Not the sort of sign you see often in the UK
May 2, 2016
Not the sort of sign you see often in the UK
March 15, 2016
Have you heard of Edward Abbey?
If not, get busy with your Google-Fu. You will enjoy the discoveries.
Whilst sorting out an over-congested room earlier today, I found this quote scribbled on a piece of paper. No idea what book it dropped out of.
Edward Abbey- “It ain’t wilderness unless there’s a critter out there that can kill you and eat you.”
March 6, 2016
We have an open fire and during the winter month we burn mostly logs. However, some are a bit large, or burn quite slowly and so we have a bit of coal on hand that we occasionally use to make the fire more effective.
This coal comes in thick plastic bags which are generally wet. It is remarkably tedious how it always seems to be raining when I have to get fresh coal, and even when it isn’t the bag is wet to start with, and even when they’re dry outside they tend to be wet inside.
What also happens a lot is that when a bag is open, there isn’t enough coal to fill the bucket and I will have to open another. This will coincide with the fact that I don’t have a knife on my person. At least not a knife I want to sully by using it to open a grotty, gritty plastic bag.
So what I thought I needed was a cheap blade that I could leave outside by where the logs and coal are stored, so that I could open the coal bags without having to traipse back indoors to get a cutting implement.
As well as being cheap it needed to be safe to use, given the usually wet conditions.
This is what I came up with. It’s a Stanley knife-type blade sandwiched between two pieces of flat plastic that came from some packaging. There is a hole in the blade and after drilling the plastic, I used a piece of bamboo to act as a pin for added strength. The bamboo came from a chopstick, which are most useful for making and fettling projects.
The whole thing is glued together using a glue gun, and as the glue itself is rather rubbery I added some as ribbing to give grip in the wet.
It looked a bit anaemic to start with so I thought I’d paint it, which proved to be interesting. I used car spray paint and the undercoat went on fine. Next I gave it a coat of white, which clearly did not work well with the undercoat. I am not sure why. Both seemed to be the same type of paint, not for example one cellulose and one enamel. It looked a bit rubbish to be honest, but I then gave it a coat of the orange day-glo paint, which is something I use when I’m making fishing floats, and the end results looks, well… interesting. It also almost looks intentional. Anyway I like it and it will make it easier to spots if it gets misplaced.
All I need to do now is think about how I stop it rusting, since it is going to live outdoors. I am thinking some kind of sheath lined with grease.
December 18, 2015
Often when I tell Little Boots about my childhood, it feels like I am discussing medieval history.
A recent case in point was when I was telling a story about when Star Wars first came out.
By Star Wars I mean the first movie, which to many of us will always be Star Wars and never A New Hope.
In those days, unlike today, films did not come out at the all the cinemas at the same time. Our local town was usually two weeks behind cinemas in the nearest large conurbation, which was itself behind London.
From somewhere, a rumour started that Star Wars was not coming to our local cinema because the screen was too small. This rapidly became gospel at our school, sending the pupils into paroxysm of anxiety and nervous excitement.
Somehow, my brother and I persuaded the Old Man that it was essential that we see the movie and to this day I’m really not sure how, because he probably hadn’t been to the flicks since the early sixties.
Anyway one evening the Old Man took us along to one of the “big” cinemas twenty miles way. It was big because it had more than one screen, which was impressive to us. As we turned the corner we saw a huge queue snaking back from the cinema. My brother and I were sure that we would never get in. Dad reassured us that we would, but frankly I was not convinced.
However the doors opened and before long we were in.
It was an amazing experience, because apart from Disney films, we had not really been to the “pictures” a great deal.
There were two outcomes from this “event” – I call it that because it does stand out significantly in my memories of my last years at primary school.
Firstly that my Dad loved it. Not surprisingly really, because it is basically a western and the old man loves a good western, but he also really raved about how the equipment all looked battered and used rather than pristine which was the usual model for Sci-Fi movies. Consequently, for a couple of years thereafter he agreed to take us to see any movie we suggested. Close Encounters and Grease stand out as examples.
The second, and far more important result, was that my brother and I saw Star Wars a full two weeks before it eventually came to our town cinema, dispelling the myth that it wouldn’t.
And for that period we absolutely ruled the school, with what felt like demi-god status. Thus we also spoiled it for everyone, by explaining the plot, and other facets of the film, in infinite detail. Not, I’m sure,that that made a jot of difference to the kids’ enjoyment of the movie once they saw it themselves.
This was a tale I recently told Little Boots and whilst a lot of the background seems from ancient past, the kudos with seeing a mega-movie ahead of the other kids still holds good.
December 16, 2015
Little Boots is a very creative soul.
Because of this some weeks back we attended a launch event for a film competition that LB’s school cine-club is going to enter. It consisted of some screening of short films and some Q & As from “experts”.
There was an interval during which various attendees sent in Tweets which were displayed on the large screen on which the films had been shown.
I tweeted something about Seeing Star Wars as a child. That is a post for another day.
Anyway my tweet name and avatar popped up (the latter forms part of the banner of this blog).
“Is that you?” asked LB. “Yes”, I replied.
A very confused look passed across my child’s face. “Why have you got that name and that picture of those old boots?”
I explained that the boots were my all-time favourites and that I’d worn them when doing some things that I’d loved like building RHS show gardens. Following on from that, I explained that there was a very famous gardener from Victorian times called Miss Jekyll and there was a well-known painting of a pair of her old boots. My picture was an “homage” to that, as my boots were in the same position and I’d set up the background to look the same.
LB, who knows what an homage is, nodded along as I described this.
“And the name”, I went on, “comes from the fact that the boots were an Australian brand called Blundstoned and Stoned Love is a track by a soul group called the Supremes, and because I loved the boots and soul music I put the two together – Blundstoned Love”.
LB thought for a moment before saying. “That’s really cool.”
“Yea, I used to be cool,” I replied, not smelling a rat.
“So can I have a Twitter account?”
November 2, 2015
October 4, 2015
This is a blade I swapped with someone on a bushcraft forum, with the intention of rehandling.
I didn’t take a picture of how it looked to begin with, but you can get an idea from this first illustration which is a before and after type thing, with the blade after I had taken some metal off on a photocopy which I used to work out how much steel to remove.
Having done so, I ordered a brass bolster from Moonraker Knives (great service) and found a suitable piece of wood for the handle. I chose a seasoned piece of Ash because it is a wood that is light, strong with a certain amount of spring, which is why it is tradionally used for tool handles.
After drilling and filing a suitable slot in the Ash to ensure the knife tang was a tight fit I began to shape the handle. At this stage I did not fix the blade in place, in case I had a mishap with the wood.
Here I learned something, namely to consider whether blade or bolster needs any final work, before joining the parts together. The latter needs some filing and smoothing to get rid of some of the machining marks of manufacture and I should have done this before I glued the whole shebang together.
Anyway, with lesson learned, the thing was now a whole rather than several parts.
It was however quite ugly, so the next thing was to make the handle thinner and a bit better looking. My instinct was to make it very slim, to visually “balance” the blade, but I was chary of taking off too much “meat” and with it the strength. Having spent so much time on the knife I did not want it failing on me.
At last I’d got it to a point I was happy with, and so after a final going over with fine sandpaper it was time to oil the handle. This is my favourite part of working with wood, when the grain’s colour springs out with the first coat.
So then, after a good number of coatings over several days, it was done. The next thing to consider was making a sheath.
Now that is going to be a challenge.