Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Stewart Marsh Bushcraft Knife


Out of my entire collection of blades, this knife is one of my all time favourites, its comfortable to use, holds a wicked edge and is built to a very high standard by a talented maker, it has served me well for a number of years now,  my particular knife has Birdseye Maple scales, with  red liners, the knife is 4mm thick O1 tool steel, full tang with a scandi grind.

Don't be fooled by the shiny looking knife in the picture, i cleaned it prior to taking the photograph, in reality the steel is tannin stained where I've debarked sticks, the faces of the blade are scratched and the scales have a few nicks and dings in them, but this knife, really does laugh it all off.

I know Stewart wasn't making knives for a good period of time due to ill health ,but i believe he is back at the grinder again now, more info on Stewart and his knives can be found here

Buck Saw


When we were up the woods the other day, i decided it was about time i made another bucksaw, so i coiled up a 24" bow saw blade put it in my pack and took it with me, and apart from my small folding saw and a knife, that was the limit of the tools we had.

The saw pictured is the one we made and is made from dead standing Hazel, so it's fairly strong, certainly strong enough for this job and apart from the blade and a bit of string the whole thing is made from naturally occurring materials, works pretty well too, I have to admit, i prefer the woods made bow saw though, much easier to make and in my mind a better saw overall.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bullroarer

The boys and i went up the woods today, we wanted to try a few things out in time for a couple of demonstrations i have coming up in the near future, eldest wanted to practice his carving, youngest wanted to practice a few traps and I, well i had a modded hammock to try out, long story short, once we had all done what we wanted it was mess around time, and youngest came up with the idea of making a Bull Roarer, I've made these before but not with a great deal of success it has to be said, still not wanting to be defeated, i set to and paired down a nice piece of seasoned oak with my axe and then rough shaped it and made a hole for the cordage with my knife, tied on some cord gave it a spin, and well, bugger me it worked, still needs some fine tuning in the form of some additional shaping and carving, which I'm going to do tomorrow, but it definitely makes a noise, we took some video of it in action which can be viewed here.

Shotgun Match Case


Match box made from a 12G shotgun shell, you need two used shells, carefully warm the end of one over a candle flame untikl the cap comes off, the other trim the plastic down to just below the crimps and well that really is it, put your matches in the case, put the cap on from the other shell and you are good to go, there are normally loads of empty shells laying around the woods from shoots, so why not put some of the rubbish to good use?.


One Stick Figure 4

Made this up the woods today, a figure four dead fall trap, made with one stick and in one piece, the only knife work was to cut two notches, one of the upright section, the other on the trigger stick section.

The making of this is simplicity itself, just grab a green stick and make two green stick fractures, bend it round so it resembles a figure 4 and cut the notches  where the sticks cross and that is basically job done, it's not as sensitive as a traditional fig 4, but it doesn't take much to set it off.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

In There Somewhere


Went for a wander up the lane this afternoon with the one intention of gathering another basket load of Damsons, when we got to the Damson trees, we could see masses of really good fruits at the rear of the patch, but in between them and us, was a mass of bramble and stinging nettles, well there was only one option, so in i waded, it was worth the pain and blood as we ended up with a bumper haul of Damsons (around 20lb) that we collected in 30 minutes or so, tomorrows job is to make some more Jam and preserve the rest in some syrup for the winter, oh yes, I'm in the thick of it in the picture, I've had brambles in places no man should ever feel brambles today.

Yew Spoons

I scored some Yew logs the other day, nothing large, but plenty large enough to make a few spoons from and perhaps a small bowl or Kuksa.

The two spoons pictured i made a start on yesterday and finished today, the wood was very green, to the extent that at times you could see the moisture well up in front of the blade as it cut through the wood, lovely wood to carve though.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

Whenever we have an excess of food that we have made for dinner, particularly rice and pasta dishes, rather than bin it as many people do, we save it and pop it in the dehydrator, that way we end up with a nice meal for either lunch or dinner, depending on the amount that was left over, best bit is, unlike some of the commercially available meals, you know exactly what's in these, and they weigh absolutely nothing.

The picture shows the dehydrated "remains" of Tagliatelle, with Tomato & Herb sauce, peppers,  rough chopped tomato's and onion (all home made/grown apart from the pasta & onion), what was a good desert bowl sized amount, now fits into a 3x5" zip lock with loads of space to spare, all i have to do is add some hot water to it when I'm out and about and i have a nice home made and healthy meal.

Jerky

Made a stuff load of Jerky today, made nice and easy as the local butcher had a load of braising steak in the shop that was already cut very thin, all i had to do was remove what little fat there was on it and trim into suitably sized pieces, flavour and put the strips into our dehydrator, a few hours later i have good bag of  peppered jerky (pictured) and another good bag of chili jerky, not that that is going to last for long, it's half gone already.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Sunset

Thought id share this photograph of the sunset we enjoyed this evening, absolutely stunning, as quite of few of them have been lately, doesnt really match witht he forecast we have for tomorrow though.

Time will tell if the old saying "red sky at night" is more accurate than millions of pounds worth of high tech computers the Met Office use to get our forecast so wrong all the time.

Self Preservation


L-R: Chutney, Pear Jam, Pickle at Rear, Blackberries
Another busy day of Jams, chutneys and pickles.

First up - Autumn Chutney, now this stuff is sublime, we only made 3 litres of it in the end, next project was, Pear & Orange jelly, we only managed three jars (3/4lb a piece) of this, cant do any more as, between this and the chutney, we used most of the Pears we had outside in the garden, still have a few left, but those are destined for the fruit bowl.

After lunch, the boys, my sister and I, went up the lane and collected 3lb of Elderberries and a few pounds of Blackberries, the Elderberries were used to make some more Elderberry Pickle and the blackberries, some went into the Blackberry Gin we are doing to top up the fruit, the rest got put inside a two litre Kilner jar and covered with syrup, so we have some wonderful berries to eat in puddings, pies and crumbles during the colder months to come, oh yes, we also pulled the last of the Beetroot in the garden and pickled that for Christmas tea.

Think that was about it for today.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Bushcraft "Bling"


Made this ages ago, all it is is a piece of White Tail Deer antler and a leather lace for neck lanyard, the silver thing sticking up from the top of the antler is a .22 round.

The leather lace is fully adjustable as it uses two sliding knots, so the wearer can open it right up to put it on them close the diameter of the necklace down so it rides higher, not that i wear jewelry of any sort anyway, 99% of the time, i don't even wear a watch let alone stuff like this.

House Number - Part 2

Got the thing finished today and mounted on the house using a hidden sliding bracket that i have fashioned from some aluminimum strip i had laying around, the bracket simply locates and locks over two screws mounted in the wall.

Even though i do say so myself, i think the wood looks pretty damned good, the whole thing has had a few good coats of varnish to seal and protect the wood, so it should last for a good number of years.

Ash Self Bow - Pt2


Worked some more on the Ash bow i started last week, sanded down all the rough spots and made a start to the tillering process, you can see from the picture that i still have a fair way to go re working on the limbs as they are a little too rigid at present, especially near the tips, the initial tiller of the bow is not too bad and so far im fairly pleased with the way this bow is working out, i did notice one thing that might cause a problem down the line and that's a nasty hidden knot that i didnt notice until i started carving the limbs down

Saturday, 20 August 2011

House Number


I was commissioned to make a plaque with a house number on it, and it had to be rustic and woodsy, lucky for me i had a nice piece of Birch that had been cut at an angle and it looked just the part.

I made a template for the numbers on the pooter, printed them off and then used them to draw around, once done it was all mallet and chisel work, the numbers are carved into the wood at a 45 degree angle from each side, so hopefully as the sun moves round, different faces will catch the light and others will be in shadow, as it had to be rustic, i left the tool marks in the carving and then painted the numbers with black Humbrol enamel paint, once dry the whole thing was sanded down to remove some painting mistakes and to give a nice key for the varnish to adhere to (not the splodge to the right of the 4, thats a natural inclusion).

The sign is now in the shed having been varnished, tomorrow it will get another couple of coats before being sent off to be mounted on the wall using a hidden mounting bracket on the rear

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Nettle Cordage


Some of the cordage i made today from stinging nettles, i suppose the cord is around 5ft long and was made from a good dozen or so large(ish) nettles, was great fun to make and very therapeutic, I'm thinking I might try and make a net from cordage I've made myself, it's a hell of a task and a massive amount of work, but something i think i might just do this Winter.

Day In the Woods

Spent a day up the woods today with the two boys, practiced a few skills, fire lighting, cordage making, carving, also did some foraging for both foods and materials, ended up coming home with a good bag full of Cherry Plums, another good bag full of Hazelnuts and a further bag full of Cramp balls, (Daldinia concentrica, more info here on it's uses) we needed to collect a fair amount of Cramp balls for a couple of events we are attending where we will be demonstrating fire lighting using different techniques and materials, while we were searching out suitable fungi, we happened over the huge one pictured, not often you find one quite as large as this though, well not round here, think this one may get preserved somehow and used as a display piece when we go to shows.

Ferro Rod / Spark Stick Practice Using Natural Tinders

While we were up the woods today, youngest, entirely off his own back started trying all sorts of different things he found in the woods for their fire lighting characteristics, from dry moss, tree and plant barks to leaves, he did pretty damned good as well, i made a short video of him trying some Clematis bark, which by the way was slightly damp.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Elderberries

Whilst we were off picking Blackberries, my sister and eldest were off collecting Elderberries, did pretty well too as they collected around 6lb of berries excluding the stalks.

So when we all got back home, some of the Elderberries (4 pints) were hived off, 3lb of cooking apples and two pints of water added to the mix and   bought to the boil, then simmered until it was a mush, this is now in a straining bag until tomorrow when the juice will be measured and a pound of sugar added for each pint of juice, then all boiled up until the setiting point has been reached and hey voila, Elderberry and Apple Jelly - yum yum yum.

The rest of the Elderberries we turned into Elderberry Pickle, which is superb stuff and unlike many pickles out there, unfortunately we only had enough berries (2lb) left to make enough pickle to go in a 1lb Kilner jar, still, there are tons of berries left out there, so when we go back over the hill for some more blackberries, we will take another basket and fill it with Elderberries to make some more Jelly and pickle, we did consider making some Elderberry wine, but as we have a stuff load of dried Elderflowers, we thought we would stick with making some more Elderflower Champagne later in the year.

Elderberry Pickle Cooking

Blackers

Went on a short foraging trip this afternoon for Blackberries, ended up with a good haul of them too, and thanks to the dampish weather we have had, some of the berries are huge, and the flavour, well, it's the true taste of late summer. All of this lot is going to get turned into Blackberry jelly tomorrow, we might keep a few back to make some Blackberry Gin & Vodka as well, if not, well it doesn't take long to pop back up the hills and get some more, cant let the bumper harvest go to waste.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Duxford

Had a superb day out today, we went to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, a mere two hour drive away from home on two of the worst roads int he country, the M25 & M11, still the pain of the motorways is worth it when you get to the museum.

Ive been here many times before, both on a personal and in a professional capacity, but i still love the place, the AirSpace hangar has to be my favourite of the lot, so many aircraft in one place, including a Concorde prototype, an Avro Vulcan, a DeHaviland Comet, Avro Lancaster and so many more great air frames to see, including a SR-71 & B-52, rather than me bang on about it, have a look at the IWMs website http://duxford.iwm.org.uk/ and read about the place and what ot has to offer.

One bonus that we were treated to though was the B-17 Sally starting up, taxiing and then taking off to go and display at an airshow just a few miles down the coast from where we live, the video is not the best in quality as i took the footage on my compact camera, the video can be seen on my You Tube channel here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYHRLiWJe00

Finally, i also found some "bushie" type things in one of the museum displays, more on these in a later post though :-)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Ash Self Bow


While we were out and about earlier in the week i collected an Ash sapling with a view to making a Bow out of it, this afternoon i made a good start and have the stave debarked and rough carved, the lower limb has a slight bend in it, this is not a fault of mine, it's just the way the tree grew, but if I'm clever i can compensate for it on the other limb with some careful carving once it's dried out a little.

The initial tiller of the bow is encouraging and hopefully i wont need to take too much off it once it's dried and i start work on the final shaping and fine tuning, at the moment the bow is lashed tight against a straight piece of timber, so as it dries it will "hopefully" take some of the bend in the lower limb out and stop the stave twisting as it dries. The red bit in the pic, is the handle on my Mora 510 that i included for scale.


Bow & Hand Drill Sets


I have a couple of events coming up in the near future where I'm demonstrating a few skills, one of these skills will be fire by friction and it's a great skill to let the public have a go at, as it's very visual and  it connects deeply with something in the human soul.

So after having a look at my drill sets, i thought id better spend some time making a few new sets up, not only because i need to, but also because if someone actually produces an ember at the shows, and it does happen, I like to give them the actual set they made it on, that way, they can go home with the set knowing that it works and they can use it to practice further, plus they have a working set to use as a template or aide memoir if they decide to make their own.

The picture shows just some of the sets I've made from a load of Sycamore i collected on Wednesday, mostly it's bow drill sets, but the four boards on the left are for the hand drill and will be used in conjunction with an Elder drill, on top of this little lot, i have another dozen bow drill sets made from Willow, should see me through for a little while

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Ash Kuksa II

Having finished what i had to do early today, i set to and finished off another Kuksa I've been making, this one like the last is carved from rock hard seasoned Ash, whilst it's seriously hard going carving the seasoned wood, i think it's worth it in all honesty as the grain patterns you get are incredible, sure green wood would have been so much easier, but at the time i didn't have any fresh cut Ash here that was suitable for a Kuksa, not only that i had the other half of the log to use from the last Kuksa i carved.

This one has a deeper bowl than the previous one's and a totally different handle shape, also i elected to leave some of the bark on the bottom of the bowl, just for artistic effect

Britains Last Traditional Tannery

Fascinating slide show and audio commentary about the last traditional tannery in Britain.



For info the link, may not work in some areas around the world.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Cherry Plums


On our way back to the car following a seriously good day in the woods, we passed by an old Cherry Plum tree, so not wanting to waste the opportunity to gather a rather delicious seasonal treat we stopped for ten minutes or so, grabbed the waterproof cover out of eldests pack and promptly filled it with fresh, juicy, delicious Cherry Plums, this is less than half of what we collected and these will just get munched rather than saved & dehydrated or turned into jam

Strange Things You Find In The Woods

Paid a visit to one of our woodland haunts today up on the South Downs, whilst walking through the trees, we came across this old garden fork stuck in a Beech Tree.

It was quite obvious some one had stuck it in there in the not too distant past, but as the woods are located on chalk and the top soil is only inches deep, i cant see why anyone would take a fork that far up the hills and then leave it there, obviously they had a reason, damned if i can figure it out though.

We left the fork there in the end as i/we had enough to carry without the fork as well, but we did remove it from the tree and leaned it against it rather than in it.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Willow Wands


Eldest did some gardening yesterday and saved a load of materials for me in the form of a stuff load of Willow wands, the picture to the left shows only about half of what he saved for me

So after the walk this afternoon, he and i sat in the garden stripping the leaves off the willow and trimming the ends up and generally tidying the wands up, ready to go into storage for a little while, whilst i decided what type of basket I'm going to attempt to weave from them, bonus is, up the lakes i have a mass of willow that I'm cultivating in one spot for just this type of project, I'm just waiting for the leaves to drop in the autumn so i can get up there and harvest that lot too, looks like a busy winter of basket weaving beckons, well it will once i have the other lot harvested and prepped.

Willow Wands After being Cleaned

Harvest Time


Went for a short walk today, just up over the hills, took the two boys, me Mum & sister, had a right old laugh and collected some seasonal fruit.

In total we collected just under 10.5lbs of plums and just a shade over 2lbs of blackberries, although we did pick an awful lot more, well you have to have to sample the produce to make sure it's ok don't you?.

The plums will get split into two batches with some being made into jam the rest being placed in the dehydrator for storage and consumption later in the year, the blackers will all get used in a nice home made blackberry and crab apple crumble or pie, there are loads of plums still up there so and the blackers are really only just beginning, depending on how we go, i might just pop back up there later int he week and get some more.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Large Elm Beadle


Made myself a new Beadle today, had to really as my large Oak one that i used for a long time, finally surcame to the pressure of repeated use on the back of my froe and junker axe, to the point that the Oak split into three pieces, so, it gave me the perfect excuse to make a new one.

As you can see from the picture, the new one is fairly large, it has to be as it will be used with a 10" froe for splitting some hefty pieces of Ash & Sycamore, the Beadle is made from a single piece of English Elm so it should be seriously strong, i already know it's  nice and heavy,  the handle was rough shaped to the approx size and shape i wanted with the axe and then finished off with  the draw knife.

The knife (JLT Woodsman) is shown to give a sense of scale to the Beadle.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Ash Kuksa - Revisted

Apologies for another Kuksa post, yesterday when i posted about the Ash Kuksa i made, i noted that i wasn't overly happy with the shape of the handle, so today i made a few alterations to the cup, i revised the handle shape to something I'm a lot happier with, I also made the bowl a litle deeper and steepened the sides inside the bowl and thereby reducing the wall thickness a little.

Since the photo was taken, I've also added a leather lanyard with an antler button and sliding hangman's knot so i can tighten the lanyard around the handle for carrying and hanging, but allowing the easy removal of the leather for cleaning the Kuksa if i need to.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Ash Kuksa

Made this Kuksa today from a piece of well seasoned Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), anyone who has carved seasoned Ash will realise how tough this stuff is, but, despite it's toughness, i like it for all manner of carved items, from spoons and bowls to netting needles and well, basically anything else you can think of, as the grain patterns are absolutely amazing.

You just have to be aware and aufait with the materials you are using and listen to what the wood wants to do, because unlike woods such as Birch & Sycamore, Ash will split and run if you try to force it to go where it doesn't want to go. I still have a bit of work to do on this Kuksa as I'm not particularly happy with the handle shape at  the moment, needs a little bit of work doing on the neck area to make it a little more refined.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Birch Kuksa's

Thought it had been far too long since i last  carved myself a Kuksa, so today i remedied that, and carved not one, but two, but in differing designs, one with a longer flared handle, the other with a whale tail as pictured, both of the bowls are fairly thin as you can see from the wall thickness in the pictures.

Both are carved from fresh felled Birch and were carved with my JLT Woodsman knife and Ben Orford carving tools, i was going to leave them with a tooled finish, but elected to sand them down instead, once that had been sanded to 600 grit i drenched them in Tung Oil to seal and protect the wood, I'll christen the Kuksa's in a few days time when the oil has dried properly, i have a feeling i might make a couple more tomorrow out of some of  Ash i have here that is begging to be carved, wont be easy, but the grain patterns should be superb.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Pompey

HMS Victory - Nelsons Flag Ship
Took the boys down to the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth yesterday, had a great time, loads to do and see, we ended up buying a ticket that covered everything, as we figured we are only an hour away by train and we could get two or possibly three trips down there for the one ticket (the ticket is valid for 12 months from date of purchase), so rather than do everything in one day, we decided yesterday to get the ferry over to Gosport to the Submarine Museum, then after that the ferry again back to Portsmouth where we went on HMS Warrior (link here for more info), after this we wandered down to see HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world and of course Admiral Nelson's Flag Ship, we decided that we would go on Victory at a later date as well as visit some of the other attractions like the Mary Rose museum etc when the place is not heaving with tourists.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Shooting

Just been out for a shoot on my permission, which also happens to be just the other side of the garden wall, was typical though, there has been a load of bunnies out there all day, in the heat and bright sunshine, this evening however, when you would expect them to be out, not a sign, not a single solitary bunny to be seen anywhere, come to think of it there were no pigeons either.

The gun i use primarily for hunting is a UK legal Weihrauch HW97K Under Lever air rifle (pictured) running at 11.9ft/lb on the chrono when used in conjunction with Field Target Trophy pellets in .22, the scope i use is a 4-12x50 seen atop the rifle in the picture.

Despite only taking one shot this evening, and that was to empty the gun when i called it quits for the evening, it was a great evening, sitting up the top of the field in amongst the Hawthorn trees and long grass, listening to the Blackbirds and watching the Pipistrelle bats flit around as it got dark, lovely.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Get Yer Hands Off My Plums

Went for a short bimble earlier, should have been making  a few things to sell, but is was too damned hot, so i put it all away and went for a walk instead, at least up on the hills there was a bit of a cooling breeze to be had.

During my wander i met up with the owner of the wood yard and had a bit of a chat with him, he like me was melting in the heat & humidity and was calling it a day too, anyways i digress, as i walked up the lane munching on a few early blackberries and watching the butterflies flitter about, i thought id go and check one of the wild plum trees that are just off the lane, glad i did, man alive what a crop, the things are hanging of the branches like bunches of grapes, i tasted one that felt a bit softer than some of the others had had a nice colour to it, it was a bit tart to say the least, but not unpleasant at all, took the fur off the tongue for sure, but not unpalatable.

Thankfully these trees are off the normal path so most people wont even know they are there, so in the not too distant future, i shall be back up there with foraging bucket in hand to collect as many as possible, some will get used and eaten straight away, others will get turned into jam the rest, will get depitted and put through the dehydrator for later in the year.

Glad i packed up early today.