DSCN1275 (2)
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.

DSCN1289 (2)

Advertisements

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.

SDC10059 (2)
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.

SDC10064 (2)

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.

SDC10070 (2)
Eventually after a lot of work with knife and sandpaper I was somewhere near where I wanted to be and glued the blade in place with epoxy.

SDC10189 (2)

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.

SDC10197 (2)
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.

DSCN1157 (2)
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.

DSCN1181 DSCN1180

SDC10088 (2)

Last year, for the first time, I started a fire using just a piece of steel and a piece of flint. The steel I used was a chunk of old file and I enjoyed this challenge so much that i bought a proper firesteel for future use.

Now I should clarify here that by firesteel I mean a piece of hard steel fashioned for the purpose, rather than a ferrocium rod which some people call a firesteel.

“Ferrocerium is a man-made metallic material that gives off hot sparks at temperatures of 1,650 °C when scraped against a rough surface, such as ridged steel”.

It’s the same material as the “flint” in cigarette lighters and using a rod of the stuff to start a fire with is only marginally more difficult than a box of matches.

Having spent a few quid on my firesteel I wanted to protect it from rusting and also given its hook-shaped ends stop it from getting snagged on stuff.

So I made a little pouch for it, using (as before) the leather from a pair of gardening gloves from the Poundshop .

The “button” is a double-six domino piece that I found when camping last year. We pitched our tent as it was getting dusk and noticed a bit of rubbish, but it wasn’t till the next day that we saw the full extent. There were fag ends, bits of paper, food and loads of scarps of wood all over the pitch. Much as I hate clearing up after other people – or rather littering pigs – I did, over the couple of days, tidy it all away via the campfire and whilst doing so found the domino. It seemed like a nice little thing and so rather than bin it, thought I’d keep it as a good luck piece. After all a double six has to be lucky right?

So when I was making the firesteel pouch and pondering what to use as a fastening, the idea popped into my head to re-purpose it. A bead was needed, as a securing device, to complete the lace fastening and so I used one I had made from a piece of spalted birch.

SDC10083 (2)

Yonderland begins it’s second series tonight on Sky1.

Little Boots enjoyed the first series very much and fell in love with the Parvuli, furry little singing and flute playing creatures, that featured in the final episode.

So that last year when they made some cotton bags at school LB’s featured a Parvuli on the front.
We will be looking out for them this series.

SDC10085 (2)

coke

The plan was to get up before the sun and get to the river.

However I had not reckoned on friends turning up and a spontaneous drink or two, which put paid to any hopes of an early start. By the time I’d got a few chores out of the way the weather had turned grotty, and that, plus my gammy leg put me off going any adventure that woudl involve getting cold and wet.

But I was bored. I could have read a book or something, but I needed to occupy my hands as well as my mind.

So I made this little meths stove out of a couple of coke cans. I’d read about them a few days before on an outdoorsy blog, and never having heard of such a thing found myself searching for more info and soon turned up instructions for making them.

It looked like a fun thing to do and so it proved. It was fairly simple to create, but did take some care and concentration. And a little bit of thought actually because the instructions were not completely clear.

Having made one, I suppose I should try it out, but I might make a better one first. Plus I’d need to make a pot/pan stand for it and that will take some thought, because all the ones I’ve seen so far have been a bit ropey.