Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sloe Shortage

Spent some time this afternoon scouring the hedgerows at the back of home for Sloes, normally i can go out and pick 10lb or more in a couple of hours, but today, checking all of the Blackthorns, of which there are loads, yielded, just one solitary tree with fruit on it and these, even though it's still early doors, were already ripe.

Needless to say, there are no Blackthorns over the back of home now with fruit on them, as i took the lot, just under three pounds of fruit, including the manky ones, they are all now in the freezer waiting for me to go and get some Gin, when this has been purchased, i will defrost the fruits after their enforced bletting and get this years Sloe Gin on the go, im think, im also going to make some more Blackberry Gin and i might have a go at something a little bit different as well.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Matching Sheath Set

Matching set of a knife & Laplander saw sheaths, both sheaths are manufactured by my hand from 3mm veg tan leather, dyed in British Tan and double stitched, both sheaths also incorporate a removable dangler that attached to the sheath via a sliding brass loop to give additional carry options.

I might have a set like this, albeit in Dark Brown and with a tooled surface available for sale in the near future, please contact me or details.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Laplander Sheaths

I was supposed to be going on a bimble today with a couple of mates, but events conspired against all of us and unfortunately it never happened, so with time to spare, i thought id make a couple of Laplander sheaths, it's something I've been meaning to make for a little while and well, today, i had no excuse not to do it.

Pictured to the left is a right handed sheath that's been finished in a glorious British Tan, the other one i made was a left handed one in Dark Brown with a tooled basket weave pattern, both sheaths have a removable dangler loop so they can be put on or taken off without having to undo your belt, although they can also be used as a regular belt sheath too.

The belt loop has a sliding brass loop incorporated into it, onto which the dangler attaches, the brass loop slides out of the way if the belt sheath option is utilised.

I made the dark brown one as accompaniment to the Basket Weave knife sheath i made a little while back, and although I'm right handed, the Laplander  sheath will be worn on my left side, so it doesn't interfere with my knife sheath if that is also being worn.

As a small bonus, which i didn't design into the sheath build, the sheath also fits my Silky Pocket Boy 170 ands Silky F-180 perfectly too.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Home Made Crook/Spoon Knife

Well, semi home made, the blade is from a Mora 163 that was kindly  gifted to me by Bardster on BCUK.

The handle is from Ash and has been shaped using one of my draw knives to give an octagonal shape, the handle is also tapered along it's length with the narrower end being at the blade end, although this is not that apparent in the photo, the new handle has an average diameter of just under an inch, with a length of 9 inches, total length including the blade is approx twelve inches in length,  once the epoxy in the handle had set hard, everything was given a light rub down with a bit of steel wool and then given a liberal coating of Linseed oil to help protect it.

The blade itself has been sharpened on the left hand edge only, being as I'm right handed, the original factory bevel has been removed using 600 grit wet & dry paper, if you have not removed the bevel on your Mora spoon knife, do it, as it turns a mediocre tool into a pretty good tool and certainly one that is good enough to carve green wood with. 

The other thing i have done to the blade is to dull the right hand cutting edge as i will be using this area to help guide the blade as it cuts, i still need to grind this edge down a little further, i also need to round off the factory standard square end to the blade.

So why have i gone to all of this trouble, well it's pretty easy really, the thicker handle is far more comfortable to use, but also being longer i can apply more torque to the blade meaning a more efficient cut, i can also use the knife double handed when hollowing out small bowls and Kuksa's, the Mora 163 blade was chosen purely because of it's shape, the 162 & 164, to my mind just had too tight a radius on the blade for the purposes to which i intend to apply this knife.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Tool Handle

I'm currently in the process of making myself a new tool, so far all i have managed to do is to select a piece of Ash and not a very good piece at that, from the wood pile. The wood has been shaped using the draw knife to make it nice and tactile, all i have to do now is get it finished off and then, with luck, i will be able to use it to iron out any flaws in it's construction before moving on and making a better version, the tool I'm making - well, more on that in a few days time hopefully.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Debris Shelter

One of the shelters i like to make and indeed to get kids to make, is the simple Debris Shelter, they are relatively quick to build due to their very simple construction and if you get it right, they are also incredibly warm, the trick being, not to make the thing too big, it only needs to be big enough for you to lay down in, with perhaps just a little bit of wiggle room.

The one pictured is one that we made a while ago and it's made entirely from natural materials, the frame work was made from fallen timber that in turn was lashed together with Clematis, the first layer of debris was a mix of moss and leaves and this was covered over with a good thick layer of leaves.  If you get the opportunity to make and sleep in a debris shelter, then do it, as you will be surprised at just how warm they can be.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Woodfair 2012

Myself and a few mates (Rockmonkey, Hugo & SimonH from BCUK) enjoyed a superb day out at the Woodfair which was held over in East Sussex this past weekend.

The day started off with a quick wander round to see what was what and then later, we took the time to go and meet a few people and catch up with some old friends, made a few new ones and then of course it goes with saying that we also took the time to go and find a few goodies from a couple of the traders who had stands at the fair, a few of the people we met during the day included Sean Hellman, who it has to be said, is a scholar and a gent, we also met with Bardster & Mafro from the Bushcraft Magazine (and BCUK), who were great fun to speak to and it was a pleasure to finally put faces to names.

Friday, 21 September 2012


The traditional Withie is a form of natural cordage not often seen in use these days, mainly due, i think to our reliance on nylon cordage and the ease of it's use, and because of this the use of Withies is, from what i have experienced, sadly in decline. I'm as much to blame, as i too use my fair share of nylon cord to lash poles together or to tie a bundle of Hazel rods up for transport, but I'm going to make a conscious effort during the forthcoming coppice season to use Withies and other forms of natural bindings in preference to nylon.  Withies are so incredibly easy to make, are very strong, don't damage the tree if harvested properly and unlike nylon cord, if you drop one or lose it, it really doesn't matter, as it will just rot away over time, whereas nylon will just sit there forever.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Trap Practice - Toggle Snare

One of the other traps we practiced whilst up the woods yesterday was the Toggle Snare, the thing i like about this trap, is you don't have to really carve anything in it's manufacture, all of the component parts in this trap, with the exception of the nylon cord, were made using dead wood that was either dead standing, or as here, dead and laying on the ground.

This trap relies on a bent sapling to which the end of the cord is tied, the other end being tied to a toggle, this toggle keeps a bait bar in place and the snare, or even a small net is placed under or over the bait stick, as soon as an animal or bird touches the bait stick, the toggle is released and the stored energy in the bent sapling releases, pulling the snare tight and at the same time trapping your meal and raising it out of the way of ground based predators/scavengers. 

This is a great trap to put over small game trails and the like or in an area where birds such as Pigeons are regularly seen settling on the ground, the bait stick can be made longer, so the trigger mechanism is further away from the trail,  and the bait stick along with the snare/net can be covered with sticks or grass to conceal them, the stick, if you choose it wisely, can be left proud with a suitable bait on it, but don't cover the bait stick with too much camouflage, as it will hinder the snare/net and possibly allow your meal to escape.

We were only practicing the skill set today and the only quarry that was caught in the trap was a stick, it goes without saying that the trap was disassembled and destroyed before we left.

Trap Practice - Dead Fall

While we were out in the woods yesterday we thought we would spend some time practicing making simple traps, this particular one i much prefer over the Paiute or Figure 4 for a couple of reasons, it's easier to make, very easy to set up, it's more stable and i find the sticks used in its construction, rarely if ever hinder the the log or rock that's used as the actual dead fall as they just flick out of the way.

It works on the same principle as the Figure 4 & Paiute, but unlike the Fig 4 for instance, the trigger stick on this trap also has gravity working with it as it falls down and not to the side, as per any trap of this sort the trigger can be set very lightly so the slightest movement will set it off, if you study the photo you can see how it works, it's elegantly simple, just how i like it. 

I will add a footnote to this post and say that the use of dead fall traps in the UK is illegal and may only be used in a true survival situation, but you are allowed to practice the skill set, it goes without saying that the trap we made today, was disassembled and destroyed before we left.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Wooden Flower

Enjoyed a great day out today up the woods with my two muckers Rockmonkey & Hugo, got a lot done today as well, bit of spoon carving, practiced making a few traps, tried a bit of flint knapping, enjoyed munching a few wild foods and just because i could, i made a couple of small wooden flowers out of a piece of dead Hazel, one of which is pictured, not one of my best by any means, but it's still good to practice the skill sets, after all, the flower really is nothing but a glorified feather stick.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Spoon Blanks

Following the post below about making spoons as part of an event in support of one of our local Conservations groups, i was asked if i could post a photo of the blanks i made, so here are just a few of the blanks i made on Sunday, the only exceptions being the two darker blanks on the top, as these were made about a week ago, even so this still not all of the blanks made, as at least four were refined on the day and a couple were given away, not a bad pile for a couple of hours work though.

I am now also selling a few pre carved spoon blanks, these are priced at £ 9.95/each including UK delivery & Paypal fees, the blanks are as seen in the above photo, you will still need to refine the shape and hollow the bowl out, all of the blanks are carved using an axe and therefore show a number of tool marks on the surface of the spoon, please contact me for further details.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Spoon Carving Demo's

Spent a really enjoyable day today supporting one of our local conservation groups, they hold an event each year on part of the Estate, so people can see and speak with the landowner and organising committee and learn first hand the plans for the coming year, but, they also have a plethora of different activities for the public to try and watch, today there was everything from Apple Pressing to Corn Dollies to Face Painting, i was there today primarily demonstrating spoon carving with the axe, and had a really great time, interacting with the public and answering their questions on the carving i was doing and some of the other skills and crafts i demonstrate, but at the same time, also trying convey the important message of retaining our heritage and skills and then, importantly,  passing this knowledge to the next generation, so the it's not lost forever.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Blackberry Picking

Went for a short walk up the lane here at home earlier and being that time of year, we took a basket and a few foraging bags with us too, the trip proved to be a total success as in a short period of time we picked 6.5lb of glorious Blackberries between us, all of which, bar the half pound, will get preserved so we can enjoy the fruits in the depths of winter.

I would go and get some more tomorrow, but I'm working at a local event demonstrating spoon carving, but if the weather holds, then perhaps, Monday or Tuesday will see me back up there with a foraging bag and basket and hopefully another good haul will be on the table at the end of the day again.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Bone Working

A little while ago whilst out on a bimble i found an old bone from a long deceased Deer, so i kept it with a plan to make a few things from it, well today, was that day.

Ive used only, what you could consider to be traditional hand tools to make a few things from the bone, the tools being a rock to smash the bone, a piece of flint from the garden to score the bone and a rock (top of the garden wall) to grind the bone on, so far the bone has yielded an Auger/spear tip and from a small slither,  I've shaped a bone pendant by grinding, added some decor to it and now need to drill or burn a small hole into the blunt end, so i can thread it onto some leather lace.

From the rest of the bone, I'm hoping to be able to make some needles and perhaps a nice ground bone arrow head, if i have enough of the bone left, i might even try to make a fishing gorge with some of it too, time will tell.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

An Old Favourite

This is one of the first axes i ever owned, it's cost me less than a tenner from the local DIY shop, when i first got it, the helve was coated in a horrible varnish and the head was covered, all bar the cutting the edge, with a god awful black paint finish. So out came the wire wool and a bit, ok a lot of elbow grease and all of the varnish and paint was removed to reveal the natural beauty of the Hickory & Steel underneath all of that factory added junk.

I used to use this tool for all of my axe work, be that carving or splitting wood, really i should go back and use it more as it shows people that you don't 'need' a £75.00 Gransfors to produce great work with an axe, in fact, i might just take this one with me this weekend  to a small local show I'm doing some demo's at.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lilac Spoon

New one to me is Lilac wood, i made a trip to the wood yard up the lane on Saturday and found three pieces of this stuff sitting on top of the log pile, having never used it, i thought i take some and give it a try.

Now this wood dense, more so than Box id say, especially when wet, but it is an absolute dream to carve, the finish you get straight off the knife is glassy and very tactile, the spoon pictured is only roughed out, i need to let it dry for a few days before fine carving it to a finish.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Spoon Blanks

Was talking with a good mate of mine this morning when he popped round home, whilst we were chatting, i showed him how i axe out spoon blanks with the axe and he commented that i should sell spoon blanks, as there has to be people out there, who want to get into spoon carving, but don't really  know where to start, and by having a roughed out blank, it would A) give people a good starting point,  as the hard work has been done, B) they could use the blank as a pattern for future spoons, C) it would allow people who enjoy carving, but have difficulty in obtaining raw materials, to continue carving using a variety of different woods and D) give people the opportunity to carve woods they may have no access to in their area.

This is something i had been thinking about doing myself and the conversation this morning has more or less confirmed that i should at the very least give it a try, I'm thinking i could offer the blanks at a stage of manufacture similar to those in the photo, ie with just the axe work done, thereby leaving the finer work and refining to the carver, i could even leave the front of the bowl square, so people can decide for themselves the shape the spoon will be, yep, i think i will go and make a few blanks and see what happens - nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Sunny Saturday Bimble

Went for a short bimble with the family earlier this afternoon, it was glorious being out in the sunshine, watching the Butterflies and birds and of course collecting as many early Blackberries as we could, in the end we picked just under three pounds of berries, all of which are going to get turned into jam - yum yum yum.

The picture is of the woods on what locally is called "The Mountain", believe me it's not even a pimple in reality, but it did look good in the haze and framed by the bushes, it wont be long before it will be a blaze of autumnal colour though - im looking forward to seeing that spectacle again.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Spoon Rack ver 2

Made another spoon rack today, there was something about the previous one just didn't sit right with me, don't know what it was, but i needed to change it.

The revised design is as pictured and this one i quite like, it's a bit of a work in progress and it has some flaws, but that is what a prototype is all about, getting it all worked out, before moving on and making the final version.

This particular rack is made from three different woods, the base is Pine, the uprights are Hazel and the shelf is well seasoned Sycamore, the uprights are held in place with a Mortise and Tenon joint for neatness and strength.

Willow Bowl

Finally got this Willow Bowl/Tray more or less finished yesterday, i made a start on this a few weeks back and eventually got round to working on it a little more.

I still have to spend some time taking out the tool marks on the inside of the bowl and i also need to  tidy up the general appearance of it, but it's getting there, I think this is going to be one of those projects that never really gets finished, as i will always find something on it to do.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Sycamore Spoon.

Small spoon/ladle type affair that was carved out of a crook in a branch that i collected a couple of weeks ago.

Unusually for me recently, the spoon has a sanded finish, don't ask me why i decided to sand it, as i have no idea why i elected to go down this route with this spoon, although in this instance, the sanded finish does seem to suit the finished spoon more than a tooled finish, perhaps it's the smaller size?

Spoon Rack

Made a simple spoon rack today, the rack is nothing new, many people have made spoon racks and in many different guises too, the one i made today only holds three spoons and was made to iron out any problems that might arise when it comes to making a bigger and better one.

This very simple rack has a loop of Hazel that acts as a suspenion point, the rack itself is a piece of well seasoned sycamore, into which ive cut five holes, two small ones for the suspension system and three larger ones for the spoons themselves, i made the holes slightly oversize so the spoons can be put in and out of the rack without damaging the handles, i looked at the more traditional method of cutting a long slot in the rack, but decided against it as i think using straight holes, gives more options should we wish to alter the spoons that are kept in the rack.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Walnut Spoons

Made these from a nice chunk of Walnut that was "foraged" earlier this year while i was out and about on a bimble, since the day it "fell" into my possession, the log has been on the wood pile and ive kept looking at it and thinking how best to use it.

I was going to make two, fairly big serving spoons from it, but yesterday, i decided instead of using the two halves, i would take it down further into quarters and try to maximise the wood, as it's not often you get a decent chunk of Walnut like this around here, having quartered the log, i set about carving it with the axe, the first spoon off the block was the bottom one, the next one no longer exists as i snapped it in half - oops, the other two pictured are, well from the other two quarters.

The colour the wood has taken is superb and once it was oiled the colours really started to pop, due to the way i carved these, the best grain patterns are on the reverse of the spoons, all of the spoons have a tooled "off the knife" finish and were oiled using pure Tung Oil.

It made a really nice change to use a wood that had some character to it, as i normally get to carve white woods like Hazel, Sycamore & Willow, now all i have to hope for, is when im out on a bimble and sitting under the Walnut tree having a brew, is another piece just happens to fall off and land in my bag.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Beech Preserving Spoon

I made a start on this beast of a spoon back on Bank Holiday Monday, and this morning, being at a loose end, i thought id get it finished.  

The spoon has been made to be used when we make jams, pickles & chutneys with  our preserving pan, due to the size of the pan, a normal sized spoon, just falls in, but this one being slightly larger,  has enough length on it to stop it falling and therefore keeping the handle out of whatever yummy seasonal goodness we are making or preserving at the time. 

As with all my spoons of late, this on has a tooled finish, albeit the handle was smoothed out with a cabinet scraper, when complete the spoon was given a light coating of pure Tung oil to protect the wood, now time to go and use it to make a huge pan of Tomato Chutney.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Rainy Day Willow Spoon

Only a couple made today, well the Formula One was on from Spa and i wasn't going to miss that for anything, so once the F1 had finished, i made a couple of spoons up, one of which is pictured.

The spoon pictured is from Willow and has a an "off the knife" finish, which i have to admit is my favoured finish these days, I just need to let this one dry a bit over the next couple of days, then i can get it finished.

Beech Burr Bowl

Collected this small burr while i was out on a bimble with hugo & Rockmonkey earlier this week, it's been sat in a ziplock since i got it home, so with a couple of hours before the F1 from Spa started this morning, i attacked it with the tools. Two hours later i had this, only tools used were a Mora 510 and a spoon knife, the wood being fresh cut (from a dying tree) was/is still very wet, but as is the nature of Burrs, it didn't make carving it any easier, due to the huge number of direction changes in the grain. I just have to wait for it to dry out before i can get the finishing touches made to it.

Air Show Spoons

Ive enjoyed a couple of days this weekend sitting outside in the garden, whittling spoons and watching our local air show, although, i do have to add that the spoon carving was, in the main a lot more interesting than the air show, which seems to get worse year on year, although the entrance cost, seems to go up and up.

There are a few good things in the show, today we had two RAF Tornado's, a RAF Hawk and a great display by the Vulcan (XH558) and the Memorial Flight,  but apart from watching those displays, ive spent most of my time whittling away, with just an odd glance skywards to see what is up and displaying.
Pictured are just a few of the spoons ive finished from a previously made blank or made fresh, from left to right they are Birch, Willow and the white ones are both Hazel.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Auger Sheath

Having made myself a nice little hand auger yesterday, i needed to make a sheath of some description for it, not only to protect the tool, but to protect other things when the auger is not in use and stored away in my bag or pack.

The answer to the problem was elegantly simple, all it is is a simple pouch with a flap that comes over the handle of the auger and then clicks in place with a brass popper, it should do the job perfectly i think.