How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks

by Todd Walker

Glue it! Whether camping under canvas, hiking the AT, or caught in a real survival scene, you’ll inevitably need to hold stuff together. Back in civilization you’d simply heat up a hot glue gun or grab a tube of super glue and call it good. Would you be able to re-produce glue once modern sticky stuff runs out?

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I’m fond of the natural sticky stuff. Besides being the most commonly found organic material on primitive tools of ancient times, modern practitioners should add pitch sticks to their modern-primitive tool box for several reasons…

  • Raw material is readily available where conifers grow
  • Minimal equipment needed
  • Easy to make and apply
  • Quick drying time – almost immediate
  • waterproof stuff
  • Fire extender and make-shift candle
  • Medicinal benefits
  • Fun project to so with the kids

Primitive Hot Glue How-to

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The basic material need to make the sticky stuff

 A.) Gather Raw Material

Don’t get stuck on a name. Pitch, resin, sap… whatever you choose to call the sticky stuff, it’s easy to find and harvest. Technically, resin is used to create pitch glue. For the purpose of consistency, we’ll use the term resin in this tutorial. Check out this recent article on how to collect pine resin, your main ingredient.

The next ingredient is charcoal. I’ve not tried store-bought hardwood charcoal for bbq grills but don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

B.) Build a Fire

Not any fire. You’ll want to create charcoal from a hardwood fire.

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Waiting for some coals, my buddy Joe boiled water in his re-enactment tin pot to enjoy some hot cocoa

Once the wood burns down a bit, pull a few chunks of blackened charcoal from the ashes. I’d advise against using wet charcoal from an old fire pit. The moisture in the coals when mixed with hot resin can pop and splatter. Hot resin is not something you want on the human body! – unless you’re laying siege to a castle with flaming arrows.

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Grinding stone, charcoal, and saddle-shaped rock for processing

Once you have a few chunks of charcoal cooled, crush it into a fine powder. Use a flat stone and grinding stone or a round stick as a rolling pin. The finer the charcoal powder the better.

C.) Melt and Mix

In a container you don’t mind ruining, old tin cans come to mind, begin melting the resin slowly. Select containers that will heat and cool quickly. Sea shells and turtle shells work well for this too.

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

An old turtle shell holding globs of hard resin

Camp stoves work well for melting indoors as they allow you to regulate the heat. Cooking too fast may cause a flame up. Scorched resin creates brittle pitch glue sticks.

On a research note, Scott Jones, author of A View to the Past, has experimented far more with different resin recipes than the author of this article. I had the privilege of meeting and learning from Scott last year and plan to attend another class on making and firing primitive pottery in a few weeks. Scott found that adding Sweetgum resin to pine resin in pitch recipes cures the brittle pitch stick dilemma.

On a camp fire, place the container on top of a few hot coals away from the open fire. Heat the resin low and slow. The melting pitch will begin to bubble around the edges. Stir it with a small stick help it melt completely. Do not boil/overcook the batch of resin.

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cooking resin low and slow

Once liquified, some people strain the melted sap to remove debris. I just remove the largest chunks of bark once the entire batch is melted.

Mix in the charcoal powder, about 25% by volume, for temper, pinch by pinch as you stir. A bushcrafty thing to do is add other binder agents like dried dung from ungulates (deer, rabbits, etc.) or cattail fluff. I’ve not found these binders to help much in my batches. Tempering with charcoal works for me. I can create my own charcoal.

D.) Make Pitch Glue Sticks

Prepare a few sturdy pencil size sticks, green or dry. I like to sharpen the end to a point for accurate application of the pitch.

With the container of pitch in a honey consistency, insert the end of a stick in the melted pitch. Tip: Heating the end of the stick before insertion helps the pitch adhere to the wood. Roll the stick in the pitch to gather a layer of pitch on the warm wood.

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two pitch sticks ready for use

Remove and mold the warm pitch between your hands. Caution: Hot pitch will burn your skin. To prevent burns, moisten your hands with spit or water. Wet hands cool the pitch and may not mold as well. I’ve also coated my palms and fingertips with extra powered charcoal before forming pitch sticks. DRG says I have asbestos hands though. You’ll have to test your heat tolerance to see what works best for you.

Continue dipping and molding as if you were making a candle. You’re looking for a thumb-sized amount of pitch tapered to a point at the end of the stick. Give the finished pitch stick a glossy finish by rotating it over an open flame. This is purely for aesthetic reason. Dull pitch sticks function just fine!

Tap the finished product on a hard surface. If it’s too brittle, you’ll know it as you collect the broken pieces and return them to the tin can and fire. The beauty of pitch is that you can re-adjust your recipe with the shards for a better batch. Add more charcoal or try some dry binder.

E.) Storage and Usage

As an adhesive, pitch is temperature sensitive and not very flexible. However, it’s easy to repair, make, and use. Store it in a cool dry place if possible. Laying your pitch stick on the dashboard of your truck in July in Georgia is not a good idea. I store pitch sticks in my repair/fire kit in my haversack.

To use your pitch stick, heat the tip and apply to whatever needs gluing. Again, to help pitch adhere, the surface to be glued should be heated for best results. Melted pitch drips. And burns skin. It’s similar to molten paracord for those who have had this unpleasantness stuck to their finger tip!

Here’s our video shot at my shelter making primitive hot glue sticks…

Recommended Resources:

  1. A View to the Past: Experience and Experiment in Primitive Technology by Scott Jones
  2. Practicing Primitive: A Handbook of Aboriginal Skills by Steven M. Watts
  3. Participating in Nature by Thomas J. Elpel

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: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashing

by Todd Walker

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

With spring near, you’re hoping for a cure to cabin fever. Maybe a camping trip to your favorite spot is in order. Time to refresh your camp craft skills and awe your camping buddies with your rope and stick tying skills!

Lashing isn’t just for Boy Scouts and pirates. This skill comes in handy for gardeners, homesteaders, bushcrafters, and for that unlikely event when you need to build a raft to escape a cannibal infested island.

Traditional Square Lashing

Square lashing is used when securing spars (poles) that cross between 45º to 90º angles. It’s a super strong lashing still used in many parts of the world to build bamboo scaffolding. You probably won’t have the need for a 5 story construction platform, but you may want to build a few camp comforts like a table or wash station.

Lashing Lingo

These are commonly used terms when describing the art of lashing stuff together.

Wrap: A series of turns of cordage around two or more spars (poles) you’re binding together.

Frap: Turns of cordage on top and perpendicular to the previous wraps. Fraps go between the spars to pull the joint tight.

Spars: Poles to be lashed together.

Tag End: The short end of your cordage when tying knots and lashings. AKA ~ running end.

Working End: The long end of your cordage when tying knots and lashings. AKA ~ standing end.

Tongue Lashing: What you’ll receive from camping buddies if your lazy lashings on camp furniture fail. Take your time, use good materials, and tie it right.

Material List

Cordage: I use #36 Tarred Mariner’s Line (bank line) for 95% of lashing projects. Other options in order of my preference are:

  • Natural fiber rope/twine – whipping should be applied to the ends to prevent unraveling.
  • Paracord – I use red paracord in this demonstration as a visual aide. Melt the ends to stop fraying. It is my least favorite cordage for lashing.

Spars: Two wrist-size sticks; one vertical, one horizontal.

Cutting Tool: Scissors work… but not the most manly cutting tool at camp.

Tie One On

For practice, consider building a lashing station in the backyard. Set two posts in the ground. Lash a cross spar between the two posts about waist height. Stand another spar against the horizontal cross spar to practice on.

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A rain-soaked lashing station in the backyard

Step 1: Determine Cordage Length

As a math teacher, here’s a simple equation to prevent cutting cordage too short or too long.

Cordage Equation: y = 3x

Y represents the total length of cordage needed. X is the variable representing the combined diameter of the two spars being lashed together. The number in front of the X, also called the coefficient (you didn’t really want to know that), represents 3 feet.  Let’s say the combined diameter of the two spars is 5 inches. Plug in 5 for x and multiply by 3 feet. You’ll need 15 feet of cordage.

Step 2: Starting Knot

Take one end of your cordage and secure it to the vertical spar using either a clove hitch or timber hitch. The starting knot will be beneath the horizontal cross spar. These two knots are easy to tie and untie without resorting to cutting with those cool camp scissors.

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A clove hitch is basically two half hitches put together.

I prefer to start lashings with a timber hitch (my video below shows how to tie a quick one). For this blog post, I used a clove hitch with the red paracord. If you choose a clove hitch, leave a long tag end (3 to 6 inches) that will be twisted around the working end of the cordage as an added security measure on the knot.

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Extra long tag end for demonstration purposes

Step 3: Begin Wrapping

With the tag end twisted around the working end of your cordage, (a) wrap it up and over the horizontal spar, (b) around the backside of the vertical spar, (c) back over the opposite side of the horizontal spar, (d) and back around the vertical spar where the clove hitch is secured.

This completes your first wrapping. The wraps should cross the spars at a 90º angle… this angle gives the Square Lashing its name.

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This is the pattern for the wraps. Note: The working end of the cordage is in my left hand… only because my camera is in my right hand. 

Continue this wrapping pattern until you have 3 or 4 complete wraps. I don’t count the first twisted wrap. It’s important that you keep the wraps as tight and parallel to one another as possible during the process. This not only aids the appearance of your lashing but also functions to  make the joint stronger with less friction on the cordage.

Note: Keeping slick paracord tight can be a challenge. Wrap a toggle stick in the working end of your rope to help pull the wraps and fraps tight.

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Wraps completed and ready for frapping

Step 4: Begin Frapping

Take the working end of the cordage between the spars and over the previous wraps to create one frapping. Apply at least two fraps between the spars. Cinch the frapping tight with a toggle. Tarred bank line bites and holds on itself very well. That’s one reason it’s my goto cordage.

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Toggle used to tighten frapping

Step 5: Ending Knot

With the wraps and fraps tight, you’re ready to terminate the lashing. Tie a clove hitch on the horizontal cross spar next to the wrapping. An easy shortcut is to tie two half hitches to form a clove hitch. This makes terminating slippery cordage much easier. Just be sure to wiggle and tighten each half hitch. For added security, tie a third half hitch beside the clove hitch.

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two half hitches

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The previous half hitches forming a clove hitch

The finished square lashing…

Camp Craft: How to Tie Square Lashings | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The rear view

 

Sometimes it’s easier to just watch a video on lashing. Here’s a square lashing video using tarred bank line while building a camp table.

If you need to lash a tripod, check out this video:

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 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, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive

by Todd Walker

Skills get swallowed by survival gear. Depending on the latest knife, gun, or shiny-survival-object may seem like a smart plan.

The thing is…

Plans and reality are not the same thing.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Nothing’s wrong with reliance on modern survival gear. I own my fair share of modern tools of self-reliance. Thousands of fires can be started with a butane lighter. But what happens when modern equipment and gear fail? And it will fail. And rust. And get lost. And wear out.

Abrupt Changes Ahead

To handle change, you’ll need skills that gain from disorder and disaster.

There may come a time when our instant gear gratification mentality can’t be satisfied and you have to depend on your own hands to make what you need. From cordage to cutting tools to combustion… these skills won’t rust or wear out with use!

Practicing primitive goes beyond building redundancy in gear. Stone age technology connects you to your ancestral past, no matter which part of this dirt ball your family tree grew. In this context, you appreciate the deep understanding of “primitive” people, their skills, and their knowledge required to use available resources.

It takes time and energy to develop these skills. Take fire craft as an example. Once you practice friction fire or flint and steel, the skill of building a proper tinder bundle to blow your primal ember into flame makes your modern fire craft efforts more successful.

The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel Fire | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Flint and steel is a long-term fire-making option for your kit

Shortsighted moderns discount flint and steel as antiquated. Precisely! Practicing primitive gives you options and options make you Anti-Fragile.

Anti-Fragile Skills

Anti-Fragile didn’t originate with me. Taleb coined the term in his paradigm shattering book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. This book causes…

Altered thinking.

Considering the fragile world we’re in today, we need a new blueprint for self-reliance. One that benefits from disorder, randomness, and shock.

Just as fire feeds on obstacles, so do skills. Anyone who owns a skill faced high barricades that made them stronger. Anti-fragile people are much better at doing than talking.

Doers do. Talkers talk. The two are clearly unequal. Doers become anti-fragile.

Knowledge, Skills, Resources

Doing the Stuff  of Self-Reliance with your modern gear, with your knowledge, with your resources, in your area is the only way to build resilient skills. But we want more than resiliency. As Taleb explains,

“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

Dirt time with modern tools aids in future, unpredictable survival events. Hours of practice and testing with your cutting tool of choice shows little deviation in the outcome. The modern space blanket in your kit is a proven emergency lifesaver. With use, you’ve discovered your gear’s limitations and abilities.

You need dependable, bomb-proof gear. To some degree though, predictable equipment and tools lull us into fragility. Meaning… we become too gear dependent.

To be clear, I’m an advocate of carrying a basic kit before heading into the woods… or anywhere else for that matter. But, again, could you benefit from the harm of lost or broken tools in the wilderness?

The answer depends on whether or not you have the knowledge and skills to use available resources from your environment. There’s no substitute for investing in skills and knowing how to use local resources. As much as I’d like to try white birch bark as tinder, heard it’s good stuff, we’re fresh out in my neck of the woods. No worries… you can’t walk far in my woods without finding resin rich fat lighter littering the forest floor.

Understand that specialized skills and specific resources are needed to replace the 5 C’s of Survivability (Cutting Tool, Combustion, Cover, Container, Cordage). These tools are the hardest to replicate from the landscape. However, it’s doable.

A.) Cutting Tools

Would I willingly trade my fixed blade knife for a stone tool? Not a chance! Unless I’m forced into that situation, I’ll always choose the modern knife as my primary cutting tool. However, stone age technology paved the way for us moderns.

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott Jones demonstrates how to make an arrowhead from glass

Without mad flint knapping skills, you can create stop-gap edged tools from bipolar flaking. So easy a caveman can do it!

B.) Combustion

Modern sure-fire is packed in all my fire kits. They’re consumable. Mother Nature provides unlimited primitive sure-fire if you know where to look. Your anti-fragile pine responds to shock by exuding flammable resin to protect its life, and, in turn, gives you fire and life.

What’s your local go-to natural sure-fire tinder?

Do I start all my fires with a bow drill? Nope. I carry a lighter and ferro rod. Do I practice primitive fire with different, local wood? Yup. I’ve found pine, poplar, and cedar to be my favorites.

Here’s my personal primitive skill of the month… hand drill fire. I’ve harvested dry mullein and yucca stalks for this experiment. Dirt Road Girl just smiles and watches patiently in the car as her wild husband gathers resourses in the right-of-way. I love my wife!

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mullein and Yucca stalks for my hand drill experiment

The hand drill should be a comfort zone buster. Stay tuned for my blister update!

C.) Cover

Caught in the elements without manmade cover will quickly drain your core temperature. To combat heat loss, build primitive shelters with available debris. Calories will be burned, but if this your only shelter option, it’s worth it.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rock outcrops and ledges are ready-made shelter

You may get lucky and find a rock outcropping or cave for hunkering down. Even with ready-made natural shelter, add a 4 to 6 inch layer of compressed leaves or natural material in your bedding area as a barrier against conduction.

D.) Container

Keep an eye out for other people’s trash. Sad to say, folks are trashy in the woods. But this could be a bonanza for your survival. Glass bottles, drink cans, and plastic are all useful and should be grabbed up.

Again, crafting or burning natural containers from wood takes time, resources and skill. Expedient containers for water can be made from bamboo, if available. Turtle shells make great bowls. Baskets can be weaved from plants or crafted with tree bark. If you’re so fortunate as to find a vine of gourds, you’ve just located container heaven. Of course, gourds are a cultivated crop that originated in the wilds of Africa. If you locate a gourd vine, you’re probably close to civilization anyhow.

E.) Cordage

Many natural fibers can be made into functional cordage in an emergency situation. Simply twisting fibers together without fancy reverse twists will provide strong cordage. Roots and vines can be used to lash shelters.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Yucca plant behind my school

 

Learning to make natural cordage is a skill every outdoors person should undertake. Get in the habit of collecting natural material when trekking or hiking through your woods. Inner fibers of trees like Tulip Poplar, Red Cedar, and Black Locust make excellent cordage. Nettle, Dog Bane, and Yucca are great cordage plants in my area.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Down and dirty yucca cordage

The skills that give you options when modern gear fail will be of the primitive type. My journey into learning primitive skills continues. You never master primitive skills. There’s always something else to learn from thousands of years of history!

Taking the sage advice of Dave Canterbury to Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive has given me options… and made me a little more Anti-Fragile.

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 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, Lost Skills, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Make a Plumber’s Stove on Steroids for Cooking and Warmth

by Todd Walker

How to Make a Plumber's Stove on Steriods

Being the son of a plumber, I’ve witnessed many inventive ways to stay warm while working on cold steel in frigid winters atop a 700 foot tall powerhouse. From modern acetylene torches to alcohol stoves, plumbers get creative when it comes to heat sources.

Before the time of pressurized gasoline blow torches, alcohol was used as fuel for melting lead and soldering. However, at some point in history, before the modern thermos came about, a smart plumber poured cold coffee from his makeshift milk bottle thermos and slurped cold soup from his lunch pail. This was his ah-ha moment! Hummmm, just add some alcohol to a container stuffed with cotton rags and set it on fire! And the plumber’s stove was born. At least that’s the story I heard told.

I built a pint-sized plumber’s stove 7 or 8 years ago. It’s a lightweight, self-contained, and portable stove for backpackers (ultra-lighters excluded) and campers. I last used it 5 years ago. Upon re-opening, the denatured alcohol lit up with no problem. I didn’t like the fact that I had to loosen the hose clamp and slide the pot holder down to remove the paint lid. A small annoyance really.

Joshua Shuttlesworth, a fellow self-reliance blogger and Pathfinder brother, happened to post his brilliant version… a larger DIY Hobo Stove, as he dubbed it. He used a gallon paint can and a #3 size can (45 ounces). He has a fancy can opener that removes the can lid in a way that you can seal the can with the lid after it’s been removed. Wish I had one… but I don’t.

But I did have an empty quart paint can nesting in a gallon paint can I’d planned to use for another project. This larger version would feed and heat a whole crew of hungry plumbers!

Check out our video at the bottom of this post to see the Plumber’s Stove on steroids in action.

Here’s how to make your own…

Gather the Stuff

IMG_1188

  1. One gallon metal paint can – box stores sell new empty cans or you could clean an old can
  2. One quart metal paint can – same as #1
  3. Platform for quart can inside the gallon can – explained in Step #3
  4. Roll of toilet paper (cotton balls or 100% cotton material works too)
  5. Bottle of isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol
  6. Pathfinder Bush Pot Nesting Stove – not required but if you already own one, it fits perfectly in the grooved lip of gallon paint cans

Assemble the Stuff

This is the easy part.

Step 1: Stuff the Can

Remove the cardboard tube from the toilet paper roll. Grip the edge and pull the tube out of the center. Smashing the roll a couple of times seems to loosen the tube enough to slide it out.

DRG buys the larger rolls of TP which wouldn’t fit in the quart can. I removed excess TP from the roll by sliding my finger between the sheets about a 1/2 inch from the outside and ripped it free of the roll. Squeeze what’s left of the roll together and stuff it into the quart can. Place the excess in a ziplock bag and toss it into your camping gear for the call of nature.

Step 2: Add Fuel

Pour the alcohol of your choosing in the TP stuffed quart can. My small plumber’s stove contained denatured alcohol over cotton and burns much cleaner than the 91% isopropyl.

WARNING: Do NOT use gasoline or other highly flammable petroleum-based fuels/accelerates! You’ll explode into flames if you do so.

The quart can held a little less than one 32 ounce bottle of alcohol. Allow the TP to absorb the fuel until completely saturated.

Step 3: Insert Quart Fuel Can

On Joshua’s Hobo Stove, his #3 tin can was tall enough for the flames to breathe oxygen. On my shorter quart fuel can, the flame would not stay lit inside the gallon can for more than a couple of minutes. To remedy my vertically challenged container, I elevated it a few inches by sitting it on a metal bowl I’d bought at a yard sale for a quarter. A large, empty tuna can would probably work too. As an added plus, you’ve got another useable container inside your stove.

Step 4: Ignition

Light the fuel can. Ferro rod sparks will ignite the fumes inside the can. If using a match or lighter, be careful to keep your hand to the side of the stove opening while lighting.

If you plan to use a Pathfinder Nesting Stove to hold cook pots, now is the time to place it on top of the gallon paint can. The flames from the fuel can will reach a foot or more in height.

A common man stove top can be made by adding coat hanger wire across the opening for pots to rest. Or cut a piece of sheet metal 4 inches wide with 1/2 inch notches on the top edge and securing it to the gallon can with a few hose clamps coupled together. You would lose the can’s bail handle but you’d have a functional stove top. The picture of my small plumber’s stove will give you an idea of how to make your own cook top.

My original Plumber's Stove burning 5

Step 5: Cook Stuff

IMG_1190

As a test, I boiled about 62 ounces of water in my Pathfinder Bush Pot in 17 minutes inside my shop. Note: Use the plumber’s stove only in a properly ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

I also tested the boil time with the same amount of water in my backyard bushcraft area with the same results. I thought lifting the Bush Pot about a half-inch over the stove top via my outdoor kitchen tripod would decrease the boil time. Still took about 17 minutes inside and outside.

Thanks again to Joshua for his tutorial that spurred me to make the Plumber’s Stove on Steroids! Overall, I’m very pleased. This stove would be useful as an alternative heating/cooking option when car camping, at deer camp, as a car emergency kit, or added to your emergency preparedness stocks at home.

Here’s our video of the stove in action:

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 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: Canning, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scavenging resources in a wilderness survival situation can turn up life-saving stuff. That’s why developing a possum mentality is vital!

Our ancestors walked our woodlands and learned to use the resources most modern outdoor enthusiast overlook. Essential woodland resources seem to be invisible to the modern eye. The stuff you’ve got packed in your woodcraft/bushcraft kit or bug out bag are consumable. You’ll eventually use up that roll of duct tape… or, more than likely, you forgot to pack it.

Not a problem. Pine trees produce a sticky substitute with superior benefits!

Learning to identify and use natural resources has gotten me out of many sticky situations in the woods. Pardon the play on words as we explore the many uses of this tacky, amber-colored pine sap I call Jewel of the Woods!

Collecting Sappy Jewels

Pine trees secrete resin as a defense to close wounds from insects or other forces. The sap provides a protective layer or sealant over the injury . The sap hardens forming an amber glob which turns dark in color over time. On fresh wounds, you’ll notice a whitish layer of sap covering the damaged area. With time, large clumps form making it easier to harvest.

Harvesting fresh resin can become a sticky situation. The fresher the glob, the more sticky and pliable. On dedicated Jewel of the Woods harvesting trips, I carry a grub knife, one I don’t mind getting covered with resin. To remove sap from my good blades in the woods, I use a bit of Everclear (190 proof) from my flask on a piece of cloth.

For hardened resin, poke a sharp object (grub knife or sharp stick) into the base of the glob and pry it loose. It’ll break off and fall into your hand or container underneath. That’s when you’ll notice the crystalized form inside which resembles a beautiful piece of amber stone.

For hard-to-reach spots high in trees, my friend Joe at Feral Woodcraft shares his clever resin harvesting tool.

Now that you’ve gathered a fair amount, what’s this sticky stuff good for?

A.) Self Aid

  • Pine sap properties include: antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Treat wounds – apply it to cuts like you would super glue. Follow first-aid protocol for cleaning/flushing first.
  • Stop bleeding – apply a soft glob (heat if necessary) to help stop bleeding.
  • Treat skin rashes and eczema with ointments,tinctures, and salves. For tinctures, use 190 proof Everclear since resin won’t dissolve with watered down alcohols.
  • Chew softer sap straight off the tree like a gum for sore throats and colds. You could pre-make “gum” with these ingredients: bees-wax, pine sap, and honey.

B.) Glue/Epoxy – Pine Pitch

  • Turn pine resin into pitch sticks. Jamie Burleigh has a great tutorial of his method on Primitive Ways.
  • Hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows and gluing other primitive tools and weapons.
  • Waterproof boot seams, canoes, and containers.
  • Patch holes in tents and tarps.
  • Pretty much any thing you need to glue or patch in the woods, pine pitch is the product.

C.) Candling Device

  • Place globs of dried resin in a fatwood torch to extend its burn time.
  • Pitch sticks, described above, can be used as a makeshift candles.
  • Melt sap and soak a cotton bandana or rag wrapped around a stick for a torch.
  • Melted or liquid sap poured over a dried mullein stalk works as candle/torch.
backyard-bushcraft

Mullein torch

D.) Fire Craft

  • Fire is life in a wilderness survival scenario. Even on weekend camping trips, fire offers core temperature control, cooking, and hot cocoa! Resin is your secret weapon to starting and keeping a fire going in wet conditions. Anyone who’s used resin-rich fatwood in rainy conditions appreciates its important role in fire craft.

  • Resin is highly flammable. Once lit, you can dry marginal tinder and small kindling.

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

  • Harvest liquid sap into a container from a fresh cut in a pine tree to add to a makeshift torch. Secure the container under the exposed bark to collect the sap. Use this liquified sap as torch fuel.

Once you learn to identify this sticky life-saver, you’ll find it difficult to walk past a pine tree without scanning for this Jewel of the Woods!

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 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, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

5 Steps to Become the Smartest Person in the Woods

by Todd Walker

5 Steps to Becoming the Smartest Person in the Woods | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I have a confession to make.

I’m the dumbest guy in the woods!

This isn’t an exercise in false humility. To increase my woodsy knowledge, I always assume, whether it’s true or not, that my woodcraft and bushcraft IQ is the lowest around the campfire.

Following this one simple tip, which 99% of the people reading this will ignore, will instantly raise your intelligence and skill level.

1.) Be Silent

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you speak.

Listen to everyone around the fire, including newbies who have never camped or even stepped off the sidewalk. That’s doubly true when kids are with you! Max, my oldest grandson, teaches me something on every outing. He keeps me on my toes with questions that have never crossed my mind.

Only around a campfire can you communicate without saying a word!

When it’s your time to talk, don’t. Just sit there. Poke the fire, stretch your legs, and stare at the flames… but don’t say a word. Let the lull happen. Folks get antsy at this point and feel the need to fill the conversational void. And they will. They have more to teach you.

Soak up as much woods lore as possible before they stop. Never leave a fire ring without learning something. Nuggets of woodsy wisdom are in your camp mates. Let them pass it on.

2.) Be Humble

Being the person with the lowest Woodsy IQ around the campfire goes against our nature. We tend to think we know more than we do.

Admitting that you don’t have an answer is not only okay, it’s the best answer. Pretending to know or making stuff up is easy. But you’ve just lost 10 points on the Woodsy IQ scale.

Your best bet is to admit you’ve never started a fire with a hand drill or brain tanned a deer hide. As you fess up, your fellow woodsmen or woods-women sipping on hot cocoa across the fire, experienced in both skills, may be willing to pass on their knowledge and time on to you.

Humbly accept!

Most folks in the woodcraft and bushcraft community are willing to teach and share skills freely. Find a way to reciprocate and add value back. A simple thank you is all it takes in most cases.

3.) Ask Questions

After listening, ask one question. You’ve had time to conjure up a good one while observing #1.

Next…

4.) Repeat Step #1

Once you’ve practiced the first four steps, something amazing begins to happen. You begin to…

5.) Build Community

DRG and I spent some time in the woods with members of the Georgia Bushcraft Facebook group recently. I’d met several members online, but putting a name with a face, shaking hands and sharing hugs builds real community. We’re new to this established community but felt welcomed and instantly connected.

The beauty of building real community as opposed to online is networking that passes on knowledge, skills, and resources. Putting in dirt time with folks who share your passion a natural way to learn and pass on knowledge. Skills grow exponentially.

5 Steps to Becoming the Smartest Person in the Woods | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Our group built a bamboo shelter which will serve as base camp for future gatherings. Little nuances were passed from one person to another in the construction process, classes, and hanging out around the council fire. We learned from one another. As it should be.

This is a short video by Casey at Coyote Mountain Outdoors of the project:

By the way, if you’re not convinced sitting around a fire with friends and family adds value, you need to read Bill’s excellent article here!

I challenge you to try these steps. I guarantee you that you’ll learn something new even if you’re a master woodsman.

But the master woodsmen already know this secret. That’s how they became the smartest people in the woods!

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 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, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel Fire

by Todd Walker

I remember singing around church campfires as a kid, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…”  Anyone who has attempted to start a fire with just one spark understands that… it ain’t that easy.

The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Prepare modern and practice primitive. You won’t catch me in the woods without several Bic lighters. When I really need to start a fire, I whip out my Bic. For primitive fire craft, I may start a fire by friction. If those modern fire starters fail, primitive practice will pay off.

Before the advent of butane lighters and matches, flint and steel was the method of choice for fire starting. In the 17th and 18th century, longhunters, woodsmen, and towns people alike relied on this method. In the woods, charred plant material in a tinder box would receive sparks from the steel. Char cloth was for city folk. Dried tinder material was placed on top of the ember while in the tinder box and blown into flame. Closing the lid of the tinder box smothered the charred material for later use.

Hopefully, this article sparks your interest and sheds some light on the traditional mountain man method of making fire. Long beards and tasselled buckskin are not prerequisites to appreciate sparks flying from steel.

The Burning Secret

This article is a blend of how-to with a dash of curious survival science. Armed with new knowledge, you’ll be able to explain to your buddies the little-known secret of steel’s ability to spontaneously combust.

That rusty shovel in your shed is producing heat. It doesn’t feel hot to the touch but rust (oxidation) produces heat. Just not fast enough to burn the barn down.

You see, rust is a sign that your tool is burning… very slowly, but burning none the less. When iron comes in contact with air, a chemical reaction called oxidation begins. Oxidation produces rust and heat.

How can you manipulate oxidation to create fire?

In simple terms, speed up this exothermic reaction until you see sparks.

Iron is a pyrophoric material that ignites instantly when it comes in contact with oxygen. The reason that rusty shovel hasn’t set your hay on fire is that the steel is in a big hunk of metal slowlyburning“. The heat from oxidation is absorbed in the atmosphere before ignition can happen.

For steel to spontaneous combust, you must…

Increase the Surface Area

Need a fire fast?

A proper fire lay requires surface area. You need wood in pencil-lead size, pencil size, and thumb size wood with even finer hair-like material in the tinder bundle. Even with highly combustible fatwood, surface area matters for quick ignition. Take a thumb-size piece of fat lighter and try lighting it with a ferrocerium rod. You might do it, but only after scraping the rod to a nub. Now you’ve wasted a resource.

The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel Fire | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Example: Breaking this tiny block off a solid cube made of 1,000 tiny blocks creates more surface area

Instead, create lots of surface area by removing resin-rich shavings into a pile. Then make a feather stick from the fatwood (more surface area). One or two strikes from your ferro rod and you’ll have a flaming pile of pine shaving to ignite the feather stick. The same principle applies to iron’s ability to spontaneously combust. You have to create surface area.

Note: Before we continue, let’s clear up a common misunderstanding about ferrocerium rods and flint and steels. Yes, they both throw sparks but each has different properties. Mainly, ferro rods produce 3,000º F sparks while flint and steel sparks are in the 800º F range. Generally, flint and steel needs charred material for ignition. Ferrocerium will ignite un-charred material, marginal tinder, and melt tarps… ask me how I know.

Flint and Steel vs Ferrocerium

Flint and Steel

  • Steels will last a lifetime or longer
  • Has a longer learning curve but very dependable and rewarding
  • Less forgiving than ferro rods
  • Temperature of sparks hover around 800º F
  • In a pinch, the spine of a high carbon steel knife will throw sparks when struck with flint rock if that’s all you have
  • Works in wet conditions
  • Very old method… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Ferrocerium

  • 3,000º F sparks – and globs of molten metal from softer ferro rods that burn longer after being removed from the rod
  • Consumable – not a big concern if your life depends on making fire with marginal tinder
  • Easier to manipulate with less practice
  • Broken glass, 90º knife spine, metal strikers, flint rock can strike sparks from ferro rods
  • More forgiving than flint and steel
The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel Fire | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Dirt Road Girl making fire with a ferro rod

Now, back to flint and steel.

Striking steel with a hard object like flint/chert breaks off tiny pieces of steel with greater surface area than the original hunk of metal. These small particles meet oxygen and spontaneously combust. Sparks fly!

Flint and Steel Fire Craft

What you’ll need to start a fire with flint and steel… mountain man style.

  • A hard, brittle steel (iron and carbon) – old files work too
  • A rock harder than the steel – flint, chert, quartz, etc – with sharp edges
  • Charred cloth or plant material – learn to make your own char cloth here

Here’s two methods to use your flint and steel…

Hold the steel in your strong hand and the flint in the other. Lay a piece of char cloth over the top of the flint and hold it near the edge of the rock with your thumb. In a downward motion, strike the stationary flint with your steel in a smooth motion. Be careful not to hit your knuckles on the sharp rock. Once a spark lands on the char cloth, you should have a glowing ember growing in circular fashion.

The other method is to hold the flint in your strong hand and strike the stationary steel. I use this method when lighting charred plant material in my char container. It’s a safe way to strike sparks off the spine of a knife. Keep the knife stationary and strike the spine with the flint.

Flint and steel are becoming my preferred method for starting fires. Here’s a quick video on the science behind flint and steel with a demo at the end.

My daddy made a living welding and plumbing. Growing up, my hands were no stranger to side grinders. I wore out many grinding disks shooting streams of glowing sparks. What I didn’t realize then was that these tiny particles of iron were igniting when they came in contact with oxygen. I’d assumed they glowed from the friction of the grinding wheel.

Now you and I know the burning secret.

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 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, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects

by Todd Walker

 

“One of the hallmarks of the veteran woodsman is the way he contrives to make himself comfortable in camp”.

Warren H. Miller, 1915 (Quote from Master Woodsman‘s excellent site)

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ready to rough it in the great outdoors? Nope.

I’ll admit, I do enjoy putting myself through natures gauntlet to test my wilderness survival skills. But there comes a time when you want to pull up a stump, sip on hot cocoa, and simply stare at flickering flames.

Last winter I built a semi-permanent shelter as my personal space in the woods… my wilderness lair, if you will. Nothing too elaborate. Sparse woodland furnishings add a degree of comfort and manliness to its appearance and utility.

My base camp was built for outdoor education, adventure, skills training, and is very rudimentary. It could use a camp makeover for comfort’s sake. To add desired comforts, or ‘smoothing it’ as Nessmuk called it, a work bench for making stuff is in order.

No woodworking bench is complete without a vise. This simple tool holds raw wood to be transformed into something useful besides campfire kindling.

Thanks to Mother Nature, I was able to take advantage of a fallen red oak. With the root ball in tact, the dead tree is at perfect horizontal height. And conveniently located 20 feet downhill from my base camp. Don’t have a fallen tree? No problem. You can use a multipurpose camp stump to craft your vise. Dave Canterbury has some excellent videos on making one.

Tools Needed

Here’s the tools you’ll need to pack into base camp to build your stump vise. Depending on your woodcraft skills, you may get by with less or need more. I had a comment on my video that this project would only take 2 minutes with a chain saw. True. But again, what do you do when chainsaws stop humming? And who wants to hear chainsaws in the woods? I go to escape noise pollution.

Plus, you get to practice building stuff with hand tools. Besides, the reward of creating stuff in pioneer fashion is much more rewarding… to me anyhow.

 

  • Saw – a bucksaw large enough to cut kerfs into large diameter logs
  • Ax
  • Maul
  • Fro – optional, could use your ax, but it’s a cool tool to use
  • Wooden wedges

Step 1: Wood Removal

Make several perpendicular cuts with your saw into the log. Space each cut about an inch apart at the same depth along the top of the log. This cut section should be 9 or 10 inches long with cuts about 2 inches deep.

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Work bench, stump vise, and V notch.

Increasing the distance between cuts may save saw time but will make removing these sections more difficult.

Removing the first kerf cut is where the fro shines. Use a maul to drive the pointed end of the fro into one of the cut sections from the side. Torque the handle to pop the first kerf cut out of the log. Once the first kerf cut is removed, the others pop out easily. Pound the fro into the next kerf and pop it out. Continue until you have a flat work top on the log.

Step 2: Angle the Last Cut

I found through experience that cutting a 10 to 15 degree angle into one end of the newly created workbench indention is essential for split rails. Cut and remove this wood from the end of your flat table top notch. Rails fit nicely into the slot and can be held firmly in place with a series of wooden wedges.

Step 3: Cut Wedges

Use your saw to cut a shallow V notch in the end of a 3 inch diameter log. Use a longer log inside a Y branch like I used in the “Splitting Long Logs” video for stability. Cut the wedge to size (about 3 inches long) after cutting a V notch in the end.

Cut a few other round wedges in various lengths to fill the gap between the V wedge and the end of your vise. You’ll also need to carve a few shims about 1/8 to 1/4 width.

This might make more sense on my video.

Step 4: Test Fit

Lay a split rail into the cleated notch on your workbench. Place the V notch wedge against the opposite side of the rail. Depending on how wide you made your stump vise, you’ll likely need a few more round wedges to fill the gap between the V wedge and the 90 degree side of the table top.

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Wedges shimmed up on the right.

 

Tap a few shims between the round wedges and the edge of your vise to snug up the rail. With both sawing and draw knife work, the rails held fine. I had to tighten the shims a few times after hitting a knot in the rails with the draw knife. That was not too bad considering the amount of pressure exerted on the knots.

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A much needed red cedar camp table crafted this same day.

A stump vise not only holds split rails like a champ, it gives you options. Anything from wooden tool handles, to self-bows, to mortis and tenon furniture can be shaved and carved… with both hands free!

Not only does crafting camp comforts build self-reliance, they could keep you in the woods longer and more often. Here’s to smoothing it!

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 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 | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Ax-Manship: Tips for Splitting Long Logs for Firewood

by Todd Walker

It’s cold and you need firewood back at base camp. That standing dead oak tree 200 yards from your shelter will provide you with enough BTU’s for heat and cooking on this frigid weekend.

What’s the best strategy to get the fuel back to camp?

Ax-Manship: Smart Tips for Processing Long Logs into Firewood | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You can only carry x amount of stove-length firewood in your arms before your back shuts down. The efficient method is to cut longer lengths at the harvest site and haul it back to base camp. How long? The answer depends on your functional fitness level and the diameter/density of the log to be hauled.

You need to conserve calories since the only means of conveyance is your body. Firewood provides heat. Heat cooks food. Food provides calories.

Hauling Long Logs

I first witnessed the technique as a young boy when my daddy hired Mr. Colbert to cut timber on our land. Get this, his name was King… King Colbert!

Mr. Colbert was strong as Paul Bunyan’s ox, Babe the Blue Ox! He hauled pulp wood logs to his old log truck on his shoulder. Paul Bunyan was folklore, but King was the real deal!

Now, you don’t have to be as strong as Mr. Colbert to transport firewood, a few simple tips, and upping your functional fitness, will have you toting logs like toothpicks.

Here’s my rule of thumb for hauling logs…

  • A foot or so taller than me
  • Choose trees I can reach around with one arm and touch my nose
  • Walk the path of least resistance (tripping hazards)… even it’s a longer walk
  • Good form equals less injuries

Let’s haul some wood!

Ax-Manship: Tips for Splitting Long Logs for Firewood | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Doing squats here but it’s the same technique only you walk with the log on your shoulder.

 

Stand the log on end. Position your shoulder just past the midway point of the log. With your legs and hips bent like your about to do a squat in the weight room, keep your back straight and tilt the log backwards (opposite the way you’re facing) as you lift the log.

The longer end of the log will naturally counter balance to your backside. A bandana or extra shirt on your neck will prevent scratches. Now haul it back to camp!

Splitting Long Logs

Grab your ax, two hardwood wedges, and a maul. Simple machines are force multipliers. Carve two pieces of hardwood about 8 inches long into wedges with your ax. The beauty of woodcraft/bushcraft skills is that you craft simple machines on site. This lightens your load considerably.

Don’t overlook the importance of a simple maul for camp craft projects. Uses include but are not limited to…

  • Pounding stuff like stakes and wedges
  • Baton for splitting wood
  • Hammer for mortise and tenon joints on shelters
  • All sorts of camp craft tasks at camp

Here’s a down and dirty tutorial on how to make your own maul:

Back to splitting.

Lay the log to be split on top of another log to elevate it off the ground. If you want to get fancy, cut a “Y” branch to cradle the log. This short “Y” holds the long log steady for splitting and prevents grounding of your sharp ax. Your ax bit won’t take kindly to dirt and rocks.

Once secure, straddle the log and strike the end of the log with your ax to start a split. Remember to keep the ax handle horizontal at impact. It may take a couple of strikes. Once a split opens in the log, drive a wedge into the split above your ax with a maul. Remove your ax and pound another wedge in the crack going down the log. Use the maul, not your ax. The steel ax tends to “mushroom” the top of wooden wedges. And please, never hammering metal wedges with an ax.

Repeat this process until the log splits lengthwise. Take care not to pound the wooden wedge into your “Y” cradle or other hard stuff or you’ll blunt the wedges.

Use your ax to cut any stubborn wood fibers clinging to both halves of the log. Follow safety procedures as if you were limbing. Keep your anatomy clear of ax swings!

Repeat the process to split halves into quarters or even eighths. I prefer quartered if I have my bucksaw at camp. With a shorter folding saw, eighths speed the processing considerably.

Bucking the Split Logs

I’ve found this method of processing firewood saves my ax. Sawing logs into firewood lengths first, then splitting them with an ax, consumes cutting tool resources (sharp ax bit) quicker than splitting long logs first then bucking.

With your logs quartered, you’re ready to process firewood lengths for your tent stove or campfire. Obviously, if you’re burning a long fire, all this processing is unnecessary.

To save calories and frustration, lay the split rails in a notched stump vise you’ve crafted. A simple “V” notch or “7” notch will help hold the rails in place while you cut to your desired length. On the homestead, build yourself a sawbuck.

If you don’t have a takedown bucksaw, order a 21 inch Bacho Dry Cut saw blade and build one from scrap lumber for under 12 dollars. This saw eats through wood like a beaver on steroids! I just ordered a 36 inch blade for larger logs.

DRG and I would really appreciate you subscribing to our YouTube channel. It’s just another avenue for us to Share the Stuff of Self-Reliance! We’ve got a subscriber giveaway planned when we reach 500 subscribers. We’re at 226 now. Thanks for all your support!

And as always…

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 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, Homesteading, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Spoon Carving with an Ax

by Todd Walker

Woodcraft, bushcraft, camp craft… whatever term you prefer, is all about building skills of self-reliance. You may keep a titanium spork or cheap plastic spoon in your camp kit, but nothing compares to eating a bowl of squirrel soup from a wooden utensil you carved from a hunk of tree!

Spoon Carving with an Ax | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Over the holidays I discovered that Dirt Road Girl and my mama are very fond of a particular wooden cooking utensil. It is more of a spatula than a spoon and their favorite for stirring chili and soups. You’ve got a favorite cooking spoon, right? Well, this design can’t be found in stores any longer. They’ve looked!

Tag. I’m it. I told them I’d carve one.

It’s pretty simple. You remove the wood that is not a spoon and… bam! … you’re slurping soup by the campfire.

Spoon Carving 101

Spoon Carving with an Ax | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use a template or free-hand it

To get started, you need only a few basic tools. You can buy expensive carving knifes but a sharp, thin-bladed, inexpensive knife will work just fine. One specialty knife you’ll want to acquire is a crooked knife. A wood gouge also works. Most self-reliant types own a short-handled hatchet or ax. A small folding saw will save you loads of frustration.

Basic Tools List

  1. Hatchet/ax – short-handled and sharp
  2. Knife for detail work – I used my Mora Companion
  3. Crooked/hook knife – Mora brands are inexpensive and great little cutting tools
  4. Saw – small folding saws on Leatherman tools, Swiss Army Knives, or camp saws work well
  5. Pencil or marker for outlining your design
  6. Wooden anvil or platform
  7. Wooden maul to baton round wood into carving blanks

What Wood Works?

There are many wood sources for carving blanks. I built a fence for a neighbor this summer and trimmed a 3 inch maple limb clearing the fence line. Tossed it in my wood pile for a future unnamed project. Glad I did. Also, storm damage yields excellent pickings as well! Your neighbor will be glad to have you “clean” up their dropped limbs.

Maple has a very tight grain and works well for carving, especially the ladle indention. For this project, I wanted to try sycamore. It is more grainy and twisted than maple. But we have a field full of young sycamores in the bottom of our land.

Some in the woodcraft/bushcraft community view sycamore as a trash tree. It’s actually a great tree for survival and self-reliance… beyond woodworking! But we’re carving spoons today. Here’s a few facts you might want to know about this distinctive wood…

Sycamore Woodworking Profile

  • Sycamore is grown commercially for pulp and rough lumber.
  • Interlocking grain makes nice accent pieces for woodworking.
  • Turns easily on a lathe for bowls.
  • Beautiful specking on gun stocks.
  • Music boxes; guitars and violins.
  • Hard to split which makes sycamore an excellent butcher’s block.
  • Quarter sawn makes this wood more stable for projects. Flat sawn tends to warp.
  • It gets one of its nicknames “Buttonwood” from it ability to create durable wooden buttons.
  • The wood is food safe and was used for food crates and barrels in the past.

Note: Do your due diligence to ensure your wood selection is safe for cooking and eating purposes.

Watch our tutorial video at the end of this post for the finer points of spoon carving.

Safety and Grips

Here are few whittling grips and techniques that are helpful and safe:

  • Overhand Grip ~ Hold the knife in your hand like a tennis racket. The spine of the knife should be facing away from your body and inline with the V formed between your thumb and index finger. It’s like you’re shaking hands with your knife handle.
  • Chest Lever ~ Grip the knife in the opposite manner of the overhand grip. The cutting edge will be facing the V between your thumb and index finger. Holding the wood with your off-hand, bring the knife and wood towards your chest making a scissor pattern. With the cutting edge on the wood anchored in your chest area, contract your back and shoulder muscles to remove wood in a power, yet controlled manner.
  • Thumb Lever ~ Place your off-hand thumb on the spine of the knife in an overhand grip and push the blade with your thumb for better precision cuts. You can also use your thumb as a fulcrum by rotating your knife spine against your thumb for sweeping cuts.
  • Knee Lever ~ With an overhand grip, brace the inside of your wrist against the outside edge of you knee. Pull the wood towards your body making contact with the anchored cutting edge. This controlled motion, performed properly, produces fine curls and shavings.
  • Gloves ~ For beginners, or even seasoned whittlers, a leather glove on your off-hand may prevent a bloody mess on your spoon.
  • Keep it Horizontal ~ Your ax has less of a chance of biting you if it strikes the wood with the handle horizontal. Increase this angle at contact and you increase your chances of burying the hatchet… in your anatomy.
  • Avoid the Triangle of Death (the triangle formed between you knees and crotch). Nick a femoral artery and your spoon carving days are over.
  • Alone in the Blood Circle ~ If you have onlookers admiring your whittling abilities, be sure they are outside your Blood Circle. To define your circle, spin in a circle with your outstretched arm, cutting tool in hand. The area inside this circumference and just beyond is your blood circle. You’re the only person allowed in this area.

Wooden Spoon Care

  • Not dishwasher safe – hand wash and dry
  • Keep ‘em lubed

Once you’ve completed your spoon, you want to make it last. To do this, the wood needs to be sealed.

Note: Green, non-seasoned wood spoons have to be dried before sealing. Place them in a paper bag for 5 or 6 days to allow them to dry slowly. Humidity will determine how fast they dry. Another method I hear works is to place completed “green” spoons in a sealed plastic bag. Check them every day or so for moisture build up inside the bag. Wipe the moisture off and re-seal until the wood stops releasing moisture.

Choose Your Sealant

Vegetable oils can turn rancid over time. Mineral oil is petroleum-based… “they” say it’s safe to ingest. I’ve read, haven’t tried it yet… too expensive, that walnut oil is great for sealing wooden eating/cooking utensils. Yep, it’s a nut oil that supposedly will polymerize to form a hard covering that prevents the oil from turning rancid.

I’ll stick with my homemade Fixin’ Wax recipe. Heat up slightly and rub liberally on the wood surface.

Now for the video:

I’ve had offers to buy my spoons. It’s a hobby for now but could turn into a cottage business if one wished to hone this skill. They make great gifts for ladies and men alike. Plus, food just tastes better from a wooden spoon you crafted with your own hands!

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, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,676 other followers

%d bloggers like this: