2015 begins just like 2014 finished

Just before Christmas I was diagnosed with Pneumonia and given a course of anti-bionics.

On Christmas Day Kelly had a diarrhea and sickness bug and of course four days later I caught it.  I had diarrhea the whole of last week and was not able to keep any foods and liquids inside me.  Our health helpline recommended that i eat rice, carrots and sweat corn as these help to block up the stomach and digestive system.

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It helped for 24hrs but then the problem returned again.  Then the doctor gave me Vi-Siblin testa ispaghulae which are granules that you mix with water and drink.  After a bit I research I found that this is made from the seed husks of plantain (plantago sp), one of my favorite herbal species of plants https://naturallore.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/greater-plantain/.  This has been very effective and I am feeling much better now, however the pneumonia unfortunately persists and so I was unable to travel to England yesterday as planned.

When i did some work with the US Airforce in 2005

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they taught about using different types of ash from a fire to help the digestive system by using the saying….”tight – white, black – slack” which means if you have constipation, mix white ash from the fire with water and drink to relieve symptoms and if you have diarrhea, use black charcoal from the fire mixed with water and drink to relieve the symptoms.  These methods work very well.

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Navigation via moss on trees

Many books tell you that in the northern hemisphere you can find north by looking at trees on moist ground and the side of the tree on which the moss grows highest will indicate north because  of the assumption that all mosses require cool, damp, shaded locations and this can often be true, but not always as you can see in the picture below.  The picture was taken 1 hour after midday and the moss (on the south-easterly side of the tree) is growing about 1 metre up the tree (in this case an Ash tree).

Mosses have no roots but instead have tiny threads called rhizoids that serve to anchor the moss and to supply moisture and nutrients.  Their leaves are thin and cannot retain water so instead they obtain water from rain
and dew and for this reason mosses tend to grow best in wetter places.  You can learn more about mosses here.

So when using mosses on trees for navigation look at a number of trees and take an average to give a rough idea of north but not rely on it.  I would also recommend getting a copy of this book “Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass” which teaches you how to recognise many natural signs and events  to use for navigating.

Scraping dead wood to make fire

We are all familiar with the method of scraping the surface of Birch bark  and igniting the scrapings with a firesteel due to the high content of natural oils in the bark.

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more about “Pictures by sufguy1 – Photobucket“, posted with vodpod
but you can use this scraping method on most dead woods to achieve either a flame or and ember (depending on the type of wood and/or weather conditions).
For this demonstration I used a dead Ash tree and light rain was falling.  I found a fallen tree, where the bark had gone leaving exposed and weathered dead wood.  I scraped the surface of the wood with my knife (discarding the wet outer material and scraping the drier inner material into a pile)
Each time you use the firesteel you are creating heat which helps to remove moisture from the scrapings and after using the firesteel five times the material began to smoke
On a dry day I am confident I would have achieved a flame but today had to make do with an ember
This ember can be treated exactly the same as a friction-fire ember and blown to flame using a nest of dry material.

Fiskars hatchet

Another item I recently purchased was a small hatchet to use for carving as I left my Elwell axe at my cabin

Kevin Warrington - new equipment (Small)

Ignore the Wilkinson Sword stamp on the handle because the hatchet is actually made by a Finnish company called Fiskars.  Other companies such as Gerber and Stihl have also put their stamp on Fiskars axes.

Its a very will balanced tool and good for splitting logs (the way the axe head is fitted into the carbon fibre handle means you can use a baton on the back of the head), carving such things as cups and spoons (with a little re-profiling of the cutting edge) and chopping

kevin warrington using fiskars hatchet (Small)

The axe head produces a really nice shower of sparks when used with a firesteel.

The sheath is rather disappointing and so I set about designing and making a leather belt sheath

kevin warrington leather belt sheath (Small)

Unfortunately I didn’t take a series of pictures during its construction to enable me to produce a tutorial.

The handle of the hatchet is hollow and while initially I considered fitting a survival kit inside, I decided to put a chainsaw file inside instead to remove burs or nicks when sharpening the blade.

I split down a piece of Ash and carved it to the shape of the handle and so that it would fit inside the handle.

I then carved out a groove into which I glued a cut down file.

hatchet handle file (Medium)

When I used the hatchet, the file hit against the inside of the handle so I had to carve this piece of Ash to glue halfway up inside the handle to prevent the file moving around.

I paid £17 for this hatchet and think it is worth every penny!!

Multi purpose backpack

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

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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

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to form a bag

Lacking rawhide I used parachute cord for lashing.  Firstly lashing the skin to the frame

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and across the front of the skin

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The top of the skin acts as the pack lid

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and with a couple of carrying straps attached the pack is complete

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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

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and by removing the blade guard and flipping the blade over, a bucksaw

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New axe project

I was keen to test out my new axe so I decided to make a “bucksaw”.  My first task was to split a piece of Ash in half

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Then I carved the two halves into the required dimensions

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and cut the pieces to length beginning with the two uprights

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and then a horizontal piece

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I used a mortise and tenon joint to join them together, which I have to say was not easy with a knife!

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I cut a groove across the bottom of each upright

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into which the saw blade fits

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I twisted up some Hemp as a tensioning cord and with a piece of Ash this works as a windlass to tension the blade

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On another piece of Ash I scored a groove using this piece of flint

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as a burin

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this acts rather like a small plane as you draw it along the wood, shaving off small curls of wood

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The saw blade fits into this groove and this piece of Ash acts a blade guard.

Now in the process of making this bucksaw I had an idea for another potential use for the frame and this is what I will posting about next time.

New axe for carving

It can be difficult doing fine carving with a large axe.  My small forest axe isn’t too bad (though the long handle can get in the way), but the axe I have in Lapland is considerably larger.

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so I was keen to have a small carving axe to take with me on my next trip.

My friends Will and Sue gave me an old Elwell axe head which with some work would be fit for purpose.  My first task was to carve a handle from green Ash.

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It took me four attempts before I achieved a size and shape I was happy with.

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Before fitting the head to the shaft, I re profiled the axe head with a file to make it more comfortable for carving.  This included a finger recess on the underside

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I also re profiled and sharpened the cutting edge.  On the right side of the blade I put a hollow grind and on the left a flat grind.

When making fine adjustments to the shaft to fit into the eye of the axe I used a flint scraper (a piece of broken glass also works well).

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Once the shaft was a good fit in the axe head I cut a slot across the top of the shaft, fitted the shaft into the eye of the axe and then drove an Oak wedge in to the slot to make a tight fit.

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Then I cut off the protruding part of the shaft and wedge.

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With a couple of coats of linseed on the shaft the axe was finished

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Using an old piece of leather and some brass rivets I made a sheath

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I used the spare popper from my Fjallraven trousers for securing the sheath in place.

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