DIY Preparedness Projects

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

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

How to Build a Sturdy Takedown Bucksaw

by Todd Walker

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

how-to-build-takedown-bucksaw

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the drawing board in my shop.

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

Gather the Stuff

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

Tools

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

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

Cut the Stuff

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

Cut List

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

Prep the Wood

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

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

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

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

Assembly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

by Todd Walker

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

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

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps

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

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

Stuff You’ll Need

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

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

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 1: Making Natural Dye

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

homemade-oilskin-bedsheet-tarp

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

Step 2: Dye the Sheet

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 3: Set the Dye

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

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 4: Waterproofing

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

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

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

Step 5: Cure the Sheet

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

Now for the moment of truth… is it waterproof?

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Dry as bone!

Dry as bone!

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 46 Comments

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

by Todd Walker

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

diy-survival-gig

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

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

Gather the Stuff

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

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

Step 1

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

Step 2

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

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

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

Step 3

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

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

diy-survival-gig

A view from the business end

Step 4

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

Chest lever gets it done safely

Chest lever gets it done safely

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

Step 5

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

Nice knife!

Love this knife!

Step 6

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

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

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

Used about 6 feet of cordage here

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

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

How to Make Lucky Sherpa Plantain Salve

by Todd Walker

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

When you’re Doing the Stuff of self-reliance, you’ll have the scars to prove it!

There seems to be no end to the things that attach to and attack my skin. Ticks, chiggers, cuts, burns, and poisonous plants seem to find me in the woods and backyard. My go to herb to treat these nasties that slip past my defenses is plantain. Chew a leaf of two and apply it to the area.

But what if plantain isn’t available?

Today is your lucky day!

I want to share with you an all-natural DIY ointment you can conveniently carry while practicing your Doing the Stuff skills. No need to chew the weed into a spit poultice. Just open the container, apply, and heal! I pack Lucky Sherpa Salve in all my kits now. It’s on the front row in my herbal medicine cabinet too.

There are store-bought salves available with ingredients you can’t pronounce. I like to know exactly what goes on (and in) my skin. Plus, I’m a cheap Doer of the Stuff.

Here’s how to create your own luck…

Lucky Sherpa Salve Recipe

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil
  • A handful of fresh plantain leaves
  • 1 ounce of beeswax
  • 2 Tbs of local honey
  • 1 tsp of Vitamin E oil
  • 2 Tbs of Almond oil (optional)
  • 8 drops of Tea Tree essential oil (optional)
  • 8 drops of Peppermint essential oil (optional)

How to Make Your Own

This is a topical recipe for external use only.

I’ve been battling a cyst for a while now. Plantain is an effective drawing agent. However, it grew tiresome traipsing into the yard after showers looking for fresh plantain. No one is more thankful for this convenient salve than DRG!

In a hurry to treat the cyst, I whipped up a batch. Gather a large handful of plantain leaves, broad leaf or narrow leaf will both work. The narrow leaf variety is plentiful in my area.

Place the harvested weed into a blender with a 1/2 cup of virgin coconut oil. Blend until it turns into a green liquid. I added two tablespoons of almond oil to help liquefy the mixture. It should look like a dark green smoothie when properly mixed.

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Scrape the sides to get it all!

Pour the mix into a pan and place over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes to infuse the good stuff with the oil. Stir the simmering pot occasionally.

After the concoction is infused, strain the mix through cheesecloth over a wire strainer into a clean boiler. I twisted the cheesecloth into a ball and squeezed it with tongs to extract the infused oil quickly.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

Place the pot of strained oil back on low heat. Add one ounce of grated beeswax to the mix. Beeswax is flammable. Keep the heat low or melt the wax in a double boiler before adding it to the plantain oil. Now add two tablespoons of local honey and one teaspoon of Vitamin E oil.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

Once the beeswax is melted, remove from heat and stir in the essential oils (optional). This step isn’t necessary. I added Tea Tree and Peppermint essential oil because of their healing properties. Tea Tree oil is also an effective insect repellent.

Test the consistency by placing a drop on a plate or wax paper and place it in the fridge for a few minutes. If it’s too thin after cooling, add more beeswax. Too thick, add oil until it’s right for you.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

An eclectic mix of containers for my Lucky Sherpa Salve

Use your Possum Mentality and round-up several containers with lids. Pour the liquified concoction into the clean containers and allow the mix to solidify. This recipe makes about 12 ounces of salve.

Benefits of Lucky Sherpa Salve Main Ingredients

Selecting ingredients for any recipe will determine the quality of the product. Start with the best stuff nature has to offer. Here are the benefits of my ingredients.

Plantain

Plantain may be the best utility player in the world of wild weeds. Check out plantain’s healing properties here.

Coconut Oil

This natural powerhouse contains super benefits.

  • Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)
  • Anti-carcinogenic (coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so it effectively prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system)
  • Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)
  • Anti-inflammatory (appears to have a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.)
  •  Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting (the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.)
  • An Antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)
  • Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)
  • Anti-protozoa (kills giardia, a common protozoan infection of the gut)
  • Anti-retroviral (kills HIV and HLTV-1)
  • Anti-viral (kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other viruses)
  • Infection fighting
  • Has no harmful for discomforting side effects
  • Known to improve nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)
  • Nontoxic to humans and animals

Source

Honey

Local raw honey has been used for thousands of years for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Honey can be applied to burns, cuts, and scrapes for wound care. More sweet benefits can be found here.

Vitamin E

This antioxidant promotes healing of the skin and scar tissue.

  • Removes free radicals
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Speeds cell regeneration
  • Reduces oxidation rate
  • Improves skin hydration
  • Studies on rodents show promise for vitamin E’s reduction of the risk of skin cancer caused by UV exposure.

CYA Disclaimer:

I’m not a medical professional. I’m just a regular guy busy Doing the Stuff of self-reliance with calloused hands. This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be advice on treating, curing, preventing, or diagnosing diseases or conditions. Do your own due diligence with our information as it may not be complete.

With the above CYA taken care of, I can report that the drawing action of the plantain has made a huge impact to reduce the soreness and size of the cyst over three days. I apply Lucky Sherpa Plantain Salve to a gauze pad and tap it to the affected area twice daily. On the second day, the nastiness is oozing out. Sorry, that’s as delicate as I know how to put it. This stuff works for me!

No-see-ems and mosquitos were out last night while I was grilling. My ankles took the brunt of their bombing raids. I rubbed a dab of the salve on and the itching stopped almost immediately.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

This tin fits nicely in my haversack

If you want to get lucky and make your own, we’d like to hear how it turns out!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Herbal Remedies, Natural Health, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

How to Build a “Stairway to Heaven” Rat Trap in 15 Minutes

by Todd Walker

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Rats… I hate rats!

We dropped our bushcraft kits in my shop when we got home. I’d just taught my grandson to cook his first simple meal over our campfire – Raman noodles! The next morning I was greeted with this…

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Good thing we don’t live in bear country

In our excitement over his latest bushcraft lesson, we forgot to remove his food items from his pack.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Rat noodles!

Apparently, rats love Raman noodles.

Actually, these rodents will eat just about anything. We were fortunate that we only lost a pack of cheap noodles and was left with only one extra opening in his pack. If left to their own survival instincts – they gotta eat – rats can destroy non-hardened food storage items and spread disease.

I’m always trying to build a better mouse trap. I saw a couple of bucket rat traps on YouTube that seemed clever. This would be the perfect time to test the theory.

Here’s how to make a bucket rat trap in 15 minutes from everyday stuff.

How to Make a Bucket Rat Mouse Trap 

Gather Your Stuff

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • One 5 gallon bucket
  • One unopened can of liquid
  • Ice pick, awl, or drill bit for making holes
  • Pliers
  • Wire
  • Bait – peanut butter

First Step

Drill two holes on opposite sides of the bucket about a half-inch below the rim. The hole diameter should be a little larger than the wire you’ve chosen to use.

Second Step

Remove the paper label. Use you’re ice pick or drill to bore a hole in the center of the can lid. If you plan to reuse the liquid, turn the can over and bore another hole in the bottom of the can over a container. This will vent the can and empty in a few minutes.

Third Step

Skewer the can with the wire. This took time and patience trying to thread the wire through the second hole blindly. You could use a clear water bottle with the cap on to make this easier.

Once the wire is through both ends, make sure the wire extends a few inches past the bucket on both edges. With the threaded can centered over the bucket, crimp the wire at both ends of the can. This will keep the can sliding to the edge of the bucket which would defeat the trap.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Once crimped, insert the wire into both holes. You will need to bend the second side of the wire to get it in the hole. Just straighten the wire after it’s through the hole. Center the can over the bucket opening and bend the spare wire on the outside of the bucket around the bucket rim to keep the can centered over the bucket.

Fourth Step

If you think you’ve got a rat to deal with, pour about 6 to 8 inches of water in the bucket.Big rats can jump. The water prevents the vermin from leaping to freedom. For mice, use less water. At least that’s the theory…

—————————————————

PROJECT ALERT!

Warning: You’re about to see dead stuff! If easily offended by the sight of dead rats, turn back now!

Just walked out to my shop to check the bait and Ratzilla just ran up the wall onto some storage shelves. This sucker stands on the edge of the bucket eating my peanut butter!

Change of plans. This bucket trap may work for mice but not for this nemesis! As Roy Scheider, star of Jaws, said when he laid eyes on the shark, “Your going to need a bigger boat.” When dealing with Ratzilla and his kin, you’re going to need a bigger bucket!

I stand there in shock as he hides on top of the shelf mocking me with his shrieks. It’s on! No more cute little YouTube contraptions. You know, there are times when a better mouse trap has already been built. Use it!

I pulled a rat trap from my bushcraft kit. Large rat traps are part of my survival trapping kit. They’re useful for trapping tree rats (squirrels) and other small game in a survival scenario.

I’ll finish the MOUSE trap tutorial in a moment. But for now, I’ll share my progression of trap sets for this monster…

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Epic fail! The Victor rat trap trigger had been stripped of peanut butter and was dangling from the bucket. Now what? DRG suggested that the “Stairway to Heaven” was not wide enough and the Victor trap needed to be placed, as designed, flat on the floor. I reset the trap and anchored it. I’ve had rats drag traps out of reach before. Rotting rat inside a wall is not pleasant!

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

I ditched the bucket and used the Victor rat trap alone. Think he’ll drag 10 pounds?

Update: He didn’t have to. He cleaned the peanut butter off the trigger… AGAIN!! I’m ready to load the .38 with snake shot! On second thought, he may take a hollow point. This is war!

DRG suggested using a different bait, one he wouldn’t easily remove. I modified the trigger to make the V-shaped metal tab stick up at a 45º angle. I then formed a ball of cheese around the trigger and reset the trap.

Thirty minutes later I flip the light switch on with my neck hair bristled. It looked like a murder scene minus the white chalk outline. Finally, Ratzilla was dead. I’ll spare you the bloody shots. No, this is not the bloody shot below. He measured over 15 inches from nose to tip of the tail.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

R.I.P Ratzilla

If you see one, there is usually more. And they don’t leave on their own accord. I reset the trap after 11 o’clock that night – way past my bed time. Checked the next morning and one of his girlfriends couldn’t resist the cheese. Disposed of her and reset. You guessed it, caught another one! Three dead rats.

Note about sanitation: Avoid handling dead rats and mice with your bare hands. Wash your hands throughly after handling rat traps.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

——————————————-

“Stairway to Heaven” How-to Continued…

Not sure if the continuation of the tutorial is even necessary at this point. I didn’t have a mouse problem, I had rats! This is why I continue to stress the importance of trading theory for ACTION before you actually need critical gear and equipment.

Here’s how to finish the bucket mouse trap.

Fifth Step

Spread peanut butter over the surface of the can. When a mouse scurries up the ramp to eat, in theory, he will leap to the can for the bait, spin off the wheel and drown. I can’t see why this bucket mouse trap wouldn’t work on mice.

Trading Theory for Action Lessons

This set up is genius on paper. It would allow me to catch multiple varmints without having to re-bait or reset the trap. Set it and forget. But in real life, you’re going to need a bigger bucket – or smaller rats.

The thought of using a wide-mouth bucket to increase the distance to the bait wheel occurred to me early on in this epic battle. But due to my obsession with destroying Ratzilla’s posse in a timely manner, I had no time to waste. I wanted them dead. Now!

What I discovered is that my bucket trap was nothing more than a rolling rotisserie for large rats. Stick with proven traps for Ratzilla and company or build a better mouse trap.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

How to Make Firebricks (fire logs) and Wood Stove Logs for Free!

Today we’re proud to present another DIY project from a fellow Doing the Stuff Networker. Jamie Burke is a master at repurposing trash and junk. His latest project shared on our DTSN Facebook Group not only saves money, but would be very useful both now (free is always good) and after a SHTF event.

If you’d like to see more of how he and our other members are Doing the Stuff, join us on our journey to self-reliance and preparedness!

Here’s Jamie’s down and dirty tutorial…

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Firebricks and Wood Stove Logs Tutorial

This process only requires: Two buckets, a drill (or stabbing weapon), piece of wood (or bottom of another bucket), kinda a custom drill bit, water. + your TRASH!

Out of all of the physical spam you receive in the mail, leaves you rake, dead foliage, paper towel rolls, paper plates, napkins, beer boxes, egg cartons, etc., etc., etc., (any biomass material you can think of) – why not turn it into useable logs for your furnace, campfire, or cooking? Just don’t use the plastic coated things.

I’ve seen ‘devices’ you can buy that makes ‘newspaper logs’, but they never seem efficient, require you to pre-shred, take way too much time and the logs are not very solid. This is a much better method and doesn’t really cost anything.

Step 1

Get two 5 gal buckets. $3 each at walmart. Drill a lot of holes in it, about 2 inches down from the lips and around 3/16 size-ish. I used a soldering iron. You can use a screw driver and stab holes all in there. Go around all the bucket and on the bottom. [Todd’s note: Buckets can be had for free at bakery’s and construction sites]

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Holy bucket

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Un-holy and holy

Step 2

Place the holy bucket inside the other normal bucket. Start putting your papers, leaves, bio material in it. Add your water and fill’r up. Doesn’t really matter if you have too much water. You can leave these buckets of water setup by the mailbox, then just walk by and toss stuff in.

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Don’t judge my trash

Step 3

You need a custom drill bit, which I have. A good thing to do is find an old table saw blade and weld it to s shaft of steel. This is “the hardest” part of this setup. Drill away and in seconds you will have a nice pulpy wet mess.

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Drill attachment turns it into mulch

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

New and improved stirring attachment/zombie slayer

Step 4

Next, pull out the holy bucket and let it drain. I put the draining bucket on top of the other bucket to save the water – you can re-use the same water many times.

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Reuse this water for your next batch

Step 5

You should have a press that goes far down into the bucket to press out the remaining water. I found a bucket that someone cut the bottom off.. well perfect. But you will probably want to place a bucket down on some wood, trace around the base and cut out that piece of wood to use as a press.

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Pulp on the left. Found this next to my house (press). Or just trace a bucket on wood and cut out the wood piece for a press.

Step 6

Set your press inside the bucket over the pulp. Then I set the re-used water bucket inside of that bucket (because water is heavy). That will work over time. I also sat on it.. put my anvil on it.. and stood in it. It’s pretty quick. whatever heavy you have for the top.

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Step 7

Now once most the water is pressed out – take it out to a sunny/dry place. Turn over the bucket and tap on the top. It will take some time to dry, depending on your location. We live in the desert so this will happen fast. If you want it to dry faster, cut these logs as you would a pizza, into sections.

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

The wet fire cake ready for drying

Once dry, these will burn a long time.. and cost you ~ nada.

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

Free firebricks dried in the desert!

Todd’s note: Hope you enjoyed Jamie’s tutorial. He’s a fine example of people who have traded theory for ACTION! Come check out all the other folks busy Doing the Stuff!

If you try it yourself, we’d like to know how it turns out.

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: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 72 Comments

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

by Todd Walker

Doing the Stuff of self-reliance takes time, resources, tools, and want to. More important than any of these is ACTION! With only 24 hours in a day, you can’t always trek to your personal space in the woods to practice wilderness survival skills. Hectic schedules and time constants eat away at your availability.

You’re family needs quality time… and no, staring at the TV or computer screen doesn’t count. No better way to hang out with your loved ones, even the indoors lover, than to introduce them to outdoor self-reliance skills in a controlled setting. Your adventures await one step over your door sill – no wilderness required!

Convenience just destroyed all the excuses.

backyard-bushcraft

Our Self-Reliant Summer series is intended to keep us motivated with common sense ideas for Doing the Stuff. Stay with us to learn how to strike self-reliance gold in your backyard.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

It would be great if we all had a picturesque wilderness for a backyard. That’s not likely. Driving hours to reach one is not practical for busy people. The solution is to bloom where you’re planted.

Fire Pits and BBQ Grills!

Making fire is a critical skill many of us take for granted. In ideal conditions, fire may be easy. Just flick your Bic and, poof, you have flames. It’s wise to practice several ways to achieve a sustainable fire.

backyard-bushcraft

A BBQ grill is a good tool for practicing fire making!

Fire is simple. All that’s needed is…

  • Air
  • Heat
  • Fuel

These elements make up the fire triangle. Take away any one of these and you no longer have fire. Starve the fire of air and you’re making charred material for your next fire.

You can practice your fire making skills with the available resources out back. No wood? No problem. Dirt Road Girl and I are known to walk our neighborhood, wagon in tow, collecting dead wood conveniently stacked at the edge of neighbor’s yards. We get our walk in and employ our possum mentality for free resources.

Fire Project 1: Make char cloth and charred material.

Fire Project 2: Practice making fire using 3 different methods: friction (bow drill, hand drill, fire plow), heat (fresnel lens, lighter, matches, etc.), and sparks (ferro rod, flint and steel). You’ll need your homemade char material for the flint and steel.

backyard-bushcraft

Our son’s first friction fire on the back patio

Fire Project 3: Make a fire from one stick only.

If you’re neighborhood allows open fires in a fire pit, consider building or buying one. If not, practice inside a charcoal or gas grill. If grills aren’t allowed, call the moving van! Build fires directly on the grill grate or use a board or other flat object as a support.

Be curious. Try new tinder materials. I discovered an excellent coal extender growing on beech trees near my shelter. [That’s me – two photos up – at the Weber grill lighting dry sooty mold from a Beech tree with a ferro rod]

What’s for Dinner?

After building a fire, why not use it to practice cooking over an open flame. Since you’re in the backyard and conveyance is not an issue, break out that cast iron dutch oven granny passed down to you. Once your fire burns down a bit, suspend the pot over a bed of coals with a bushcraft tripod. Experiment with cooking methods other than stabbing a tube steak on the end of a stick.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Campfire chili!

Practice using twig stoves like the Emberlit. A handful of twigs can boil water for a pre-packaged meal in a stainless steel camp cup.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Tied in Knots

Do you remember how to tie that nifty knot you saw on YouTube? Probably not. Find two trees in the yard and practice tying out your tarp and hammock. Repetition is the mother of all learning.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Dirt Road Girl and Abby testing knots

Basic knots should become second-hand. You won’t need to know 41 knots to survive and thrive in a survival scenario. Knowing a few simple knots will save you time and cordage. The knots I use most while bushcrafting are the timber hitch, trucker’s hitch, Siberian hitch, bowline, clove hitch, and tension hitch. Learn knots with a specific purpose and tie them repeatedly until you’re able to do so even in the dark.

Sharp Skills

The cutting tool is fundamental for bushcraft. Safe use of knives, saws, and axes should be learned before heading to the big boy woods. The backyard is the perfect classroom.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

Teaching ax safety to my grandson

Wielding sharp tools has risks. You never really know your cutting tool personally until it bites you. Accidents happen to even the most skilled bushcrafter. Practicing in a controlled setting like your backyard builds confidence and skills for times when your life may one day depend upon sharp stuff. Plus, first aid is close by.

Sharp Skill 1: Make a feather stick for your backyard fire. Bracing your knife against your knee with the cutting edge facing away from your body, pull a piece of wood towards your body to curl shavings on the stick. You can also place the stick on another wooden surface (anvil) and slice curls using the full length of the blade.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Fatwood feather stick and shavings

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Fatwood shavings lit with a ferro rod

Sharp Skill 2: Baton wood with your knife. This skill is useful when a camp ax is not available. This method can produce pencil lead size, pencil size, thumb size, and larger fuel from logs. I prefer batoning for the one stick challenge and when creating bow drill sets. More precision in woodcraft can be achieved by practicing your preferred method.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Processing the round via the baton method

Sharp Skill 3: Notches add stability when joining and lashing woodcraft items. They’re also essential for the hearth board on your bow drill fire set.

Got Cover?

There may not be enough resources to build a debris hut out by the kids swing set, but you can practice tarp and tent set up.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Tarp and hammock set up

Common man/woman cover can be an affordable tarp or poncho. Start with the resources you have. Practice different cover configurations to find out what works for different situations.

Sticks and Strings (Archery)

Archery has been given a huge boost by the recent Hunger Games books and movies. Capitalize on the interest with your children or grandchildren.

backyard-bushcraft

Killing spuds in our backyard

Archery has been practiced for thousands of years by hunter-gatherers, indigenous groups, and self-reliant folk. This tool can be used for harvesting game quietly and an effective addition to your SHTF arsenal. Zombies beware! The place to hone this skill is in the backyard. Once hooked on stick and string, you and your entire family can enjoy this as a family sport and survival skill.

Make Your Own Stuff

Simple machines in bushcraft can be used to build stuff to aid in self-reliance and survivability. Here are three projects that are doable in the backyard.

Project 1: Build a simple cooking tripod for your backyard kitchen.

Project 2: Torches. Gotta have torches. Kid’s love them and they’re fun to build!

  • How to make a fatwood torch
  • Miner’s torch (pictured below) made of a dried mullein stalk and soy wax (pine sap or tallow can also be used) – Warning: burning close the base of the seed head will burn through the stalk quickly
backyard-bushcraft

Mullein torch

Project 3: Make a bow drill set from one piece of poplar or other suitable wood

backyard-bushcraft

A bow drill set crafted from one piece of tulip poplar

Eat the Yard

Every backyard lawn has weeds. Learning to safely identify wild edibles for nutrition and medicine is smart. Like every other skill mentioned above, wildcrafting can be done close to home. We place value on what we name. Before I knew the name of Mullein, it was just a weed growing along the fence row of our pasture. Now it’s a valued item in our herbal medicine kit.

There are many resources available to help you identify wild edibles. One that I’ve found most helpful is The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer. Thayer didn’t just regurgitate what other authors wrote about, he spent years of actually Doing the Stuff in the field of wild edibles.

You can check out our Foraging Feral Food page and Herbal Medicine Kit series if you’d like to dig deeper into wildcrafting.

Doing the Stuff of self-reliance through bushcraft should start in your backyard. 17th and 18th century woodsmen forged their skills close to home. Owning these essential skills was necessary to survive the wilderness treks with minimal gear. That’s the essence of bushcraft – dependence on skills more so than the latest shiny object and technological gadget.

What happens when technology fails? Hopefully your skills will get you through. Your journey to self-reliance starts in your own backyard!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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

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, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

50+ Dumpster Diva Hacks that Convert Waste to Wealth

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

possum mentality will lead people to think you’re cheap. In our propped up economy, I call it industrious, resourceful, and plain smart. Why buy stuff with hard-earned cash when other people’s trash is everywhere?

Over 50 Dumpster Diva Hacks to Convert Waste to Wealth

Dumpster diving is certainly NOT above the members of our Doing the Stuff Network. These resourceful folks embody the Dumpster Diva mentality. In fact, repurposing or up-cycling everyday items is an integral part of homesteading, prepping, bushcrafting, back-to-basics living, and emergency first aid.

Once you catch the Dumpster Diva bug, you’ll view dumpsters as treasure chests! I’m sure our handlers have pesky prohibitions against this uncivilized pursuit – so dumpster dive at your own risk. Ask permission from business owners before taking what you think is trash. Especially when prowling for pallets. Most businesses recycle pallets and consider taking without permission theft.

But here’s the thing…

You don’t have to actually dig in dumpsters to repurpose stuff. Up-cycle, repurpose, and re-trash are trendy terms for what our grandparents did to get through hard times. Use it up, wear it out, and then find another use for the item other than its intended purpose.

Check out the projects below and get in touch with your trashy side.

Dumpster Diving for Self-reliance

1.) Cheap to Free Stuff

That metal DVD rack collecting dust could be repurposed to feed rabbits.

Grace (DST Networker) up-cycled a 25 cent yard sale find to dispense hay in her rabbit hutch.

Grace (DST Networker) up-cycled a 25 cent yard sale find to dispense hay in her rabbit hutch.

She could have dumped several dollars at the local feed and seed but went all Dumpster Diva and made an unconventional – yet functional – rabbit feeder.

2.) Landfill Love

Michael, my brother from another mother, found an 18 foot long tent and other items he repurposed from the local landfill.

Landfill Love

I think his best up-cycling miracle performed was when his gas tank on his old Datsun pickup ruptured. He ran a gas line from a gallon gas can to his engine with the can sitting inside the hood of his truck. A fire hazard? Yes. But he had to drive to work and this was a short-term fix. Might come in handy in a bug out scenario. Redneck genius!

3.) Billboards

You didn’t hear me wrong. Large tarps are expensive but have endless uses around a homestead…

  • Protect equipment from weather
  • Wind block
  • Shade animals
  • Ground cloth
  • Roofing, etc., etc.
Here's Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

A shot of my 14′ x 40′ tarp from my shop roof

I bought a 14′ by 40′ billboard for $14 a few months ago. A portion was used as a roof for my trapping shelter (personal space). A few of our readers have scored free tarps by just asking the work crew for old billboards!

4.) Pallets

With a little sweat equity, free wood for projects around your homestead, yard, handicrafts, or house can be found in wooden shipping pallets. No disassembling required for some projects. Here’s some DiY pallet projects from around the web to get your mind geared to repurpose…

I love it when people start trading theory for action! Resilient Man emailed the first steps of his journey to self-reliance and active resilience. He’s getting his hands dirty using pallets to build a chicken coop.

5.) Containers

Without becoming an obsessive compulsive hoarder, you can turn waste into wealth. The key here is to organize waste to prevent your house from becoming a death trap of trash.

The plastic five gallon bucket may be the most under appreciated prep item ever… until you need one and none are to be found. Ever tried to create your own containers from raw materials? Not an easy task! That goes double for glass.

Keep your wine bottles, mason jars, and other glass items. For an unusual use of mason jars, check out our post on Mason Jar Oil Lamps. They make Healthy Fast Food meals as well!

6.) Think Before You Toss Everyday Items

Here’s a round-up from a few of my Prepared Blogger friends who can help you take dumpster diving, repurposing, and up-cycling to new levels.

7.) First Aid/Medical

Lizzie over at Underground Medic put together Ten unconventional additions to your emergency medical kit worth checking out.

If you haven’t discovered the many survival uses for duct tape yet, The Survival Doctor (Dr. James Hubbard) wrote an entire book on how to use duct tape for medical emergencies – Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together

The Dumpster Diva Award goes to…

One of our amazing members of the Doing the Stuff Network is now crowned Dumpster Diva! She and her husband are building a homestead house (Earthship) out of old tires!

Earthship house being built by a Doing the Stuff Networker

Dumpster Diva’s house in progress!

I hope Part 2 in the Self-Reliant Summer Series encourages you to trade theory for ACTION! We’re planning an entire summer of self-reliance articles to keep us Doing the Stuff. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

What’s your favorite repurposing hack for self-reliance and preparedness? Comments are always welcome…

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

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