Survival Skills

How to Make an Emergency Shelter in 5 Minutes or Less

by Todd Walker

Your footing gives way and you body is immersed in 45º water. The clock is ticking. Within 15 minutes, you’ll begin to lose dexterity in your fingers. You need shelter and fire.

5-minute-emergency-shelter

Photo courtesy of Iris Canterbury, Pathfinder School photographer

What’s in your kit to help you erect a quick shelter and fire?

I uploaded my first ever YouTube video covering this topic. Check out my channel if you get a chance. I’d greatly appreciate any honest feedback from you on the video. The following is an outline of what I covered.

Here’s the stuff you’ll need for shelter and fire:

Emergency Shelter

  • Emergency space blanket
  • 4 ABS tent pegs
  • 25 feet of cordage

Hopefully you keep an emergency space blanket in your outdoor kit. If not, get one! They add little weight but have many redundant uses.

Before even heading out to the woods, prep your space blanket. Pre-install loops while you’re warm and dry. Tie a loop of cordage (#36 tarred bank line or paracord) in the four corners of your space blanket. I prefer the smaller diameter on the bank line. I used a necklace knot for the loops. Make the loops about 3 or 4 inches long… enough to slip a tent peg through.

Another time-saving tip: Practice this set up in your backyard. Keep a bowline knot tied on one end of your ridge line. Attach your pursik loop to the ridge line and leave it there. This will trim valuable minutes off your shelter set up in an actual emergency.

Fire

  • Ignition source
  • Tinder
  • Smalls (pencil lead and pencil size twigs)
  • Cutting tool

Practicing primitive fire craft in a controlled setting is smart, but you need fire now! Building a bow drill set off the landscape won’t cut it when you’re losing fine motor skills and finger dexterity at a rapid rate.

Wet and cold, you need fire fast! Always keep layers of sure-fire sources in a dry bag in your kit. A Bic lighter in your pocket, even wet, can be dried by blowing and shaking water out of the valve and striker. Ferro rods work in all weather conditions.

In my video, I collected a drum liner of smalls on my way to the site. This process takes the most time but is essential to creating a sustainable fire. In the eastern woodland, look for dead hanging limbs that snap when harvested.

Your fire kit should also be prepped with a bullet proof tinder material. Commercially made products like Mini Infernos or InstaFire burn for several minutes in wet conditions… even on water.

InstaFire: Lights in Wind, Rain, Snow, and on Water!

InstaFire on the water!

Processed jute twine is a flash tinder that burns quickly and may not ignite marginal or damp tinder and smalls. Click here for a DiY option on jute fire starters that burn for several minutes. Whatever you decide, commercial or homemade, it’s your job to test these items before you actually need them.

In Georgia, we have an abundance of fatwood. A couple of sticks always ride in my fire kits. For demonstration purposes on the video, I used fatwood. Create a pile of fatwood shavings with the spine of your knife if you have no other sure-fire starter. The increased surface of the shavings allows ignition with a spark from your ferro rod. Add a fatwood feather stick to the lit shavings and let the fire eat the smalls. This gives you time to add larger fuel as needed.

You can view my 32 ounce water boil on the video.

Knots

  • Bowline
  • Necklace/Blood knot
  • Trucker’s hitch
  • Prusik loop

These four knots are most useful in woodcraft and survival. Grab a length of cordage and practice tying the bowline, the king of bushcraft knots, while you watch TV or stand in line at the store. Simply ignore the stares. Practice until you are able to tie one with your eyes closed. I’ll do a short video on tying these 4 knots soon.

Here’s my first attempt at videos. Thanks for watching.

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, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

47 Creative Uses for Self-Aid in Your 10 Piece Kit

by Todd Walker

Fall is a season where many of us head out to enjoy the outdoors. Crisp air, colorful leaves, deer in rut, and clear mountain streams lure us to nature. Unfortunately, there are times when things go sideways on day hikes and canoe trips. When they do, you’ll need knowledge, skills, and resources to get home safely.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

The goal of wilderness survival is simple… to effect self-rescue or be found alive. Even “minor” injures in a 72 hour scenario can decrease your chances of meeting that goal.

Self-aid should become a top priority on your skills list. Why?

You’re likely to come in contact with sharp stuff, hot stuff, slippery stuff, and/or stinging stuff on outings. I rarely leave the woods without one of these most common wilderness injuries:

  • Cuts/Abrasions
  • Burns
  • Breaks/Strains/Sprains
  • Bites/Stings
  • Blisters

You may choose to carry a first-aid kit to treat these injuries. The problem with a dedicated first-aid kit (pre-made or homemade) is that they take up space and typically have only on use. Let me state upfront, if you require daily medication for health issues, by all means, be sure to pack enough of your meds.

Can your 10 piece kit double as a self-aid/first-aid kit? Indeed it can!

First, here are the 10 essential items that should go with you on every trip to the woods…

The 10 C’s of Survivability (10 Piece Kit)

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion device
  3. Container
  4. Cover
  5. Cordage
  6. Cotton bandana
  7. Cargo tape
  8. Cloth sail needle
  9. Candling device
  10. Compass

Look beyond the obvious uses for these 10 items – shelter, fire, navigation, water, etc., etc. With a little creativity and practice, your 10 C’s can effectively treat each of the most common injuries in a 72 hour wilderness survival scenario.

Here’s how…

(Adapted from Brian Manning’s hand-out and Jason Hunt’s class on wilderness self-aid at The Pathfinder School)

Cuts and Abrasions

  1. Cutting tool – use knife to remove debris from wounds
  2. Combustion device – sterilize tools
  3. Container – irrigate and wash wound with water
  4. Cover – (drum liner, plastic tarp) bandage and cover wounds
  5. Cordage – tourniquet as a last resort
  6. Cotton bandana – wipe/clean wound, bandages, dressings, tourniquet
  7. Cargo (duct) tape – all-purpose Band Aid, DIY butterfly Band Aid
  8. Cloth sail needle – remove debris from wound and stitch/suture in extreme cases
  9. Compass – good compasses have a magnifying lens that can be used to inspect wounds closely
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Using your knife to cut a duct tape butterfly bandage. Keep your knife outside the Triangle of Death. You don’t need another wound.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Pull the wound together after securing one side of the bandage to the skin. The cut should be pinched together slightly. This is a temporary fix.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Shemaghs make great slings. Get one that is 100% cotton.

Breaks, Sprains, and Strains

  1. Container – water bottle used as a hot or cold pack
  2. Cordage – splint wraps, slings (add padding)
  3. Cargo tape – immobilize limbs by taping makeshift splints in place
  4. Cotton bandana or shemagh – slings, splint wraps, padding under splints (tie smaller bandanas together for longer slings)
  5. Cover (drum liner) – water collection (cold/hot pack), splint wraps, slings
self-aid-10-piece-kit

If using a folding saw or machete as a makeshift splint, tape the cutting edge before taping it to your limb.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Immobilizing a limb. Add padding under your splint before taping.

Burns

  1. Cutting tool – remove debris and clean burns
  2. Container – use to pour water for irrigation, stop the burning process, and cold pack
  3. Cotton bandana – cover burn loosely, retain moisture on burn
  4. Cloth sail needle – clean burns
  5. Cover (drum liner) – cover and protect burns
  6. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to inspect burns and hard-to-reach areas on the body

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Bites and Stings

  1. Cutting tool – knife to scrape/remove stingers and splinters
  2. Container (water bottle) – cold compress to reduce swelling, irrigation – in the case of venomous snake bites, keep location cool, immobilize, and get medical help ASAP.
  3. Cargo tape – DIY Band Aids, bandage tape, remove stinger
  4. Cloth sail needle – remove stinger or splinter
  5. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to locate and inspect hard to reach areas on the body (i.e. – tick removal and bites)
  6. Cotton bandana – Band Aid/bandage material, pressure dressing
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Sighting mirror on compass used to inspect embedded tick on the back of the calf in the dark. A headlamp frees both hands for the task.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Cold water in a water bottle

Blisters

  1. Cargo tape – cover/shield developing hot spots
  2. Cloth sail needle – pop blister at base to drain
  3. Container (water bottle) – irrigate and clean area

Additional self-aid uses for the 10 piece kit

  • Your candling device (head lamp/flashlight) can be used for inspection and treatment at night with all the common injuries.
  • Metal water bottle and cup is useful for preparing infusions, decoctions, and sterilization of your knife or needle before cleaning wounds.
  • Besides using a tarp/emergency space blanket for core temperature control (CTC), these items can also serve as a stretcher, water collection device, and sling material.
  • Use your pack for immobilization and elevating injured limbs and or dealing with shock.
  • And of course, a proper fire kit affords you the ability to maintain CTC, heat natural medicinals, and heat compresses.

Your 10 piece kit should always accompany you on wilderness adventures. As you can see, these multi-purpose tools have many redundant uses. Heck, the 10 C’s of Survivability should go with you no matter where you’re headed.

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, First Aid, Medical, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

How to Craft a Down and Dirty Survival Gig from a Sapling

by Todd Walker

In Surviving Large on Small Stuff, I was asked how I made the gig used to harvest the water moccasin in that post. Two months later – sorry for the delay – I give you my gig tutorial.

diy-survival-gig

A survival gig is a simple tool that has been used, and is still employed by primitive hunter-gatherers and boy scout troops, throughout history to add protein to campfire meals.

Here’s the stuff you’ll need to build your own survival gig.

Gather the Stuff

  • A sapling from a known species
  • Cutting tool(s) (folding saw and knife)
  • Cordage

Knowing the properties of trees comes in handy when selecting wood for your gig. As Chris, over at 35 Years of Scouting, discovered the hard way, along with 15 young scouts in his troop, the emetic properties of the Paw Paw tree on a recent camping trip. Everyone got sick. I appreciate his candor in sharing their lesson.

Step 1

Choose a 6 to 8 foot sapling from a hardwood family if available. American Beech trees scatter the understory near my shelter and personal space. I harvested a fairly straight sapling about 2 fingers in diameter and cut it to about 1 foot taller than my height. Bamboo is also a great selection since it grows like a weed (renewable) and crafts with ease.

Step 2

Trim the shaft of all limbs. Place the larger of the two ends on a wooden anvil (stump or log). With your knife and a baton, make two perpendicular splits into the end of the shaft. The depth of each cut should go 7 or 8 inches. Make deeper cuts for a wide-tined gig.

How to Craft a Down and Dirty Survival Gig from a Sapling

Strip the bark of the shaft the length of these splits. This can be done before making the splits. I did so after splitting to avoid handling the wet wood beneath the bark.

Step 3

Keep one pencil-sized limb from your trimmings. Split a 3 inch long green twig to make two spreaders. Wedge the first spreader into one split on the shaft. Once in place, install the other spreader into the opposite split.

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

diy-survival-gig

A view from the business end

Step 4

With your knife, remove wood from the 4 gig points. Avoid the triangle of death (area of spread legs between the crotch and knees) when crafting wood. Always cut away and to the side of your body. Another power technique for whittling is the chest lever grip.

Chest lever gets it done safely

Chest lever gets it done safely

For a chest lever, grip the knife with the blade facing away from your body. Lock your arms against your sides. Contract your back and shoulder muscles while expanding your chest to move the wood against the cutting edge of your blade. The knife is anchored to your chest and hardly moves. Using a chest lever is a powerful and safe way to craft wood.

Step 5

Whittle gig points. Nothing fancy. Although I added a barb to each point on this gig. Totally unnecessary. Straight points work fine. As a matter of fact, the points are stronger without the barbs. But I wanted to test my new knife’s fine carving abilities. I’m pleased with my Red Barn Forge Bushcrafter! A little more dirt time and I’ll have a review on this knife for you.

Nice knife!

Love this knife!

Step 6

Lash the spreaders and shaft. I used 36# tarred bank line. Any cordage (natural or manmade) will do.

To preserve your cordage for later use, avoid tying hard knots. Use a timber hitch below the spreaders to get your lashing started. Tighten the cordage every 3 wraps with a toggle stick or, in my case, with the package carrying tool on my Swiss Army Knife.

Used about 6 feet of cordage here. Remember to trim the spreaders.

Used about 6 feet of cordage here

Terminate the lashing with a clove hitch. Both the timber hitch and clove hitch are easy to tie and untie without the need to cut your cordage.

Saw or cut the spreader sticks almost flush to make your gig streamline. I missed a creek lobster (crawfish) when the spreader sticks glanced off a rock in tight quarters.

This is a fun and easy project for backyard bushcraft, camping, and/or survival training. There’s a large degree of satisfaction in making your own gear when building self-reliance skills. Plus, campfire food seems to taste better when harvested with stuff you’ve crafted yourself!

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, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

You’ve heard the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers”, right? When your survival is on the line, don’t be ungrateful when a gift comes along. Survival gifts come in all sizes but it’s the small stuff that’s more likely to get you out alive.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Being mindful of the useful mnemonic, Survival Rules of 3, you’ve taken care of shelter and water but your situation may place you weeks from civilization. As a refresher, you may die if you go…

  1. 3 minutes without air (asphyxiation)
  2. 3 hours without shelter (exposure)
  3. 3 days without water (dehydration)
  4. 3 weeks without food (starvation)

While there are documented exceptions to these rules, view these as guidelines to prioritize your survival effort. A lot depends on the timeframe for rule #4. People have survived well past three weeks with little to no nourishment.

You may be thinking, “I’ll forage enough wild plants to survive.” Wildcrafting is an excellent skill to possess. However, you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of wild lettuce to sustain you long-term. You need to find a source of protein and fat before you body goes all cannibal on you.

The days of prolific herds of deer and bison roaming the woodlands are gone. Big game animals aren’t hiding behind every tree. Even if they were, you may not be equipped to harvest them. You could make a primitive weapon from rocks and sticks but that costs calories too. You’re trying to save as many calories as possible. You burn 2,000 calories before noon crafting a weapon and stalking the animal and fail. Now what?

That’s where the small stuff helps.

The Small Stuff

Could I put enough small stuff in the pot if I had to? Here’s how I tested my theory.

Start at the water’s edge. Creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds are where you’ll find bullfrogs, fish, birds, turtles, crawfish, rodents, and snakes. That’s the easiest place to find small stuff.

Collecting Crawfish

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Boiled mud bug

Also known as crayfish, crawdads, mud bugs, and creek lobster, these shellfish are quite tasty. The problem is they are hard to spot and catch without traps. As a child, my buddies and I walked creeks to catch these elusive critters by hand. They hide under rocks and ledges. If you’re brave enough, poke your hand in the crevices to locate the crawfish. If you’re lucky, he will clamp down on your finger and you can pull him out. It doesn’t hurt for long. You may also try gently lifting small flat rock to spot them. These methods take time and energy, two things you’ll be low on in a survival scenario.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Lost two tines off this cheap gig with only one creek lobster to show for it

It’s not likely that you’ll have a wire minnow trap with you. If not, consider a gig. Sweep your gig under ledges and watch for a lightening quick streak to exist. That’s your dinner. He probably scooted to his next hiding place. Now you’ve narrowed down his location and may have a chance.

To prepare creek lobster, bring water to a rolling boil in container and drop your catch into the water. You won’t have corn, potatoes, and sausage for a wilderness low country boil. But you’ve got protein. Boil about 5 minutes. Hold the head in one hand and twist the tail off with the other hand. Gently pull the middle fin on the back of the tail to devein. Crack the shell open to get to the tail meat. Pop the mudpuppy in your mouth and enjoy. Don’t forget to suck the head to remove all the yummy juice.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A creek lobster boil!

A word about gear. If man-made it, it’ll break eventually. Two tines on the gig pictured above were lose after hitting a rock. I was able to pull them out with little effort. I kept the barbed tines since they’d make great improvised fishing hooks for larger fish.

A better method and one which is more reliable for survival purposes is a homemade gig.

Assuming you have a cutting tool, cut a green sapling between 1-2 inches in diameter. Split the trunk end of the sapling to make four separate prongs. Make the splits about 6 to 8 inches deep. Insert a twig about the size of your pinky finger inside the split as a spacer for the prongs. Repeat the process with another twig spreader so that the two twigs meet forming a cross at the base of the splits. Lash the twig spreaders to the gig with cordage – natural or commercial. Sharpen the tines and go find some slithering small stuff.

Snake Stew

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Water Moccasin on a stick

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A closer look at the wooden gig which I didn’t lash

This homemade survival tool is effective on snakes, fish, and other small game as well. Check your local hunting and fishing regulations before practicing.

Water moccasin, like other venomous snakes in the eastern woodlands, are edible. To prepare a venomous pit viper, chop off the head a few inches below it venom sacs. Slit the belly and remove its entrails and skin. Skewer the meat with a green limb and roast over a fire until well done. You may also like snake stew with a few wild edibles. Rattlesnake is my favorite.

Warning: Bury the severed head in the ground. The muscular bite reflex continues even after the snake is dispatched.

Minnow Dinner

With enough small stuff, you can reload your reserves. Smaller minnows and sun-fish can also be used as bait for larger fish, turtles, and crawfish. I used a commercial minnow trap to catch several small bream at our cabin/shack. I wrapped a piece of bacon in tin foil and suspended it inside the trap. This prevents minnows and crawfish from feeding on the bait from the outside edge of the trap.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

About a dozen bait-minnows in less than an hour

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Floating Fish

Many indigenous tribes used plants to poison or stun fish. When ingested or passed over the gills, the fish would float helplessly on top of the water for easy gathering. In my state, Georgia, the Cherokee used the bark and green nut husks of Black Walnut trees and Polkweed berries as a fish poison. Once the fish reach un-poisoned water, they would recover.

No, I’ve never tried this method. From my research, I’ve found that the green husks must be pounded to pulp and introduced into a pooled area of a stream or slow-moving river or a still body of water. Processing enough husks or plant material may burn more calories than could be made up by floating fish.

Rotenone and saponins are the active chemicals that affects the breathing mechanism of fish but not their edibility. How much to use? Not sure. Maybe one of our readers could enlighten us on this technique.

NOTE: Fish poisoning is illegal in most states in the U.S. I don’t endorse this method. I added it for educational purposes only.

MRE’s on the Half Shell

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A snapping turtle I caught on the way to school one morning

Unfashionable now, turtle soup was once a presidential delicacy. President Taft, our most rotund White House resident, loved turtle soup. There is a smorgasbord of seven different meat flavors in a large snapping turtle – beef, chicken, goat, pork, shrimp, veal, and fish.

Turtles are slower than most animals in the forest. No surprise there. Snapping turtles do what their name implies… oh, snap. Unless your Turtle Man and have experience on which end to grab, these feisty creatures can perform instant digit amputations. Senseless injury in a survival scenario can be fatal.

I’ll leave it to you to research catching, cleaning, dressing, and cooking methods. Here are few useful resources here and here.

The prospect of feeding your body in a long-term survival situation is a challenge. Focus on the small survival foods. Choose a few methods to practice in case you ever have to depend on them for a meal. And remember to be thankful for any survival gift that comes your way. Bon appétit!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-reliance,

Todd

P.S. The winner of my handcrafted bushcraft journal is Patrick Blair! Thanks to everyone for the entries and support you have shown to our family and this blog!

P.P.S – If you find value in this article, please Share the Stuff! Dirt Road Girl and I would also 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…

As always, 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 in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsman Workout

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

For those unfamiliar with the term Functional Fitness, FF connects fitness to real-life function. Or another way to look at FF is fitness for the tasks you perform or may one day have to perform. In a general preparedness mindset, I practice functional fitness because it’s fun and build skills.

Another cool part of functional fitness is that you don’t have to pay for a gym membership to get in shape. Use the simple machines around your house or shop to prep your body for Doing the Stuff of self-reliance. In the spirit of saving money on gym memberships and the newest fitness equipment, I give you The Wild Woodsman Workout. By the way ladies, it’s not just for men. :)

The Wild Woodsman Workout

Though I have a bodyweight workout I follow, I wanted to up my game for a specific task – a wilderness survival school next month. I devote time in the woods (dirt time) practicing self-reliance, survival, and bushcraft skills but this is different. Will I have the endurance, strength (mental and physical), stamina to finish the course? We shall see.

Equipment Needed

  • Ax – a sharp one!
  • Wood – preferably in the woods.
  • Backpack – if you’re have access to a wild area.
  • Saw – buck saw, folding saw, limb saw, or crosscut saw.
  • Water – hydration before, during, and after the workout.
  • Insect repellant
  • Footwear – boots

Cut the Core

Any swinging motion done properly works your core muscles. Find a recently downed tree. Older dead falls are likely to be too rotted. [For urban dwellers, a local park will do] If your decently fit now, I recommend selecting a hardwood with dense fibers (oak or hickory). For my workout equipment, I selected a large Beech tree uprooted by March storms.

If you’re not familiar with ax safety, STOP right here! Learn the basics of cutting wood with an ax before proceeding. Until you learn this skill, substitute a sledge hammer for the ax and bang 0n an old tire in the backyard – which is an excellent workout in and of itself. You won’t see wood chips flying with the hammer, but you won’t cut off your leg or foot.

Here’s a helpful video by Dave Canterbury if you’re new to swinging a cutting tool.

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/A7ylTAH9aLE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

First, tuck your pant legs into your boots and lace them snuggly. Apply insect repellant to clothing and exposed skin. Deet-free sprays are available. A commercial brand I use and find effective is Naturapel. I’m still working on my DiY formula.

Now grab your pack and gear and hike to your fallen tree. Carrying a loaded pack (mine weighs 25#) serves as your warm up exercise.

Ideally, your tree will be laying on flat ground. There’s not many perfect situations in the wild. My tree was on a steep hill. Find a firm footing, cut away any obstructions in the swing path of the ax, and let the chips fly.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

On the backstroke!

I set up on a portion of a limb that was about 10 inches in diameter. Your skill and fitness level will determine the diameter to cut (This comes into play later in the workout). Try to swing at a safe, steady rate until you sever the limb/tree. Take breaks as needed. Fatigue leads to sloppiness and puts you at risk for a stupid injury.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Chopping up hill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

After cutting through one end, being on a steep slope, I cut two 4′ stakes (2″ in diameter) from the smaller end of this limb, sharpened them, and drove them into the ground to prevent the log from shifting downhill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Stake the log on the downhill side if you’re on a slope.

Now you’re ready to cut a section from the log.

A note on cutting tools. The ax I used was my True Temper Kelly Perfect I restored recently. On the second cut I noticed the head was loose on the handle. I figured I could make it through the cut and add a wedge when I got home. Nope. It broke. Make sure you check your equipment regularly and fix what needs fixing. In a survival situation, I’d been up the creek without an ax!

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

And this wasn’t a mis-hit.

I intentionally brought my limb saw and I’m glad I did. Saw from underneath a notched log to relieve pressure and prevent binding. The sawing motion was an added bonus to the workout. Push-pull-push transfers to bow drill fires and the companies tug-of-war event.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Finishing the second cut with my saw.

It’s hot and humid in Georgia. Hydrate before, during, and after your workout!

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Water break at base camp!

Lift Heavy Stuff

Congrats on successfully cutting timber! Now you have a new piece of workout equipment.

Stand it on end and place your shoulder about midway on the log. Grip the bottom end with your hands in a squatting position with your back as straight as possible. Use your legs and hips to lift the log onto your shoulders. Beech happens to have a very smooth outer bark which makes your next exercise easy on the neck and shoulder. I’d recommend de-barking logs with rough bark. Use your ax or bring along a draw knife for this job.

Maintain your balance and haul it to your next station. My leg-destroying station is in the creek bottom just down the hill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Squats on the rocks!

How many squats should you do? Depends on your present fitness level. I did 2 sets of 10. Keep your back straight, feet about shoulder width apart, head up looking straight ahead. Thighs should be parallel to the ground at the bottom of the squat.

Haul Heavy Stuff

Drop the log and drink water. Shoulder the log and walk up a hill if one is available. You never know when you may be called upon to haul a buddy to safety. This doesn’t replicate the rescue exactly but will light your calves and quads on fire.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Uphill gets more for your money.

Walk down and repeat five times. There’s no set distance. Do what you can do.

Jump Stuff

Plyometrics are awesome for developing explosiveness. For this one, find a stump, rock, park bench (for urban jungles), or fallen tree trunk. My equipment was too high for me to do straight up plyometrics – jumping from the ground over the top of the obstacle and back down again like a pommel horse.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Nature’s pommel horse.

I did about 10 reps of jumping over the tree from side to side…

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans WorkoutMight as well throw in a few push ups on the log while you’re there!

Primal Pool Dip

After a long Father’s Day morning workout, a woodsman needs to cool down. No better way to do this than to get all primal and jump in the creek! Grok on!! Not advisable in your city park. :)

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Checking for ticks and other creepy-crawlies. Found one!

 

The purpose of functional fitness is to prepare your body and mind for real-life tasks. It’s not about counting reps and bench pressing the world but more about training your body for situations you’re likely to encounter in daily life. An added bonus is the mental and emotional satisfaction gained from Doing the Stuff of self-reliance with simple tools and makeshift equipment.

Could you fireman’s carry a family member to safety – or split firewood without hydraulic equipment – or hoe that long row in your garden without having a stroke? You may never have to prove your worth in this regard but what if’s do happens.

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, Functional Fitness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Milestone Post #500! The One Stick Fire Challenge

by Todd Walker

You’ve helped us reached a milestone – today marks our 500th article here!!

Post #500: The One Stick Fire ChallengeDirt Road Girl and I want to thank each of you for supporting us on our self-reliance journey! We’re closing in on 1,000,000 visits. But the numbers aren’t what matter to us. Freely passing on knowledge, skills, and lore is our heartbeat of this site.

We express our deep appreciation for your support for our family – especially the prayers and thoughts you sent DRG’s way as she beat stage 4 cancer! We are HUMBLED and burning both ends of this second chance at LIFE!

Appropriately, our 500th post covers one of my favorite topics: Fire!

The One Stick Fire Challenge

A few months ago Justin Wolfe issued a challenge on his YouTube channel (grierwolfe). The purpose of the challenge was to make a sustainable fire with only one stick/log. An interesting concept and survival skill indeed. I love a good challenge and Doing the Stuff of self-reliance so I was in.

The guidelines (not rules) are to use one stick and one or two cutting tools to make fire. You’ll also need an ignition source. I’ve only seen ferro rods used in this challenge so that’s what I chose.

Tools

Here’s my break down on the tools I used:

  1. Knife – Condor Kephart
  2. Saw – Bacho Laplander folding saw
  3. Combustion – Ferro rod (the big one – 6″ Long x 1/2″ Diameter)

Wood

Your choice of wood is determined by available resources and the degree of difficulty you prefer in the challenge. For an easier fire, select any soft wood like cedar, pine, or poplar. Up the ante with oak or hickory.

The location of my personal space (shelter) is loaded with poplar and cedar. I chose a dead-fall limb from a poplar tree about the size of my forearm.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Using a plumber’s vise to hold the wood for sawing a one foot length of poplar

Others have used larger diameter logs for the challenge. Most of my shelter was built with dead cedar which I had available. But I went with poplar. Both cedar and poplar have bark that can be processed into fine fibrous material to form a bird’s nest. I noticed that Justin used a larger section of cottonwood but chose not to use the bark for his tinder bundle.

As I mentioned earlier, there are no rules or time frame in this friendly challenge. What matters is that we are trading theory for action by Doing the Stuff to improve our skills. Watching and doing are worlds apart.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Processing the round via the baton method

A benefit of building a personal space or base camp is furniture. I took advantage of the wood anvil and cedar rounds for my work station. Begin by splitting the wood with a your cutting tool. Batoning a knife, machete, or axe works.

You want to process three sizes of wood from your one stick:

  • Pencil-lead sized (smallest – feather stick curls and scrapings)
  • Pencil sized (small)
  • Thumb sized (largest)
Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bird’s nest

Tinder Bundle

There are few ways to create a good tinder bundle for this challenge. Use the outer bark if it’s fibrous like poplar or cedar. Processed down, the bark makes this challenge a bit more easy. Only use the sap wood and heart wood of your stock for more of a challenge. Either way, process enough pencil-lead to feed the fire from your tinder bundle.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Twist and rub poplar bark and separate the inner bark fibers

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Time consuming but well worth the effort

Feather Sticks

On a few pencil sized pieces, I shaved curls by propping my knife-hand on the anvil and pulling the stick towards me. I’ve found this technique coupled with a very sharp knife works well for curling smalls. On thumb sized fuel, I brace the stick at an angle and carve down the stick with the length of my blade to create the desired amount of curls for the feather stick.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Creating feather sticks

Take the time to process enough curls and shavings to add to your lit tinder bundle. More time was spent on processing the bark for the tinder bundle than any other part of the challenge. This step is even more important if you choose not to use the bark fibers. In that case, use the spine of you knife to scape off fine sawdust into a pile that will catch a spark from a ferro rod.

Dang, I’ve got to start recording this stuff on video. That’s a goal of mine this summer!

 Fire Lay

There’s really no best fire lay for this challenge. I used a twig fire lay which resembles the corner of a stacked split-rail fence. This allow ample air flow to feed the fire which is started in the corner. If the ground is wet, be sure to lay your tinder bundle on top of a few pieces of thumb size wood.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Fire lay

Ignition

With the tinder bundle in place and processed wood close at hand, shower sparks down on the bird’s nest. Processed into fine fibers, the poplar bark caught fire on the second pull of my ferro rod.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Ferro rod ignition

The bird’s nest won’t burn for long so be ready to feed the feather sticks and shavings on top of the blaze. Follow those with the pencil-lead and then pencil sized sticks. Make sure not to smother the flame. As the smalls ignite, place the thumb size fuel on top.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Adding smalls

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Burning fuel

Again, let me encourage you to practice safe procedures when using cutting tools. Cut away from your body and never in the Triangle of Death (between your thighs from knee to crotch).

Have fun practicing your bushcraft skills. We’re all at different levels of mastery. As you hone your skills, add more challenges in a controlled environment (backyard or personal space) remembering that perfect practice makes perfect.

Have you taken the One Stick Fire Challenge? Want to? If so, let us know your results.

Thanks Again!

To close, DRG and I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and willingness to share the stuff you’re doing for self-reliance and preparedness! Y’all rock!!

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.

Thank you for Sharing the Stuff!

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…

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 third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

by Todd Walker

The thought of a second grader even touching an razor-sharp ax is horrifying to modern helicopter parents… and probably illegal in some jurisdictions! If so, please don’t share this.

Yesterday was one of the best days yet in my young grandfathering career! Our daughter and grandson came over to hang out and hit up our local farmer’s market for some naturally grown produce. Afterwards we played several rounds of Eye Spy at a local restaurant, ate lunch together and headed home. Max slumped in a patio chair and said what every young video gamer has running through their mind when their electronic device is not in their hands…

“There’s nothing to do.” *Sigh*

That’s all I needed to hear!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I’m bored! 

Like most school children today, our grandson had a fear of sharp, pointy stuff ingrained in his psyche within two years of public schooling. The NO WEAPONS mantra had stuck in his pliable mind. Knives, axes, and most of all – guns! These menacing, inanimate objects are inherently evil and must be avoided. Granted, these tools should not be left in the path of toddlers. This begs the question, what age is appropriate to begin training children to use a knife or ax?

You’re no stranger to the No Weapons Zone signs if your kids are school age. Yes, all these tools can be weapons. Yellow school buses and SUV’s possess the same ability.

But here’s the thing… the intent of the user is what matters. Even with the purest intentions, accidents happen. All the more reason to introduce safe handling and respect for these tools to the next generation at an early age.

Under proper supervision and training, Max discovered that my camp ax is a useful cutting tool – not the vicious weapon portrayed in Kindergarten circle time.

As a prepared parent or grandparent, you have to decide the appropriate age to begin training your children to use sharp stuff. There’s no magical age. We’re all individuals. Move slowly and follow their curiosity and maturity level. My children didn’t come with a user’s manual. You just have to figure it out as you go.

It’s my hope that these tips will help train our next generation to begin Doing the Stuff with the tools of our trade.

Fear Factor

While demonstrating my DiY Survival Sling Shot at our backyard, Max was afraid to try it out. He told me that he knew what those things were called, pointing my bag of ammo.

“What?” I asked.

“Bullets.”

“No buddy, these are ball bearings.”

“Well, they look like bullets,” he assured me.

My explanation of “bullets” gave him enough confidence to pull the sling without the “bullet” misfiring in his hand. He fired a few rounds and hit the target.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

Taking aim!

Fear is overcome easily with truth and patience. Our body follows our mind (thoughts). An elementary physics lesson on what made bullets (or any object) move was all it took. I shot a pebble to prove the point.

Safety First

Obviously, safety of the child and bystanders is paramount when using projectiles or cutting tools! Our next skill came about through his curiosity of an ax in my shop.

Here’s a few tips I hope you find helpful for introducing your child to cutting tools.

First, allow the child to hold the ax with the bit (sharp edge) in the sheath or mask. I used my Backcountry Ax with a 16 inch handle. Take a moment to point out that the bit will bite and that axes should always be sheathed until they are ready to be used. Allow your child to hold the ax on their own strength under constant supervision. If they struggle to hold the tool steady, find a lighter ax or hatchet.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

The Eastwing hatchet (at the bottom of the pic) is a few inches shorter than the Backcountry Max used and has a smaller handle grip.

Now, while you hold the tool, remove the mask to reveal the ax head. Explain the purpose of the cutting tool. No need to go into the history of axes. A few sentences will do for short attention spans.

Next, demonstrate proper technique on a wood anvil (chopping block) with your work space cleared of obstructions and tripping hazards. Find an anvil about waist-high to your child when he/she is kneeling. Always use a kneeling position when spitting wood with a short ax. If you miss the target in the standing position, the arc of the ax may find your shin. By kneeling, you increase the swing radius of the ax from the pivot point of your body.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I modified the wood by cutting it into 4 inch lengths to make splitting easier.

 

Short Cuts

For young beginners, saw a wood round into 3 to 4 inch sections. I let Max strike a 12″ piece with no noticeable results. I ran into my shop and chopped a few pieces with my miter saw. You want them to have success and see the results as they learn a new skill. Seeing wood fly is very motivating!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

Explain the importance of placing the round to be split at the back edge of the anvil. Above I demonstrate the danger of swinging too closely on the near edge of the anvil.

Now assist them in their first swing with the ax. Have them swing at a spot on the back half of an empty anvil. The ax will get stuck in the anvil if enough force is applied on the down swing. Push down and pull up on the ax handle in a controlled movement to loosen and remove the ax.

IMG_0500

When you’re comfortable that they’re able to strike a target on the anvil with assistance, allow him to try a 90º swing on his own – with very close supervision. Repeat several times until accuracy improves.

Now place a short round on the back half of the anvil. This is where the fun begins! On his first strike, the ax head got stuck in the round. I had him raise the ax with the round still attached and swing it back down on the anvil. It worked. The wood split!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

And he scores!!

He was so excited and amazed at what he’d just done. His next round split with his first swing… even more excitement! After carefully placing the ax on the ground, he ran to show his mom and DRG pieces of split wood.

As a reminder of this right-of-passage, his skillful work is proudly displayed on our fridge.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

Fridge worthy wood!

I’ll give you one guess as to what he wants now instead of a bow and arrow set. Ha! He’s got a lot of learning and maturing to do before he gets his first hatchet. My father gave me my first folding knife when I was seven. I learned some valuable lessons that year and still sport a puncture wound scar in my left forearm for doing what I was told not to do while unsupervised.

Please use your best judgement when teaching Doing the Stuff skills to children. Scrapes, cuts and bruises happen as they learn. But with proper training, serious injuries can be avoided – and traditional knowledge gets passed on.

For more articles related to kids and self-reliance, check out these Trusted Resources:

Here’s two questions for you: A) When did you receive your first cutting tool? B) What do you consider to be the top 5 skills children need to for self-reliance? I’d like to put together a summer series on self-reliance skills for kids. Your thoughts and input are really appreciated!

Keep Sharing 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.

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, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Education, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 13 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

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

by Todd Walker

Imagine the first human who made fire from scratch.

The Art of Rubbing  Sticks Together

We have no way of knowing the gender of this hero, but I’m sure her clan celebrated her curious discovery well into the night! We’ll call her Pyrojen.

Scouting for berries by the stream that day, she threw a fist-sized rock at a slithering, scaly animal. Snake was a delicacy during berry season. Her projectile missed its mark. Hunger has a way of improving our hunter-gatherer craft. She threw more stones at random targets in the creek bed.

Still missing her target, Pyrojen’s frustration turned to anger, then to rage. She pitched a flailing fit while breaking rock on rock. And it happened. Sparks flew from two random rocks which lit her curiosity.

Word spread to nearby tribes huddled and shivering in dark, damp primitive shelters. Like a moth drawn to a flame, they came. Wondering as they wandered towards the glow if they too might learn to capture this primordial, glowing ember. And the rest is history.

This is where the term pyromaniac originated. ;)

Our fascination with fire is nothing new. For millenniums, men and women have stared at flames. Fire was man’s first TV. Besides being mesmerizing, fire from scratch opened a whole new world and we’ve been creatively using it’s power to make other useful stuff like glass, pottery, and weaponry.

We had three generations in our house last week. I offered to show our oldest grandson (almost 7) how to start a friction fire. He was not interested… yet. His bow and arrow held his attention. But our son jumped at the chance.

Here’s how he started his first friction fire using the bow drill method. If you’ve ever wanted to created fire by friction, the bow drill is the most efficient way. There are subtle nuances involved which can only be mastered by Doing the Stuff!

Ready to make ancestral fire?

Gather the Stuff

Though you can make a bow drill set from natural material in the bush, this is my practice set I use at home. It’s better to practice in a controlled environment to perfect your skills than waiting until you absolutely need them.

I’m planning a tutorial on making a bow drill in the woods. Stay tuned!

Here’s the stuff what you’ll need for the bow drill method…

  • Fire hearth (board)
  • Bow and bow-string
  • Spindle (drill)
  • Handhold socket
Friction fire kit

Friction fire kit

Fire Hearth

friction fire

Select wood that is free of moisture and resins. I had a scrap piece of cedar 1×4 board left over in my shop. I ripped it down to 2 1/2 inches wide by about a foot long. The board measures about 3/4 of an inch thick. Anywhere between 3/4″ to 1/2″ is a good thickness for your hearth.

Spindle

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

About 8 inches long

We used a thumb-sized dowel rod made of poplar. The length of your spindle should be about 8 inches. Without a measuring device, make the spindle about the length from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

The business end

There are two ends of the spindle. On the business end (where you’ll create the primordial ember), chamfer a slight bevel on the entire edge to fit into the pivot you’ll create in the fire board with your knife. This pivot will be ‘burned in’ by friction to create a socket for your spindle.

Whittle the opposite end to a point. The pointed end decreases the friction on the handhold socket.

Handhold Socket

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Since my practice set gets lots of use, I made a metal socket and secured it with epoxy.

I created my handhold from a piece of cedar leg I shaved down when I made DRG’s cedar bench. I split a smooth, rounded 4 inch piece and made a pivot hole that would accept a “knock out” from a metal receptacle box.

You could use a coin of some kind for the socket. Or you could burn a socket in the handhold with your spindle. A round stone with a dimple would also work.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Ball pen hammer, 9/16 ” socket, and a vise made the metal divot

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Cordage

We used the quintessential survival cord – 550 paracord – for our bow-string. You could use tarred bank line, natural cordage, braided dental floss, animal sinew, or any strong line.

Bow

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Bow and bow-string

The length of your bow should measure from the tip of you outstretched finger tips to your arm pit. Use a limb with a slight bend. My bow (oak) has a large bend but it’s what I had available. I’ve seen bows work that were perfectly straight.

If you have a boring tool (awl on your Swiss Army Knife) or a drill and bit, drill a hole about an inch from both ends of the bow. Away from civilization, just cut a 1/4″ notch on the back of the bow where you would have drilled holes. Wrap the cord around the notch to hold the bow-string in place.

Burning In Your Socket

Place your spindle on the fire board so that the edge of the spindle is about 1/4 inch from the edge. Tilt the spindle and make a mark where the center of the spindle would touch the board. Now make a pivot hole with your knife that will accept the drill. Spin the board with the knife point in the pivot until you’ve created a shallow hole the diameter of your spindle.

Twist the spindle into the bow string and slowly burn a hole in the board. This creates a socket  in the fire board that will mate with the drill.

Notch the Socket

Once you’ve burned in a socket hole, cut a notch on the edge of the board that runs at a 45° angle from the center of the hole. The notch should cut into the burned hole about 1/8th of an inch. The notch is used for air flow and collecting charred cellulose dust from process of friction.

Rubbing Sticks Together

I’m right-handed and built my bow drill to allow my students to see the process while facing me. That is why the notched holes are facing away from the fire-maker. If you’re left-handed, just flip this set around and the holes face you as you place your right foot on the board.

Before starting your bow drill, place a dry leaf, piece of paper, or bark under the edge the fire board to collect the ember. This will be used to transfer the primal ember to your tinder bundle. (It’s a good practice to lay a dry barrier under the complete set to prevent moisture from entering your fire hearth).

With your bow sting tight, twist the spindle into the cord with the business end down. Place the drill in the socket on your fire board, place handhold on top of spindle, and brace your off-hand against your shin for stability and pressure. This technique also helps you keep your drill vertical.

Now begin to spin the drill with long, smooth strokes while applying pressure on the handhold. The correct amount of pressure takes practice. Use the entire length of the bow string to rotate the spindle.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Our son creating smoke

Not too much pressure in the beginning. You’ll begin to see charred dust fill the notch in your fire board. Once the notch is almost full, you’ll pick up your pace with the bow. You’ll need to create a temperature around 800°F to create an ember from the char dust.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

A successful ember

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Messaging (blowing) the ember inside the bird’s nest (tinder bundle)

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

His first primitive fire!!

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Making char material to ensure future fires when using flint and steel or a ferro rod

This method of making fire is a spiritual experience that connects you to our ancient ancestors. It’s also a great way to connect with your family now!

Keep Doing the Stuff with fire!

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG 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 third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Lost Skills, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

The Art of ‘Smoothing It’ in Struggleville

by Todd Walker

Whether physical, mental, or spiritual, your comfort zone is an oasis of low anxiety, little risk, and predictable outcomes. It’s that place which offers protection, real or perceived, from the scary unknowns of life.

Welcome to Struggleville: Now Entering Your Un-Comfort Zone

You’re entitled to comfort, right?

Well, yes, to some degree.

We all have comfort zones and comfort items we’d hate to do without. These places and things are needed for maintenance, rest, and recuperation.

However, they often turn into self-made snares. For some of us, stepping one toe outside our comfort zone would be like passing a kidney stone.

Here’s the thing…

More comfort does not necessarily equate to survivability. We need stretching, bending, tearing, ripping to grow. It’s the struggle, plain and simple, that brings new life. Babies aren’t born without pain.

But, like my bug out bag or bushcraft kit, my philosophy and mindset evolve the more time I spend Doing the Stuff. The process can only happen by entering Struggleville. And yes, Struggleville is an actually “town” in GA.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Struggleville is real!

Metaphorically, Struggleville is the place you live. The place where life is forged – good or bad – peaceful or hectic. The place where kids cry, bosses fire, mistakes are made, and life lessons are caught.

Welcome to Struggleville!

It’s located in the valley, not the mountain top. You’ll never climb your mountain, learn that new skill, or build self-confidence living in your comfort zone.

Here’s the danger of never venturing outside your warm, fuzzy boundaries…

  • You stop growing
  • You stop learning
  • You stop doing

It’s easy to talk yourself into staying put in your comfort zone. You look around at those who have reached optimal success in your field and your tempted to set your bar to their height. They make it look easy. Nothing wrong with aiming high, but your heroes didn’t magically reach the top. They learned to smooth it in Struggleville.

As “Nessmuk” (aka – George Washington Sears) so eloquently wrote 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]

Nessmuk was referring to our ability to enjoy the great outdoors. But his statement applies to all areas of preparedness. Learning to smooth it takes practice. Skills aren’t developed by just reading about how to. The smoothing it process requires “dirt time.”

In a survival situation, dirt time pays off. Whether it’s wilderness survival or homesteading, you must trade theory for action. The only way to get dirt time is by Doing the Stuff!

Here’s my latest project.

The idea came from a video by Chris Kane on Pathfinder TV on how to build a semi-permanent trapping shelter. Cool project! I decided I needed one for base camp. It’s a weekend project I work on when I get a chance.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Frame almost complete. It will sleep two comfortably with room for gear.

DSCN0412

The overhang on the front was made from 32″ poles lashed to the ridge beam.

DSCN0414

Here are the main tools used to construct the shelter: (L to R) limb saw in black sheath, almost free ax I re-helved, and a Wetterlings belt ax. Other tools used but not pictured are my Swiss Army Knife (for lashings), Bacho Laplander folding saw, and a WWII trench shovel.

Also, I used 36# tarred bank line for lashing material. I’ll probably re-lash the main frame with a more robust natural fiber rope.

DSCN0416

Wild grape-vine is woven between the lean-to poles for stability and to help hold debris on top. I’ll use a tarp on top of a layer of pine bows for the roofing. Then I plan to cover the tarp with debris.

As Nessmuk wrote, we don’t go to the woods to rough it, we go to smooth it. And we learn the art of smoothing it by going to Struggleville.

I’ll update you with my first night in the shelter. Ought to be a blast!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG 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 third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliant, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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