Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sheath For Jontok Puukko

Today i eventually got round to figuring out a sheath for the knife my mate Jontok in Norway sent me, i was going to undertake a fresh build and had a scandi style sheath in mind, but then i figured, why not combine Norwegian & British, so i have a Norwegian knife in a British style sheath, the best of both worlds.

The sheath pictured i originally made for a Turley Blackwater River knife that Iz Turley sent me, but having used the knife a bit, it fell out of favour, as i found the blade shape to be too limiting for fine work, it makes a fine camp knife, but for me, it's not an every day user, so the knife was put away and only comes out to play when when i need to use a knife for camp duties, since the knife went away, the sheath has been in storage and waiting for a quality blade to be put back in it, and the Jontok knife is that tool and fits the bill perfectly.

The knife slid into the sheath like it had been custom made for it, it's a perfect fit, the sheath was made as a one off  with carving and tooling, something a bit different to the norm and now it's made some handsome new clothes for a handsome knife

Try Stick

While i was out and about yesterday i collected a nice piece of Hazel in order that i could carve a Try Stick with the knife that Jontok in Norway sent me.

Whenever i get a new knife, be it a custom blade or a mass produced blade like a Mora, i like to take the time to carve a Try Stick, as i have found that carving one of these, soon shows any flaws and weaknesses in the design of the blade and handle and likewise, also shows the strengths of a blade.

I'm pleased to say that the Jontok knife performed admirably and in next to no time a Try Stick was born.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

First Friction Fire

No, not my first friction fire, I've lost count of how many ive made over the years, but today was the first friction fire created with the knife Jontok sent me last week.

All of the prep was done using the knife pictured, which included making the set from scratch and although the handle is a different shape to what I'm used to, it was comfortable to use during all aspects of the manufacture.  Pictured left is the knife alongside the ember it helped to make.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ferro Rod

So, there i was, enjoying my second cup of tea in the dining room this morning,  when i hear the Postman drop something through the letter box, sitting on the door mat was an envelope from some chap in Norway!!!

Now I'm totally mystified as to what he has sent, as he has not mentioned anything about sending anything over, so i open the package up and find a lovely matching fire steel for the knife he sent me last week, oh yes, i suppose i should say who sent it over, well it my old mate Jontok, Jon mate, you are one in a million.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Foot Stool

Finished off another foot stool today, this one has been made for an upcoming event I'm attending and where i hope to be able to sell it.

The stool as per the others i have made, has Ash legs and Hazel stretchers and a hand woven Sisal seat, the weave pattern is a bit of a mix and match as the outer sections are an angular weave and the centre section of the stool has an under & over weave, the overall effect is pretty good, even if i do say so myself, i know by the time i had finished weaving the seat earlier, i knew i had done it, pulling through 150ft rope time after time after time is hard work at the best of times, but in this heat, well lets just say that second shower of the day was sublime.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ash Bark Pot

Following my earlier post about the Ash Bark Container i made, i have now added a double rim of Hazel to the top edge and then whipped it in place using regular hemp garden twine, i used garden twine as i didn't have any other cordage available to me at the time, still i figure, it's still a natural product.

I may still add a pine pitch bead on the seams, especially on the fold lines to add a bit a strength, all i need now is for the Wild Strawberries and then the Blackberries to ripen and i can go and use the container to forage some wild foods with.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Summer Fete

I attended an event today at one of the local schools, i took a variety of different products with me ranging from hand carved spoons and spatulas, to Gypsy Flowers, Woods Wizards and examples of Rustic Furniture, the event was well attended and we enjoyed for the main, a steady flow of visitors around the stalls

I managed to make a few sales during the day and have hopefully got some further bookings coming my way in the near future, to give some talks and demonstrations on some Bushcraft skills to some other local groups and organisations, on top of that, I've already booked up for the next event.

Now i have just five days to replenish the stock i sold so i can be ready for the next event this coming weekend.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Ash Bark Container

Following some discussion on the forums about bark containers, i though it was about time i made another Ash Bark container, so whilst i was out and about with Hugo & RockMonkey yesterday, I collected some bark from a fairly large diameter Ash tree, when i got home i put the bark in water to stop it drying out until i was ready to use it

This afternoon when i got home from the lakes i scored an ellipse on the mid point of the bark and carefully folded the sides up and then stitched the sides using garden twine, as i dont have any other suitable cordage - yet, i have left the score line fairly narrow on this one as i wanted to retain as much of the outer bark as possible, the big problem with doing this with Ash bark is brittle and can split if you are not careful when bending the sides up, normally, i score the bend line and then scrape away the outer bark about half and inch each side of the line as this makes the bark more mailable.

While the bark dries off a tad, i have a tin of baked beans in the neck of the container so it will retain it's shape.

At some point in the next  few days or so i will add a rim of Hazel to the neck of the container for strength, once done i will go over all of the joins and folds with pine pitch to seal it all up and make it look pretty, have to admit, ive quite enjoyed making this as ive not made a bark basket/container for what feels like ages.

Sheath For Turley Osage River

I recently received a commission from a gentleman in the USA for a right handed sheath to suit a Turley Knives, Osage River pattern knife.

The sheath is made from 3.5m veg tan and was then  hand awled, dyed,stitched and finished in it's entirety, i still have a few final things to finish off on it before it goes in the post tomorrow and wings it's way over the Atlantic to it's new home in the USA.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Pan Pipes

Last week i scored a load of fresh cut, large diameter bamboo, all of the longer pieces will get used out in the garden, however there are a few smaller pieces that are just begging to be used for bushy projects, one of the first was a set of Pan Pipes, all of the sharp edges have been sanded down and it's lashed together with some garden twine and two cross pieces, also made of bamboo, no i cant play them, but they do make a sound and to me, it's not out of tune, just a bit of fun and something that's a little different.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fish Hook

I made myself a new fish hook today in between jobs, the shaft is carved from Ash & the barb is a bamboo skewer, but it could easily have been a thorn, piece of bone or even carved from a stick, it's whipped with linen thread, i had the end of a roll from my leather work, not enough for making a sheath or belt, but just enough for this.

I quite enjoy making these up, OK, I'll never use it for fishing with, but they are great to make when you have a spare 30 minutes or so.

For details on how this hook was made,  please check out this simple tutorial I've published, i still need to capture some extra detail on the whipping process, but if you study the photo's, it should make sense.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Look What The Postman Bought

We had a knock on the door this morning from the Postman, nothing unusual in that i know, but he handed me my post and a parcel from Norway, now the first stunning thing is, this was only posted on Friday and it arrived here on Monday - pretty impressive i thought.

The second stunning thing was what was inside the parcel, sitting inside, all neatly wrapped up was the stunning beauty shown in the photo.

The knife was made by my good mate Jontok, he promised ages and ages ago he would make me a knife and to be honest until recently when he started to taunt me with stories of it's build, i had forgotten all about it, but tell you what guys, it's a stunner.

The blade is a commercially available Brusletto, but the handle, now that is art in it's purest form, Buffalo horn, leather & some amazing figured Birch, the photo really does not do it any justice whatsoever, the shape and ergonomics of it is great and the attention to detail in things such as the shaped pommel and the tapered horn bolster, and the finish, well, it's obvious he took some time doing this, as it's been taken down through the grits and it feels silky smooth in the hand, trust me people, it's amazing workmanship. Now i have two things to do with it, one is to make a sheath for the knife that will do it any sort of justice, the second, get out there and use it.

Big thanks go to Jontok for his amazing generosity, now what can i send him in return?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bow Drill Demo

I enjoyed a great day up on the South Downs today supporting a Family day that had been organised by one of the local Conservation Groups i support, they had asked me ages ago if i could demo a few Bushcraft skills during the day and i was only to happy to help out.

The day started off wet and rainy with a NE wind and things didn't look good at all for a while, but shortly after we got to the spot, the clouds lifted and the wind seemed to decrease, but that may have also had a lot to do with the fact that we were also in the lee of some Hornbeam & Beach trees.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Denim Millbank Bag

There has been quite a bit of talk recently on some of the forums about Millbank Bags, for those who have no idea what a Millbank Bag is, the below is copied directly from Wikipedia 

"A Millbank bag is a portable water filtration device made of tightly woven canvas made for use out of doors. They are light, compact and easy but slow to use.The bag is filled with water, which filters through the canvas by gravity. It is useful for removing sediment and organic matter but the water will require further sterilisation before being drunk"

The big problem with Millbank Bags these days is the cost, i bought one ages ago and paid less than £10.00 for it and it came with a bottle of Iodine as well, these days, well they go for over £20.00 on places like Ebay on what seems like a daily basis.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Bamboo Flute

About a week a go  i was lucky enough to get a whole mass of large section, fresh cut Bamboo, this ranges in size from pieces that are 1cm in diameter to other pieces that are 4-5 cm in diameter. We will use a lot of the longer pieces (around 4-5ft in length), as well as some of the smaller section stuff in the garden as plant supports.

This does however mean a good pile of Bamboo that is of a large diameter and in lengths of 2-3ft is left over, so the question begs, what can you make from it?, well as per all things bushy the choices are limited only by your imagination.

This morning for instance saw me making a couple of match boxes from Bamboo tube, but the real job today was to make a flute, now there are a lot of tutorials on the internet and they make this look ever so easy, let me tell you,  it's not as easy as places like "Instructables" say it is.  

So a couple of failed attempts later, i ended up with the flute pictured, it is by no means pretty or in tune, not that i would know what in tune was anyway, but when you blow into it, it does make a pleasant noise and as you place your fingers on the holes, the note changes, not by much, but it does change tone, so i guess that's a bit of success.  This is not a project im going to repeating too often as im not musical, but having the right materials on hand, did spur me on to try it and at the same time, learn a new skill.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Sycamore Spoons

I enjoyed a superb day out on a bimble yesterday with my old mate Hugo, we covered a fair few miles again and as has become customary, we did a little bit of carving whilst we were out..

So having located a suitable piece of Sycamore we got carving while we waited for tea to brew and food to cook, the picture shows the results of our whittling, the two on the right are by Hugo, the one with the narrow neck and the, well, chop sticks are mine, the knife is a new one from the "House of Hugo" and is what he calls, his big whittler, i have one of these from Hugo and it's superb, but nowhere as sharp as the one in the photo, which was like a razor blade.

The spoons still need to be finished off and well, have the bowl carved into them as neither of us took a spoon knife with us on the trip - bad preparation you see.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


A little while back i made a post about some Erbswurst a friend of mine in Germany had sent over, well today whilst out on a bimble i actually remembered to make some up for lunch and very tasty it is too.

It's basically a Pea & Ham soup in a dehydrated form, it comes as a huge, well, pellet of soup basically, that you the rehydrate, this stuff has the most amazing smell and taste of smoky bacon, but, isn't there always a but?, for my own tastes it is way to salty, not all is lost though, so i added a packet of Cous Cous to it and that took a lot of the saltiness out of it and made for a more palatable meal

Monday, 14 May 2012

More Alcohol Stoves....

Most of us know how to make these and have probably had a play with them at some point in time, but at the moment im on a real Alcohol stove kick as ive been trying to build a lightweight brew kit to use whilst out on bimbles.

So having had my day outside scuppered by the rain, i made a couple of pop can stoves, i was also lucky that the shop (Asda) had some cans in a lovely striped Orange Peel colour - just the job.

Each stove is made from the a couple of base sections, there is a wall inside that is cut from the side wall of the can and a series of holes drilled at regular intervals around the top of the tin, usefully, the paint job on the tin, also helps with the spacing of the holes.

Parcel From The US

The Postman dropped of a packet that originated in the USA for me this morning, inside were a few goodies that i had been after and some very kind people on the Bushcraft & Blades forum, kindly stepped up to the mark and sent these over at their cost, and even though i was quite happy to trade items in return and pay the postage, they wouldn't hear of it, so Matt Chaos, Wilderbeast & Gryphon,  please stand up and take a bow.

So what was in the package, well four MRE Tabasco bottles and a UCO Micro Candle lantern, the bottles I've been after for a little while, as, well like Tabasco, but the regular sized bottle is just too big to keep lugging around, the MRE sized bottles though are the perfect size to tuck into my meal kit, the candle lantern, well I've been after one for a little while to use at camp.

So, again i thank the three guys in the US who sorted this out for me, appreciate it guys.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Squirrel Trap

I made this Squirrel trap yesterday, as we have had a big problem with these animals recently, and this type of trap tends to sit a little easier with people, rather than seeing someone turn up with rifle in hand to shoot the tree rats, it's also considerably safer than shooting, especially when dealing with the Squirrels in an urban situation.  This type of trap allows the live capture of the quarry which can then be disposed of humanely, out of sight of the client, i will add, that any Grey Squirrel caught in this trap, will not go to waste, the meat, well, i will eat it as it's very tasty, if i have too much Squirrel meat, i will give away it to a couple of friends of mine.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sponsored walk

In July of this year, I and a host of others, including some disabled people, will be undertaking a sponsored walk in aid of Help For Heroes.

The walk, which is just over ten miles in length, has been organised in it's entirety by eldest, last year he managed to raise just over £1000.00 pounds for this more than worthy cause on just the one sponsored event, in addition to this he also arranged street sales of H4H products in a couple of the local town centres and also attended a number of local shows and events to help promote the vital work H4H undertake, all of this has been done free of charge by him, he doesn't even claim back things like travel expenses, as he is entitled to do.

Whilst we appreciate that times are tough and getting tougher for everyone, many of us do not face the daily struggle, that many of these boys & girls and their families do, because of the injuries they sustained whilst on active service in defence of our Country and our freedoms.

If you can help support eldest in his cause and can find your way to sponsoring him, even if it is just a few pounds, please click the link under the banner above and follow the on screen instructions.

I, eldest, the families, and the injured service personnel your sponsorship will help, thank you for your support.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Wild Strawberries

They wont be long now, while we were out on our walk today, we happened over a huge patch of Wild Strawberries, all in flower and telling the tale of the harvest to come in the not too distant future. For anyone out there that has not had the treat that is a Wild Strawberry, well, your missing a trick I'm afraid, the berry is small, not much bigger than a Peanut in most cases, but the flavour, well, multiply the flavour of a commercial strawberry by a factor of ten and you are about half way there if you are lucky.


Had a really enjoyable bimble today with Hugo from BCUK, we decided it was about time we actually did some miles, rather than sit there, drinking tea, eating pancakes and whittling spoons as we normally do, so a bimble it was.

We covered about 8 miles in all, but as is the case with bimbles we stopped fairly often, most times, i have to admit was because i wanted a photo, or i saw something in the hedgerow that warranted further investigation or i saw a nice new seasonal wild edible plant. We found all sorts of edibles including Garlic Mustard, Violets, Primroses, Cleavers, Burdock to mention just a few, we also found some St Georges mushrooms, one of the few Spring fungi that are edible and also fairly easy to identify, although it wasnt until i got home that my brain drain recovered and i remembered what they were called.

Apart from the amazing views out over the Sussex Countryside from the top of the hill, we were also witness to some superb wildlife, not in the form of the Fallow & Roe Deer we normally see, in fact today, we didn't see one, but we did get to see a beautiful peacock butterfly, which also shortly after the photo was taken, climbed onto my finger before flying away.

As you can imagine, with all of the rain we have had recently it was pretty boggy and wet underfoot, with some paths being submerged under a cover of mud and water, but hey, that's all part of the fun isn't it, anyway, as per normal it was a superb day out, in superb surroundings with superb company.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Sit Stool - Finished

Further to this post that i made back in March of this year about a new stool i was making, well, today, i decided it was time to get the stool finished off and the seat woven.

So with 60 meters of 6mm Sisal rope at hand and wet grotty day outside, it was time to get weaving, a couple of hours and a good few expletives later, the seat was done.

I decided to weave the seat in a two under, two over pattern, although it is a lot of work and the closer you get to finishing, the tighter the weave gets and therefore by default, it also gets a lot harder to pull the rope through, the effect of the finished seat is, well, i think, quite pleasing to the eye.

At the moment the rope is quite tight on the stool, but over the next few days, the rope will start to relax and the stress on the stretchers will reduce a little, now, do i keep it for myself, or do i try and sell it on?, i think in this instance I'm going to keep it and use it as a seat for use at shows and events that i attend, as well as being used as an example of simple, rustic furniture, which might also, with a bit of luck, bring a few commissions my way as well.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Alcohol Stoves

Ive been on a real Alcohol Stove making trip recently, partly i think as I'm trying to get the ideal (for me) lightweight cooking kit for when I'm just out for a walk round and don't necessarily want to take a Crusader Kit or small gas burner with me, but also because I've been watching Shug Emery on You Tube and his "Breakfast From The Hammock" ethos, really appeals.

So with this in mind, I've been making stoves and burners, tyring to find the one that works the best for me, pictured are just six of the ones I've made recently, three are made from aluminium bottles and the other three from pop cans, from the six pictured, four are side burners, so i don't have to worry about a pot stand, the other two (bottom left & top right) need a pot stand and I'm leaning towards this style over the side burners for one very good reason, i feel it is more stable, handy when you could be on uneven ground and are trying to make a brew from the comfort of a hammock.

All of the burners/stoves fit in the lightweight brew kit i made up a little while ago, so now, it's just a matter of getting out and about and trying the different styles of stove with the kit, to see which one i get on with the best, im not into getting a pint of water to boiling point in 3 minutes, im out there to enjoy myself and as long as the water boils and i get a fresh brew, then, that's plenty good enough for me.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Woodie For Dinner

We have had a real influx of Wood Pigeon around here lately, so today i thought it was time to take a couple for my dinner.

The one pictured is the first one i shot this morning with my trusty HW97K in .22, at a range of approx 25 yards in a fairly strong side wind, as always and with any shooting i do, i only shoot for food (except Rats obviously) and i only pull the trigger if i can be 100% certain of a clean shot, regardless of my quarry.

This Woodie i think will get pan fried with a few wild Chives and a bit of Garlic Mustard from up the lane, cant get much fresher or wholesome than that and the left over carcass?, well that's not wasted either, as that goes over the back wall and the Fox that lives out in the back field can have that as a snack, not that there is a great deal of meat left on it now.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Dehydrated Breakfast

One of the things we like to do with our left over food, especially those meals that are rice or pasta based, is to place them in our dehydrator and save them for later when we are out and about on the tail or up in the woods, for a start it's cheaper than buying commercial dehydrated meals and the thing i really like, is you know exactly what is in it, for a start it's not full of salt like a lot of commercial meals are.

Just now and again though, i also like to experiment with the dehydrator, it's great for making jerky, as you would expect, and superb for making things like fruit leather, one of my long term experiments though, has been a dehydrated breakfast of scrambled egg, mushrooms & ham.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Hand Drill

I really wanted to practice the hand drill this weekend, but I'm afraid the weather has rather put paid to that, it's a little damp out there at the moment to say the least, and whilst the hand drill is certainly possible in the damp, it's just plan hard work and the hand drill is hard enough to do in the first place. 

So i figured i would read up on a few notes that i made and look at some of the photo's i took of my initial journey to get that elusive first ember with the hand drill instead, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and it will allow me to get outside and spin a few embers out. The ember pictured is one i made last year with a Willow hearth (i think) and an Elder drill, not the easiest combination for sure, but it works.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Alcohol Stove

Made myself a new alcohol stove yesterday, this is of the side burner type, rather than the pop can stoves i normally make.

I made a similar one to this a couple of weeks back for my lightweight brew kit and I've been itching to make another, albeit, larger one, for those times when I'm using a small billy when out and about.

This one is made from a Aluminium beer bottle and works really well, the neck of the bottle is inserted inside the stove and forms the wall between the inner and outer sections of the stove, I've drilled twenty 1mm holes at 1cm intervals around the circumference of the stove and when a pot is placed on the top the jets hit the bottom of the pot perfectly. 

Ive not done any boil or burn times on this and probably never will, I'm out there to enjoy myself and if my water takes ten minutes to boil, so be it, I'm in no rush.

As long as it gives me a long enough burn to boil up a billy of water so i can have a brew and something to eat, well,  that's good enough for me in all honesty.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Fire Stick Bag

When i went to get my hand drill bag earlier, i looked at it and thought to myself "that looks a bit, well, crap really", all it was, was an old laundry bag that fell into my suitcase at one of the various hotels i used to stay at when i doing a lot of travelling for work, and it was, well, not the best looking bag, so having a spare hour or so this afternoon, i grabbed some Pig Leather and made myself a proper Fire Stick Bag.

The bag is approx 7 inches wide by 20 inches long, the top of the bag has been rolled down and stitched in place for strength and has the raw edge crimped off to make it look pretty, the bottom of the bag has leather tassells sewn into the hem, purely to take the blandness away and add some decoration.

Since the above photo was taken,  i have added a leather thong wrapped closure to the top of the bag, this allows the easy securement of the bags contents and keeps everything in keeping with the simple styling of the bag.

The bag itself as mentioned above is made from Pig Leather and has been lock stitched throughout, the end of the bag where the tassells are located has been given an extra line of stitching for strength.

Hand Drill

Well, as mentioned in my post yesterday about the Bow Drill, it was time to rekindle the Hand Drill skills today as Ive not practiced this technique for a little while.

So i grabbed the hand drill bag, pulled out a Clematis Hearth & an Elder drill and got spinning, the result sore hands, a pile of dust, a sweaty brow and no ember, having not practiced this method for a little while, i need to re harden my hands as they were not quite as hand drill hardened as i thought they were, so daily practice it is from now on until the hands have hardened up again, wont take long as the callouses are already there, they just need building up a bit.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bow Drill Practice

Yeah, i know, like i need it, but i thought id do a bit of practice and knock some embers out, in the end i made six embers in six attempts, the burn bottom right had two embers from it.

The set itself is made from Sycamore in its entirety, which is probably one of the easiest sets to make an ember with, the shortest time from first spin of the drill to ember today was about 20 seconds and the longest about 35 seconds, obviously this excludes the initial burn in and cutting the notch. I didn't take any of the embers to flame today as one of my neighbours had their washing out and they are good people, so I'm not going to upset them by sending billowing smoke over the laundry, purely because of my selfish need to make a fire, time to practice the hand drill tomorrow, as I've not done that for a few weeks.