Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick Camp Tip - A Camp Hanger

When I setup camp, I like to keep my gear up off the ground as much as possible.  I don't think we should be driving nails in or breaking branches of of trees just to have a place to hang a jacket or pack.  
One of the first things I do when I setup camp is find a couple of sturdy forked sticks laying on the ground and make a couple of gear hangers.  I just cut the forked part of the sticks off and split them down the middle. Securely lash the "Hanger" to a nearby tree about chest height and presto... Instant hanger for anything you want off the ground.  I usually end up hanging my pack first to make it easier to get everything else out to setup camp.  With practice you can have a couple of hangers ready in a few minutes. 
When you head out, just untie the hanger and toss the rope in your pack with no damage to the tree. Give it a shot and let me know how It works for you.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Basic Leatherwork - Part 1

I thought I'd do a couple of leatherwork tutorials, it's something that I haven't really touched on before and thought it'd be fun.  I am by no means an expert working with leather, I can and do make a variety of items such as sheaths, bags, etc. This first project is an easy one, a simple laced together bag that takes minimal tools and time.

We'll start by grabbing a scrap of leather and a couple of leather laces, the only tools I'll use are a leather punch, some heavy duty scissors and a pair of needle nose pliers.

Draw out the shape of both sides of the bag on the back side of the leather.

Cut it out just outside of the pencil lines, it doesn't have to be perfect, just close.

Here I have folded it over and cut it in half, making the two sides of he bag.

Punch holes in one side of the bag, Try to keep them as evenly spaced as possible, although they do not have to be perfect.

Lay the fronts of both sides together and mark the holes on the unpunched side.  Again it doesn't have to be perfect but you'll want to make sure you have the same amount of holes on each side.

Holes punched in both sides.

On this bag I started lacing on the second hole down, I'll leave the top holes for the strap.  Knot one end of your lace and start lacing.  Tightening the lacing every so often.

Here's the bag laced up and with the strap attached, I slid the strap through the top two holes and knotted both ends. My lacing wasn't long enough to lace around the entire bag in one piece so I used two, knotted them at the center bottom and left them long for some fringe. If your lacing is long enough, you won't have to do this.

Now we have a flat laced bag, here's the part that gives it some shape and makes it easier to get things in and out of it. Take your new bag and run it under some warm water, making sure it gets soaked.  Go out to your driveway, creek or whatever you have and pack the bag full of small gravel or clean sand.  Work the gravel or sand in tightly and you'll notice the leather start to stretch.

Find a warm place to hang it up until it dries.

After the bag is dry, dump out the gravel or sand, it should hold it's shape now. Treat the bag with some neatsfoot oil or beeswax and your done.

That's it, a simple leather project that can be completed in less than an hour (not counting drying time). Next time in Part 2, we'll go over some simple stitching and make an open sheath for a pocketknife or flashlight.

Thanks for reading,  N.E.V.