to waste, so come on give me some ideas as to what i could use it for?, as it seems a shame to keep it locked away in the cupboard.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Folding Whittler

I first saw this little folding pocket knife being used by Neil at one of the BCUK Sussex meets down in the Ashdown Forest last year, but for whatever reason i then forgot all about it until the last meet when Neil was using his again, so when i got back i ordered one.

I not had mine for long, less than a week in fact and I'm not normally one to extol the virtues of anything until such time that I've used it for a while, but in the case of this little folder, I'm making an exception.

The knife itself is made by Rough Riders and is marketed as a Whittler and at this it excels, I've used everyday since i got it, for all manner of carvings from fine finishes on spoons and Kuksa's to carving Wood Wizards from start to finish.

The knife has three blades, all of which come razor sharp and out of the three, I've used the two smaller blades the most and they keep an incredible edge, I've only had to sharpen the small Clip Point so far as i thought i had dinged it, but upon closer inspection the cutting edge is touching the inside of the liner when it's closed and it's this that is damaging the edge, not a problem though, five minutes with a Dremmel to grind down the offending section inside and the problem is gone.

The knife is UK legal carry and the best bit, it cost £10.00 including delivery, the quality of the knife far outweighs it's cheap price tag and even though i much prefer a fixed blade knife for all my carving, this little folder, is just the ticket to slip in your pocket when you go for a bimble and fancy doing some impromptu whittling on the way.