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-