Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bushcraft Kits

Recently, I've had a few people ask me advice about putting together their own Bushcraft/Outdoors kit. They always ask me what is in my kit.  While I'm I telling them what I carry, I try to explain that kits are personal and different people will carry different items depending on what they think they will need or what they are comfortable with.  I always stress that, no matter what they decide to carry, it should cover their basic needs.  I also let them know that just because I carry a certain item, it doesn't mean they would necessarily carry it or use it.  I've found out when I started out practicing Bushcraft, I carried way too much gear in my kit, I started paring it down a little on every trip until I carried what I considered the bare essentials.  I then started adding pieces that I wanted to carry for either comfort or convenience, eventually settling on my current kit that I've been using for awhile now with little change to it.  I've found that a modular approach works the best for me, starting with my basic kit and adding other gear depending on what I plan on doing.  For example, a day hike means I grab my kit, add a map of where I'm going, a snack or two and head out the door.  If I'm doing an overnight then it's my basic kit with a sleeping bag, some food and maybe a small tent in a larger rucksack. If I'm headed out for a multiple day trip with my family, then it's my basic kit, plenty of food, water filter, cooking stove, larger tent, extra clothes and sleeping bag in my frame pack. I'm constantly trying out new gear, testing it out to see it meets my needs but the one constant is my basic kit.  So enough explanation....Here's what I carry in my kit.

1. Backpack with Compass Attached
2. 8x8 Homemade Tarp
3. Sheath Knife, Hawk, SAK and Small Saw
4. Small Monocular
5. Matches, Bag of firestarters with Lighter and Magnesium Fire Starter
6. Bushcraft Journal
7. First Aid Kit (includes bug repellent)
8. Mylar "Space" Blanket
9. Small LED Flashlight, Emergency Candle and Light Sticks
10. Small "Shammy" towel
11. 55 Gal. Trash Bag
12. Spare pair of prescription eyeglasses
13. Hacky Sack
14. Metal cup, Metal bottle, Wooden spoon and Bushcraft stool
15. 50ft Light Rope, 50ft Paracord, Various sized rope and cord cutoffs in bag

That's it... everything fits in the bag with room to spare for snacks, etc.  It weighs in at about 10lbs. and I always have it with me in the woods.  Thanks for reading, Hope your day is going great!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ultralight Bushcraft Stool Version 2.0

After sucessfully testing the first ultralight bushcraft stool I made (See post here), I decided to make one a little sturdier.  The prototype was made from denim and it had started to stretch and tear a bit.  This one is made from a rectangular piece of leather, cut crossways, one side flipped and then sewed together.  The corners were rounded and the pockets cut to match out of the same piece of leather.  The entire thing was hand sewn then given a coat of beeswax.  I did make a few changes from the original,  I rounded the corners more and made the pockets a little bigger.  I tried this one out on our recent family vacation and it performed even better than the original.  It's made of medium weight leather, so it's not exactly ultralight...but it should last me a very long time.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Recycling Knives

I thought I'd post a tutorial on what I call recycling knives.  Anytime I see decent quality kitchen knives at yard sales or thrift stores I buy them and throw them in a box in my garage until inspiration strikes.  I haven't made any knives in quite a while and had a some free time on a Sunday afternoon.  Normally when I recycle a knife I'll take one of the kitchen knives, reshape the blade, rework the handle a bit and sharpen it up. I don't usually get too fancy as I prefer utilitarian type knives over show pieces.  This allows me to try different blade styles and shapes without spending a lot of money on knives and it's good knife making practice.  This time I decided to get a little fancier and see what I could come up with. I took a few pictures with my phone as I worked on it. I did no measuring on this knife, everything was hand drawn and all measurements were eyeballed. Let get started!

Here's the knife with the pattern drawn on the blade.  It's a 8" chefs knife that I bought at a yard sale for fifty cents.  It's got a fairly thick stainless steel blade that seems to be decent steel.

Here's the new knife blank after using a dremel and cut-off wheels to rough it out of the chef's knife blade. 

Here's the blank after coming off the grinder.  I held the blade in my bare hands to make sure it didn't overheat and lose it's temper.  When it started to get to hot to hold I'd back off and let the steel cool down. This is usually when you can tell if the knife you started with was made with good steel.  This one happens to be a good piece of stainless.

I decided to do a little file work on the back of the blade just above where the handle will go.

Putting a quick edge profile on the blade.  I don't want it sharp yet.  There's still a lot of work to do and I've been known to cut myself before.

Here's the blank cleaned up a bit and drilled for a lanyard hole. I dug up a couple of pieces of black walnut scrap for a handle and a short piece from a broken aluminum arrow for a lanyard hole liner.

Glued up with 2 ton epoxy and clamped.

Out of the clamps and rough shaped with the belt sander.

After a bit more sanding and shaping.

Here it is... Final sanded, polished to a satin finish with steel wool and finished with 3 coats of neatsfoot oil rubbed into he wood.  I'll give it a few more coats of oil over the next few days, but it's pretty much complete. 

Came out to right around 7" total with a 3.5" blade. Total amount of time it took (not counting waiting for the epoxy to set) was about 5 hours.  I just need to make up a sheath for it and give it a final sharpening.  Thanks for reading and I hope to see you in the woods.