Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Schools Shut - Lets Go For A Walk

As the boys school was shut today, eldest and I decided to go for a bit of a wander over the South Downs, mainly because it's been too long since we have done it, but to also act as a bit of a route proving trip for a sponsored walk we will be doing next year in aid of Help for Heroes.

The route we took is about 12Km in length and incorporates some nice grassland walking as well as a few farm tracks and although generally it's pretty easy walking there are a few sections in the walk that get the pulse rate up a bit, but that's good right?, in fact if you add all the up hill sections in the walk we made today,  it amounts to just under a thousand feet that we climbed, albeit in small sections, best bit of course is in order to get home, we also had to come down a thousand feet as well, highest point in  the walk was 350ft above sea level.

A superb day out in all respects, good company, superb scenery and masses of flora and fauna to look at.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Christmas Cheer

Yes, i know it's still November, but today we finished making the Christmas cheer for this year, pictured are a few of the bottles of Blackberry & Sloe Gin we made.

We started making making it a sooner than we normally would as all of the fruits were early this year &  because of the premature fruiting we had to forage the fruits and get the gin in a little earlier than normal, it's a good job we did otherwise we would have missed the lot, so much for waiting for the first frost before collecting the Sloes!, not seen a frost yet this Winter, in fact is so warm out there I'm still in shirt sleeves and all of the Blackthorns around here are now devoid of Sloes.

Some of these bottles we will consume ourselves over Christmas and into next year and no doubt at a few meets as well, but a few of them will be given away as thank yous to some local landowners who let me use their woodland & property to pursue my Bushcraft activities.

Cheers

Monday, 28 November 2011

Serving Spoon

Pictured is a serving spoon i made today, having really enjoyed making Medieval eating spoons  recently, I wanted to make a slightly larger spoon in the same style, i retained the octagonal handle shape, but a different bowl shape was asked for, even though I like the lollipop shape of the Medieval spoon, i wanted a slightly different shape to make it easier to use in dishes and pans.

The result is the spoon pictured, carved from a nice piece of Hazel that has a wonderful grain pattern in the bowl, the spoon has the required Octagonal handle and a tooled finish and has been  given a light coat of Walnut oil, i still have few small finishing touches to do to tidy it up a bit before it gets used in anger.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Arrow Through A Ring

I whittled myself another 'arrow through a ring' the other day and made reference to it in my post about Whittling on Friday 25th, since then I've had a couple of messages asking what does it do?, well it does nothing, it's a bit of fun, a puzzle, a folly, it serves no purpose at all, other than relieving a bit of boredom on the part of the carver, ie me.

This one is made from two different woods, the arrow is carved from a single piece of Hazel and the ring is carved from piece of Elm, the trick is this though, both the arrow head and the flights are bigger than the hole in the Elm and no there are no joints involved, these are dead easy to make and good fun to give to people, both young & old, some figure it out straight away, others are totally flummoxed by it

Friday, 25 November 2011

Whittling - Again

I was going to go for a wander over the hills the other day to a small Yew wood in order to 'liberate' some materials, but time and events conspired against me (again), so i went a whittling, as you do.

From top to bottom a small poker with a chicken head on it, the  whittled stick i made the other day, again with a chickens head on it, an arrow through a ring, the ring is Elm and the arrow is Hazel, but the arrow head and flights are larger than the hole the arrow sits in, a variable pitch whistle and the butter spreader i made the other day, all the result of absolute boredom.

More Medieval Style Spoons

I made a start on some more medieval style spoons today, all four pictured are made from Hazel and at this stage are pretty rough carved, as i figured i could do all of the rough carving and shaping outside in the autumn sunshine while it was still light and then finish them off with the fine carving needed in the dining room during the evenings, which id much rather do than sitting there watching brain dead television all evening.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

'Blooming' Flowers

I made a load more Gypsy Flowers today in preparation for the two craft fairs I'm attending next week.  At the last fair i attended just a few weeks back, the flowers were one of the best sellers and looking at the stock i had here ready to go, it kind of didn't seem enough, so i figured i needed to make some more, i still have about same amount again to finish off, the load in the bucket probably amount to about a fifth of what i have made so far,  I just hope all the effort has been worth it.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Rambo Knife

A little while i wrote about a trip down memory lane (see this post) and how id love to get my hands on another one of those knives, well i also posted the same thing up on BCUK and i had a couple of people on there get in touch saying they had one or at least one that was very similar, that if i wanted them, i could have, well not being greedy, i said yes to the first chap who got in touch (British Red) and today, as promised the beastie arrived, although it's not exactly the same as  the one i used as a kid, it's near enough and has bought back some great memories of a childhood running over the South Downs and not one person blinking an eyelid at the sight of us kids, belting around with Rambo knives in our hands and catapults in our back pockets - how times have changed.

So big thanks go to British Red for his generosity - thanks mate, really appreciate it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bernie Garland B&T Sheath

Another sheath that I've finished today is this beauty for a Bernie Garland Bird & Trout knife, the customer, wanted a slimline sheath, so we decided between us that my Woodie sheath was best suited to the blade in question, the customer then selected his build options for the sheath, which were right hand carry dangler in British Tan, even though i make these myself, i do have to admit that this style of sheath is without a doubt one of my personal favourites.

Ash Spoon

I had a bit of a "disagreement" a little while ago with a lady who was absolutely adamant that Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) was useless for carving things such as spoons and cups as it was 'too fibrous' to be any good.

So i decided to prove her wrong by carving this small eating spoon from a small Ash branch, I've also carved her a Kuksa to go with it and will take great delight in presenting these to her at some point in the near future.

Turley Knives Green River Sheath

I was commissioned a little over a week ago to build a sheath for a Turley Knives Green River knife, the customer wanted a dangler sheath in British Tan to suit this knife, pictured is the completed sheath to suit this particular knife from Iz Turley, unusually for a Turley commission, this sheath is destined to go to a UK user, as far as I and the customer for this sheath are aware, there are not that many Turley knives in this country.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Long(er) Walk Home

I spent some today with some of the local conservation volunteers up on the South Downs behind home, the group has a task day once a month where we tidy litter, drag stuff out of the Dewpond that the local 'yoofs' keep throwing in there or as today do a little bit of path maintenance, which today saw us clearing back some of the Dogwood  and Elder on three paths with a good mix of hand and petrol powered tools, in fact we made such good progress, we finished about 30 minutes early, so we admired our work and had a bit of the all important chinwag before making sure the paths were clear of the trimmings and then we all headed off home.

Today though rather than heading directly home which was just over half a mile, i decided to take the longer route home which is a walk of approx 2 miles, granted, it's not a lot further, but still it's is a longer walk and in the glorious autumn sunshine it was the right decision to make, walking over the South Downs basking in the sunshine and listening to the Skylarks in the fields, magnificent, the photo shows the view over towards Cissbury Iron Age Fort  that was just emerging from the mist & fog adding to it's mysticism.

Days like this made you feel glad to be alive, i enjoyed it so much, that after i had thrown some lunch down my throat, i went back out for another walk, getting home just before sunset.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Bit Of Advertising

Thought id take the opportunity to promote a Craft & Christmas Fayre that's taking place on the 3rd December at one of the local schools in aid of the band both the boys are in,  basically, the band has to raise some money in order to continue playing.

 

  I have a stand at the event so if you are local, why not pop along and say hello?.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Mors Kochanski -Try Sticks

One of the things i like to make when i have a spare half hour or so is the good old Try Stick, the  now famous stick that was introduced to us and championed by  the great Mors Kochanski.

Carving a Try Stick is a superb way to while away some time whilst sat under your favourite tree in the autumn sunshine, and at the same time hone your  carving & knife skills, to produce a stick, that in all honesty is an art form in it's own right, but to also practice, what can only be described as, all the cuts you will ever need to survive out in the wilderness.

More Spatula's

Made a start on making some more spatulas today, as i wrote in an earlier entry, I've been looking for a design that is both pleasing to the eye and that is easy and relatively quick to make, and i think with a bit of tweaking, i may have found it with this design?.

All of the spatulas pictured are of the same rough shape, but out of all of them, i think i much prefer the one at the bottom of the picture, what do you think?.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Whittling

My day today was almost a non event,  I didn't do half the things i wanted nor needed to do, mind you a slowish day doesn't hurt now and again, so after battling the Post Office this morning in order to get a few orders out, then getting home and finding it was nearly lunch time already, so i figured id just do a little bit of whittling this afternoon.

I grabbed a couple of Hazel wands and a pocket knife  (Old Timer 340T) and got whittling, the result?, well, a stick chicken on an ornate stick and a butter spreader,  i also made some flowers from match sticks, one is just visible above my pocket knife in the photo, i have to admit, it made a pleasant change to whittle a stick, for no other reason than just the sheer pleasure of doing it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Spatulas

Been busy today making some spatulas up in readiness for a couple of Christmas fairs I'm attending early next month.

I think with what i made today and what i already have in stock, i should have enough to cover me, although, i might make a few more just be on the safe side, after all, once made they don't exactly take up a lot of room to store. The ones pictured are made from a mix of Hazel, Sycamore and Ash and as you will notice from  the picture they are also made in a variety of different styles as I've been trying to add some variances to the styles to try and find a shape that is very easy and quick to make, although these don't take long, but also to try and appeal to peoples differing tastes to style & design, i shall know after the the forthcoming shows which style i need to concentrate on, purely by noting which style from the ones i have sells the best.

Locking Pocket Knife

Bought myself a new locking pocket knife which arrived yesterday, i had wanted one with a non coated blade, which is what i ordered, but not what arrived and to be fair, i really cant be bothered to argue the point on it and in retrospect, i do quite like to look of it, even though I'm not normally a fan of the 'Tacticool' look, i figure with use the coating will wear off fairly soon anyway.

The knife itself has a 2.5 inch blade which is capable of being opened one handed, the body of the knife, looks like it has Micarta scales and a liner lock, which when the blade is opened and locks into place, does so with a resounding click, the blade when opened also shows no sign whatsoever of any unwanted movement in any orientation, the knife also features a sturdy pocket clip, which can be repositioned by the simple removal of two Allen bolts.

Despite the square section of the knife it's incredibly comfortable to hold and so far I've not found any high spots or indeed rough edges anywhere on the knife, now it has to be said this thing is not going to be an EDC, it's going to be more of a beater knife for opening sacks of seed & feed etc at the lakes, cutting rope and well, just general duties connected with the general maintenance of the area.

I'm even tempted to get another one to put in my shooting bag to replace the Opinel i have in there, that, having a wooden handle is not best suited to prepping small game as the wood will of course absorb 'fluids' and is therefore unhygienic, whereas this knife can be easily sterilised without fear of upsetting any of the materials used in it's manufacture, and if it does break or fall apart, well this thing didn't break the bank to buy, including delivery the knife cost £ 4.50, sure it's made in and came from China, but for the price, i don't really care.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Pocket Knife

Knife alongside a 1p piece to show size
I was given a pocket knife yesterday by my Mum, she found it in the bottom of her button box, thing is i can remember my Nan having and using this knife when i was a kid.

The knife is still in really good nick considering it's age, it was made by Richards of Sheffield who are no longer trading unfortunately, so as well as being a bit of family history, it's also a bit of knife making history as well.

Stick Chickens

One of the things i love to whittle is Stick Chickens, I've not made any for a while and indeed, the one in the picture is one i made some time ago but it serves to illustrate what a Stick Chicken is, the rooster tail on it is awful though, that's what you get for using a fresh cut stick, slightly seasoned is far better as it allows you get better curls.

So if you are at a loose end and have a small pocket knife with you, why not try carving a Stick Chicken?, they are great things to carve, as they don't take that long to do, but look good when they are finished, in fact if you go to the woods i use and look carefully, you might just see a few Chickens perched up in amongst the branches on the trees and bushes.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Pistol

Ok not a particulary good one, but i love this old thing, it's a Webley Nemesis in .22, that i got a little while back for use at short range in conjunction with some live traps i use, i got it for one reason initially,  which is, it's less obvious than an air rifle when you have to despatch quarry such as a Rats in the live traps.

Some people get a bit upset when they see someone walking around with a rifle, but this gets carried in my shoulder bag when I'm on my trapping permission and only comes out of the bag and indeed it's holster when I'm at the trap, hunting with a pistol is of course illegal in the UK but this is being used at very short range ie a foot or less to despatch vermin, ie Rats for which it's more than adequate, especially when used with suitable pellets such as the hard hitting Accupel or Field Target Trophy.

As well as using the pistol to despatch vermin, we also use it in conjunction with a pellet trap against paper targets for a bit of plinking in the back garden, it's great fun to use and although it's single shot, it doesn't take long to put a few dozen pellets through it and at ranges of 10-15 yards it's also surprisingly accurate.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Beer Can Cooker

I decided a little while ago to make myself a new alcohol stove from a couple of beer cans, unlike the normal type of 'penny stove' where you cover the small central fill hole with a penny as the name suggests, i much prefer the open type of burner to the closed type as i feel it's safer. 

This one incorporates a 'wall' inside the unit to separate the inner and outer sections of the burner and whilst the thing does create vapourised fuel and blooms really well, the large central section removes the risk of a massive pressure build up and potential explosion should the pressure become too much, which is doubtful as it's not a sealed unit.

This little cooker serves me well when I'm out and about as a half fill of fuel gives me plenty of time to cook a small dehydrated meal as well as giving me enough hot water to make a decent brew as well and the added bonus is of course, i got to consume the beer before hand as well.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lest We Forget.





They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.





Thursday, 10 November 2011

Spoons On The BBC

I was made aware the other day by a friend of mine that in the latest episode of the BBC TV programme, The Antiques Roadshow, there was a lady with a rack of spoons dating from the mid 18th century (pictured).

I don't normally watch programmes such as this, as to be frank, they bore me to tears, but in this instance, i went to the BBC iPlayer and found the program and then located the part of the program that was of interest, thankfully it was right at the beginning, the story behind the spoons was fascinating as was the design of the spoons, what was even more amazing was the price, the 'expert" gave a valuation of £ 400.00 to £ 500.00, i think the lady that owned them was as gobsmacked as i was when she heard the price.

For those who are interested the link to the program is here, although unfortunately, i think it is only visible to UK residents, but no doubt 'someone' will upload it to YouTube;-), I've also included below a few screen shots from the program that show the spoon design.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Brace Of Medieval Spoons

It's official, Medieval style spoons are the flavour of the moment, well certainly where I'm concerned anyway, whether it's the overall simplicity of the design or the fact that this particular style of spoon is incredibly tactile, i don't know, probably a bit of both in all honesty.

The two pictured are from a nice piece of Hazel and in true keeping with the period they come from, have a tooled rather, than the modern sanded finish.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Trip Down Memory Lane

I was searching Google the other evening for some research material for a project I'm planning and one of the search terms i used was "Survival", amongst the millions of responses to the search query i got was this knife (pictured) and as soon as i saw it, it bought back loads of good memories as i used to one of these exact knives when i was kid.

The knife as such in retrospect was complete junk, but at the time, a mate of mine who used to live just up the road, still does funny enough, and i used to tear all over the South Downs with one of these on our belts and a Black Widow catapult in our back pockets (nobody blinked an eyelid either, how times have changed) and we used to love the things, if i remember right it never ever took or held an edge, the tang was about a half an inch long and was threaded to accept a nut inside the hollow handle, and in use the blade always used to come off or at least start to come very loose as the nut slowly undid itself,  the wire saw lasted about half an hour, the fishing kit was better suited to catching Great Whites off of Cape Town, than three ounce roach in the local pond, the compass showed every direction except north and the sharpening stone on the front, i reckon was cut from a breeze block, but did we care?, nope not in the slightest, they were complete junk,  but during our childhoods, they were a prized and envied possession, if i could get another one, i would just for the sheer nostalgia of it.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Tudor 'Style' Spoon

I made myself a new eating spoon this afternoon, and having grown rather fond of the ergonomics and overall feel and size of the Medieval style spoon, i thought i would make one in that style.

The spoon is made from a nice bit of Hazel that I've had in the workshop for some time,  i took this down  to the rough thickness i wanted with the draw knife and then carved out the shape with a Mora before refining the overall shape with my Sloyd knives, the spoon is un-sanded and features an octagonal tapered handle and the distinctive 'lollipop' shape of the Medieval style spoon, to finish the spoon i spent a bit of time smoothing off all of the tool marks with my pick knife to give a nice smooth finish and once i was happy with the overall look and feel of it, i simply oiled it up with some Olive oil, all i need now is to wait until tomorrow morning so i can enjoy eating my Corn Flakes with it.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Large Ladle

I made a start on making myself a nice big ladle today, well i need something to serve up all those lovely home made soups and broths that we will be enjoying when the weather eventually turns colder.

The ladle is carved from a piece of Poplar, the piece i used was a big branch with a nice side branch on it, the main branch became the handle and the side branch junction became the bowl of the ladle .

I've only rough carved it today as the wood is very green, to the extent that you can see the moisture in the wood 'pool' ahead of the cutting edge when you are carving, before i can move on to some more refined shaping and ultimately onto the finishing cuts, I'm going to have to let this one dry out just a tad.

Even though there is still a lot of work to do on this ladle, in my minds eye, i can already start to see the finished object, now what soup to christen it with?, decisions decisions

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Pencil Sharpener

One of the items i carry in my fire kit is a pencil sharpener, why?, well it's pretty simple really, the addition of a sharpener to my kit, allows me to make masses of wafer thin shavings very quickly from small twigs and branches, these shavings, as long as the twig used was dead and dry, will ignite from the merest spark and give a good and easily obtainable tinder pile in very little time and with very little effort.