Gear

How to Build a Sturdy Takedown Bucksaw

by Todd Walker

A saw is safer to use than an ax. My Bacho Laplander folding saw has performed admirably for over 4 years. With an eight inch blade, this fine folding saw has its limitations when cutting larger diameter wood. But I love its portability. It has a permanent spot on my ring belt when I venture into the woods.

how-to-build-takedown-bucksaw

I’ve used my folding saw to cut up to 4 or 5 inch logs. Over that diameter, I usually reach for my ax. But here’s the catch…

I sometimes need a clean cut on larger logs for projects at my trapping shelter. A bucksaw would fit the bill perfectly. The thing is, I don’t want to haul one of my bucksaws to the woods. They’re too cumbersome to carry.

A takedown bucksaw would solve my problem! I needed something that I could break down and toss in my rucksack.

Dave Canterbury to the rescue! I’d seen him make a bucksaw from a few sticks in nature a few years ago. I ventured to my shelter in the woods to make one.

My attempt to make one from red cedar was a fail. I didn’t carve a mortise and tenon joint on the cross member (fulcrum).  I figured, lazily, that a point on both ends of the cross beam would work. Not so. It was fun to make but was not sturdy enough to cut small dried limbs. Thankfully, Dave also made a video tutorial for a takedown bucksaw from dimensional lumber.

Back to the drawing board in my shop.

Here’s how I made mine. (I’ve uploaded a video I made that may help with details on this project. It’s at the end of this article if you’d like to watch.)

Gather the Stuff

  • 1 Bacho 51-21 Bow Saw Blade, 21-Inch, Dry Wood (under 10 bucks on Amazon) – the saw blade will be your biggest expense on this project
  • 60 inches of 2×2 lumber (dumpster dive at building sites or buy at a building supply store)
  • 10 inches of 1×2 lumber (scrap pallet wood)
  • 2 – 10 d nails
  • 50 inches of 550 paracord

Tools

  • Saw
  • Drill and bits
  • Hammer or maul
  • Wood chisel
  • Vice – helpful but not necessary
  • Pencil
  • Measuring device

Note: I built this takedown saw in my pajamas at 2 AM. Couldn’t sleep so thought I better get busy Doing the Stuff. The only power tool used was an electric drill. Didn’t want to risk waking DRG and the neighbors. :)

Cut the Stuff

If you don’t have scrap 2×2 lumber lying around, rip a 2×4 in half (with a table saw). Unless you’re skilled in carpentry, I don’t recommend using a circular saw to rip 2×4’s. You’ll need those fingers later.

Cut List

  • 2 – 15 inch 2×2’s (verticals)
  • 1 – 20 inch 2×2 (cross beam)
  • 1 – 8 inch 1×2 (tension paddle)

Prep the Wood

Make a center mark on the two vertical pieces. This is where the cross beam will mate in a mortise (female) and tenon (male) joint.

Cut tenons on both ends of the cross beam. Mark a line about 1/2 inch on all four sides of each end of the cross member. Secure in a vice and cut the lines about 1/4 inch deep on all four sides on each end to create a shoulder tenon. Once cut, chisel the cut pieces away from the ends of the stock.

Cut a 1/2 to 3/4 inch slot on the bottom ends of each vertical piece. These slots will receive the bow saw blade. Drill a hole that will snuggly fit the 10d nails in each of the two slotted ends.

Now align the tenon on each vertical at your halfway mark and pencil in the shape for the mortise. Drill a hole inside the outline to match the depth of the tenon. My tenon’s were 3/4’s long – about half the depth of the 2×2 verticals. Chisel out the remaining wood from the mortise joint to the proper depth. Dry fit the cross beam to the verticals. Tweak the mortise as needed to gain a snug mortise and tenon joint.

Assembly

With the cross beam inserted into the verticals, install the saw blade in the two slotted ends of the verticals. Remove the blade and place it on top of the slotted verticals. With your pencil, outline the holes and bore the appropriate size hole that matches the nail you will use as a pin for the saw blade. Reassemble the saw and insert pin nails.

Drill two holes about one inch in from the end of the 1×2 paddle. Use a drill bit that will allow enough room for the paracord to pass through. Lace one end of the paracord through the two holes in a weaving fashion. Loop the paracord around the top  ends of the two verticals. Pull tight and secure the cordage with a knot. I used a fisherman’s knot.

Wind the paddle in a circular motion to tighten the cordage. Once you are satisfied with the tension on the saw blade, allow the paddle to toggle on the cross beam.

Now you’re ready to test your inexpensive takedown bucksaw. I cut a 3 inch piece of dried poplar with ease in my shop. Even the 9 inch hickory log in my sawbuck was no match for this little beast. The Bacho dry wood saw blade is fantastic for processing large dry wood rounds!

To break the saw down, simple untwist the paracord and disassemble the frame. The entire saw can be wrapped in a large 100% cotton bandana and packed in your rucksack or backpack. You can always use a multipurpose bandana for other camping or wilderness self-reliance training.

While I’ll always carry my folding Bacho Laplander, this takedown bucksaw just made wood cutting tasks at my base camp much more convenient.

Here’s my video tutorial… and a short clip of my failed attempt with natural material. If you haven’t checked out my channel yet, we’d appreciate you subscribing, liking, and sharing any material you find valuable.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Luci Solar Lantern Review: A Lightweight Renewable Light Source

by Todd Walker

A few days before packing to go to the Pathfinder School last month, this solar-powered lantern was in my mailbox. On a whim, I decided to add it to my haversack and give it a test.

luci-solar-lantern-review

I was skeptical when I opened the package so I tossed it on our farm house table. It looked like a cylindrical beach ball – something you’d find in a shopping mall novelty store. The next day I inflated the “beach ball” light and pressed the on button. To my surprise, it worked! Note: It had not been outside in the sun, just laying in the house soaking up passive solar energy.

Luci solar lights, offered by MPOWERD, weigh 4 ounces, are idiot-proof, lightweight, durable, waterproof, versatile LED lanterns with three settings – bright, dim, and strobe.

This lightweight lantern can be employed in many areas of self-reliance and preparedness…

Camping/Boating/Hiking/Bushcraft

As a candling device (one of the 10 C’s of Survivability), Luci can operate the LED’s on her brightest setting for over six hours. No need to pack extra batteries. Everything is self-contained.

In a wilderness survival scenario, the strobe setting can be used to signal search and rescue teams if ever needed. She also offers illumination for self-aid/first aid, camp tasks, navigation, and other lighting needs.

luci-solar-lantern-review

A haversack headlight – don’t know what the circle of dots are… a tiny alien spaceship maybe?

Weighing only 4 ounces, I hung Luci from my homemade bed sheet tarp’s ridge line in arms-reach as I laid in my hammock at night. She offered hands-free lighting for my three-night camp at the Pathfinder School. Illuminating your camp space reduces the likelihood of common injuries and frustration when digging for a piece of gear or your sleeping socks.

Luci proved to be a resource saver. My headlamp, which requires three triple A batteries, was rarely lit once I made it back to my hammock each evening. She operated all weekend without being recharged in direct sunlight. If on the move, you could attach the deflated lantern to your backpack with the solar panels facing out. Deflated, the lantern is less than one inch thick. The lights work even in collapsed mode.

Emergency Preparedness

Renewable energy sources are great to have in emergency situations. In a longterm event, solar-powered lighting rocks. I’ve tried other solar flash lights that turned out to be unreliable gimmicky items. Luci filled this void with consistency in my experience.

If you have kids or pets, an open flame from a candle or oil lamp carries the risk of being tipped over and causing an even worse emergency. No worries with Luci. She won’t burn your house down.

luci-solar-lantern-review

A safe, renewable lighting source

In a vehicle emergency kit, I’d recommend attaching a small clip to one of the loop on either end of the lantern. If needed, you could attach the light to your jacket while fixing a flat tire in the dark. At 4 ounces, a gust of wind by a passing semi trailer might blow her to the next town if not secured. If stranded with a dead battery, the strobe setting would alert oncoming traffic of your location.

Other Uses

As an early riser, I tested my ability to read in the dark with Luci as my only source of light (about 65 lumens). I sat the lantern on the end table was able to see every word on the page of my newest book.

luci-solar-lantern-review

Easy to read my autographed copy!

Wrap a colored bandana around the globe for party lights on the patio! I know, can’t believe I thought of that one… but it worked. I hung it from our patio umbrella near the fire pit to cast a 10 foot diameter circle of light. Handy for when our grandson comes over and wants S’mores. By the way, they make Luci lights with colored globes which are more expensive than the Original Luci. Just add a bandana.

luci-solar-lantern-review

Reduce the glare by wrapping bandana around the globe to create a spot light effect

My experience with Luci has been positive. I’d recommend picking up a few for emergency kits and add one to your other outdoor adventure gear list. At a penny shy of 15 bucks, Amazon Prime offers free shipping. They’d make great stocking stuffers for the outdoorsman!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Finally! A Fire Piston That’s Bomb-Proof

by Todd Walker

A few months ago my friends, Glen and Tammy Trayer of Trayer Wilderness, sent me their MultiFlame Tool to review. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical since I’ve yet to use a fire piston that produced an ember on a consistent basis. After two months of testing this tool, I was shocked… in a good way!

multiflame-tool-trayer-wilderness

Here’s why…

The MultiFlame Tool is aptly named. Glen Trayer reveals his genius in the design. Besides being a combustion device, it functions as a screw driver, auger, and, get this… a bore cleaner for sidearms! Multifunctional, redundant, and bomb-proof!

First, let’s look at its combustion capability.

Fire

Science students at my school are going to love this!

The primitive technology of making fire out of thin air is nothing new. Rudolph Diesel put this ancient concept to work in an internal combustion engine that bears his name to this day. Compressing air quickly in a chamber raises the air temperature to around 500º… hot enough to ignite petroleum fuel, or in our case, tinder material.

With the proper input, the MultiFlame Tool has consistently produced a burning ember with char cloth. Simply place a small piece of charred cloth in the hole at the end of the piston. Lubricate the o-ring with chap stick, saliva, fixin’ wax, skin oils, or other available lubricant. Insert the piston into the chamber and slam the piston in and quickly remove. It’s that simple.

An alternative to char cloth, chaga, known as tinder fungus, will work. I tested a piece of chaga that my buddy, Joel Bragg, gave me at the Pathfinder School the first weekend of October. On the third attempt with tinder fungus, I had a coal.

Here’s the video review:

Other Tool Functions

This tool is way more than a fire piston! You can use it as a screw driver. Any 1/4 inch hex head bit will fit the end of the piston chamber. The auger adapter accepts 5/16th inch hex shaft auger bits for boring larger diameter holes for camp craft and other wood craft chores.

Add a gun bore cleaner to the list. The round handle on the piston will unscrew allowing you to attach a bore cleaning brush for 9mm or larger sidearms. Small hex bits, cleaning brushes, and tinder material can be stored in the tin which comes with the kit. Two extra o-rings are included in the tin.

Conclusions

Would I choose fire pistons as my primary source of fire? No.

As I mention earlier, fire pistons were never a reliable combustion tool for me. However, the Trayer Wilderness MultiFlame Tool is not only a reliable ignition source, it’s multi-functionality has earned a spot in my kit!

If you’ve had epic fails with fire pistons, I recommend you try the bomb-proof MultiFlame Tool. They come in two sizes: 6″ piston ($45.00 – auger adapter not included), and 8″ piston ($75.00 – auger adapter included ~ which I reviewed). These MultiFlame Tools are made in American. Check out the other self-reliant items in their online store that has helped them live off-grid in the Idaho wilderness. Oh, and you won’t find better people to deal with!

You can order yours at Trayer Wilderness.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

by Todd Walker

Weight – a unit of heaviness or mass; any heavy load, mass, or object; the vertical force experienced by a mass as a result of gravitation

Gravity. It’s unescapable… on this planet. It keeps us grounded. But it also weighs us down.

I consider myself to be in decent physical condition. Even so, at my age, every pound added to my backpack affects the gravitational pull and energy needed to carry the stuff. I’m no ultralight hiker by any stretch, but I do try to lighten my load every chance I get.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps

I’ve wanted to own an oilskin tarp for some time now. They’re durable but too pricey for our budget at this time. A quality oilskin tarp (new) will set you back $200. My motto, when it comes to gear, is buy the best you can afford. Or, go the common man route and make your own.

The idea for this project came from William Collins’ 4 part series on his YouTube channel. I’ve condensed his method into a short tutorial for you.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 100% Egyptian cotton bed sheet (flat). The higher the tread count the better. I used a king size which measures 8.5′ x 9′.
  • 20 oil lamp wicks (1/2″ x 6″). They come in packs of 5 at Wally World.
  • Boiled linseed oil – 3 to 4 cups (depending on the size of your cloth)
  • Mineral spirits – 3 to 4 cups
  • Dye (optional) unless your sheet is the color you desire
  • Containers
  • Heat source
  • Rubber gloves

Prep the sheet: Before the dyeing process begins, wash the sheet in cold water and washing powder. Then dry on high heat to close and tighten the woven fibers in the sheet.

Sew the lamp wicks on all corners and at two foot intervals along the edges. I sewed these on by hand. A sewing machine would take less time but that’s how I roll. I added 3 additional loops down the center of the sheet to allow for more options when configuring my tarp.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 1: Making Natural Dye

I filled the bottom of a 10 inch pot with green hickory nuts from a tree in our yard. Thank you, squirrels! Use an old pot that you don’t mind staining. I then added several black walnuts (green hulled) to the mix which happen to be dropping from trees now.

homemade-oilskin-bedsheet-tarp

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

With the dyeing agent (green nuts) in the pot, fill 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil on an outdoor fire. Allow to slow boil for an hour or more. The longer you boil, the darker your dye will become. I was going for an earth tone.

You can also break the green hulls off the black walnuts to increase the surface area and improve the extraction process. Be aware that the hulls will stain anything they touch – skin included.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

If you choose not to make your own natural dye, RIT dye is available at most grocery stores.

Step 2: Dye the Sheet

Test the color of your dye on a piece of scrap cloth. If you’re satisfied, strain the dye mixture into a clean container. A window screen over a bucket works well.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Place the sheet into the container. Use rubber gloves to prevent staining your hands. Turn and squeeze the material for a thorough coverage.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Leave the sheet in the dye for 24 hours. Longer for a darker color. To keep the sheet submerged, I place the lid of cast iron dutch oven on top. Not recommended. The greasy drip spikes on the lid left a polka dot stain pattern on the bed sheet. What was I thinking!? I replaced the heavy lid with one of DRG’s small dinner plates and a 25 lb. dumbbell.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 3: Set the Dye

Wring the sheet over the container to remove the excess dye. I hung mine over a double clothes line out back to dry.

Once dry, wash it in cold water with washing powder when your wife isn’t home. No, it won’t stain the washing machine tub. The cold water sets the dye. Dry the sheet on high in preparation for the waterproofing.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 4: Waterproofing

Mix equal parts boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits (drying agent) in a container. I used a 5 gallon bucket. You only need enough to completely saturate the cloth. I used two cups of each and found dry spots on the sheet. Another cup of each did the trick. Other DiY’ers have “painted” the oil on their cloth. For the best coverage, message the oil into the material in a bucket. You’ll probably want gloves for this step.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Squeeze the excess mixture from the sheet back into the bucket. Funnel the extra waterproofing liquid in a smaller container and label it for later projects. I used the empty mineral spirits can.

Note on boiled linseed oil: Properly dispose of any oil soaked rags used to wipe spills. As the linseed oil dries, it creates heat and can combust spontaneously.

Worried about burning down your shop or barn while the tarp hangs to dry? Don’t be. Spreading the tarp to dry dissipates the heat.

Step 5: Cure the Sheet

Hang the oiled sheet vertically under a covered roof outside. In a hurry, I laid my sheet over the double clothes line. This method created two lines down the middle section of the sheet. Plus, it rained that evening. Dumb move. The next morning, water was standing on the sheet between the two lines. I hung the sheet under my attached shed behind my shop the next day.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

The drying time on the oiled sheet depends on humidity. Well, it rained for three days after I applied the oil. You guessed it, the tarp stayed tacky. When the weather cleared, it dried in 48 hours.

Now for the moment of truth… is it waterproof?

I hung the dried tarp on the clothes line and unreeled the garden hose. I set the nozzle on “shower” and pulled the trigger. This was my common rain shower test. It passed! No moisture behind the tarp when wiped with a paper towel.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Dry as bone!

Dry as bone!

Now for the hurricane test. I set the hose to “jet” from three feet away and blasted the tarp. The paper towel underneath remained bone dry!

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Even with standing water between the clothes line, no drips or moisture anywhere. Good to know the tarp could be used to harvest water in a survival scenario!

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

As far as durability, I’m pretty sure my bed sheet tarp won’t outlast an eight ounce canvas oilskin tarps. Maybe it will. Time will tell. I’m testing it this weekend at the Pathfinder School Basic Class. I’ll update y’all on its performance.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

Daily Disaster Drills and The 5 C’s of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Everyday life if full of daily disaster drills.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

1.) Red Barn Forge Bushcraft knife 2.) Fire kit – ferro rod, lighter, magnifying glass, fatwood, char tin 3.) USGI poncho 4.) Pathfinder stainless steel bottle and cook set 5.) #36 tarred bank line

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The fire alarm blared mid-sentence second period. My first thought was that this couldn’t be a routine, scheduled drill. Our sixth graders were taking one of those useless, high-stakes standardized tests. A prankster either pulled a fire alarm in the hall or the building was on fire.

Waiting for fire trucks to arrive, our class stood in a hot Georgia sun. Sweat and hints of body odor began to waft through the crowd. Occasional whines floated through the air. But no visible smoke from the building.

Thirty minutes later, “all clear” was given. A defective alarm in the system cause 850 middle schoolers to line up, somewhat orderly, on the safe edges of our school yard. Every teacher and student knew exactly what to do and where to go. We practice fire drills, religiously, once a month. No coaching or coaxing needed. It’s automatic!

Had this been a real emergency – school burns to the ground – would I have been personally prepared to get home? I know many coworkers who leave car keys, phone, wallets, and purses in their classrooms during evacuation drills. Real “what if” situations aren’t likely. It’s only a drill, right?

Emergency preparedness doesn’t cover the entire scope of self-reliance. However, it often times serves as a gateway or starting line for deeper self-reliance and Doing the Stuff skills.

Having the skills to properly use supplies and equipment is even better. Layered redundancy in tools, coupled with practiced skills, equips you to handle stuff when the “what if” actually happens.

Two is One – One is None Mentality

What’s in Your Pockets?

Back to the school yard. What’s on my person that could affect my personal survivability?  Do I have the 5 C’s of Survivability on me at all times? How about backups to these essentials?

Let’s see…

  • Car keys in my pocket – √
  • Brain – √ (“If I only had a brain.” ~ Scarecrow)
  • Combustion device in pocket and on key ring – √
  • Cutting tool in pocket – √
  • Communications device (phone) in pocket – √
  • Cover in emergency car kit – √
  • Cordage in wallet (Gorilla Tape) – √
  • Candling device (flashlight) – √ [one of the 10 C’s of Survivability in my pocket]

If you’re familiar with the 5 C’s, you noticed I’m missing the all important Container from my list above. No worries.

Get Home Bag

I only teach one hour in my own classroom each day. The other four periods I move to other classrooms – away from my Get Home Bag. I can’t grab this bag if we evacuate the building after 9:50 AM. That’s why it’s smart to have layers of redundancy in your vehicle emergency supplies.

Vehicle Kit

My car keys are literally the KEY to accessing more essential survival stuff – metal container included. My vehicle is my preferred method of conveyance. If my ride dies, my hiking boots and spare socks (stored in the vehicle) are plan B for my 21 mile journey home.

I’ve written a detailed post on my car kit if you’re interested in seeing the junk in my trunk.

The Why Behind The 5 C’s of Survivability

These 5 tools have passed the test of time to help humans survive and thrive. From the first human who discovered a sharp edge on a flake of stone, our entire history changed – as did the size of our brains! The cutting tool put us at the top of the food chain. Animal fat and protein could now be harvested with sharp stuff and processed with another tool in the 5 C’s – combustion/fire.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

My nephew, Kyle, enjoying some wild ginger tea on our last rainy dirt time session

Skills to use these 5 items will always trump the “hottest”, shiny survival gadget on the market.

Here is the run down of why you should include these 5 items in every kit you pack.

To sum it quickly, specialized skills and material are needed to reproduce these 5 essential tools in the wilderness.

So you’re not into wilderness self-reliance?

You should be and here’s why

Chris Noble at Master Woodsman just gave me a different, and enlightened, perspective on what wilderness really means. I lifted these bullet points of his broader definition of Wilderness…

  • when you’re lost in the woods, roadless or not
  • it’s when the electricity stops coming through the wires to your house for a long period of time
  • or even worse, your home is damaged or destroyed from a storm or other event.  Don’t tell me after Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy those poor souls weren’t in a wilderness.
  • wilderness is an emergency situation with no immediate help [emphasis mine]

The 5 C’s are essential for any setting, urban jungle or vast wilderness. The tools pictured above fit nicely into my haversack and/or attach to my ring belt and accompany me on all treks, short or long, into my wilderness.

Below is a brief explanation and a minimum of three redundant uses for each of the 5 C’s.

A) – Cutting Tool

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – craft splints, dig splinters, remove ticks, etc.
  2. Shelter – craft stakes, toggles, supports, and other needed tools
  3. Fire – a 90º spine for ferro rod use, carve feather sticks, process wood
  4. Food – processing game and collecting edibles

B) – Combustion Device

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – sterilize cutting tools and needles
  2. Shelter – core temperature control
  3. Water – purification
  4. Fire – heat to complete the triangle of fire (heat, fuel, oxygen)
  5. Signaling – smoke rescue signal
  6. Food – cooking

C) – Cover (proper clothing is first layer of cover)

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – core temperature control
  2. Shelter – creates a micro climate for core temperature control
  3. Signaling – if your cover contrasts with your surroundings

D) - Container

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – make herbal concoctions and infusions
  2. Water – transporting water
  3. Fire – metal water bottles can be used to make char cloth for your next fire
  4. Food – collecting and cooking stuff

E) – Cordage

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – slings, pressure wraps, and bandaging
  2. Shelter – lashings and knots
  3. Food – snares, fishing line, hanging a bear bag, etc.

* The 5 C’s are adapted from Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder System which I follow

Our other kits (vehicle, get home bag, and Bug Out Bags, hunting/fishing) contain duplicates of these 5 C’s and more. Obviously, our vehicles can haul more than these five items. When carrying capacity is a consideration, cull the shiny survival objects and build your skills with the 5 C’s.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Choosing the Best Survival Multi Tool: Tips from an Ex Multi Tool Industry Insider

by Morry Banes

As far back as I can remember the preparedness community has dwelled and kept getting back to one elusive dilemma – a survival knife or a multi tool.

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

It is to us what “Brenda or Kelly” dilemma is to the fans of 90210, the male ones, all three of them…

It’s my opinion that the only answer that makes sense is BOTH.

Granted, nothing much to screw or unscrew when you are making a trap in the wild, and it would be hard making a decent shelter by using a flimsy multi tool blade but let us take a step back here and think about one basic fact:

Flexibility of a multi tool use is unparalleled

Smart preparedness goes beyond thinking about every possible scenario and adding stuff to your backpack. It’s about knowing that a real life situation is bound to face you with scenarios you could not have fathomed.

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

Here, your brain is your main weapon, and you only need things that can be creatively and flexibly used. Sometimes you’ll need a light piece for small cutting tasks and sometimes you’ll need brute force of a rigid, heavy-duty tool. Nothing fits the description better than a wisely chosen multi tool.

  • How about field stripping your firearm if you carry one?

I know from experience that, with a little practice, you can strip and clean pretty much any weapon if you have the right multi tool

  • How about a medical emergency?

Ok, you have your first aid kit in place but what if you need to cut through a booth to release the ankle of an injured person or cut through close to get to the injured area. Scissors are OK, but what about having something that’s better than standalone scissors and can do a lot more…

  • The list goes on and on…

I think I’ve made my point why I think having a multi tool in your BOB is just common sense, so let’s move on to talk about what I promised in the title – choosing smart and saving money while we’re at it.

When you start researching multi tools, reading multi tool reviews and specs, it gets pretty complicated pretty fast. That’s how it was for me when I started working in a multi tool factory like a decade ago and started my multi tool collection.

It kept getting more complicated before it got really simple.

Here, we are in luck because we know exactly what we are looking for – a strong, heavy-duty survival multi tool free of stars and sparkles of advertising.

I am here to tell you how to simplify things and look past all that, because, in a survival situation, it won’t matter much if your tool is nice shiny red and packs a zillion pieces you will never use.

When choosing a survival multi tool for your BOB, as far as I am concerned, it’s about getting back to the basics and keeping things simple.

We’ll keep things simple by looking at three main aspects:

  • versatility
  • quality of the materials
  • safety of use

Again, I’ll keep things very simple.

Versatility

Sure, you can be “that guy” who spend over a grand on something like Swiss Army Giant that has 141 functions, but if SHTF you’ll find yourself using 5 pieces and carrying over 7 pounds of steel.

As I said, for me, choosing smart is looking at the basics:

  • sturdy pliers and wire cutters
  • two types of blades – serrated and regular
  • quality screwdrivers – regular and Phillips
  • bottle and can opener

Whichever tool you get, you’ll find that the Pareto or the 80-20 rules apply – you are likely to do 80% of the jobs using 20% of the tools.

It’s far more important playing your cards right when it comes to reliability of the tools.

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

Quality

I do know the industry inside out, and if I were to design my perfect survival multi tool today, I would look for the following:

  • titanium for the handles because it will not corrode
  • 420 stainless steel for all the tools except the blades because “size-to-size” this steel is stronger than titanium and far less likely to break because of low chromium content
  • 154CM steel for the blades – because it will keep it’s edge up to 3 times longer than 420 steel

Simplicity and Clarity

That’s what I was aiming for when talking about a quality of a multi tool.

The word “quality” is so easily thrown around these days that it loses all its meaning. Every company will tell you that their tool is of “highest quality” while they are profiting on your confusion about the meaning of the word.

Well, consider me your insider in the industry and make a mental note of this definition of quality in a multi tool.

Just one more thing – stay away from anything “coated”. Read the specs carefully and look for terms like “dye-coated steel” and “titanium coated”. It’s just a way of the company to say “It’s not really steel, we just painted it so that it looks like it is”.

One could argue that titanium coating does make some sense since it will keep the corrosion of for a while. That “for a while will” usually with the time your warranty expires.

It’s money out of your pocket and not worth it. The aim of this article is to equip you with the knowledge to get a multi tool that you will likely pass on to the next generation.

Safety

This one is pretty simple. We just want something that will:

  • be easily and safely deployed using one hand
  • allow us to us a tool while a few other pieces are open
  • features a safety lock

The industry has gone a long way over the last decade in this category and a vast majority of tools that meet the criteria we’ve set in terms of versatility and quality will also be smartly and safely designed.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to read a review or two about the safety of a multi tool before making a choice. You might stumble upon specifics like how the design fits the size of your hand, which makes a lot of difference.

Resume

Not all multi tools are created equal, and it might be a cliché saying it, but every one of us has different needs.

But play your cards right with the basics, and the rest of it is just putting a few remaining pieces of the puzzle together and you’ll have a winner on your belt.

Stay smart and safe.

————————————

About the author:

Morry Banes is an ex multi tool factory worker. Today he runs a small hardware store in Oregon and talks about his passion, multi tools over at bestmultitoolkit.com.

It is a blog dedicated to all things multi tools. It’s where he shares his experiences and reviews the best multi tools on the market today.

He is also a husband and a proud father of two daughters, Dolores and Liana.

————————————

If this article adds value to your journey to self-reliance and preparedness, give us a “thumbs up” vote over at Top Prepper Sites.

 

 

 

Categories: Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

The Top 3 Tools for Mechanical Advantage in Bushcraft

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

Survival TV scripts promote the “get out alive” theme – as they should – it’s survival. The idea of survival conjures up roughing it, eating nastiness or not at all, sleeping on muddy ground under leaky cover, and drinking your own urine until rescued. Sounds fun, right?

Not so much.

I’m a student of the art and science of bushcraft, not to merely survive, but to live comfortably, even thrive in a wilderness setting. As George Washington Sears (“Nessmuk”) put it in Woodcraft and Camping,

We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. [Emphasis mine]

Bushcraft is primal (first; original; fundamental). The craft extends far past modern survivalism, prepping, hiking, and camping. It criss-crosses all the preparedness circles and powers the survival mindset circuitry. Self-reliance through basic, simple machines (tools) is the central theme of bushcraft.

If you hang out here for any length of time, you know how fond I am of vintage tools. In a natural/wilderness setting, tools in skilled hands can give you the mechanical advantage (MA) needed for “smoothing it” in the woods.

Here are my top 3 tools and few ways to use these simple machines while learning to “smooth it” in the woods.

Number One

In the world of simple machines, all cutting tools are wedges. The cutting tool is primary since a sharp knife, machete, saw, or ax can be used to create other simple machines. The wedge shape of your knife creates a mechanical advantage when removing material for notches, carving spoons, or dressing animals.

For instance, I wasn’t pleased with my fire reflector wall in front of my shelter. It had served its purpose as a temporary fix for my semi-permanent shelter but had begun to char with all the fires built there. I needed something more permanent.

Stone!

Thirty yards from the shelter lay a massive, flat rock perfectly shaped for a centerpiece in my reflector wall. Only one problem. Distance, time, and my physical force and capability to get it from point A to point B. Work equals force times distance. Work smart!

I didn’t want to expend too much energy remodeling my campfire. How do I get a 200+ pound rock to my camp? I remembered my daddy moving heavy objects by placing smaller pipes underneath – a technique I’d used before – just not in the wilderness.

Brilliant!

Top Tools for Mechanical Advantage in Bushcraft

Rock and roll!

A folding saw (Wedge) gave me a mechanical advantage (MA) in processing the cedar rounds (Wheel and Axle) used to roll the huge stone up a slight incline to camp. Though there was no real axle involved, the solid wood wheel worked got the job done. Less physical force saves calories. Flipping rocks this size while doing functional fitness workouts is fine. However, we want to save energy/calories to enjoy the fruits of our labor at base camp.

Your cutting tool can also be use to carve a wooden wedge for felling larger trees. Wedged tools make wedges. None of these methods are exhaustive. I’m only giving a few suggestions. You can add your own creative ideas in the comments if you’d like.

Number Two

Levers are powerful tools for creating mechanical advantage in bushcraft. There are two types of levers that give MA: First Class Lever and Second Class Lever.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ~ Archimedes

Levers trade distance for force. To get the stone started onto the wheel and axle logs, I sharpened the end of one of the discarded saplings from my old reflector wall to use as a lever. Once on the rollers, I was able to push the rock to camp with less work on my part.

Levers can be counted on to save resources like the cutting edge of your ax. Dull cutting tools are dangerous. Here’s an example of a First Class Lever.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

This forked Beech tree caught the firewood as it broke

Find a forked tree or two trees close together and place your stick of wood between the two trees. Now apply force on the lever and break the piece where it contacts the fulcrum (point where lever pivots). Stand with a wide stance and pull the lever toward your body. As your lever grows shorter, more force is required to break the wood.

This sweet set up stacked the firewood for me!

A travois is an example of a Second Class Lever. It’s basically a wheel barrow without the wheel. A travois consists of two long poles lashed together with cross braces or netting to form an isosceles triangle. Yep, geometry and physics are part of bushcraft. Native American plains indians used this as a method of conveyance for heavy loads.

Here’s Dave Canterbury’s tutorial video on making a travois in the bush.

Number Three

Cordage, whether crafted in the field or commercially made, offers MA when used as a pulley, another simple machine. My favorite knot in bushcraft for creating mechanical advantage is the Trucker’s Hitch.

While the two loops in the Trucker’s Hitch are not true-to-form block and tackle pulleys, this is a great way to apply extreme pressure on cordage for ridge lines, hanging game from a branch, or any time you need a taunt line.

Mechanical advantage is quickly achieved with cordage when making friction fires with a bow drill. Cordage wrapped around the spindle forms a primitive pulley system which decreases the amount of work required to produce a burning ember. [Work = Force x Distance] The bow drill combines several simple machines – pulley, lever, wedge, inclined plane.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

Simple machines create mechanical advantage

Wrap Up

Learning to “smooth it” with simple tools helps erase the “rough it” aspect of bushcraft, camping, and adventures in nature. Now you can sit around the fire on your rustic camp furniture and stare, without uttering a word to your friends, at the awesomeness you’ve created with minimal tools. You’ll also admire and appreciate your connection to the land as you sip on a cup of camp coffee or pine needle tea.

Mechanical advantage is your friend out there!

Keep Doing the Stuff of self-reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for an Heirloom Ax

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

A large part of self-reliance is learning to make your own gear. You’ll get FAT in two areas – your wallet and skill set!

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Tools are essential for self-reliance, survival, and preparedness. You want the best you can afford. You’re not going to find heirloom quality tools, the kind you pass down to your children and grandchildren, in a big box store. Nor do you want to stake your survival on “Made in China” junk. So what’s the common man and woman to do?

Make your own!

Remember the True Temper ax I bought that wasn’t for sale? Well, it needed some TLC and a mask/sheath. Every cutting tool you use in the field should have a cover to protect the tool and you. Instead of paying to have a custom-made mask, I decided to make my own.

It’s been exactly 40 years since I did any serious leather craft. Check out the last picture in this post to see my first leather project I made in Industrial Arts Class in the 7th grade – back in the day when school kids were allowed to learn self-reliance skills like leather work, welding, and carpentry.

Ahhh, Smell the Leather!

You can make a sheath or mask for your cutting tools by repurposing old leather goods. Since I’ve taken on leather work as one of my Doing the Stuff skills this year, I decided to buy a shoulder of 8-9 ounce vegetable tanned leather from Tandy Leather. A few leather working tools were added to my arsenal as well. Of course, you could use common everyday tools to get the job done.

Gather the Stuff

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Tools and stuff

  • Leather
  • Razor/utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Cardboard or file holder for the template
  • Marker and pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Glue
  • Needles and thread
  • Awl/Punch
  • Hardware – snaps and studs (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Clips

You don’t have to tap your 401k to get started. Substitute an ice pick or other pointy object for an awl. I used a drill with a 5/32″ bit to make stitching holes for the rounded portion of the mask. Get creative and save money.

Make Your Template

Use a thin cardboard box or file folder to lay out your template. A cereal or 12 pack beer box makes a thicker template and is easier to trace around.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

You’ll need two folders

Outline the ax with a pencil and cut out the image with scissors.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Draw a straight line on the other folder using a straight edge.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Outlining the top profile of the ax

Center the ax head on the line and draw the shape on the folder.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

 

Now align the full cut out of the ax to the top profile you just traced. Draw a line around full ax profile. Be sure to match the ends of the full profile to the top profile.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Once you trace the full ax, you will sketch a 1/2 welt where the cutting edge will rest in the mask. The welt is where the blade rests inside the sheath to protect the stitching. I took this design from my Wetterlings ax mask. As you can see, the welt at the toe of the ax is short. If the welt is extended too far towards the handle on this design, the ax head won’t fit in the mask.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Cut one side of the template, fold over the center line and trace to the other side

Label and store the template for later projects.

Ready for Leather

Lay the template on your leather and outline it with a marker.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Transfer the mask template to your leather

I’ve seen people cut leather with scissors and razors. I chose to use a utility knife. Take it slow and cut the line. You want a tight fit as the leather will stretch with use.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Cutting the leather

Next, cut the welt portion off of the template. Transfer the welt template to the leather. After I traced and cut the full welt, it dawned on me that I only need half of the welt in the mask. Learn from my mistake.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Making the welt

Dry fit the mask by securing the welt inside the mask with a few clips. This will revel any needed adjustments and test the fit on the ax head.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Dry fitting

Holes – Glue – Grooves

To secure your mask to the ax head, punch an appropriate sized hole in one side of the leather to accept a snap. Without hardware, you could use a leather thong to secure the mask. Use whatever you have on hand.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Punching holes

Once you punch the first hole, align the mask by folding it over and punch through the first hole to create the second hole on the opposite side of the mask. You’re now ready to add snaps or studs to secure the strap.

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Beveling edges

Bevel the inside and outside edges with a beveling tool. This isn’t necessary for function but adds a finished touch to the project.

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Grooving the edges for stitching

If you have an adjustable grooving tool, set the width to about 1/4 of an inch and groove the edges where stitching will go. I got carried away and ran a groove all the way around the mask even where no stitching will appear. Very cool tool!

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Gluing the welt

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Apply an all-purpose cement to one side of the welt and the mask. Follow the directions on the glue for wait times before connecting the two pieces.

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Punching stitching holes

Once the glue is cured, punch holes in the groove for stitching through the mask and welt. I used the new 4 pronged thonging tool. You can use an ice pick, awl, or anything that will punch through the leather. I used a drill for the rounded corners. [Experienced leather crafters, I need advice on lining up the stitching holes on the other side of the mask.]

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Attach a strap to the mask with a rivet or stud. I used a screw stud. The strap needs to fit snug. Leather will stretch with use.

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Setting the snap for the strap

I dressed up the strap with a fancy buffalo snap from Tandy.

Stitching

Here’s a quick video I found helpful for the saddle stitching on my mask.

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/YE_hTVloTRo” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

I haven’t decided if I will dye this project or not. I may just treat it with Fixin’ Wax and call it good!

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Stitched and ready to go!

As promised, the picture below captures my 40 year span of leather work – ha! Don’t laugh, folks, mushrooms and leather were hot in 1974!  :)

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Can’t believe I kept this thing all these years.

This is our first post in a series called Self-Reliant Summer. We’re highlighting the top skills members are learning in the Doing the Stuff Network! Hope you’ll join us.

Check out more stuff in the Self-Reliant Summer series

  1. DiY Custom Leather Mask for an Heirloom Ax
  2. 50+ Dumpster Diva Hacks that Convert Waste to Wealth
  3. Sick of Ticks? Take Brad Paisley’s Advice
  4. Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsman Workout
  5. 6 No-Drama Survival Tips for a Clothed and Confident Summer
  6. 5 Tips for Epic Self-Reliance Skills
  7. Surviving Large on Small Stuff
  8. 27 Survival Uses for Common Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance!

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won’t Require a Mule for Conveyance

by Todd Walker

Ever notice hernia bag (aka – Bug Out Bag) lists of essentials items to pack to get you through a 72 hour crisis. With only half that stuff in your bag, you’ll need a mule to get where you’re going.

5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance

We depend on modern modes of transportation – planes, trains, and cars. That’s a blessing and a curse. Even if vehicles are operational during an SHTF evacuation, roads become long parking lots. Then what? You and your family will be forced to use the oldest form of human locomotion… your feet.

Now…

Can you actually hump that 83.7 pound pack?

The fact that you’ve got a B.O.B. or Get Home Bag packed puts you light years ahead of the general population. Conveyance is the big issue though. The not-so-distant past proves that mayhem follows disaster in urban areas. If you’re trapped in the horde of humanity exiting cities, you need to lighten your load.

The must-have list below assumes you’ve been Doing the Stuff with your tools of survival. Be mindful that the added stress of a survival scenario makes the learning curve steep. Before an event is the perfect time to trade theory for action. Put on your Mike Rowe outfit and get dirty practicing your survival skills.

The number one way to increase your survivability is to always carry items that are difficult or impossible to reproduce in a crisis. At a bare minimum, every kit you pack should enable you to cut stuff, burn stuff, cover stuff, carry stuff, and tie stuff.

Cut Stuff

Ah, the good ol’ survival knife. Which is better, a 5 inch blade or the tricked out 12 inch Rambo version? Nothing gets feathers ruffled in the self-reliance community like a knife discussion.

I’ll put an end to the debate here and now. The best survival knife is the one in your hand.

The cutting tool is the hardest item to re-create in a survival situation. If a SAK (Swiss Army Knife) is all you have with you, guess what, it just became your survival knife. My SAK never leaves my pocket and sees more daily duty than any other knife I own. However, if I were limited to only one knife in a survival scenario, I’d choose a multi-tasking blade with these characteristics:

  1. Size: Fixed blade that measures 5 to 6 inch with a pointed tip. 10 to 12 inches overall length.
  2. Metal Content: Carbon steel is easy to hone and throws sparks with flint.
  3. Spine: A 90º edge on the spine is essential when making fire with a ferro rod. You can use the cutting edge on a ferro rod in dire emergencies but you lose a valuable resource – a sharpened edge.
  4. Full Tang: Partial (rat-tail) tangs are not as durable and more likely to fail/break with heavy use. Full tang knifes have solid metal the width and length of the handle.
  5. Functional: Should be able to perform detailed carving tasks, process fire wood, skin game and filet fish, food prep, shelter building, and self-defense. Your knife should fit comfortably in your hand.

    5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance

    Cutting tools!

Burn Stuff

Pack several fire starting methods in your kit. Fire equals life. Don’t mess around with fire making. Redundancy is the key.

  1. Cigarette Lighter: This is an obvious one that has bailed me out many times.
  2. Fire Starter: Fatwood, charred material in a char tin, commercial fire starters, flint and steel, ferrocerium rod, DiY waxed jute twine, steel wool and 9v battery stored separately, and a magnifying lens.
  3. Primitive Fire: Friction fire methods take skill to master – and can still fail. Always carry other fire options.

    Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

    Bow drill in the backyard

Cover Stuff

Burning precious calories to erect a natural shelter might be necessary if you’re caught unprepared. A simple, lightweight, waterproof covering to protect against the elements is easy to pack and affordable.

  1. USGI Poncho: These can be worn over clothing and gear and used as a tarp shelter.
  2. Contractor Trash Bag: Makes an emergency ground cloth or covering for your body.
  3. Emergency Space Blanket: Invest in a quality space blanket that will extend its usefulness to more than a couple of nights.
  4. Tarp: You don’t have to spend a fortune for emergency shelter. A cheap poly tarp from Wally World can get you through an emergency.

    Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

    Lean-to tarp shelter

Carry Stuff

Plastic water bottles are better than no container. But they have limitations. Their not very useful for boiling water or cooking over a fire. I like stainless steel water bottles for their durability and resilience. Bottles that nest inside a cup are easy to pack and give you two containers without losing space in your kit.

  1. Stainless Steel: Heavy duty, multi-tasker. Here’s my preferred container5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance
  2. Aluminum: Choose hard anodized aluminum if possible. I avoid aluminum for health concerns – but would use it to survive for sure!
  3. Titanium: Very lightweight but pricey.

Tie Stuff

Sure, you can make natural cordage with enough time and available resources. Time and resources are often scarce commodities. Processing plant fibers to make a ridge line for your shelter is a great skill to know and practice… but not when your life is in jeopardy. Commercially made cordage doesn’t take up much space or become a burden to carry.

  1. Paracord: 550 paracord contains seven individual braided strands within a nylon sheath making it a favorite among survivalists and campers. Interior strands can be removed and used for fishing line, sutures, snares, and other detailed survival needs. I pack 50 feet in each of our kits. But I prefer this next cordage…
  2. Tarred Bank Line: Another lightweight cord popularized in the survival community by Dave Canterbury. First used in the maritime world to preserve line and give extra bite to knots. We grew up using this cordage for trot lines and limb hooks on the Flint River. With 360 pound test strength (offered in other strengths), bank line was the only cordage I used to build my trapping shelter. Pack two 50′ hanks. Bonus – it’s cheaper than 550 cord. The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Emergencies are never planned. They just happen. Be prepared by packing these five essentials in all your kits.

Your Turn

Since I don’t own a pack mule (yet), I’m working towards increasing Skills to decrease Stuff in my kits!

How have you lightened your load?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

by Todd Walker

A recent trip to the mountains of Georgia produced a good haul of old tools… namely, a new “old” True Temper Kelly Perfect ax.

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

 

Dirt Road Girl and I have a hobby of scavenging for old tools. We’re the dumpster divers of rust bins. We’ve found awesomeness in roadside shops, antiques stores, and yard sales. We almost missed this one. As we were literally exiting one shop, I caught the glint of rusty steel in my peripheral vision. Actually, it’s just a sixth sense I possess when old tools are nearby. The owner of the shop had returned from the woodpile with an ax in hand. I hit the brakes with my hand on the door knob!

“Hold on. I’m going to buy that ax!” I told DRG.

The owner handed the ax to me with a confused look and asked, “How am I going to cut kindling?”

Not my problem. This ax was in good overall condition. No deep chinks in the bit. The poll (butt) had minor mushrooming from a previous owner pounding it with a metal hammer like a splitting wedge. The hickory handle showed proper grain alignment with no cracks or splits. I began haggling.

Twenty bucks later I walked out with a rusty “old” ax!

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

Time to revive it…

Before buying old cutting tools, axes in particular, make sure the bit hasn’t been too abused. I buy old tools to use not set on shelves and collect dust. Rust and pitting are fine. That adds to the character of your tool. However, you’ll need enough metal on the bit to re-profile if necessary.

The stamp on my ax reads, “True Temper – Kelly Perfect”. Any True Temper ax with Kelly in the name was made after 1949. If you’re interested in more history on the Kelly Axe Mfg. Co., Wood Trekker has an interesting and thorough post on his site.

Born Again Tools

There are many ways to give new life to old cutting tools. For minor rust, I use sand paper, a wire brush, and my homemade Fixin’ Wax. Start sanding the tool with coarse grit and progress to higher grit. My progression was 80, 120, 220, 400, 800, 1,500 grit. Use a buffing compound to polish out sanding marks.

Other rust removal methods include:

  • White Vinegar bath – soak for a few hours or up to 24
  • Electrolysis (I’ve used this for cast iron cookware before with success)
  • Limon/lime juice soak
  • Wire brush attached to a drill motor or side grinder
  •  Molasses and water mix – takes longer (week) but effective

Once the rust is gone, you need to take steps to prevent future rust. I apply my Fixin’ Wax, a mix of bees wax, tallow, shea butter, and essential oil, to all my high carbon steel blades, wooden handles, and knife scales.

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

Born again ax

Fortunately, the haft (handle) on this Kelly ax was in excellent shape. In case you need to re-haft your ax, here’s a tutorial I did to few months ago that may help. I applied boiled linseed oil to the new handle after a light sanding to preserve the wood and prevent cracking. Breaking a handle via operator error (miss hitting while splitting/chopping) is another matter all together.

The toe of the ax needed file work. Use a quality bastard file to remove metal from the bit. After you achieve the desired profile, sharpen the bit. I’ll post an ax sharpening article soon.

I look forward to many years of service from this born again ax. If you have an old cutting tool or hand tool you’ve given new life, we’d like to here you process.

Ax Restoration: Making Old Tools Useful Again

My next new “old” tool in need of new life is a Lancaster Geared Blower – No. 40 for my blacksmith forge! Off to my shop…

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over on the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Gear | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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