Sunday, November 21, 2010

Project Ugly Knife...

A while back I got the urge to make a no frills, no BS bushycraft knife prototype. I had a woodlore style blank I was working on in CPM3V and decided to regrind it and reshape it. The pics that follow show the progression... here's the blade fully shaped and partially ground.


Fully ground.

After heat treatment.

Rough sanded and finish ground.

The scales and firesteel stuff to fill out the set.

All epoxied and viced up.

The scales profiled to fit.

Rough shaped scales.

Refined a bit on the belt sander.

And things all finished up...


Time to make a sheath... :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bushcraft and fire practice... aw yeah.. :)

I got out on Saturday and before my coughing, tired lungs shut me down, I had a great time. Check it and enjoy...

I was specifically, out to accomplish the three elements of the fire challenge. You can view the forum thread here These were my responses... and yes I know I used some of the footage from these in the other vid. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When the Mrs doesn't mind me leaving the house, camera in tow to go get some pics I am usually pretty pumped up. This goes double when this happens during the autumn. The pictures usually just stack up, one to the next, and I always feel like I am missing so much.... but not this year.

The Late Bloomer

Ohio is as muted as is gets for colors this year... at least in the central part of the state.

I dig the thistles

I took the car and drove down to deer creek because there is so much water I figured something had to have some zap going.... not so much.

Dunno what it is but the color is pretty
Not to say there weren't some good views and pics to be had because there were... It was just not like the last few years. That's OK I guess just not what I expected.

Mr Very Large Maple

Still though, it was a chance to be out of the house and near something not entirely man made for a while. To be honest I have a thing for the earthy tones all over the place and I like them very much... they just don't make for good pics. (They're my pics of this sort of stuff and I get tired of looking at them so I know others do... :o)

Playing with focus....
Deer Creek
A fairly new stand of Poplar...
So I was out for a few hours today anyway. I spent almost as much time driving as walking and shooting pics. Still, in a house full of sick kids and crap to do, it was a nice break before I had to start cleaning up the garage...
Counting the days until the one and only official over-nighter I will get this year... repacking gear again tonight. :o)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Walk by faith, not by sight

“Cursed be the ground for our sake. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for us. For out of the ground we were taken, for the dust we are… and to the dust we shall return”
Genesis 3:17-19, King James Bible

I'm not a real movie reviewer sort of guy. I don't mind writing about books and trying to be objective but movies... they are just this whole other level of thing that I prefer to simply enjoy. I had the good fortune the other night to see The Book of Eli and was moved. So here, int he paragraphs that follow are my thoughts and why I say see it if you haven't.

Imagine a world where mankind unwittingly turns down its own volume and produces, in the process, a barley livable wasteland from the world of remarkable luxury we enjoy today. What would happen?
While things spin out of control and the world balances the population with the sustainable resources that are left, men who are evil and strong will rise and men who can may very well hear the voice of God and do its bidding. The Book of Eli explores this idea and the results are remarkable.
Most everyone knows the words to the 23rd Psalm. For the first time, those words rang off the screen in stark contrast to the world and surroundings in which they were presented. The beauty of the idea and verse became obvious and offset starkly the burned out and decaying world in which they were spoken.
It's in that moment that you may begin to realize, as I did, that the Bible is not written to be relevant to modern living. Seeking the truth of the non-fat late lifestyle in its pages may be a perversion of a powerful thing. When life becomes as bad as you can imagine it, when you are holding on to nothing with everything you have and the reward is your beating heart, the words of the bible are there. It is a staggering moment when you realize we are all prosperous, not because God has made it so, but because we revel in the distance is places between us and our creator.
The Book of Eli is an excellent movie and I would recommend it to all. There is more than enough blood and violence to keep it interesting and, as I think I have expressed here, the spiritual points it raises, possibly unintentionally, are pretty solid as well. You should see it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My New Knife

One of my favorite things to do, in all of the world, is to make a good knife. I have pretty well stopped now since we have two kids under 10 and my job appears that it may actually turn into a career and the wife was carrying way too much of the load... I had to stop for a while. Guys just have to keep priority where it belongs and on the work bench, making knives for customers at cost to gain experience, is not where things need to be.

One perk to finally having quite a few knife projects under my belt is that for the simple ones, the three piecers and full tang jobbies, I have really begun to be able to produce something I would pay for. Take this guy up above here. For as long as I have been really interested in making I have admired the work of Lance Ockenden. His bird and trout model has inspired me on multiple occasions and I have made one other effort to copy it. That was a good one but not exactly what I wanted so... I traded it for a logo or two and moved on. I spent a month with a pad drawing and redrawing the lines trying to get something that really worked for me from all the angles and came up with this guy.

Now, it's not done. There are some finish sanding things to do and the lanyard hole needs a bevel and so on but I can say, for the first time in a long time, this one stays with me. It's what I was after.

The steel is 1/8" A2, hardened to 59 HRC. The scales are black locust burl with couple of 1/8" brass pins and a 1/4" brass lanyard tube. The spacers you can't see here are 1/16" G10 in a dark cedar green. I think the combo of the wood and spacer is just wonderful. The bevel is a slightly convex Scandi grind that I cut 100% by hand. The jig it's sitting on there is what I use to shape the initial bevel before HT. After it returns, I use some 200 grit sand paper and a mouse pad and shape things down to a sharp edge. (by my count this one too 34 sheets of 200 grit to shape...) Once the shaping is completed, I advance up the grits to 400 and then 600 and then 800 and so on, finishing up the edge with some flitz metal polisher. I am anxious to see how sharp it gets when I am done.

In concept, I find that while I enjoy just beating the tar out of a knife battoning or whatever, in the end I usually use my axe and Mora craftline more than anything else. I wanted something personal that was a bit more rugged but still elegant in form. I think we have it here. I'll post more when I finish up. Thanks for looking.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Messin with Fatwood

One of my favorite October exercises is working in the garage, trying to get it ready for winter. You'd be amazed at the crap that collects... Anyhow, part of this for this year was finally getting to clean up my workbench. There was dust under the grinder from two months before my son was born (April since he came in June) and I had not had a chance to really get out there into it. When the food pantry shelving collapsed on Monday, I decided it was time work... so I did.

In the process of cleaning out, I found three or four chunks of wood I had cut from a pine at my folks place back in early, early spring because I thought they were fat wood and I wanted to try them out... I wanted to know if I knew how to spot it. So today when I found them and the bench was cleaned off I decided it was time to have a little fun.

I grabbed trusty my Mora and shaved and scraped a little and then, I grabbed my uber-firesteel and hit the pile with some sparks.
Imagine my thrill when it took off. It ain't a figure four or a lean to or even an excellent bit of scenery but I'll tell you, that little puff of smoke and the tiny flame that sent it were just the ticket. I remember the bush a little more now and it feels less far away this weekend. This is a good thing since we'll be spending most of Sunday with the work gang, doing our quarterly upgrade stuff tonight and tomorrow. Of course, it's that kind of work that let's my buy nice knives and packs so I can't bitch too loud. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The (Much Delayed) Labor Day Video

Nothin' sexy here. Just me, the axe, the knife, and the fire spending an afternoon out on Labor Day. First time ever lighting cedar bark and cooking banock. I was all excited. Thanks for looking and take care.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Administratus Annoyous Maximus

Just an FYI... Up until recently I have maitained a number of blogs, dedicated to a number of things. I've decided that sucks. :) Given that, I've imported the contents of each in here and will stay consolidated here going forward. Please feel free to have a read... seeing it all together I now see I do talk a lot. Enjoy.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

My New Knife - The Turley Model 25: Mississippi

I got a new knife last week from my good buddy Iz Turley at Turley Knives. He originally called is his one shot bushcraft knife. When I suggested the name Ohio he decided on the name Mississippi... :-)

While I am not ready to call the search for the perfect edged tool over, I will be pausing on this one for a lot more testing... It's pretty darned great. Have a look...

If you find yourself in need of a knife I would seriously consider contacting Iz.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Day out in August ...

Friday was a good day. I managed to keep everyone happy and...

I still managed to find my way into the bush for a while. This is / was a good thing.

Coffee made over an open fire in liteweight, camp grade gear,

and served up in a saintless cup with a wire handle, is just fundamentally better I think anyway.

I thought I might have a go at spoon carving (cedar is nice to work with... great smell)

but that ended like all of my other spoon attempts so far.

My favortie part of any day out is when I find myself, even in woods I regard as familiar, in a spot untrampted and new to me. Underbrush like untrodden snow.... Trees and scrubs everyewhere.

It's a small bit of paradise.

With any luck, I'll get back out there sooner rather than later. Take care.

Oh yeah... I made a little vid about it too... Check it out.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer has come and passed...

Sometimes I lull myself into this false sense of how things will be. For example, when my wife began working frantically to make things ready for my son to be born in early June, I said she was insane. We would be spending most all of our time at home while he was little little and we'd have all sorts of time to get things done. Man on Man was I off base.

I have, in almost 3 months, been in the bush one time. The day was great but abbreviated and even while I was cataloging tree leaves for future ID, I could only think about getting back home. My little ones are just demanding as hell but there's nowhere I would rather be.

I've begun thinking about fall since the whitetail hunting edition of F&S showed up. I have a new knife down on paper I need to try that should work well in the bush too. Beyond that, it's all baby, all the time. Fall should find this getting better and with the onset of squirrel season here in Ohio, I can see at least a few days going my way and getting out and around the trees. Let's say a little prayer to that effect while we're considering the subject. If fall gets away too... well... I may just be bothered... ;-)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Waldgeist Finished

Well, I got it done with about 8 hours to spare. I finished it about midnight on June 7 and on the 8th my son arrived in the world. Check it out...

It came out pretty well I think considering all of the new stuff I wrapped into it. The pins turned out to be micarta and the lanyard tube is titanium. (talk about a spark show when you work it down... wow.)

And then, just as quick as it was done... it was gone. A friend in Iowa decided to take it instead of a knife design I owed him. Let's hope he likes it.

I've refined the design a bit and am working on the next iteration. First among the changes... no more red box elder. :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Season for New Beginnings, I Guess

It's going to be a crazy summer here at Casa del Joel. The wife is getting ready to, any day now, deliver my son into the world and with that our workload as parents will climb by a power of two. Coupled with that, the job is really going well and I am making great strides there but it takes a ton of work. I am getting almost no bush time anymore. This bothers me... a lot. So I have set to thinking about this lack of dirt time for about a month now and have come up with an idea.

I think the notion has been stuck in my head for a while now that I need to be in the woods to work on these skills I want to acquire. Turns out this is not the case. Hunting as an indoctrination to woodsmanship seems to have set my mind up that way. I'll see if I can fix that as I go along...

Not being one to waste time when there are things to do, I have decided to strike out on a series of challenges for myself. I'll break them down over the remaining months of the year and see what I can get done. The areas I want to focus on this year are (in no special order):
  1. Friction Fire
  2. Natural tinder / firesteel fire
  3. Heartwood or "1 stick" fire
  4. Flint and Steel fire
  5. char cloth / char tinder making and use
  6. Tarp Shelters
  7. Deadfall Shelter
  8. Cordage of some sort
  9. plant foraging
  10. Kuksa Carving
For at least a couple of these I am going to have to make it back into the timber however, for a chunk of them I can work from my back porch or garage. I have a couple of days to think it out and pick one for June. I am leaning towards #2 as my first task. No matter though. It's time to start doing and with the lack of any real content on BCUSA these days, I seem to be on my own again for ideas. This may not be a bad thing and I have made some good friends there to help out if I get stuck. (Thanks Guys) Anyhow, take care if you want to join in, email me.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cheap Axe Day

I decided, for my last trip to the woods before the baby is born, I wanted to test out some axes or at least one axe that only cost a few dollars to set up. I acquired three heads and picked the Collins Homestead model as my first try.

I didn't know much about working an axe bit down to the right width and it shows here. The edge is really sharp, but things are still too chunky. After my son arrives, I am hopeful to get back into it again and see if I can do it better next time.

Anyhow, enjoy the vid and get out for me, cause it's gonna be a while I think... :D

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Waldgeist is Born

For a while now I've been working with making knives. Like most folks who first discover the world of customs, I was totally infatuated with shiny, pretty knives. While I am still very impressed by the level of craftsmanship that goes into them, I am thinking I have moved beyond that fascination.

I've been a member on for about 8 or 9 months now and in that time, my ideas of what makes good knife have shifted quite a bit. This is due in very large part to seeing how the guys who use one (I mean really USE a knife) make it do what they want and in discussions the guys who make the knives for them. To that end, I have been working with different designs, trying to find what works best for my hand and for how I do things out and about. To be fair, I have had customers placing orders along the way that either showed my for sure what I didn't want or contributed something to the ideas I had.

I've built big knives and didn't like them. I've played with the woodlore clone in about ten variations and didn't really dislike it I was just not all that sure I couldn't make things work a little better for me. Then, by happy chance, one day I had about 9 inches of 1 inch by 1/8 inch A2 and nothing to do with it. I decided to fuse two or three designs I love and came up with this one.

This is by far and away the best user I have ever made. It fits like a charm and is tough as Hades. The scandi is convexed to an edge and it is just plain durable. I've really put it through its paces and identified only two real shortcomings in the design. It needs a longer blade and the handle needs to be shaped just a little bit differently under the lanyard tube.

Now you would think a design as direct as this one would be easy to adjust to just so parameters and rebuild. It turns out, not really. I have drawn it about a dozen times, trying to get the proportion and length correct. After numerous failures, I finally hit the one I was after. Check it out here:

It's about 9 1/2 inches overall and is split about 50 50 at the guard. The blade is an inch wide and the grip is long and thin. Like all designs I decide to grind out, it looks good on paper but the proof is in how it comes out once it has some thickness and takes shape in steel. So I decided to grind it out...

It's a bad photo but here it is in the current state. I ordered two billets of CPM 3v to make this one. This one is 5/32 inch thick. I have the pins and lanyard tub ground and beveled as well. You can see I moved the lanyard up on the handle from the design on this one. I've got the scandi grind started and should finish it up today. I am suspecting there will be about 160 hours of sanding to smooth this steel up. It's rough stuff. I have 3/16 titanium pins for the scales and decided on titanium tubing for the lanyard as well. I ordered what I think will be the scales last night. Check them out:

I loves me some spaulted boxelder... :)

Anyhow, I've decided to call this model the Waldgeist. Look it up. You'll see what I mean. Thanks for lookin' and take care.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Old Forester Collection - WIP

For a while now, I have been working on my favorite project of the last 6 months with my good buddy The Old Forester. The project started as a matching two knife set and quickly became a trio of matched blades.

I'll post the particulars another day but is suffices to say that these will be blades to be reckoned with. The feel of the dropped pommel is just excellent. I've got them all profiled out and am taking a break for a day to think about my next moves. Over the weekend I will bevel and finish sand them and get them ready to go to Peters' for hardening.

Thanks for looking and stay tuned for more....


Friday, April 16, 2010

My Spoon Day

I managed to get a day out this week and got to use it for someting fun. My original plan was to try out The Bushcraft Group's Challenge #1 and build some kind of fireplace... not such a good idea with the back still on the mend. So, I walked around and found a nice branch for some carving.... The Spoonage did follow. Have a look. Thanks and take care.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Missing it badly these days

Life has been this sort of crazy busy that I am not a fan of. The last time I made it out was on March 20 and then only for a short day. The upside was that the youngster came along and that's always a good thing.

I cracked up a fire for making hot dogs. It was almost 70 degrees so nothing too big or involved this time.

I had an audience cooking up dog over the fire. Never a prettier woods buddy for anyone... ever. She loves the blue boots.

After a while, she headed back to the house and I was left on my own for a while. It seems odd that what I do most, out among the trees, is spend my time watching the wind and trying not to think. I find it to be... the best.

The good news for me is that next week I am on-call so I will be busy... but the week after that, I will be free. And I'll be headed out to the trees. Goodness knows what I will do but you can bet the rig will be packed and ready. I've made a few updates for summer so I'll probably do a post about it when I get all set. Thanks for looking. Take care.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

And... we're behind.... again...

Wow! Time just flies by anymore. I got the first round back from HT this weekend and decided to finish up the knife I did up for the BCUSA skills thing first off. Check it out here...

The A2 in this thing just finishes fantastically. The Oak works with it so well. I am really pleased with this one.
I just need to get it on the stone and finalize the sharp and it's done. Let's hope whoever gets it is happy.

Gotta roll. Two more to finish, two more to grind and... at least one more set to send off.... Later.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bush Craft by Mors Kochanski

This book is a must read for most all bushcrafters out there in the world. I can't lie, it's not an easy read. It is packed (PACKED) with information and pretty well requires you to take action every other page. It's that full of stuff to know. I am on read #2 and still making notes. On the flip side of this, it is 100% business. If you're looking for a good story of the woods experience, this isn't your book. Still, it's packed with illustrations and info. So, to it then:

  • Readability - 4 of 5 - It's well written and about as easy to read as a text book on a subject you want to learn.
  • Editing - 5 of 5 - superb work editing this book. Flow is very well done.
  • Subject Matter - 5 of 5 - Seriously, a must read for anyone looking to spend time out of doors in that dirt-timey sort of way.
  • Did I like it - 4 of 5 - I liked it a lot. It's a dry read but I find that I can use most all of it.

I'll say it again, a must read for any wood-be outdoorsman / bushcrafter / survivalist / etc. This book is a wealth of knowledge. Worth every dime in my opinion.

The Reality of Rain

Spring is great... except for the weekend rain. I had the best time planned out in my mind for today but it is not going to happen. The simple truth is, I like to hunt in the rain but hunting and making fire and shelter and all of the stuff I do in the off season is not much fun when it's cold and wet. When it warms up I'll get out and practice it once or twice but today... I guess it's back to the shop... Knives to finish, Customers to silence, etc. Maybe another day....