Rådjebalges/Gränsleden Guiding Course – Part 5

My project in the evenings while staying at the cabin had been to make a bone needle from a Reindeer rib bone I found near to the lake shore.  I used an old nail from a piece of wood I found nearby to score the bone and remove a small piece.  I used a flat stone to abrade the bone into a needle shape

I used the tip of my knife to make a hole in the needle

There was much Cotton Grass along the shore

and as expected this proved to be incredibly good for firelighting with firesteel.

At 11am we boarded a boat at Ritsem

to travel 20kms up the lake, where the boat dropped us on the lake shore

we then had to walk a short distance to join Gränsleden and walk back to Ritsem along the trail.  But first we made fire on the lake shore and made coffee

After a short break we were soon on our way.

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Primitive Bone Knife

During the summer I completed the Woodcraft School Primitive Technology course.

The course required that at least one our craft items had to be made using only primitive tools and techniques.

I decided to make myself a bone knife and a bark sheath for it. The knife I made from a Lamb’s thigh bone and the sheath was made from Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) inner bark.

Bone utility knife & Sheath

Bone utility knife & Sheath

I wanted to be able to use the knife as an Awl for working hides, as a Bodkin for when weaving and as a general knife for cutting cordage and meat.

This post will concentrate on how the knife was made. The next post will be about the sheath.

The bone I used was a thigh bone known as the Shank. Hence the names ‘Lamb Shank’ as a cut of meat and the word ‘Shank’ as a primitive knife.

Fresh Bone & Flint

Fresh Bone & Flint

As I was using primitive tools and techniques only I scraped all the fat and flesh off with a piece of flint.

Other students tried burning the fat and flesh off but the made the bone brittle so it easily shattered. It is slippery work that requires a lot of patience. One slip and the flint will cut you as cleanly as any sharp knife.

Slippery work

Slippery work

After an hours work I had the bone cleaned up.

Ready for carving

Ready for carving

I decided that one knuckle would make a good handle but the other had to be removed.

I scored a line around the whole bone near the knuckle I wanted removed. Apologies for the slightly out of focus picture. The score line was about a couple of millimetres deep.

Removing a knuckle

Removing a knuckle

After scoring the line John Ryder (course instructor) showed me how to scorch the line to make it a little brittle in that area.

Scorching the bone

Scorching the bone

A close up.

Scorch line

Scorch line

Once the line was scorched all the way around a little gentle tapping was all that was needed.

A gentle tapping

A gentle tapping

A crack soon appeared.

Cracked bone

Cracked bone

To finally remove the knuckle I carried on scraping with the flint.

Removed knuckle

Removed knuckle

Once the knuckle was removed then I decided on the shape of my knife point. I did this by gently scraping with the flint on the bone to define my knife shape.

Flint score lines

Flint score lines

Then making sure that the bone was on a stable surface and held in a secure grip the tedious scraping began. The carving out of the knife shape took a number of hours.

Making the groove

Making the groove

The awl tip taking shape.

Awl tip

Awl tip

Eventually I was able to prise a section of bone out.

Removal of bone

Removal of bone

I went through two pieces of flint carving the bone out.

Eventually the general shape of the knife was produced.

Basic shape - front

Basic shape - front

And the other side.

Basic shape - back

Basic shape - back

A messy but necessary job is to remove the remaining marrow. I just used a small stick for this.

Removing the marrow

Removing the marrow

To give the knife a basic edge I used a piece of sandstone.

Sanding the edge

Sanding the edge

Any rough edges I tidied up with flint.

Final touches with flint

Final touches with flint

Below you can see the side profile of the knife. This curve is useful as a Bodkin in basket weaving. In the next post you will see that this was the knifes first job.

Side profile - Bodkin

Side profile - Bodkin

Here the knife is sitting on the inner bark I used to make the sheath out of.

Ready for its sheath

Ready for its sheath

More on that next time.

George

Cup, bowl, plate and spoon

During the process of constructing the livestock handling facility I had to fell some trees, including this Birch

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Using wood from this particular tree I have been busy carving

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Notice in the picture above that I use my axe as a “bench stop” to carve against and I have a piece of Hawthorn as a mallet.

I have made a cup, bowl, plate and spoon.  The plate and bowl are inspired by a piece of work made by my friend Sue Holden.

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As I carved the handle of the cup I found a fault in the wood making it impossible to have a usable wooden handle.  So using a lap joint I secured a piece of bone as the handle.

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kuksa-1-large

My 200th post!! – Bone-drill

I found this bone which I think belonged to a Muntjac deer.

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Using a piece of flint I scored around the ends

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to remove them both

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Then I made wooden tips from Ash and Hazel for making fire by friction

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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.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Rib bone netting needle

I found this old rib bone while out walking and it occurred to me that it might make a very good netting needle for.

As I abraded the edges with a piece of flint I noticed the bone possessed two laminated layers.

I battened my knife between the layers to split the bone in half.

I used a piece of flint to abrade the edges of the bone to produce the basic needle shape.I made a prototype pump drill with a flint tip, to drill a series of holes through the bone.Using a piece of flint to connect the holes, I formed the tongue of the needle.I completed the needle by using a combination of an abrasive stone and a piece of file, to smooth the edges of the needle. The completed needle is 220mm long and 22mm wide.

 

Here are the tools I used to make the needle.

and here you can see some of the netting I have made with it.

Knotless netting

I have been off work today with a cold and asthma, so needed a simple project I could do the inside. About a year ago I was shown the principles of knot less netting and decided to try and make a carrier for a large bottle.

I have used para cord below to show how the principles of this method work. Loop the cord (I used my fingers as a gauge) around a gauge and then thread the cord three times around it’s self and then make the next loop and repeat the above.

I used gardeners hemp, threaded on a bone needle to make the bottle carrier and used two fingers as a gauge for the netting size.

For the base I reduced the netting size to one finger and tied the last row of mesh together to finish the carrier off. I made the carrying strap using a four strand round plat.

The benefit of this knotless netting carrier is that you can undo the string if you need it or net a different item to meet you needs.

Primitive vice

In order to work on small pieces of bone, flint and antler I have made a very simple vice which works very well. I split a piece of Hazel a few centimeters along it’s length using a flint wedge and pointed the other end to push into the ground. In the picture below I have a flint saw secured and am using it to cut through a piece of bone.

The addition of a piece of Ash wood to rest the vice on adds to its stability, allows more pressure to be applied and by moving the piece of Ash nearer of further away the height can be adjusted.

The vice can be held against the wood using the foot or knee.

John Lord sets small pieces of flint into a split stick to pressure flake them and I used this method to make my drill tips in the post below.