Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sweet Chestnuts

Whilst out in the woods today we collected some Sweet Chestnuts, well we tried to collect some, not many around this year at all, and those that are have already been raided by the Squirrels due to the failure of the Acorn crop, but we did manage to find a few small and unripe ones that the Squirrels has left or not discovered yet, so not wanting to waste the few we had, we cooked them up in the embers of the fire and then when done, noshed the lot, and very tasty there were too.

Saw Horse

Enjoyed a great day out in the woods with the two boys today, did loads of things, bit of foraging, tracking & Scat ID, clearing up after a load of yobs had a big fire and destroyed a couple of trees in the process, but we also built a few things too, so the whole day was constructive.

The saw horse is a simple woodsy affair and of course you need to build two of them, but they work superbly well and are ever so easy to build, what i like with this style of horse, is you can move the supports apart if you are working on a long piece of timber or butt them up close to one another if you are working on a small piece of timber and being, well a tripod, they are very stable on uneven ground.

The pair of supports/saw horse we made today are  made from Hazel and to be honest, it took longer to collect the materials, than it did to build them, as although each piece only consists of four pieces, we try wherever and whenever possible to use only fallen or dead timber, i know one thing though, having used these today, they will make a useful addition to our camp and will make processing fire wood and trimming Hazel poles,  a whole lot easier and indeed safer than bracing the pole or log to be  worked, on the fallen Oak as we have done up until now.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Eating/Cooking Spoon

As i was in a spoon carving frame of mind today, i also axed out another spoon blank as an addition to the Serving Spoon, this one though has been carved as a general cooking/large eating spoon.

Again the spoon was carved from green wood, so i need to let it dry for a couple of days, thankfully, I'm busy for the next three days, so i wont be tempted to "tinker" with it until later in the week, when hopefully, I'll be able to get it finished.

Serving Spoon

Beginnings of a serving spoon that i made a start on today, at the moment I've only done the rough carving on it with the axe and knives, the shape of the spoon is quite pleasing i think, with a big shovel style bowl and a cranked handle to allow the easy scooping from the cooking pan, although it still needs a lot of refinement. The blank as always was carved from green wood and it now needs to sit for a couple of days to dry out before i can move on and achieve the final shape and finish.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Coffee Morning

Eldest and I enjoyed a really nice morning today down at a small local show/coffee morning that was held by one of the local conservation groups that we support.

We took some of the products we make with us for display and sale, as well as some in progress projects like a huge Ash Burl bowl that I've been putting off for far too long and some spoon blanks, that showed the progression of a spoon from the raw log to the finished product. Unfortunately, the cold snap i think kept a few people away, but nevertheless we had a really enjoyable time and enjoyed the company of some very knowledgeable people, a morning well spent i think.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Magnolia Spoons

After getting all my gubbins sorted out for the small show I'm doing tomorrow, i figured id go and rough out a few spoon blanks, in the end i did four in about an hour and a half, but, only three survived, the fourth, i didn't like as it was a bit small and the shape wasn't as i had intended, so it got turned into fire wood.

I'm just waiting for the survivors, pictured, to dry out now, so i can get them finished off.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Gypsy Flowers

Made some more Gypsy Flowers today in preparation for a small local show im doing this weekend.

For a change though i decided to dye a few of these Red & Yellow, just for something a bit different and to add a splash of colour to proceedings, hopefully people will like them and will be encouraged to put their hands in their pockets and part with a few pennies.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Autumn Woodland

Pictured to the left is the woodland that i had the pleasure to be working in yesterday, it was one of those days where you were glad to be alive, sure it was foggy and damp, well ok it was foggy and wet, but just being in a Beech & Oak woodland, well any type of woodland at this time of year is magical, the colours, the smells and the haste of the animals getting ready for Winter, all combine to make Autumn one of my favourite times of the year.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Lilac Spoon

Finished off the Lilac spoon i made a start on on Tuesday of this week. 

The spoon kind of worked out ok, there a few things in it that i don't like, the biggest one being the sanded finish i decided to go with on this particular spoon, and to be frank, i don't like it, why i sanded it i don't know, I must have had a senior or silly moment i guess, or even a senior silly moment, regardless it seemed like a good idea at the time, so I'm either going to spend the time putting a tooled finish on it or i might put it up for sale at a forthcoming event i have a small stand at, not completely sure what to do with it at the moment.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Leuku Sheath

Made a sheath today for the Leuku that I've been building this week.

I was torn between making a traditional Scandi style sheath or an 'English' style, in the end i elected to go with an 'English' style, the main reason being, i personally prefer it when it's used with large blades such as this, also the template for this can be used in the future for sheaths to suit other large knives.

The sheath itself is made from 3mm veg tan leather, doubled stitched with waxed linen thread and dyed in a rich dark brown colour to complement the Walnut and Ash incorporated in the Leuku's handle, it's not as dark or shiny as depicted in the photo's in real life, the sheath length is 14 inches, excluding the the brass ring and dangler loop, if these are included the total overall length is 19 inches, because of the expanse of leather on show, i also decided to add some light embellishment along the stitch line, just to break things up a tad and to add something to please the eye.

Although this is a big sheath, it retains the option to remove the dangler loop and wear it as a regular belt sheath, of course the sheath can also be carried in a Baldric style by attaching some suitable cordage to the integral brass loop.

Now I'm just waiting for things to dry off properly, then tomorrow, i can get the finishing touches to the sheath made and then the set will be ready to go and do some work this weekend on a job I'm doing for one of the local Conservation Groups.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Leuku - Re Handle - Part 2

I was hoping to be going on a bimble today with Hugo & Rockmonkey from BCUK, but an ongoing injury to my right knee kind of paid to that, so instead, i finished off the re handle job on the Leuku.  I had originally re handled this back in February to March last year, but the handle materials i chose and the way i went about the job didn't work out as well as i had hoped and the handle became loose on the tang, so i knocked it off and put the blade to one side in the workshop - as you do.

On Monday of this week, i thought it was about time i made an effort and got the Leuku handle made, more on the beginnings of the re handle job can be read about here http://kepisbushcraft.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/leuku-re-handle-again.html, having left the epoxy a couple of days to cure properly, today it was time to get round to the final shaping, the result of which can be seen in the photo's.

I was going to put a brass pommel on the Leuku, but in the end, i decided against it and instead used a piece of well seasoned Ash that i collected from the woods a year or so a go, the handle itself was first rough carved and then progressively sanded down, first using 80 grit paper to refine and further shape the handle, then down through the grits to 600 grit paper, once everything was smooth, i gave it a good coat of Linseed oil and polished the wood using super fine wire wool.

Considering, it's only the fourth or is it fifth time I've ever made a knife in my life, and that includes re handling this one twice now, I'm more than happy with he way it has turned out, now to make a sheath for it.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Lilac Spoon

Small eating spoon blank made from Lilac (no it's not poisonous, i checked), the spoon features an oversize bowl, which is a style i prefer at the moment, a very narrow neck and a wide flare on the end of the handle, the side view of the spoon is gracefully elegant as it incorporates the natural curvature of the branch, which also means of course, the spoon is very strong as it follows the natural grain pattern of the branch it came from.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Leuku Re Handle - Again

Back in 2011 i made a series of posts that i called 'Project Leuku' , the six posts followed the build of a Leuku that was sent to me by my good mate Jon out in Norway, well, as sods law dictates the Elm handle i put on the Leuku didn't really work that well, so a little time ago i removed it with a view to re handling the Leuku - again.

Today, i eventually got around to making a start on it, the new handle is made from two pieces of Walnut with a red felt liner in between the two pieces of wood for effect, the handle also has a brass bolster, which i had to make first from a piece of brass sheet that was kindly supplied by my mate Hugo and the Leuku will, when finished, also feature a brass pommel,   now it's all clamped up and waiting for the epoxy to dry, hopefully tomorrow, i will be able to make a start on shaping the handle per the outline in  the photo.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Nine Months On

Back in February of this year i made myself a new knife from a Lauri 85 blade, a pile of Birch bark and some very thin leather.

So how has the knife performed through the months?.

I have made some minor alterations to it, the main one being a slight reshape of the tip of the blade, it now has a slight drop point, whereas the blade as originally supplied has a raised tip, the consequence of this being, the knife is now a lot easier to use for tasks such as stripping Willow bark for cordage making, the only other alteration i have made was to reduce the handle thickness slightly so it was more comfortable to use, and that really is about it as far as mods to the original build go.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Restoration Project - Elwell Axe

I 'rediscovered' and old Elwell axe today whilst i was having a bit of a sort out in workshop at the lakes.

Im thinking it might make a nice winter project to bring this old beast of an axe back to the fore, looking at it, it's going to need a new helve and the head will need some major work doing as it's all pitted and rusted, but, wont it be great, to take something like this, spend some time on it bringing it back up to par and then returning an old tool to work again?.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Birch Cooking Spoon

Got this finished up last evening, not one of my better ones for sure, im not particularly happy with the bowl shape on it, it just doesn't feel right, well not to me it doesn't, whether that's just me being overly picky about my work again (probably) or what, i dont know, other carvers will know what i mean though, sometimes no matter what you do, it just doesn't feel right, hey ho, i least i have a valid excuse to go and make another one :-), like i need an excuse.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


After getting back from a trip to Aldershot today, i grabbed my bag and went for a short bimble up the lane on a foraging trip, i was only after one berry, that being the Haw, the fruit of the Hawthorn Tree, although i did partake of some of the gorgeous Blackberries that were to be found in the hedgerow.

In the hour or so i was out i got myself enough Haws to make two bottles of  Hawthorn Gin, a few people have advised me not to bother as it tastes horrible apparently, but, i want to to try it for myself, after all, everyones taste is different for a start, some of the references I've been reading about Hawthorn Gin, describe the taste to be something like aniseed, whilst others liken it to a well know cough syrup, regardless, it's an experiment that i want to try for myself.

Morakniv Basic Wood Carving Knife

Just bought myself a couple of these to give them a try out, my main reasoning being, well one of my main reasons other than the cost, is when teaching carving i use Mora 510's and 511's and this new carving knife from Mora retains that classic handle shape, which i think may be a better option for students, as they will retain continuity of grip throughout the day and therefore, i think, will be subject to less hand fatigue, as they will not have to keep swapping and changing to different handle shapes as they do now, obviously it's not an issue for experienced carvers as we have trained our hands and have established the muscle memory, but novice carvers do suffer from a lot of hand fatigue, as they are simply not used to using the tools, by retaining some continuity between the two knives used, it will hopefully help to make things a little easier for them.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Net Making

As the days draw shorter and there is still nothing on the TV, well nothing that interests me, it's gotten to that time of year to renew and replace some of my nets, both those that have been used in the garden during the past growing season and the ones i use for Rabbiting.

As I've mentioned a few times before, it's very therapeutic to go net making, put the radio on, grab a cup of tea or coffee and get lost with your thoughts whilst your hands do the work, it's amazing how quickly your hands 'remember' the actions needed to make a net too and of course, it's far more interesting than the absolute dross that is pumped out on the TV and you are keeping a traditional skill alive.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


....it just doesn't go to plan.

That was the case with this spoon i was carving from some Birch earlier today, i got the overall shape sorted out and then spent a not insignificant amount of time making hundreds of tiny cuts for that all important smooth tooled finish.

Then i moved onto hollowing the bowl out and didn't notice a small inclusion in the wood, the result of not really looking at what i was doing, well the picture shows all, all is not lost though, I'm going to split this one down the middle and use it see where i can alter my carving technique by studying the general shape and thickness's i achieved when carving it, from looking at this, i should be able to see where i can improve my carving, then, rather than throw it away,  i will put it in the bag and use it as a teaching aid.

Just goes to show that we all make mistakes, and a learning opportunity can always be found from a negative experience.

Natural Cordage

If proof were ever needed to the strength and longevity of natural fibres, then this may be exactly that.

I made the Nettle Cordage pictured back in May of this year, and since then it has been used to tie the Tomato plants up in the green house, the cordage has been sitting for over five months in a warm, damp atmosphere, which are of course, perfect conditions to rot natural fibres, when we took the Tomato plants down yesterday, this cordage was  as strong as the day i made it, if not stronger, I've tied to pull it apart with a straight pull and it just doesn't budge one iota, proof indeed to the strength of natural cordage, you never know, we might even get another season out if it next year - time will tell.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Friday Afternoon Spoonage

Got a couple of spoons finished off yesterday afternoon, i started both of these at the Big Picnic a couple of weeks back where i made the rough blanks with the axe, on Thursday on a trip to the woods, i refined the shape a little and then Friday  afternoon, got them hollowed out and finished off.

The front spoon is from Magnolia & the rear one from Sycamore, both are designed as eating spoons and have a fully tooled finish.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Gomtaro 300

Got me another saw the other day, this time a Silky Gomtaro 300mm, why did i need another saw, well having seen one of these beasts in action, it made perfect sense.

It's lighter and takes less space in a pack than a traditional Buck Saw, not that I'm no longer going to use my Buck saws, it all depends what I'm doing and where, sometimes i may be working a good distance from where i leave the car, therefore, carrying this means less weight on my back and more space in my pack, of course i will still use the Laplanders i have, but for some jobs, you just need the cutting ability that this saw provides.

Latest Spoon

Made a start on finishing this off whilst up in the woods yesterday, the blank i made a couple of weeks back at the Big Picnic with my Carving Axe, and since then the blank has been sitting there, along with a few others waiting for me to finish it off.

The spoon has been carved from a piece of Magnolia and as i forgot to take a spoon knife with me yesterday, i was limited to refining the shape today, still there are worse things i could have been doing, than sitting in the woods carving.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Foraging Bag

Made myself a couple of foraging bags, this particular one is made from the leg of an old pair of trousers that i decided to turn into shorts, but rather than waste the off cuts, i just put them to one side, knowing that a use for them would eventually present itself.

I use the bag and others like it when I'm picking berries mainly, the bag hangs round your neck, almost like a horses nose bag i guess, but it means that both hands are free to collect fruits and berries and/or move brambles out of the way to make foraging easier. It's an incredibly simple concept, they weigh next to nothing and fold down very small, so take no space in your pack or pocket, of course they are not just limited to being used for foraging, they are, as with many things, only limited in their uses by your imagination.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Journal / Note Book

One of things i like to keep is a journal, this contains all sorts of information from diagrams of traps to spoon designs and even random thoughts and little notations of things i want to reference or study in greater detail at home, i also like to note plant facts, such as edibility and my own take on what they actually taste like compared to what you may read or hear elsewhere, it's not a definitive reference work by any means and unless I'm in a fixed camp or on what i call "a mission", i tend not to take my main A5 Journal with me, preferring to take my smaller A6 sized version (pictured) or even a flip note pad with me, at the end of each trip, i transpose the information recorded and update my main journal with drawings/diagrams and the information ive recorded on things I've discovered and learnt or want to investigate further.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Magnolia Spoon

Not made many spoons of late, i think doing a couple of shows and demonstrations resulted in me getting 'spooned out', but im back to the fore again now. Pictured is a spoon made from Magnolia, the spoon was axed out from quarter log, which is a style and method of carving im really enjoying, the spoon itself has some lovely grain in it, which regrettably doesn't show in the photo, the thing i enjoy with Magnolia is you can take it really thin, whilst still retaining strength and it smells wonderful.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Silky Saw - Pocket Boy 170

When we were at the Woodfair a few weeks back, one of the items on my, it has to be said, extensive, shopping list was a Silky Saw, well, two Silky Saws to be exact, one was a Pocket Boy, the other a 300mm Gomtaro, in the end i picked up the Pocket Boy at the show as i refused to pay the asking price for the Gomtaro, as i knew i could get it cheaper elsewhere, even with delivery.

As many many people know, Silky Saws really are legendary in their cutting abilities and rightly so, these things just eat wood, the Bushcraft community has a great following for the Bahco Laplander and indeed, i own three myself, but you cant compare a Silky to a Laplander, there simply is, no comparison, both saws are superb pieces of kit, but the old saying of "you pay for what you get" really does apply here, sure i can buy two Laplanders for one Silky, but before people start bemoaning costs, have a look at the Silky F-180, it's a similar sized saw to the Laplander, and costs less than twenty quid, you still get a locking folding saw, but with all that Silky cutting technology built in to it, and unlike a Laplander, a replacement blade doesnt cost more than the complete saw does.