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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.

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