I have recently made some new purchases and will be reviewing them during the next couple of posts.
I find that for day-to-day living in the UK my crusader cup is rather large for my needs so I recently purchased a Lifeventure titanium mug. In order to boil water in the cup I wanted to make a lid so firstly I cut out an aluminium disk.
I drew around the cup of the cup and using a piece of half round post
and a small hammer, gradually bent the edge of the disk to create a lip for the lid to keep it on the cup
The aluminium must be shaped gradually otherwise it will crack. I cut a strip of aluminium and shaped around a pencil, riveted it to the lid, added a keyring ring and clip to finish it
I made a reindeer leather pouch for the cup and when the draw-string is closed on the top of the bag, the whole thing can be clipped on a belt-loop to carry around
I wanted to design a cooking stand for the cup similar to the one I designed for my Crusader mug
I carved several pieces of Hazel to achieve a satisfactory design but I was unsuccessful and so decided to just hold the cup over the fire to boil water, but having discarded the pieces of wood I noticed two pieces had landed in a crossed position and it was seeing that, that gave me the solution to my problem. Two pieces of wood pushed into the ground at an angle to form a cross which supports the two parts of the handle.
A cup of water was boiled in 6 minutes
Last Friday I headed off to the British Birdwatching Fair which is a three day event held annually at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.
I was there to make contact with nature tourism companies who are, or who are considering running tours in Northern Sweden.
After a day at the bird fair I travelled down to Danemead Scout Campsite to spend a couple of days with my friend Stuart, relaxing in the woods. The dappled sunlight through the trees provided us with some beautiful views in the early morning.
I spent some time teaching Stuart methods of firelighting without matches and some tinders to use and he helped me refresh my navigation skills, but most of our time was spent around the fire
chatting, drinking and eating. Here I am making sausage stew
The handles of the crusader cup can get hot when the cup is being used in a large fire so I worked on developing a simple tool for removing the cup when the handle is hot. I cut a piece of Hazel with a branch stub at one end. I thinned down the Hazel at this point
to fit between the gap in the handles and the branch stub hooks below the handle as you can see below
You can place the cup in position and then unhook and remove the handle until you want to remove it from the fire
An idea I worked at developing in Lapland was a cooking stand for my Crusader cup. It needed to be a simple design and quick to construct from natural materials. This was my simplest design but works very well.
I cut a piece of Hazel with a branch coming from it, pointed the bottom of the Hazel to push it in the ground and cut the branch down to a short stub.
I had to reduce the thickness of the stem (the exact shape of this turned out to be quite important, but more about that later)
so that it fits between the gap in the cup handles as you can see here.
and the base of the cup sits on the branch stub
Here are I am cooking with Sterno gel (does anyone else find this this stuff will not bring water to the boil?)
and here I have a small fire
Now when cooking for a longer period of time the stub can burn through, but during the making of this tutorial I discovered that if you shape the stem like this
the bottom of the cup handle sits on the wider base of the stem and removes the need for the branch stub. So this is my improved design
I used it today while at our green woodworking group meeting. I set it up and gathered some embers from the main fire to make a brew
and later used a slightly different designto cook my lunch
Thanks to Edd for these pictures
Why not experiment with my design yourself!
Having made a bucksaw in my previous post I had the idea to use the frame for making a backpack.
For this I inverted the saw blade and put on the blade cover
I have a Reindeer skin that I sleep on and by cutting some small slots down the edges of the skin I can thread Hazel wands through
to form a bag
Lacking rawhide I used parachute cord for lashing. Firstly lashing the skin to the frame
and across the front of the skin
The top of the skin acts as the pack lid
and with a couple of carrying straps attached the pack is complete
Now to be honest this needs a bit more work to really be usable but I have posted about it to hopefully inspire others to develop the idea. After all, in addition to a backpack you have;
by withdrawing the Hazel wands, a skin to sit and sleep on
and by removing the blade guard and flipping the blade over, a bucksaw
While out in some woods the other day I found an area where the owner had recently been coppicing (coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management involving cutting trees and bushes down close to ground level. Multiple stems will then shoot from the stump and these in turn are harvested every 3 – 40 years, depending on the species and product required. Here are a couple of links for more information 1, 2). This method of management is very beneficial to associated fauna and flora.
The materials laying around gave me the opportunity to experiment with a bed design I had in mind. Using my axe I cut an Ash log in half and arranged the two pieces into a “V” shape.
I then cut some stakes to drive into the ground to secure them in place.
I started to cut a series of “V” notches along the length of both pieces of Ash, into which I placed pieces of springy saplings.
Now I collected the springy tops from Birch and Hazel and arranged on top as a matress
I will make the next one slightly longer, but I must say it was very comfortable!
I found this bone which I think belonged to a Muntjac deer.
Using a piece of flint I scored around the ends
to remove them both
Then I made wooden tips from Ash and Hazel for making fire by friction
My flint knapping skills are not good unfortunately but I can do most of the things I need to with the right flake.
One end of the flake in the video below I used as a scraper to shape the wooden plugs to fit into the ends of the bone and the sharpe edge of the flake I used to cut throught the wood.
A friend asked me to find a nice stick for him to use as a “Talking Stick” when facilitating meetings for Ecological knowledge gathering and sharing.
A friend at work said she had found an ideal Hazel stick and with a bit of trimming and rubbing with fine wire wool to smooth it, it was just perfect.
The Talking Stick was used by many Native American tribes at council meetings. The chief or leading elder would hold the stick and begin a discussion and when he had finished speaking he would hold out the stick and the person who took the stick had the right to speak while others listened. The stick was often decorated to show its importance and significance.
Using supplies from Waken Tanka Native American Products I decorated the stick.
The rabbit fur on the end of the stick reminds the user that their words must be soft and warm.
I used four different colours of thread in a four-strand round plat and placed four beads onto the thread. The four colours of beads represent the seasons, the main points of the compass and – yellow for sunrise, red for sunset, white for snow and green for the earth.
The shells remind the user that all creation changes – the seasons, people, and the years.
And finally using a thin strip of reindeer hide I attached four feathers also used in traditional decoration.
If anyone knows more about this item any information would be gratefully received.
While out the other day I decided to try and make a pump-drill with items I could find in the wood and then make fire. Firstly I collected some pieces of dead hazel by breaking them from coppice stools.
Using a piece of flint I cut them to the required lengths
I found a plastic bread bag and filled with soil to use as the weight for the pump-drill and lashed at the top and bottom to secure it in place.
I used Wych Elm bark to lash the parts of the drill together.
Here is the completed pump-drill.
Unfortunately when I started to use the pump-drill to try and make fire, the spinning momentum of the drill shaft split the plastic bag open and the soil fell onto the coal that was starting to form!…..oh well, maybe next time.
I spent Saturday in the woods and cooked a vegetable curry for evening meal.
I was sleeping on a pole-bed and using my US Modular Sleep System.
There was a beer festival with a band playing nearby, so we headed there for the evening.
I went walking with friends today and we found a really large Hazel bur (the first Hazel bur I have ever seen).
An even more impressive find was the largest Blackthorn that we have ever seen (this “Blackthorn” was subsequently identified as a Crab Apple)!
I wouldn’t even like to try to guess as to how old it might be.
My bucksaw featured in a previous picture and is quite simple to make. There a many different designs of bucksaw and this is mine.
I prefer to use an Ash sapling, but Hazel, Wych Elm and many other woods will work just as well.If selected carefully, all the parts for this saw can be cut from one sampling. The two vertical piece have a groove cut in at the bottom using either a knife saw or piece of flint. This is where the saw blade will sit. About 25mm down from the top of the two vertical pieces I cut a small groove around into which the tensioning cord will sit. To secure the horizontal piece in place, I make a mortise and tenon joint.
Finally I make two wooden dowels which fit through the holes at each end of the blade to help hold it in place, put loop of cord around the top and using another piece of wood, twist the cord to tension the saw frame. Now it is ready for use.