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.

-JP

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 bushcraftusa.com 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.