Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bushcraft Ideas on a Budget - A Guest Post by The Wandering Thinker

Today in the News - The Sharpened Axe and Mike Oscar Hotel are officially on Facebook.  I'm doing this to try and expand our crowd of readers and writers,  There may be bushcrafters out there who just haven't thought to look for blogs and discussion forums.  Again, I encourage anyone to write a guest post about axes, bushcraft, whatever.  Email me and we'll discuss the subject.  .  

Link of the Day: I got an email from Chris over at . This blog is totally worth checking out.  Chris and I both featured the woodtrekker's blog on putting together a small forest axe on the cheap.  We are all like minded individuals in this thing we're exploring.  Give Chris a visit and don't forget to click "follow" in the upper left hand corner.  You won't regret it. 

I'd like to introduce today's article with a sincere thanks from the depths of my pocket.  I don't have a high paying job, beyond that I've got many mouths to feed and real world responsibilities to keep up with.  I drive a truck with 250,000 miles on it and I love it.  I am not complaining, what I'm getting at is that for most of my life people told me what I couldn't do.  Never listen to people that talk like that.  If you need a knife handle, figure out how to build one, if you need a spoon, learn to carve one.  I'd rather save my money and spend my knowledge learning how to do something.  When you learn how to carve a spoon, you'll always have a spoon.  When you need a knife handle, you'll have one.  We seem to be losing this as the days go past.

So I'd like to introduce:

Bushcraft Ideas on  a Budget - A Guest Post by The Wandering Thinker

This time around I wanted to look at several things, but I’ve decided I’m going to let you in on my world of making a few hand tools.

    Or rather, repurposing what you already have into tools you can use. The first thing I made was a hacksaw knife for carving spoons; mostly the bowls. I started with a broken hacksaw blade and broke it again to length, about four inches I think. I chose white cedar to do all of my scales and handles because it was the best thing I had on hand at the time.

    Take whatever wood you are using and split it down into two equal halves, these are your scales, and epoxy them onto the blade. I prefer epoxy for this because there’s less work involved, but you could also pin them by drilling two holes that go through the scales and blade, inserting a length of brass, and hammering it in with a center punch until tight.

    After this you want to go ahead and sand down the scales until you get a shape and size your comfortable with. If the blade seems a bit too long (like mine was when I measured it on a spoon bowl I had already caved) cut it off with a Dremel or any rotary tool, just be sure not to get the blade hot or it will lose all of its tempering.

Measuring on a spoon I already made.

Cleaning up the cut.

    Once you have your desired length you can hit it on a belt sander a few times and it will take a nice edge quick. The angles aren’t that important because you won’t be using this knife for very much, but I try to hold to about 22 degrees. After that, just try it out and tweak as desired. I chose to leave the paint on the blade and not treat the scales because I won’t be using it much and it’s just something to get me by, but I may change that later.

The next easy tool you can make is a hand drill.

    All you have to do with this one is cut a section of wood that fits your hand comfortably, get any size drill bit you will need, and a bit of epoxy or epoxy putty. What I did with mine is drill a (straight and centered) hole in your wood with the bit you will be using, put a bit of the compound in the bottom of the hole, insert the bit, and let it set.

    If you don’t have a drill press you can usually go to your local college’s engineering shop and use theirs. After the epoxy hardens put a little dab on top to seal any gaps and strengthen the hold. Then, sand your handle down to a large but workable diameter. I do a slight triangle shape in the wood for better grip, but if you don’t put anything on your handle a round shape will work.

    Now you have a drill you can take anywhere there isn’t power and you didn’t have to shell out the money for a brace and bit. If you’re feeling creative it’s a nice touch to drill and shape another section of the same wood, but don’t add any epoxy so you can have a nice protective cover for the bit. A warning though, it will frustrate you to no end trying to make the two pieces sit flush if you don’t have a steady hand; which is why I don’t have one to show this time around.

    Another simple mod I did goes along with spoon carving and involves, well, a spoon. I picked up some cheap dinner spoons at wal-mart and filed one edge down to make a bowl carver. It’s just a matter of patience here but once you have the edge sharp enough, you can twist the tip in the wood until you have a small hole bored, then use the edge to scrape and contour the bowl fairly easily.

    One little tip to save some money is on making a sanding wheel for your grinder. Instead of buying one, you can pick up a cheap cotton buffing wheel, cover it in white glue, and roll it in sifted sand. Once dry I have heard you should break it up a bit by hammering it, so it will flex when sanding, but I have yet to have any luck with that because the wheel I used was covered in polishing compound and it makes the glue fall off. I do advise coating the wheel several times because the glue isn’t that strong and when grinding a lot of sand will come off. If you layer it now you won’t have to as much later.

    Anyone have a cheap half tang knife out there with a broken or missing handle? Well I did and I guess this one is just showing off but instead of trying to cut and shape scales and make a new hand guard for it, I just drilled out the center of a larger piece of white cedar and sanded down the front until I had a hand guard in the wood. Again, setting this flush with the end cap was a nightmare and I still have yet to get it just right, maybe one of these days I’ll have the time.

    I also wanted to throw out a little tip for surviving in the outdoors. If you ever get lost or find yourself in a dangerous situation, one of the first things you need is fire. Now assuming you have all the other required components (lighter, flint, fire steel, etc) there still is the question of how to get it going before you freeze to death. Well, anyone out there can tell you how to spark it, but if you don’t have the right tinder it will take a long time to get it going. The next time you’re out walking and see find some pine knots (these were from what my dad called a bull pine) get a few. If you don’t know what pine knots are, see the pics and look for the giant wood “growths” on a fallen or dead tree. When you make it back home cut one of these up, you’ll notice a rich smell and almost sticky texture to the wood, and this is rosin or sap. It’s an AMAZING fire starter and only needs about thirty seconds or so of constant flame to catch and it burns quite hot, giving you ample time to get the rest of your tinder going. I recommend storing these sections in at least two zip bags. 1.) to keep them dry and 2.) to keep them from drying out. You want to keep as much sap locked in as possible. It’s hard to tell from some of the following pictures but I halved the knot, then cut it into approx. ½ in. to ¾ in. wafers, and then the wafers into ½ in. to 3/4 in. blocks (trying to make them as square as possible, but it doesn’t always work that way).

    I must apologize for the quality of most of the indoor pictures. My camera works great outside but for some reason I can’t get a decent one inside. Anyway, thanks for reading and if you have ANY questions feel free to ask.

That's all for today folks, Hope you get fat on a turkey you shot yourself.
Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel....out.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff! I admire how you used existing items/materials that you already had to make such great tools, handles etc. Inspiration for us all!