Author Archives: Survival Sherpa

How Busy People Extend the Shelf Life of Survival Skills

by Todd Walker

[Personal Note: I want to thank our online family for the prayers, love, and support after the recent loss of my brother. We appreciate you more than you can know!]

How Busy People Extend the Shelf Life of Survival Skills - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The most able are the most free.
~Wendell Berry

On the journey to self-reliance, we all start with different skill levels, locales, and motives. Some are even convinced of an inevitable zombie apocalypse. As we say in the south, “Bless their hearts.”

The Doing the Stuff Skills we promote here aren’t very flashy or of the “sky is falling” variety. They are, however, practical and useful for common sense living… a cross-fertilization of old and new paths of emergency preparedness, urban and wilderness survival, natural health, homesteading, energy independence, and making stuff to decrease dependence on others.

Skills require action beyond stocking and storing stuff because of these two little words…

Shelf Life

For instance, that extra pair of boots in storage will eventually dry rot without ever touching feet. Like food, leather and rubber have an expiration date. So do your skills.

The problem with skills is that there is no “out of date” label like the one you found on that dusty can of beans in the back of your pantry. But you already know which skill sets you’ve allowed to rust around the edges.

But here’s the good news…

Unlike food, skills are renewable!

Here’s a self-directed strategy to help busy people take survival skills from average to awesome.

Doing the Stuff on the Fly

Your busy. I know. Aren’t we all! Dedicated time for skills training is a luxury for most of us. We have bills to pay, families to feed, and routine responsibilities to fulfill. However, these three strategies keep my skills fresh – even during what seems to be a shrinking 24 hour period. Try them out. Hope they help you, too!

Take Mini-breaks

The skill you’re developing may take hours to learn. And the answer to the proverbial question, “How do you eat an elephant?” is… One bite at a time. Leverage your break times to practice a specific aspect of the skill. I’ve learned to tie several new knots with a short piece of cordage I keep in my Get Home Bag while standing at my desk on break.

Imagine what you’d accomplish if you find five of these 10-minute breaks in your day.

With today’s technology, watch an instructional video and take notes to ensure accuracy in the skill. Caution: YouTube can be a time sink. So be sure to find value adding channels to follow. I regret not watching more instructional videos over the years.

Take Mini-lessons

At times, all you need is a short lesson to keep moving forward. You probably don’t have time to read an entire book or take a full course. Find sources who summarize or curate content from value-adders in the niche skill your pursuing (self-reliance, wilderness survival, wildcrafting, self-defense, homesteading, food preservation, camping, etc.).

Prepper Website is an excellent curator of self-reliance stuff! Also, be sure to check out our Doing the Stuff Trusted Resources Page for a list of virtual hotspots to connect with and learn skills.

Find Mini-mentors

Questions are easily answered when you find a mentor. Local is best. But don’t discount online learning groups. Avoid groups that only post articles without real discussion of skills. I’ve found a couple of online groups where members, of varying skill level, actually engage and learn from one another.

Like I mentioned earlier, a local mentor is ideal. I’ve been fortunate to find knowledgeable local instructors and online teachers.

When time and money permit, take a class or workshop from a teacher who practices the E.D.I. method of instruction… (Educate: teach the skill, Demonstrate: doing the stuff with the skill, Imitate: allow you to imitate the skill). Two things happen with quality instruction: (A) your learning curve is shortened, and, (B) you build micro-communities and connections. These students of self-reliance share your passion and can be your best mini-mentors.

There is always more to learn on our journey to self-reliance. Finding the time to practice and learn skills is the challenge. Hopefully these tips will help.

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: Doing the Stuff, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope

by Todd Walker

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

“One of the hallmarks of the veteran woodsman is the way he contrives to make himself comfortable in camp”. –Warren H. Miller, 1915 (Quote found at Master Woodsman)

I’ve spent almost two years at my semi-permanent shelter sawing wood on a stump braced by my knee or under my knee in a plumbers vise. My goal this year is to add more camp comforts to my shelter. The stump vise I made recently is handy for certain tasks but is just down the slope from my base camp. But a sawbuck situated near my shelter would help increase my productivity and decrease wear and tear on my back and knees.

Though I built a sawbuck from dimensional lumber for my backyard woodpile, what I needed for my shelter in the woods had to be of natural material collected from the landscape… to blend with the landscape.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Remember this old Beech tree? She’s been very good to me!!

Plus, my body was in need of a good woodsman workout. Believe me, after sawing a 12″ Beech limb with a bucksaw with only 8 inches of cut clearance, hauling it back to camp, I got my functional fitness in for the day!

Tools and Material

  • Base: A large hardwood log – 12 inches or more in diameter by 36 to 48 inches long. Or take advantage of a fallen tree near you site and use it without sawing or bucking a base log.
  • Skids: Two skid logs about 12 to 18 inches long – the diameter depends on the height needed for your sawbuck. With a large enough diameter log, skids won’t be needed.
  • X Posts: Four 5 to 6 foot hardwood poles used to form two X’s over the base
  • Cordage: Enough cordage to tie two square lashings on the X’s members. 1/4 inch sisal rope was used on this project.
  • Cutting Tools: Bucksaw, crosscut saw, or chain saw to cut the base log. An ax – cause you never need to be in the woods without one. Knife – see previous sentence. My bucksaw has an 8 inch cut clearance which made cutting the base log very challenging and rewarding to know it can do the stuff.
  • Water: Stay hydrated

Construction

To slow down the rotting process and elevate the Base as needed, lay the round base on top of two skid logs. I notched a slight “saddle” in the skid logs but I tend to over-engineer stuff. Notching is optional. The skids are used to elevate a smaller diameter base log (10 to 12 inch diameter range) to desired height.

Once the base is situated on flat ground , sharpen the ends of your X posts with your ax. Drive one post into the ground with your ax or heavy maul at a point 4-5 inches from the end of the base log. Now drive another X post into the ground on the opposite side of the base. Try to keep the X posts touching the base log and each other as much as possible. They may separate from each other during the driving process. No worries. The lashing will draw them together.

Safety Tip: If using an ax to drive posts, be sure to keep it sheathed while you hammer the posts with the poll of the ax. By the time your hammering posts, you’ll likely be a little fatigued from sawing and hauling wood. If so, take a break and recoup before swinging an ax like a sledge-hammer.

After pounding your 4 X posts into the ground, lash the post intersections with cordage. The X posts should be touching the base log as this contact gives the sawbuck stability under a load.

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Here’s a how-to on square lashing if you need to learn this knot.

The height of your sawbuck depends upon the angle of your X posts. For instance, decrease the interior angle to raise the platform and visa versa. The X posts are not adjustable once in the ground so determine the working height needed before driving the second post of each X brace.

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Once the X posts are secured in the ground and lashed, cut the tops of the posts to an even length. Now your ready to saw firewood or make camp furniture on a sturdy platform.

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I originally thought I’d need to lash a cross brace between the two X posts as a sway bar. This idea proved unnecessary. The sawbuck held a poplar log 6 inches in diameter by 7 feet long without wobble as I sawed a length off the log.

Check out our video tutorial below:

Additional Resources:

By the way, the sawbuck makes an additional camp seat. You’ll probably need one after hauling logs!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carry System

by Todd Walker

I keep an old ax in my truck. It’s far from a grub ax. It’s sharp and effective for harvesting desirable wood felled on roadside right-of-ways. The sling is made of nylon webbing attached to a down and dirty (ugly) sheath. It’s functional but not very pleasing to the woodsman’s eye.

Who cares, right? It gets the job done.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carry System - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You don’t have to settle for function only. Shouldn’t a woodsman have both a functional cutting tool, properly sheathed… and have the ability to transport his ax hands-free with a rugged leather sling? Yes he should.

Here’s how to make your own…

First, credit for this brilliant idea goes to an article by Steve Watts and David Wescott in an issue of American Frontiersman magazine. You’ll also find Watts and Wescott sharing woodland wisdom over at Chris Noble’s site, Master Woodsman. I pinned the article several months ago and, like so many other DiY projects, forgot about it. Then a buddy of mine, Kevin, sent me a picture of the sling with a request to help him make one. I figured I better make one for myself before inviting him over to my shop.

To make this manly sling (the sheath requires more stuff), all you’ll need is some scrap leather and a few basic tools.

Tools and Material

  • An old belt (or two unless you have a 44 inch waist), a bag of scrap leather strips sold at craft stores, or any leather material 1.5 to 2 inches wide and 48 inches long
  • 1/8 inch wide leather thongs to connect the sheath to the strap (and for splicing if necessary)
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Leather hole punch – rotary punch, awl, drill, ice pick, etc.
  • Straight edge

Cut to Length

I’m 5′-10″ tall and of average build. My sling is 48 inches on a vintage Plumb Boy Scout ax which measures 26 inches long. The two leather thongs attaching the sling to the sheath allow for length adjustment if needed for heavy winter wear.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Spliced to make 48 inches

The longest strip of leather in my remnant bag was 41 inches long. I spliced a one foot section to the sling to get to 48 inches. I think the splice adds to the appearance.

The width of the sling should fall between 1.5 and 2 inches.

Splice

To splice two pieces, overlap the two ends about two inches and punch 4 symmetrical holes through the overlapped leather (stitching the splice is an option). Thread a 12 inch leather thong through the holes  to make a “x” pattern facing the outside of the sling. Tie the ends underneath with a square knot (right over left, left over right).

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Underside view of the splice

 

Attach to Sheath

Punch two holes in the heel portion of the sheath. Click here for ax terminology and anatomy. Punch two holes in one end of the sheath. Thread an eighteen inch thong through the sheath holes and then into the two holes on the sling. Tie them off with a square knot on the inside of the sling. The 18 inch thong should give you ample material to adjust the sling for your stature and seasonal clothing.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

On the top edge of the sheath (poll end), punch one hole about 1/2 inch from the edge of the sheath. Now punch two holes in the remaining end of the sling. These holes are about 1/2 inch in from the end of the sling. Thread another thong through the sheath hole and into the two holes in the sling. Tie a square knot to secure.

Cut a Slit

For a 3/4 ax, measure about 14 to 15 inches down the sling where it connects to the poll end of the sheath. Mark and punch a small centered hole in the sling. From that hole, measure another 4 inches and mark and punch another centered hole. Using a straight edge, cut a slit completely through the sling between the two holes. The ax handle will ride in this slit. For longer ax handles, you may need to adjust the slit placement.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Slit placement for a 3/4 ax

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

4 inch slit

 

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Fit and Finish

To try out your new hands-free ax carrying system, insert the ax handle in the slit on the sling and secure the sheath on the ax head. Now you’re ready to hit the woods in style. Simply remove the sheath, slide the ax handle through the sling, and do what this essential tool is made for… cutting stuff!

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ax Related Resources

Here’s our video on making the hands-free system (frontier style sheath and sling). Start at 16:25 if you only want to make the sling. Thanks for watching, and, please subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Making Containers via Primitive Process Pottery

by Todd Walker

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Coffee drinkers like myself usually have a favorite mug or cup. My all-time favorite “tankard” developed a crack and DRG trashed it. A sad day indeed!

My sob story may seem petty, but there’s nothing trivial about not having a way to “contain” stuff. Think of all the ways you use containers daily. Then imagine all your modern containers being gone… poof, no more. Welcome to the Stone Age!

Here’s what else disappears with your containers. Your ability to…

  • Cook stuff without skewering it on a stick
  • Collect, disinfect, transport, and drink water
  • Raise plants and livestock
  • Store food without stuffing it in an animal stomach
  • Dispose of waste
  • Personal hygiene
  • Ferment food and drink
  • Make medicinals
  • Gather food
  • Keep stuff clean
  • Organize stuff
  • etc., etc., etc….

This is why containers are king! 

After attending a local two-day primitive pottery class, my respect and appreciation for the humble container grew exponentially. Making primitive pottery is not an emergency survival skill. If you’re making pottery in a 72 hour survival situation, you’re doing something wrong. There are easier ways to contain stuff in short-term scenarios. You’d have more important priorities to attend to than digging clay and firing primitive pottery. This is why your should always carry a metal container on outings.

The Process: Harvesting Clay

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One of our instructors digging clay in a deep gully. The top inset shows a small piece of raw clay formed into a pyramid with polished sides.

Clay can be found in most parts of the round ball of dirt we call home. Some forms are better suited than others for pottery. Test the clay by rolling it between your hands to form a rope. If it bends into a pretzel without breaking, you’ve found a good candidate. Too much sand in the clay will cause it to the raw clay to crack and break.

There are ways to process marginal clay to make it useful stuff. Practical Primitive has an easy water extraction method here.

We used both commercial and locally harvested clay in our class. Incidentally, the commercial clay came from Lizella, Georgia, only 15 minutes from where I grew up.

Crafting Containers

Break off a orange-size piece of clay and work it in your hands. Before molding your container, temper the clay. Crushed rock, wood ash, and fired pottery chards can be used as a temper. The temper agent helps to control thermal shock and shrinkage during the drying and firing of your pottery.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Burnishing my pot with a smooth stone

Satisfied with the shape of our creations, pots, pipes, and beads were set in the shade to dry for an hour. After that time, designs were added to the pottery.

Tools

Like any craft, specific tools are needed. Below are some of the tools Brian Floyd, our guest instructor, uses to make his amazing pottery.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A few of Brian’s tools of the trade

The paddles pictured above are used to paddle the clay against an anvil (solid surface; rock, knee, etc.) which, if my memory serves me, helps hold the clay together as you mold it. Stamped paddles also add a design to your clay pot.

Brain demonstrated how to carve a paddle with primitive tools.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Splitting poplar with a hand ax and maul to make a pottery paddle

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Primitive adze shaping paddle

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.comMaking Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.comMaking Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Beaver tooth tool for carving paddles and other woodworking tasks… sorry about the focus

Each student received the following basic tools:

  1. Paddle
  2. Anvil
  3. Awl of river cane
  4. Scraper

Drying and Firing

We sheltered the pottery on Scott’s porch to dry for two weeks before firing. On our second day of class, two weeks later, a long fire was burning when students arrived for class. Scott and Brain had our pottery on wood rounds in a semi-circle near the fire for pre-firing.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.comMaking Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Heating the dried pottery too quickly will cause it to break into pieces. We gradually moved the items closer to the fire.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.comMaking Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My container blew up

 

Eventually all the way into the fire.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hurry Up and Wait

Watching primitive pottery fire is like watching paint dry. Modern primitive practitioners take advantage of the long wait by making other primitive stuff… “burn and scrape” wooden spoons and carved pottery paddles.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Blowing a hot coal through a section of river cane to burn the bowl of my spoon

Once your spoon is carved, place a hot coal from the fire on the bowl of your spoon. Balance the coal and blow through a hollow reed or section of river cane. Use a green twig to hold the coal in place as you blow.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott Jones demonstrating how to do the stuff

After burning a layer of wood on the bowl, scrape the area with a flint flake or other sharp stone. Repeat the burn and scrape cycle until you have reached the desired depth for your wooden spoon.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My new serving spoon for camp chili

After the final scrape, burnish the wooden bowl with a smooth stone. The blackened bowl can be sanded clean if you desire. I like the burned look and plan to seal the spoon with walnut oil and use as is.

Finished Pottery

Many of the student containers made it through the firing process. Mine did not. Not all is lost. I plan to use the broken halves as mixing containers at my shelter to make pitch sticks and other primitive projects. The chards can be ground and used as temper for my next pottery project.

Here’s a few pics of some containers that made it through…

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The two containers (pictured above) and the cook pot in the fire below was crafted by our instructor, Brian Floyd. His primitive pottery is functional as well as being works of art.

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Brian Floyd, our guest instructor, made a tasty stew in one of his pots for lunch.

This was my first experience with primitive process pottery. Though my bowl broke in firing, I plan to make more.

For more information about Workshops in the Woods, click here for upcoming classes.

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, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

49 Outdoor Skills and Projects to Try When Camping

by Todd Walker

49 Outdoor Skills and Projects to Try When Camping - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Planning your spring outdoor adventure?

Try these skills and projects, even if it’s in your backyard. In fact, your backyard may be the best place to start your journey to outdoor self-reliance.

Burn Stuff (Combustion)

Practice in wet conditions. If it ain’t raining, you ain’t training

Cut Stuff (Cutting Tool)

 

Shelter Stuff (Cover)

Avoid Stuff

Forage/Harvest Stuff

Tie Knots and Stuff

Eat Stuff

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Jerking water buffalo

Make Outdoor Stuff

39 Self-Reliance Skills and Projects to Try When Camping | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Firewood processed with the take-down bowsaw

Wilderness Self-Reliance Stuff

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

Let the fun begin! Get out and stay outdoors.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

With winter over, at least in Georgia, you might be tempted to stash that can of cocoa powder in the cupboard for your spring and summer outdoor adventures. Leaving this viral elixir home, my friend, would be a costly survival mistake!

I’m kidding… or am I?

You see, the ancient Mayan civilization prized the wild cacao tree (Botanical name: Theobroma cacao) which means “Food of the Gods”, also dubbed “Black Gold.” So valuable in fact, early visitors to the New World noted that the cocoa bean was used as currency. Back then, money did grow on trees!

Cacao or Cocoa?

Confused?

They’re the same thing… only different. Raw cacao seeds are harvested for the beans which are then dried, fermented, roasted, and ground into a powder. This process produces cocoa and heavenly chocolate.

For maximum health benefits, raw, cold-pressed cacao beans retain the living enzymes that are lost in the traditional roasting process. Even with high temperature processing (Dutch), there’s still plenty of goodness remaining in the cocoa powder.

No matter what you call it, simply add water to make an ancient, frothy energy drink sipped by royals, warriors, and elites… without all the crappy additives in a can of Red Bull. Drinking hot cocoa made with dairy inhibits the absorption of all the great enzymes.

All who drink in this manner gain strength, endurance, energy, mood-enhancement, and nourishment from this frothy concoction. Cocoa is more than a kiddy drink on cold nights.

The 11th C of Survivability

As a student of Dave Canterbury, I practice his system of survivability. I’ve written about the importance of carrying the 10 C’s of Survivability here and here. However, I submit to you an additional kit item, the 11th C… cocoa!

Here’s why…

Each item in your 10 Piece Kit must have at least three uses other than its intended purpose. Otherwise it doesn’t meet the standard of Survivability and becomes a luxury item.

While it won’t make Dave’s official 10 C’s list, cocoa is more than a luxurious hot beverage sipped around the campfire. A tin of cocoa shouldn’t be overlooked as important in effecting your most critical survival priority…

Priority #1: Self-Aid

Staying alive in a wilderness survival scenario requires that you maintain common sense and avoid stupid stuff. Experts tell us to stay calm and formulate a plan for self-rescue or wait to be found. Easier said than done when your stress meter is pegged on red. This is the perfect time to STOP (Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan).

If your situation allows, make a cup of hot cocoa. By the time you see the bottom of your cup, hopefully, you’ll not only have figured out your plan, you’ll have the energy to carry out said plan.

Benefits of Cocoa

  • Energy – You’ll need the energy after the adrenaline and panic settles.

“This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.” – Anonymous conquistador

  • Morale – Cocoa raises serotonin levels in our brains stimulating neurotransmitters to lift our mood, fight depression, and rejuvenate our spirit. Oh, and lowers your stress level and improves focus and alertness.
  • Endorphins – These natural chemicals are released in the human body to relieve stress and pain. Cocoa triggers the release of these feel-good chemicals.
  • Antioxidants – Your body undergoes “biological rusting” or oxidation. Antioxidants slow this process. Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate. [Read more cacao facts at Mercola.com] Granted, this won’t be your biggest concern for short-term survival but certainly boosts your overall health.
  • ♥ Cocoa – Cocoa reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, and even reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, cocoa consumption is associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age. –  Source

 Priority #2: Food 

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rations for each man on Robert Falcon Scott’s race to the South Pole: 450g biscuit, 340g pemmican, 85g sugar, 57g butter, 24g tea, 16g cocoa. ~ Photo courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute

  • Raw Cacao – Rich in nutritional value and solidly beats other antioxidant-rich super foods like green tea, blueberries, and pomegranate. Cacao’s nutrition profile includes protein, fat, certain B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper.
  • Flavonoids – Cocoa’s high flavonoid content helps to prevent your body from secreting excessive fluids… the cause of diarrhea. No fun in the woods. Unchecked, dehydration is close behind.
  • Dark Chocolate – Cocoa butter, an extraction from the cacao bean, is found in high-cacao chocolate bars. Healthy monounsaturated and saturated fat helps maintain a feeling of being full. The dark chocolate I buy comes wrapped in foil… which can be used to make fire with the batteries from your flashlight.

Priority #3: Container

Of course, this one may be a stretch. But still, if you stow your cocoa powder in a metal tin, the container could be pressed into service for boiling water or charring material.

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I enjoy an occasional cup of hot cocoa over an open fire with a pinch of cayenne pepper. However, after researching this article, I’m considering adding cocoa to my daily diet. The benefits of packing a 6 ounce metal tin of cocoa powder (not the sugary pre-mixed stuff) warrants the label… “The 11th C of Survivability“.

Additional Resources:

  1. http://flyingwoodsman.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-real-manly-drink.html
  2. http://www.medicinehunter.com/brief-history-cocoa
  3. http://www.naturalnews.com/029156_cacao_chocolate.html##ixzz3UM20hOtp
  4. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-eat-and-drink-high-cacao-dark-chocolate/#axzz3TyjmAM7n
  5. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

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: Bushcrafting, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing an Ax for Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I, an incurable Ax Junkie, hereby nominate the man or woman responsible for hafting a stone to the end of a stick as the first inductee in the Tool-User Hall of Fame. Second only to clubs, axes are possibly the oldest tool known to man. This wooden lever attached to a stone, a simple machine, was in use over 30,000 years ago revolutionizing not only our “survival kits”, but our destiny as tool-users!

anachronisim [uhnak-ruh-niz-uh m] – a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.

To the modern backpacker, axes are an anachronisim. One reason I love axes is that they are no longer deemed necessary by moderns. Too heavy. Too dangerous. We have chainsaws now! Besides, who needs to process firewood when a lightweight compressed gas stove will cook freeze dried meal in a bag.

[See Christian Noble’s thought-provoking article on how Leave No Trace Killed Woodcraft… almost]

However, not too long ago, it was ill-advised to enter the backcountry without an ax. According to early Boy Scout manuals, young scouts were expected to be proficient axmen, to the point of cooking a complete meal with this cutting tool. Any person wanting to sharpen their woodcraft/bushcraft skills needs an ax.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I’ve had several people ask my opinion on ax selection lately. This guide is written for those who have never owned an ax or may buy only one or two in a lifetime. It is not a comprehensive ax “Bible” but intended for novice axmen and self-reliant types wanting or needing to feel the pleasure of a hickory handle whist through air, hear the thud of metal striking wood, and watch wood chips fly.

Ax Anatomy

For the sake of clarity, refer to the diagram below of basic terminology. All you really need to know is that you grip the handle and swing the sharp end against wood.

Ax Anatomy Simplified | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The above photo features a single bit (aka – poll ax) Plumb Boy Scouts of America 3/4 ax with a fawn’s foot handle I acquired for $15. Not bad for a classic American-made ax!

  • Bit – the sharp edge that cuts stuff; also called the blade
  • Poll – the end of the ax opposite the bit; sometimes called the back and often misused to hammer metal stakes. The poll adds balance to prevent wobble during chopping/swinging.
  • Cheek – area past the bit; also referred to as the ramp or face
  • Toe – top corner of the bit; maybe to remind you to watch your toes while chopping
  • Heel – bottom corner of the bit
  • Eye – the hole in the axhead that receives the handle/haft
  • Handle – made of stiff wood with shock absorbing properties; usually Hickory in North America; also called the haft
  • Grip – no explanation needed, right?
  • End Knob – pictured is a sawn-off fawn’s foot

Ax Selection

A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun. The notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion.

~ Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Selecting an ax has many variables, but, mainly, you want one that works best for your intended purpose. I have a small collection of axes in different patterns and weights. Each design was meant to do different jobs.

Ax Purpose

Early North American pioneers relied heavily on the ax. This cutting tool built houses, provided fuel for home and camp, built furniture, cleared land, and made a great barter item. Specialty axes in skilled hands crafted ships, cabins, beams, bowls, mortise and tenon joinery, and other essential items for self-reliance.

“Knicks and dull edges are abominations, so use knives and hatchets for nothing but they were made for.” – Horace Kephart, 1917

Belt or Hand Ax (Hatchet)

The ax that serves me in the field the most is a 16 inch Wetterlings Hunter’s Hatchet. Why? It’s not burdensome to carry. She’s always strapped to my pack or haversack. Just over 2 pounds, this hatchet has preformed yeoman’s work on tasks requiring a larger ax.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

When my chainsaw died, the small Wetterlings hatchet proved its worth and maneuverability on our neighbor’s storm damaged hickory tree

Note: The shorter the ax, the more dangerous it becomes. Don’t fear the ax, learn to use it properly. Swing time with your ax is the only way to learn this skill.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The most frequently used cutting tool when build this shelter is hanging to the far right

From spoon carving to building semi-permanent shelter, a hatchet can do the job. When scouting for shelter material, the Wetterlings rode on a loop attached to my belt. It makes a great light camping ax as well.

Three Quarter Ax

In colder climates where large amounts of firewood are required for warmth at camp, a 3/4 ax may be your best bet. This style ax reaches from armpit to the palm of your hand with a head weight of 2 to 3 pounds and is hafted on an 18 to 28 inch handle – an ideal tool for younger woodsmen (boy’s ax) and for general use for adults.

The deciding factor on which ax to carry is often an issue of conveyance. Tramping requires that you to be the “mule.” Where weight is not an issue, as in car camping, canoe trips, or on horseback, you might opt for the larger felling ax for wood processing. All the while packing your small hatchet for a scout-about, quartering game, and other camp tasks.

The most common purpose of an ax is cutting firewood. I asked the question, “How long will chainsaws hum along?” in a previous article. Even if the gas engines keep pumping noise in the backcountry, there’s too much nostalgia and practicality to not add a good felling ax to your self-reliance toolbox.

Felling Ax

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

Jersey pattern True Temper Kelly Perfect felling ax with scalloped cheeks

Above is a True Temper Kelly Perfect with a 30 inch handle I restored. This cutting tool chops large diameter logs like a boss.

The early American felling ax was hand-forged by local blacksmiths. Ax patterns were named based on their regional location; Dayton, Michigan, Jersey, Hudson Bay, New England, North Carolina, etc. Some of these patterns are still popular with modern ax makers. A typical felling axhead weighs between 3.5 to 6 pounds with a handle length between 30 and 36 inches.

Buy New or Used?

Most American ax manufacturers bit the dust when the chainsaw was introduced in the logging industry. Buyer Beware: Axes in big box stores (made in China) are not going to be passed down as family heirlooms. My most productive ax scores have been at local antique shops, flea markets, and yard/estate sales. Old American-made axes are still available and begging to be put to use.

Most used axes will need to be re-handled. Not a problem. Here’s how to re-haft an ax. Pay more attention to the axhead’s condition and manufacturer. More detailed info on vintage axes can be found at Yester Year Tools (link in the Ax Resources section below).

Hardware stores may have a handle with good grain, but not likely. No matter where you get your new haft, check the run of the wood grain from the side view. Grain running perpendicular to the handle won’t last long. Look for grain running parallel the whole length of the handle. A few stray grains won’t hurt.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A True Temper hickory sap wood handle with good vertical grain found at a small hardware store

Check the butt end of the handle. Grain running vertically on the end is what you want. Horizontal grain in striking tools won’t absorb constant shocks.

Finding a good ax that fits your needs is often a difficult task. Hopefully, this information will help with your search for a the most versatile tool of self-reliance.

Ax Resources

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Homesteading, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Abrahm Butts: An Amazing Kid Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is to you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t you love to watch a young person swim against the societal current of dependency?

I’d like to introduce Abrahm Butts to you as a shining example of what Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance is all about. His journey to preparedness and self-reliance breathes hope into a generation floating down a creek without a paddle.

Abrahm Butts: An Amazing Kid Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Abrahm, a 15 year-old Boy Scout, graciously answered a few questions I sent. Thought you’d enjoy learning what drives him to be more self-reliant. Check out his skills-based YouTube channel, BSA Bushcraft, and, don’t forget to subscribe and encourage him to Keep Doing the Stuff!

Q: Tell us about how you got started Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance and your new YouTube channel, BSA Bushcraft.

I got started in the survival stuff by watching Man vs Wild, I watched all of Bear’s episodes very quickly! After that I came across Dual Survival. I seemed to like that show a bit more than Man vs Wild. I was watching the first episodes of Dual Survival and in the introduction to Dave Canterbury they said he had a YouTube channel (Wilderness Outfitters), so I looked him up and literally watched ALL of his videos. I have learned most of my “Bushcraft” knowledge from Dave. I had a crazy idea one day to start my own channel and I did it is called BSA Bushcraft.

Q: What is the top tip you’d give to kids and adults wanting to build wilderness survival skills and becoming more self-reliant?

The top tip I would give to someone who is wanting to get started into bushcraft is practice in a SAFE environment whether that is your backyard or your porch.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge(s) you face in developing skills?

The biggest struggle I have when developing a skill is that I expect to get it done in 1 hour, but it can take a good amount of to have the skill down. Take your time with that skill and don’t rush it, or try to do to many skills at once.

Q: What advise would you give to kids wanting to get started in woodcraft/bushcraft but have little or no experience?

The advice I would tell to kids that are wanting to start into bushcraft is make a stable kit with the 10C’s then take your time and take the skills one at a time.

Q: If you had to choose one kit item to survive a 72-hour wilderness survival scenario, what would it be and why? 

In a 72-hour wilderness scenario I would choose a knife over anything for the reasons that I can carve traps to catch food. If I have a high carbon knife, I can find a rock with a hardness of 7 or greater, then maybe find a piece of fungus, then I have a way to make a fire. The fire I have created with just that knife I can improvise containers that can withstand fire so I can boil my water, cook my food, keep warm and keep predators out of my camp. I can do all of that with just that one tool.

Q: What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you when filming video for your channel (blooper reel stuff)? 

The funniest thing that has happened to me when I was making a video was I could not stop laughing for some odd reason when I said YouTube ;)

Q: How has your bushcraft training effected your education and outlook for your future? 

I don’t let my bushcraft get in the way of my grades. My education comes before bushcraft. Since I have discovered bushcraft, I have had some great opportunity’s to help my future. Like Todd was kind enough to let me do this interview. The Pathfinder Instructors have invited me to some events with them. I even have a show on Around the Cabin in the making, thanks too Rich!

Q: What’s the best value-adding resource you’d recommend for building and honing self-reliance skills?

The best value adding resource in my opinion is the internet. You can learn so much from researching and watching videos.

Thank you Todd for this awesome opportunity! 

Thanks,

Abrahm

———————–

If you’d like to encourage this young man on his journey, subscribe to his channel. Here’s a taste of the stuff he’s doing…

If you know of other kids pursuing self-reliance, please let me know. We’d like to encourage them to Keep Doing the Stuff!

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, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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: , , , , , , , | 3 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

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

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