Thursday, February 16, 2017

Alternative Fire Methods

Within this article we're going to discuss alternative ways to create fire this does not mean that we necessarily go primitive by starting fire with sticks it simply means thinking outside the box to use the natural environment and components of our kit as an effective tool for creating fire. Fire is one of the most important tools of an emergency situation. Your ability to make fire can directly control your body's core temperature and your ability to disinfect water. There have been many ways throughout time to effectively make fire the most common modern ways to effect flame include matches and lighters. Instant short-term flame is not always the answer. In many weather conditions longer-term flame lasting approximately 5 to 7 minutes may be necessary to create a sustainable fire. With the advent of the Ferrocerium Rod there are many other ways to effectively create fire. The most important thing to remember when using this rod is that the tinder source must be highly combustible. Commercial tinder’s are available at many sporting-goods and camping type stores this tinder’s can also be made at home very easily. To effectively create what I would call sure flame you must combine highly combustible material with an accelerant. There is a difference between accelerants and fuels. Fuels require open flame to ignite and thus burn, accelerants will ignite through the release of fumes. Vaseline would be considered a fuel; gasoline would be considered an accelerant. To create a sure fire tinder one must combine highly combustible materials like cotton with accelerants like lighter fluid or charcoal lighter, and then ensure they are waterproof by impregnating them in wax. Another thing that must be understood about fire is the creation, control, and manipulation of an ember when sure fire is not available. Embers can be created from natural material found in the woods from shredded barks, dry plant materials, funguses, or can be created by using charred material. To create charred material you must eliminate the oxygen factor within the triangle a fire. The triangle of fire involves three things ignition, oxygen, and fuel. To create charred material we must provide a fuel in the form of combustible material heating within a metal container (char tin) or coal bed, and then starve it of oxygen. Using this method enables you to ignite this highly combustible charred material in many ways to include your Ferrocerium rod, Flint and steel, or a magnifying glass. Understanding and controlling embers is a very important part of your ability to start fire in an emergency situation. If more modern methods are unavailable.

There are many household items that can be used to create tinder’s for fire these items can be carried with you for an emergency situation before it occurs. Cotton balls and Vaseline have always been a standard carry items even by scouts but this is not effective tinder for emergency situation due to the fact it is not waterproof. If this tinder is placed in a waterproof container it can serve the purpose but there are better options products on the market today like Mini Inferno ( are products that combine highly combustible material with accelerants that are sealed in wax to make them waterproof. You can create these type tinder’s at home as well but it is somewhat time-consuming and difficult to create safely. The lint from your dryer trap is also highly combustible as most people wash and dry many types of cotton materials combining this in a water proof container with Vaseline is also a semi-viable option. A better option in my opinion would be to combine the dryer lint with an accelerant like lighter fluid or charcoal lighter and then seal this mixture with wax. Many Bug Sprays incorporating Deet can be used as an accelerant in an emergency and material soaked by this will readily ignite by sparks from the ferro rod. Another option may be an alcohol based liquid like hand sanitizers.

We must also understand that when traveling through the woods we should have what I call opossum mentality. What this means is that any tinder resource we see as we're walking we are collecting. There are many highly combustible tinder sources available throughout a wooded environment as long as conditions are correct. Even during foul weather we can find dry tinder by looking under overhanging objects for dry plant materials beneath. We should also be looking to collect actual bird nests from trees. We can also scrape bark from trees like Cottonwood, Cedar, or Tulip Poplar and effectively create our own bird nest which when dry will be highly combustible. Birch and Pine are great sources of Natural accelerants as they both contain volatile oils Birch Bark will take a hot spark from a Ferrocerium rod even if damp and the resins in pine can be used effectively to create wet weather fires as well especially if Pine sap or Fat wood are available. To use fat wood effectively you need to scrape not carve dust like material from the fat wood slab too great a dime to quarter sized pile, this will be highly combustible and take advantage of surface area for catching the sparks from your ferro rod. The secret to a highly combustible man-made bird nest is created by combining fine fibers with medium and course and increasing the surface area for sparks to land when using the Ferrocerium rod. Processing material before attempting ignition is essential to success and this can be accomplished by simply ripping and tear at the barks to create finer fibers.

Using charred materials is another good way to effectively make an ember for use in a bird nest. The charred material can be ignited by use of the ferro rod, flint and steel, or by solar magnification that when combined with highly combustible natural materials can be coaxed into flame by slowly blowing the ember to heat the surrounding material until it ignites into flame. Controlling and making embers other than char to use for Solar ignition is an art in itself these embers can be created from cattails, fungus, and compressed flower tops.

Items like Duct Tape with an adhesive backing are almost always flammable and can be shredded finely to create a sort of bird nest that can be ignited into flame by use of the ferro rod as well or added to an existing small flame to extend the burn time until better fuel can be added or dried out... Steel wool is another excellent source of highly combustible material that burns very hot. Steel wool of at least #0000 grade should be kept in the kit for maintain tools and the like, this material with burn from the sparks of a ferro rod as well and 2 AA or AAA batteries set in series can also be used with a thin winding of the material to ignite a larger piece. Using steel wool in my mind is one of the most effective ways to light a marginal bird nest when conditions or material may be damp or inconsistent.

The bottom line is that you should always have a Ferrocerium rod attached to your body so that it cannot be lost, with that and a good knife you should be able to manage with natural materials as listed above. I tend to carry a Bic Brand Lighter in my pocket as well as a small 5x Magnification lens called a Fresnel lens in my wallet. With these tools available in a place they are very unlikely to be lost and a knowledge of both natural and man-made tinder sources, as well as utilizing the items in my kit I feel 100% confident that I can affect fire in the most extreme conditions.

            Dave Canterbury

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Commercialism vs Self Employment

NEW GEAR IS LIKE A NEW CAR, do we really need all the Newest Gear on the market? OR is it a matter of WANTING the Newest gear on the market? I have had several cars that Ran fine, got me where I needed to go, didn't give me mechanical problems, still looked and performed fine....but.....I thought hey I just WANT a new car! Gear is sometimes the same, we don't actually need anything if what we have performs it's functions well enough, but sometimes it's nice to have a change. I love me some Quesadilla, but after about a week I would get tired of them even though they taste great, fill me up, are not expensive??? But human nature is to never be satisfied with the status quo per say. I dont think we buy new gear most times because we actually need it unless it was something we did not already have 10 of anyway but we buy it to see if the grass is greener or the piece more suitable to our liking. Any old knife that meets all the criteria of a good knife will work if you have the proper skill set and I have said MANY MANY times I would take my old 3.00 butcher over anything, heck I can make all the knives I want, but even this does not keep me from buying a new knife once in a while or trying a new product when it comes along. It is a sickness I think but man it feels good to be sick!

"To be sure, even though a man rigs up his own outfit, he never gets it quite to suit him, every season sees the downfall of some cherished scheme, the failure of some fond contrivance." - Kephart

So with all of that said do I sell gear YES, do I create and design gear YES, do I help other companies by acknowledging that their gear is worth buying YES, Do I make money by providing services and consultations, as well as from teaching skills YES, it is called SELF EMPLOYMENT, everyone loves to speak to Self Reliance and not being dependent, but by Golly you better be doing it somewhere else besides this community or you are a Sell Out!, Really? I don't compromise I tell folks exactly what I think of any said piece of gear ,including my own company, and most of the time I pay for Gear even if I review it or at least pay for something else from the same company before I review a piece of their gear, why because I want my opinion to be based solely on experience! Now do I sell the same gear I review or create, or design, HECK YES, It's call SELF EMPLOYMENT, Its called not LIVING off the Government TIT! I chose to make my living in the Outdoors, and I don't tell the Guy at the Tire Store selling me those 35" BF GR All Terrains that he is a sell out because I know he is making money off the sale, I expect him to sell me the most quality tire for my vehicle based on his experience and if he makes money in the process BRAVO, you are not in line for a hand out! Pat that guy on the back for being a worker and not a shirker.

I try very hard in this "business" and yes it is a business and anyone that tells you their SCHOOL, ONLINE STORE, or YT CHANNEL that is MONETIZED is not a business and an attempt to make money is FOS!, Sorry tangent alert! I try very hard to help smaller companies that make great gear to get ahead and I use any reach I may have to help them promote product and if I make something selling that gear as well, YOU GUESSED IT! SELF EMPLOYMENT! And Lets not forget I have Posted well over 1000 educational videos most of which are still up and cost nothing to view and learn, do I make Money from Google of course that is called SMART BUISNESS, do I review the latest gadget to get views NO, The vast majority of my Videos promote or teach actual SKILLS-

There are Many FINE Schools, Stores, and Businesses in this Industry and I don't think you have ever heard me one time bad mouth any of them on a public Forum, You got a good Book I will sell it, I don't care that you have a business or if you have a School, you got a good product, I'll take it and I don't care if it is sold somewhere else, if I can help you and I can make some money as well, but I would expect the same courtesy in return and not to be bad mouthed by you later on a forum or board, especially when my COMMERCIAL business is making YOU money-HELLO!

This Community (Which some try hard to tear apart at every opportunity) is a fantastic chance for us to all learn and promote and make things work TOGETHER! If you think for one minute there will ever be enough Knife makers to supply the demand think again! You got a School in another Environment or Are you teaching something I do not? I would love to send folks your way for sure, but that should be a mutual feeling.

It is such a shame that in a world filled with so much hate and so much wrong, and so much lack of self respect, that we as a Bush craft Community cannot seem to work together for the Common Good of ALL-

Not a day goes by that I don't see someone in this community talking or posting bad of someone else, of course some are sly and don't think you can see it or don't think anyone knows EXACTLY who you mean, REALLY?  I think you need to read the Bible-

I have made it my personal GOAL to rise above the many posts inundating the Web, and to NEVER openly bash anyone, as I believe everyone has at least one redeeming factor about them and until I change my mind I will not change my ways. My Grandma always said, if you got nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all, this community would be a lot better off if folks were that smart today-

I will never be heard to put someone else down to help make myself look better, I can learn from my own mistakes well enough I don't need to dwell on someone else's to justify it- Let me know if I ever tell someone they don't have the right or it is wrong to feed their family, and I will rebuke myself for this entire post-

Life is a One way Train Folks, You only get one ride, make it as scenic and enjoyable as possible because in the end we only have to answer to one! Thanks for reading this somewhat silly but long needed rant-

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fire and Fire Kit Mentality

When I think about Fire and Fire Kits, I look at it from a few different angles as a Survival Instructor as well as a Woodsman. First what is needed for an Emergency as Preparedness is half the battle, and then what makes the most sense for use every day, and then what is the most versatile for carry all the time that will work in any situation best.
It comes down to direct comparisons of ignition sources at that point and you must compare things apples to apples in that sense. To compare a Ferro Rod to a Match is comparing open flame to spark and they are not the same, but compare a match to lighter and things are much different, so lets look at things from a proper perspective to see what we should and should not carry. Now I must throw in a statement that there is legitimate reason for anything if you are trying to practice with a primitive or period correct ignition source.

Lets look at a table and then walk through it together-
Table of Common Ignition Sources

So looking at this table we can see that if we are looking to carry something within our daily kit for Ignition the Friction Fire should be the last considered as we will need advanced skill, fair weather, and specifics for bird nest materials. A Magnifying Glass however will create an ember using the sun and is a renewable resource that is a basic skill level and can be used to extend or conserve the life of more effective or easier sources of ignition. Flint and Steel a technique used from the Iron age through the 18th Century is very viable in many ways but when compared to a modern source of Spark based ignition like the Ferrocerium rod, is not near as versatile in that the Ferro rod works when wet, is very easy to use, throws a much hotter spark, and can be used with any tinders that are used with Flint and Steel as well as many that cannot be ignited with a lower temperature spark.  Matches while giving the huge advantage of open flame are a one time use and very susceptible to wet or windy conditions. While the BIC Lighter gives the same advantage without the restriction of one use and can be easily made to operate again within seconds even if submerged in water. The BIC lighter also has the distinct advantage of being a self contained flint and steel kit that can still be utilized with char or even the lighter body to start more fires after the fuel is spent.
In reality we should always have 3 sources for ignition within our kit and to me it makes the ,most sense to get the most versatility I can from these 3 items. My choice is always the Bic Lighter (quick Emergency Fire), The Ferros Rod, extends the life of the lighter in a normal situation and works well with many tinder sources, and the Magnification Lens (Renewable and conserves all other ignition sources). Too me this is simple logic. Combine this with a HC Steel Knife that is strapped to my hip and I have a 4th Emergency source if I can find a hard Rock and make char as discussed in my teaching for the next fire in an extreme emergency.

Next Fire Mentality

Ferro Rod Tips
Making Fire with a Spent Lighter

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thoughts and Experiments into Primitive Navigation

Primitive Navigation

     In recent times I have immersed myself in the idea of Primitive Navigation, we must always be prepared to replace modern equipment with things made from the landscape should the need arise. I our modern day we have become accustom first to the Magnetic Compass, then to the GPS but Batteries and Signal Fail, and equipment can get lost or damaged. This can leave us with relying on our own skill level to improvise something to replace that object. With Navigation it has always been a given that the Sun and Moon as well as Stars will aid in Direction Finding and can give a fairly exacting direction if we are careful and understand the tools. However as I began to research this I found that a great many tutorials both written and on video were not accurately depicting a skill as simple as how to correctly find a good East/West line with a simple shadow stick? If we are only getting generalities of direction as Ron Hood would say and every direction found by primitive means end in the letters "LY" Northerly, then why the Shadow stick to begin with? It is dependent on the Sun and anyone can look at the Sun and in the Northern Hemisphere realize they are looking Southerly, and if it is early Morning South/Easterly, and in the late afternoon South Westerly? and the reverse with our back to the sun, so whats the big deal? Well I also have seen that this shadow stick method often done incorrectly was used to Calibrate for lack of a better term the Ottomoni Sun Compass as also taught by Ron Hood. But again if the direction end in "LY" why do I need to carry something for this? If I am to carry a device for Navigation how accurate does it need to be? Well in my mind the reason we carry a modern compass is really only singular in nature at it's most rudimentary level. We carry a Compass to Walk a Straight Line! Everyone experiences what is called lateral drift, this is the uncontrollable thing that causes us to veer left or right as we walk over distance and can in some cases cause on to walk a complete circle. We as Humans are very good at walking to an object we can see, if we do not loose sight of something we want to walk to we can do this with no issue, it is when we loose sight of the object it becomes and issue and lateral drift takes over. We compensate for this using our compass by following a sighted bearing, and leap frogging to objects we will not loose sight of as we go. But the question again then begs? Can this be done in a primitive fashion? Yes it can but not by the methods currently accepted!  So to my thoughts and Experiments-
     If you track the Shadows of the sun to any surface over time these shadows will vary in size depending on travel and time of day, season, etc.. but during it's travel it will do 2 things every day. 1. It will be at Equal Altitudes in the sky at least 2 times, and it will be directly overhead (Local Apparent Noon) Once a day.  Knowing this to get a good East/West line with any Shadow Stick we must ensure the shadow points on the ground or any surface are at equal altitudes before we bisect the points to obtain our East/West Line and this is not a well published method in our community. Now that we have this correct line and we understand the 4 directions as accurately as we can what do we do with this information, as we are going to leave it behind obviously or it would make no sense to care in the first place.  Enter the Ottoman Compass, the theory behind this is that if you take a small piece of wood, suspend it to keep it level with strings (and this IS critical) to keep it level, then place a Gnoman or pointer on the device from a stick to cast a shadow on the board, draw East/West line on the board that is calibrated per say with you shadow stick device, you can then carry this as a navigational tool to re-align at intervals to Navigate. Okay we need to look at this closely? I believe that if we use this method we are simply carrying a shadow stick with us and this will give us only a very general direction we could easily obtain by looking at the sun as discussed above. Why do I believe this? Because as discussed before the suns shadow changes its length as it travels across the sky (simple terms) therefore it creates a curve if tracked over several hours and NEVER a straight line. So if we are using a Straight line to align our shadow to at say 3 hours from now it cannot be a repeatable process and will not give us the same N/S E/W line as when it was created. To make this repeatable over time and understanding when traveling time equates to distance when moving we must re-align the shadow board or Compass exactly each time if we are to travel in a straight line by leapfrogging to objects in a linear direction, as if we were using a compass. To accomplish this re-alignment we must use a curved line. The ancients figured this out long ago when tracking the sun for anything from time to direction, but like so much knowledge we have lost or forgotten it. If we are to set this system of tracking up correctly we will need to track the suns shadow for an entire day prior to travel and place marks on a surface to be carried as cast at the end of the shadow from our pointer at intervals through the day, after which we can connect the dots and create this curved alignment line for later use. Now this line will also change over time as the Suns arc changes daily but this will be fairly accurate for 2 weeks and  navigable for about 3, but will need to be re-established after this for longer term usage. To travel with this device we need to first establish lines on the board for the cardinal directions as described above and then bi sect those lines at 45 degrees to establish NE/NW/SE/SW as well, we can then align the board, set it down on a fairly level surface and stand behind the board in the desired direction of travel. Pick a distant object we will not loose sight of on the line and travel to it, repeat.

Initial Setup 2 Days after Tracking, Verified with Compass to begin Quantification of Method. Approx 9AM

Several Hours Later after Traveling quantification of methodology approx 1PM.

     This method is combined with another method I have been using and will Blog later I have coined the Pathfinder Shadow Board which tracks the shadow in quadrants to obtain direction for travel.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Brain Tanning a Beaver hide

In this post I will link to a short video series I recently published on Brain tanning-

Stay Dirty-

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Folded Canvas Water Bucket

This video was inspired by a reading from the book Diary of an early American Boy by Eric Sloan. In the book he describes the daily chore of carrying water and the many items used for this purpose, including actual sized yokes for people that buckets could hang from to distribute the weight an allow for carrying 2 buckets of water easier. There were actual production yokes available in several sizes from children's to adults He describes a method of folding canvas to create a water carrier of sorts and sites it use by wagoners to water the horses as well. However when I tried the illustrated configuration I found a couple issues and having 1 pin I tried to fix it on the fly. So I experimented for a bit to come up with the rendition in the video. Being able to use gear multi-functionally without changing it permanently so that it can still be used for other purposes allows us to carry less kit and accomplish more tasks. I will be experimenting with this a lot more to come up with the best solution. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Steam Bending a Pack Frame

               Otzi the Iceman was found with several interesting items that give us clues to his style of life and the equipment that he deemed a necessity for existence. By studying these things we can also learn what is truly a necessity for traveling over distance and being Self Reliant.  We do not have to carry exactly the same items that Otzi carried to manifest this vision in our modern times but yet we should look to the type of items he carried for better understanding. As I created what I call the 5 C's of Survivability I looked closely at the kit contents of many peoples cross culturally but Otzi optimizes this mentality. Above all we see that Otzi needed some type of device to carry his gear over distance, in this day we have many modern packs and frames many of which resemble in design his own pack frame made from wood. As stated we may not need to carry exactly the items that Otzi choose in a day when Modern Steel is far superior to either Stone or Copper, but understanding his technology and being able to recreate it only makes us better woodsman more able to become reliant on what is around us to improvise gear long term or in the sour of the moment when needed. A pack Frame of sorts for bearing a load can be accomplished in many ways but the fact that Otzis frame was actually a bent and formed piece of wood shows the he had the skill known today as heat or Steam bending. 
            It is my belief that this is a very important skill that could be used to recreate many useful items from the landscape to include a Pack Frame, Snow Shoes, Boats, sleds etc...

             Several pieces of wood were discovered near the axe and bow: a two-metre-long U-shaped rod of hazel wood and two narrow wooden boards of larch wood measuring 38 and 40.3 cm with notched ends.
The pieces are thought to be the parts of a backpack. The hazel rod served as the frame, while the two boards served as horizontal connecting pieces. The pieces were originally bound together with grass string. Remnants of the string were found beside the wood pieces.
Numerous pieces of hide and clumps of hair indicate that a hide sack was attached to the frame to carry the Iceman’s possessions.

            This frame not have been to unlike the Seneca Style Frame illustrated in Ellsworth Jaeger's Book of Wildwood Wisdom (1945).

This Seneca Style frame is a personal one that hangs in my Living room

          Steam bending works well especially if the wood is pre-soaked in water. After soaking the wood fibers can be pre stretched by gently bending it around a large tree just be careful not to over-bend and stress the fibers creating compression fractures on the inside or de-lamination fractures on the outside of the bend. Get a large kettle and fill it with water placing it on a hot fire so that steam is emitting from the boiling water. Place the area of desired bend into the steam for several minuted then gently bend that area with you hands  as shown below


        Gently work the bend till you get the desired result, attaching a tension loop at the base of stick after it is initially bend will help hold it as you increase the bending, once you reach the desired bend you can place the bent portion next to heat to speed the dry process and set the bend.

Adding Forks to a Tripod Set up will also help hold your work piece so you can tend fire.

I will add a link to the video of my Camp Kitchen setup here as it makes working with this stuff a bit easier as well-