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-

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rendering Birch Oil

          Many folks ask me what I use to protect my wooden handled tools and the best answer in this day is just go buy some boiled linseed oil or use some other type natural oil like olive oil. However, in a wilderness environment these things will not be available to us so what are we to do then? The best thing is to use an oil extracted from a Tree, there are trees world wide with oils inside them, it just needs to be extracted. In the US Birch is by far the best source of a natural finish used to protect wood and leather. Birch oil is waterproof, insecticidal, preservative, and smells fabulous! So how do we extract this wonder of the natural world? It is easier than you might think. You will need 2 Containers of metal preferably that you don't mind using only for this process as it is messy. I was lucky enough to find 2 square containers the same size, one tall and one short.

This is ideal for the process, but any 2 containers will work as long as once fits snug atop the other and can be sealed with a lid. In this lid you will punch a small hole as you would a char tin, except this container will be upside down and the hole will allow oil to drain into the 2nd container as a catchment..

          The Lower container (catchment) is placed below ground level with the upper container turned upside down with the drain hole down on top. You will then fill in some earth around the bottom container and build a fire around the top container. Build a nice size fire so it will burn long enough to extract the oils (time depends on size of container and amount of bark) make sure the bark container is stuffed as full as you can get it to obtain the maximum amount, it takes allot of bark to make a little oil. When the fire has burned down you can then carefully remove the top container, reveling the catchment with the rendered oil.

 For Ax handles and leather use warm and dip a rag as you would any other oil and spread thin rubbing into the wood or leather, the oil also makes an excellent water proof lure for Beaver.. As the solution cools it will get tacky, if you need to store it can be stored like this by placing a lid on the container, to use again just warm it up on coals. If you desire to make Birch Tar, a great natural adhesive, you will need to further render the oil buy low heat and stirring to release the flammable chemicals by evaporation. It will begin to thicken as it is heated and become pasty, it can then be formed on a stick or in cubes as tar. In the state of oil it is flammable and can be used also as a fuel, but you don't want it to catch fire if you are using it for tar as this will make it brittle.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Cadillac of the Ax World

           "What is your Favorite Brand of Ax?" A question I get all the time. To me the answer is easy NORLUND. However with so many ax manufacturers today and with the popularity of the Scandinavian brands like Granfors, Wetterlings, and Hultafors. Not to mention the newly popular Huskvarna, incidentally made by Hultafors, it can be difficult to decide where to spend your money?
            Since scandi axes are so poular, why not use an American ax designed with a Scandinavian, grind? Enter NORLUND-

            The O.A. Norlund company came into being when the owner of Canadian Tire Company approached the owner of Mann Edge tool company to produce a line of Sportsman's style axes for market in the US and Canada, a request that John Waddell took very seriously. So seriously in fact that he traveled to Scandinavia to observe the process of making a good quality Ax.
            In 1968 Mann Edge Tool company began to produce the O.A. Norlund brand Ax using a more Canadian and US design pattern with a Scandinavian type edge profile. These axes are very well suited to the recreational outdoors man and do well for all tasks from actual felling to processing fire wood, and even carving if the need arises. The beauty of these wonderful heirlooms is that you will be saving an old tool from some shed or barn somewhere to be left rusting away. Now that is not to say that they are inexpensive or common! They seem to be much more prevalent in the east than out west. And some people actually know what they have LOL.

            I recently received a Brand New NORLUND saddle cruiser, which is a double bit pocket type ax of sorts. it was in pristine condition but had been cut from the handle. I sent this beautiful head to the guy that I knew could do it justice for a re-hang Cody Crone (Wranglerstar)https://www.youtube.com/user/wranglerstar. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I received it back from him and it is now a perfect addition to my growing collection of these classic axes.

           Have a look around and you may find one of these beauties in great condition at a price that wont kill you to buy it, but beware that they can be addictive. So addictive in fact that there is a FB Page dedicated to being an AX JUNKIE-Axe Junkies

Below is a video I shot discussing these things a bit today

Exploring bushcraft with survivalist Dave Canterbury - GrindTV.com

Exploring bushcraft with survivalist Dave Canterbury - GrindTV.com

The Duluth Bushcraft Pack is a perfect design for serious Woodsman-

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Do we only practice the Manly Skills?

           I think we as men tend to overlook allot of skills very necessary to true Self-Reliance. Looking back in time to Otzi the Iceman's Kit, what would it take to re-make those items? There are plenty of testosterone based skills within his kit for sure, Flint Knapping, Hide Tanning, Copper Smelting, And Bow making Oh yeah!!! But to keep him alive and carry his gear took skills much less appealing to most of us. His Clothing was sewn together, his pack frame lashed together, and he had several woven items as well. There is no evidence that Otzi had a little cave women at home to make these things for him, so we can only assume that he made them himself. While many skills we practice today are important to both short term and long term survival, the less romantic skills are just as often more critical especially in the longer term. The ability to manufacture items of clothing, devices for carrying other items as well as repairing items that become damaged like clothing is surely important to being self reliant even in the modern day. I have been immersing myself in weaving lately in many forms and this epiphany really came from closely looking at Otzi's personal kit on a deeper level.

Otzi's Knife sheath is one example of a woven object he carried to secure equipment

This is my attempt at a similar weave to create a knife sheath for a stone blade
Otzi did not use complicated weaving techniques to make the items he had but this skill has been around for a few thousand years none the less. As I delve deeper into this skill it was used extensively by other cultures in time like the Vikings, the Egyptians, and later by our own direct ancestors in the US for things like Belts, Sashes, Rifle Slings, as well as on the intricate level of Cloth manufacturing from Flax made into linen along the American Frontier.
Loom at Fort Boonesboro
Although we cant all practice making actual fabric or Blankets on a Loom, we can use smaller looms to make Straps, for thinks like Belts, Slings, Tump lines, Pack Straps etc...
Making a 12' Strap on a Inkle Loom
The best thing about this skill is that it can be accomplished with very little tools and gear, anywhere including around the camp fire in the woods.
Making a Utility Strap with a Waist Belt style loom in the woods
Here are a few of the projects I am working on now to help me own the skill of weaving for future use

Give it a try you might find it extremely relaxing as well as enjoyable to create even more of your own gear and become that much more Self Reliant.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Most Important Fire Tool in your Kit

I was reminded today of a Past video from the Fire School Series by Keith Burgess a very good friend and fellow woodsman who makes great study of 18th Century Living Skills and woodsman-ship. The biggest issue most of my students have when making a fire is not only in building the proper fire lay, but also the proper use of the Ferrocerium Rod. There is different techniques one can use to take the best advantage of what I consider THE most important Fire Tool-

Photos of Eastern Woodland Fire Resources

A Natural Bird Nest is always the best Bird Nest

Fat Wood is the resinous area of a Pine

Dead Weed Tops like this golden rod not only make good tinder but also great stick bundles for initial kindling

Horse Hoof Fungus ia good resource for ember creation when ground to a fine dust

Pine needles are always a good addition to any fire lay and will ignite quickly even with small flame

Pine Sap is one of the best flame extenders available

Birch Barks of any species contain volatile oils that burn fast and hot

Outer and inner barks that are fine and can be broken down like this Honeysuckle Bark are excellent additions to any tinder bundle or birds nest

Temite or Any eaten wood (Colony Wood) is usually paper thin and will smolder well for carry an ember to a new fire

Fibrous Barks like this Poplar bark are great for Bird nest construction

To find Keith's Blog and some fantastic Information please visit him at-http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au/

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Most Important Primitive Skill

              Lots of folks have ask me "Dave, what do you think the most important primitive skill to be proficient at would be?" The patented answer to this from most Instructors would probably be Fire, or possibly Tool making. But I think about things in a more logical fashion and realize that some kit can easily be secured to my person and not get lost easily. A Knife strapped to my belt and a Lighter and or Ferrocerium rod in my pocket is pretty safe from loss. However the one thing most difficult to secure from loss would be a shelter! Not just a Trash sack or small painters drop cloth but a real secure shelter that will afford a good micro-climate when combined with clothing and fire or be a stand alone space to trap body warmth if fire is not an option-
              So it would be for these reasons that my answer to this question would be SHELTER building from Natural Materials is the most important skill to learn! We should understand a variety of shelter configurations that will be helpful in any environment we may be in depending on our region and hobbies. A good example comes from my 5x5 Survival Mentality in that understanding the 5 Survival Priorities of Self Aid, Shelter, Fire, Water, and Food, we combine this with 5 examples of different skills from each priority to make a well rounded system for personal self-reliance.
             For Shelter building I would practice 5 very practical shelters that will work in multiple season and environments. My preferred configurations would be the Debris Shelter, The Lean, the Raised Bed and Fire Backing, the Wikki-up, and the Half Face. Example of these shelters are shown below. Remember that only on Television is a large scale shelter built by one man, in single hour.. This can be a daunting task requiring a large investment of Time and Calorie expenditure. Sometimes simple is better!

Debris Huts should be tight, the ridge pole should only allow a few inches above head in the resting position, this photo is from a training session with the WV SP DEA

Adding more sticks to the outside of the debris will help keep things in place and in wind

This photo shows the outside of a single man structure. Debris should be in several layers and at least 3 feet thick for Winter use.

A simple Lean can incorporate a raised bed or one can sleep on a mat of natural debris.

Simple Tripods can be incorporated to build the raised bed structure.

Raised beds are better with cross members vertical to the frame.

Debris under the raised bed will help battle convection issues

Adding a Frame closed in on 3 sides for a Lean will help hold in heat and block wind for colder weather
Here is a Lean with a Fire Backing to help absorb heat, the long trench fire should be the length of the shelter, and the backing should be the height of the Half Face for good convection.
Long Fires with large Backing should have a cross wind to feed the fire, this will help keep smoke out of the shelter at night as well.

A Half Face can be set up 3/4 closed with wrapped sides will add sleep area for multiple hunters.

A Small Fire backing in front of the closed half face will also help direct heat to the opening of the shelter
A Wikki-up will start with a large tripod, and sticks are progressively added to enclose the shelter.
A Large Wikki will have plenty of room for a small fire inside if you leave enough opening at the top for draft. This one has a large bedding area at the back with almost a foot of ground insulation.

Nessmuk  would call this SMOOTH'EN IT!