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Taking matters into your own hands

By plantigrade 2014.11.28 in Camp equipment

I rehandled my Gränsfors Forest Axe, because I managed to damage the original one, but also this was a great opportunity to get a handle that fits my hands better. Personally I think the standard handles are often too slim, so I made a new one, suiting my personal needs. I made it of Danish ash, and I find the thought of using local materials very apealing.

Well, the main reason for me to write this post, is that I think you should never compromise when it comes to personal equipment. Just because something is made in a certain way by the manufacturer, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for you and your needs. Since it can be hard alsways to find stuff that fits you perfectly, why not just make changes to it yourself? After all you, and only you really know what you need. I think this goes for almost everything, whether it’s the straps on your backpack or the deck lines of your kayak. I really enjoy the feeling, when I know that I’ve just optimized a piece of gear for myself and I’ve done it with my own hands. This is what we allways have been doing and what I think, makes us something special as a species.

And, if you’re worried about your skills… I promise you it all comes with practice.

økse

Carving knife

By plantigrade 2014.11.28 in Carving

carv

I just finished the sheath for my carving knife. The knife itself isn’t at all fancy. I’ve kept it simple and quite rough and bulky to increase the grip on the handle. That means I hardly even sanded it, and didn’t oil it at all. It is after all a tool and nothing else. For the same reason I also left the wooden part of the sheath rough and unfinished. I actually carved the wood, for it to have that roustique look.

I really enjoy making stuff like this all by hand. Though the blade has been bought, it’s such a great feeling to create something as useful as this.

The handle and the wooden sheath are oak and the blade is a Brusletto “Trollungen”, which makes an excellent carving knife.

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More carving

By plantigrade 2014.11.16 in Camp equipment

Here you have some more of my resently finished stuff. To me, this is truly a great way to pass time, and keep the hands occupied while the mind takes a rest.

carvings2

 

spoons

 

kuksa3

Carving

By plantigrade 2014.11.16 in Camp equipment

Here are my latest carving creations, which I finished yesterday. I bent the spatula by steaming the wood over a boiling Trangia pot and also poured the hot water over the area that was to be bent. I did this to show just how simple it can be done. Even with the stuff that most carry with them when out and about. Also the way I kept the spatula in place while cooling down, is something you can do practically anywhere. So, there’s no excuse that you don’t have a proper workshop or so.
Just do it!

carvings

 

spatula

Steaming the spatula for bending.spatula2

Quick makeshift vice for bending. Just make sure to put them far enough into the ground that they stand strong.spatula3

kuksa1

 

kuksa2

 

Cheap DIY Hammock

By plantigrade 2014.11.11 in Camp equipment

hamock2

Last week I made a hammock out of a cheap tarp from the hardware store. I had a tarp just lying around, meassuring 2.5m x 3m, which I thought must be the ideal size for a hammock. It was very straight forward. I simply folded the ends over and tied them tightly, so they both formed a loop to hang the hammock from. Then I tied around the loop, tightening so the hole got more visible and easieer to put a rope through. And was it. Extremely simple and not least, extremely cheap. I guess the whole hammock cost me about 25 kroner, or about 2,5£.

hamock1

hammock3

Resin glue

By plantigrade 2014.10.10 in Ancient skills

glue1

 

As I had a fire going anyway, I decided to use some of my newly purified resin right away. I went with the pine resin, eager to get going with, what to me, was the purest resin I’ve ever used. To make the glue, you simply let it melt by the fire, and mix in ground charcoal and droppings from any ruminant (I guess). The reason for the droppings, is to get the plant fibres, to make the glue stronger. This time I left out the droppings because it has been raining the last days, and all the deer droppings I came across on my last trip to the forest, were too wet. I’m quite excited to see how big a difference it makes, not to mix in the fibres. Anyway, resin becomes very brittle when it hardens. That’s why you mix in the charcoal. I don’t know the exact physics behind it, but it prevents the resin from just crumbling away. To use the glue, simply heat the surface to be glued on and the glue itself, and smear it on. Be quick though, the glue sets very fast.

glue2Resin and the finished glue, ready to use.

 

Purifying resin

By plantigrade 2014.10.10 in Ancient skills

I stumbled over a video on youtube from 1946, called “How Indians Build Canoes”. The title totally gives away the plot of the film, and though only 10 minutes long, I found it quite rich on informations. 7 minutes in, they show how Algonquin women traditionally purified spruce resin to mix with tallow, to seal the seams of the birch bark canoe. That made me think that it might be a great way to clean the resin before making pitch glue, and today I gave it a go. Basically what you do, is put the resin in a roughly woven bag of any sort and boil it in a pot of water. The bag will keep the impurities in, while the melted resin will flow through the fabric and rise to the surface. You the scoop up the hot resin and put it in a pot with cold water to cool. Now the resin is clean and ready for further processing.

Here is the video:

I’m quite pleased with the result, though I ended with both hands and my camera covered in sticky resin. The heat of the fire was too fierce and the water constantly boiled over, spilling the resin that rose to the surface. After a while I grew impatiant, took the pot off the fire and started squeezing the resin out of the bag by hand. It was effective, but messy. The cool side effect is a Spiderman like grip. You definitely shouldn’t use your best pots for this. Unless you really enjoy cleaning them. I made two bags. One with pine and one with spruce. 

resinResin in a net bag.

resin2

 

resin4During the squeezing process. Couldn’t take as many pictures as i hoped, due to sticky fingers.

resin3The result of my sticky struggles. Pine to the left and spruce to the right.

 

 

 

Arrowheads from bottles

By plantigrade 2014.09.26 in Ancient skills

points

 

Some years ago, I read “Hunting with the bow and arrow” by Saxton Pope. This is a book I can warmly recommend to anyone who has ever been interested in native americans or bow hunting. I won’t do a review on the book, but do yourself the favour and read it.

Anyway, in one of the chapters Ishi, the last tribesman of the Yahi Indians, makes traditional arrowheads. But not out of flint, obsidian or any other stone. He makes them from the bottoms of glass bottles, and I remember I was really impresssed that it’s possible. When years later, I met a friend who does flint knapping, I remembered Ishi and his glass arrowheads and started experimenting. Loads of small cuts and broken pieces of glass later, I’ve managed to make a handfull of more or less succesfull arrowheads. The latest one I just made today. Now the next project will be mounting them on shafts.

All my glass arrowheads are made in pretty much the same way as if they were of stone. I like the idea that you can process a modern material with ancient style tools and techniques.

I don’t see any need for me to upload a video on how to make them. Just look it up on youtube, there you’ll find plenty of instructional videos.

bottom

Put a long nail or screw into the bottle with the cap screwed on and shake until the bottom pops off.

 

bottom2

Preparing the bottom

 

blankThe rough shape

 

toolsMy tools

 

point1The finished result

 

 

 

 

 

Historical mess

By plantigrade 2014.09.22 in Traceless roaming

 

drum2

 

 

I just spent the last three months in the Disko Bay area in Greenland working for a local tourist company. A lot of my time in Greenland I spent at the companys glacier camp at Eqi some 80 km north of Ilulissat. The location of the camp, has historically been used as a launching point for expeditions on the Inland Ice. Alfred de Quervain and Alfred Wegener both had expeditions starting at Eqi in the first part of the 20’th century and in 1948 Paul Emile Victor led a series of expeditions, using the Eqi area to unload his 90 tons of material that had come there by ship. Victor set up his first camp where World Of Greenland now has their glacier camp. From here the French expedition made its way to the Inland Ice. Not only can you still visit the old expedition cabin from their first camp, but all over the place you can find loads of tin cans, fuel drums, timber and other remains. At first glance, it’s quite interresting to find and look at all the stuff lying around. But also, when you think about it, it’s really a mess. Not only is there lot’s of rubbish around the camp. In the morraine at The Ice Cap, there’s parts of several aluminium sleds, canvas tarps, tins and even a door from one of their weasels. Even on th ice itself we found stuff coming out of the ice.

rubbish

 

rubbish2

 

I agree that, what they threw away as rubbish, today has a historical value. I also realize that bringing all the waste back from an expedition isn’t of hihgest priority. But still I find it disturbing that it’s just a matter of time before your waste goes from being what it is, a mess, to being a tourist attraction and something of historical value. I also realize that middens and so on, which have played an important role in learning about the ways of ancient cultures, basically is waste that people have just thrown over the shoulder. But still, what I saw in Greenland was all made of materials that really didn’t belong there.

I guess when you’re on an expedition, traceless roaming isn’t considered to be of any importance.

 

tin

 

drum

Baking bread

By plantigrade 2014.06.12 in Bread baking

I’ve been experimenting a bit with baking bread on hot stones. In the past, I’ve had some succes with baking very flat bread, by spreading the dough out on a grill of green twigs woven between the “legs” of a forked branch. When I was a scout as a child, we often made stick bread, and really, I always hated it. I don’t really know why, I just never liked it. I did like baking bread with the very same dough, just not rolled around a stick. That forced me to come up with other ways of baking bread outdoors. I also tried using a pot as a baking form, or making naan style bread in a pan, which both work just fine. But lately, I’ve been trying with hot stones. At the moment I only have pictures from one baking session, the others were taken with my friends camera. But I’ll post them when I get them.

We tried in two different ways. First attempt, was to heat up a flat stone in the fire, take it out of the fire and lay the dough on the stone and press it flat. That didn’t work well. At first, the stone was far too hot and the heat burnt the crust almost imediately, while leaving the inside raw. Not only was the stone too hot, then it also cooled down too fast.bread1

 

bread2

 

Next, we put the stone back in the fire. This time it was set to rest on the other stones at the edge of the fireplace. Now the baking stone was kept warm enough by the flames, while it had cooled down enough to not burn the bread. It was much easier to control the heat by controlling the fire under the stone. This really worked, and we baked some fine bread for our supper. The menu that evening was sliced beef cooked with lots of onions, butter, apples and thyme on the freshly baken bread with dijon mustard. The mix of the sweet apples and onions with the mustard on the mild bread was just perfect!

bread4

 

bread3

Welcome

This blog is about my deep fascination with nature and wilderness living. The technologies, skills and crafts of “primitive peoples”, and the pre agricultural world. This won’t be without modern materials, but is for sharing my experiences/adventures with the full extent of my feet placed solidly and responsibly in the natural world.

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