Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 20 - Three Fires Friday... The Thistle goes to the bush...

Well, yesterday was an exceptional day. The stars and events aligned in such a way as to allow me to take a day (a whole day...) in the bush, guilt free. I had the new blade out for her maiden voyage and I would say it went exactly as I had hoped it would. (This will be sort of a long post so if you are short on time, feel free to just read this picture captions...) My video camera has taken a powder so photos are all I have for a while...

It's been raining for about 40 days and 40 nights here in Ohio. Yesterday though... no rain. Everything was still plenty wet but the sun was out and life was good. I even took the long way to may woods in the morning. Just a gorgeous day...

All things being equal, the goal for the day was to get into the woods early and test the new blade's ability to handle some of the more demanding stuff I do with a knife. Admittedly, I am not a real abuser of blades so, for some, this will look like a walk in the park... Anyhow, onward. :)

The tools for the day then... my new blade, my firesteel, and some assorted stuff for after the tests.

For the first test, I tracked down a good pine tree and cut a bunch of dead branches into usable lengths with my hand saw. One I had the chunk I wanted to feather up, I cut into the dry heart of the branch and tried to make what I have seen called fine feathers. (Itty bitty little thin things. They curl like crazy.) Like I said, everything was still wet. The knife handled it very well...

(All of the prep for Fire #1... I was going for the twig method here because I wanted to get to fire #2 before the sun really had a chance to start to dry things much)

and the feathers lit right up.

Twigs on and burning...

and the desired end result for #1. I discovered a few times on this day that it is hard to overstate the importance of fire prep and here's the first example I found. Those larger twigs were soaked when they landed on that fire. Having enough smaller, dry stuff to get the started drying was key to making this work.

So, with what I would consider the easy test for a new blade out of the way, it was time to search around a bit and find some dead-standing hardwood. I was able to locate a small oak about 20' long that had not made it and was lucky enough to be able to get it down without an axe. Using some closely spaced trees, I broke it into these pieces.

At this point, most normal people (probably well before this for most normal people... :) ) would have grabbed the saw or hatchet to get things worked down some. I, however, was on a mission of knife abuse.

I was pleasantly surprised that it handled battoned crosscutting pretty well. I worked them down to breakable thickness in no time.

I was able to baton the resulting pieces without too much trouble at all. It handled the knots and the grain very well.

It produced a really nice pile of stuff. I split a bunch more of it down into smaller stuff and then, the true test...

heartwood feathers as fine as I could cut them. (no sharpening to this point...) I think it did pretty well. One a side note here, I now understand why guys make giant piles of these things to light a fire. Even though a golf ball sized pile will do it, the prep work for what happens once it goes has to be perfect if the fire starts this small. I will make more next time. ;)

Anyhow, they lit...

And the subsequent burning thing ensued. At this point I paused, did a little back flip, and just watched the fire go for a while. My real sense of accomplishment for the day? A one stick fire from hardwood and a knife that I made, making it happen.

Firesteel gunk on the blade is ugly. I had to hit those more than a few times to make them burn. The good news it, it wipes off....

So with all the stuff I set out to do for the day completed, I set off for my favorite hanging out spot on this place and made myself some lunch. Just to make it a full day, I brought along some brass wire to try out a few things. The pot hanger works, very well. You can just see the wire where it crosses the vegetation there.

Needless to say, this fire was not started the hard way. After working with scrapings all morning and fire prepping and so on, it was nice to just strike a match to the PJ soaked cotton and watch it go and wait on my coffee.

Special thanks to Bindlestich1 and IAWoodsman for all of the great vids and info around this stuff and answering my endless list of questions. If you have not had a chance to view them on youtube, take a moment and have a look... two guys with crazy skills and all the desire in the world to share them.

Thanks for reading.


1 comment:

Lawrence said...

Come on. No Guilt?
SHMBO must be slipping.
All and all, good day out in the Cedars.
Congratulations on the new knife.

Old Forester