Jokkmokk’s Historic Marknad 2013

Yesterday I was at Jokkmokk’s Historic Marknad (this is a small market held each year from Sunday to Wednesday, prior to the main market starting on Thursday), where I spent quite a bit of time demonstrating making fire with the bow-drill.

jokkmokks marknad 2013

fire making jokkmokks marknad

jokkmokk 2013

One Sámi man was really interested to see the bow-drill in use and I ended up giving him my bow-drill set so that he could practise making fire with it at home.

jokkmokks marknad 2013

Bushcraft the Sea Cadet way

I have been involved in teaching outdoor pursuits to Sea Cadets now for over 10 years, mainly focussed on land-based activities (though I’ve been known from time to time to get a toe or two wet in some sort of boating activities).

I am very keen to bring Bushcraft into the Adventurous Training part of the Sea Cadets. Camping is more than setting up your tent, getting your gas stove on for a brew and studying your map for the next day’s route. It is about these basics but to me it is also about having adventures and explorations where you have fun and learn at the same time.

So here is some evidence of fun and learning taken from recent Sea Cadet weekends.

Note the lovely path

Note the lovely path

Room for anymore

Room for anymore

Jungle prison

Jungle prison

Making up Sisal tinder bundles (its the Navy way)

Making up Sisal tinder bundles (it's the Navy way)

First the instructors need to learn

First the instructors need to learn

Then the cadets

Then the cadets


Oops, there goes the drill piece

They always get there when they work together

They always get there when they work together

Happy city kids

Happy Bushcrafters

Even the young ones get in on the act

Even the young ones get in on the act

And don't give up when the flames go out

And don't give up when the flames go out

Kevin the master at work

Kevin the master at work teaching

Well done Chris

Well done Chris

One of kevins toys in action

One of Kevin's toys in action

After fires are lit it is time to cook

After fires are lit it is time to cook

Pudding anyone

Pudding anyone?



Back to the adults learning again

Back to the adults learning again

And taking it easy. Perrys first night out in a shelter (my boss)

And taking it easy. Perry's first night out in a shelter (my boss)

All the instructors are taught how to use the Atl atl

All the instructors are taught how to use the Atl atl

Then the kids have a bash

Then the cadets have a bash

Stalking games are always a hit

Stalking games are always a hit

Some serious knife safety lessons

Some serious knife safety lessons

Sometimes not so serious

Sometimes not so serious

Elbows on knees and the cadets have a go

Elbows on knees and the cadets have a go

Whimmy Diddle. One of Mors Kochanski's toys

Whimmy Diddle. One of Mors Kochanski's toys

Grass mat making

Grass mat making for bed time

Not forgetting Marsh Mallows before bed

Not forgetting toasted marshmallows before bed

I hope you enjoyed the Sea Cadet tour?

My next posts will be about making a bone knife, followed by a bark sheath for it.


Lapland Spring 2009 – 22nd May

Rowed to the far end of the lake first thing this morning and went walking in the forest, but very quickly it clouded over and really heavy rain fell.  I was soaked by the time I got back to the cabin and it’s times like that when I really appreciate have the cabin and a warm fire to go back to.

I collected the rain water from the roof of the cabin for drinking and cooking

collecting rain water (Medium)

While it was raining I carved some hooks from pieces of Pine

coat hooks (Large)

to nail up around the cabin to hang things from.

coat hooks on wall (Large)

After the rain stopped I decided to go into the forest to begin cutting small Pine trees for poles to make a traditional style tipi or kåta.  I was careful in my selection, taking a tree where two were very close together and only one would survive, or trees that did not look so healthy.

Pine poles (Small)

Once I had cut down a tree, I removed all the branches with my axe

sneding tipi poles (Small)

To remove the bark I drove the tip of a knife into a wooden batten to make a simple draw knife

peeling poles (Small)

I tried eating the inner bark which was surprisingly tasty and quite sweet.

I was having lunch and some coffee at my cabin when I heard the voices of children in the forest

me at cabin (Medium)

It was the grandchildren of my friends Anki and Ingvar who were coming to visit me.  The children are taught survival skills in school in Sweden and they were keen to learn new skills from me.  Particularly making fire without matches.

I began by demonstrating the bow-drill to them and then we headed into the forest to collect different tinders for them to experiment with using firesteels.

seb making fire (Small)

We also experimented with flint and steel to make fire with True Tinder fungus

Rasmus making fire (Small)

The boys were also keen to teach me things as well.  Here they are explaining how to navigate in the forest using Wood Ant nests

boys showing ants nest (Small)

and here Simon is demonstrating how to eat the ants without being bitten.

Simon eating Wood ant (Small)

They were actually quite pleasant to eat.

We spent the evening fishing though no one caught anything.

Simon fishing (Medium)

New birds; Redstart, Song Thrush, Mallard, Teal, Whimbrel, Capercaillie and two groups of Black Grouse lekking on the edge of the marsh.

The hand drill – Rich59

I have written this post with the express purpose of passing on my hand drill skills to you.

Myself and  a friend set ourselves the challenge to collect some fresh materials and make a working hand drill set with them.   We went out for a walk in the local woods to see what we could find in the way of materials.  For the hand drill I found some straight, dead Elder (Sambucus nigra) and stripped off the bark from which I made 2 drills 12 – 14mm in diameter.


For the hearth I found some 3 – 4cm thick Clematis (Clematis vitalba) that had been cut sometime ago, which I peeled and split.


The damp and cold weather meant all our materials went into a warm dry cupboard over night.  The next day there was still some dampness in the material (Future tip to self – try drying on top of radiator) but I had a go anyway.   First I took the large unsplit piece of clematis and split it twice to make a flat board.  I was careful to avoid rotten wood and only drill into sound parts of the board.


I started to make a depression in the hearth about the same diameter as the tip of the drill by making two parallel cuts with a knife and gouging out the wood between.


To get the drill and socket to “bed” together initially I pressed hard with a little twisting action.


I tried to burn it in with speed and pressure to get a charred socket and drill tip.  One of the biggest issues is how to transfer your upper body weight through the drill.  The most successful attempts were when I didn’t try to push down at all, just using a spinning action with moist/sticky hands while leaning ones weight on the drill for support.   Leaning can confer 6 – 12 kgs of force as shown on bathroom scales.  The hands will travel down as your upper body falls forwards.  The other key factor is to divide the drilling into 3 phases; 1) cold to smoking (even dead wood contains 10 percent moisture and this needs to be removed by friction), 2) a gentle stage over a few minutes with just with just enough effort to keep it smoking a bit to char the material, 3) an all out effort of about 5 passes down the drill to produce as much char as possible in the smallest possible time.


However you will note a lack of smoke and a close-up shows the hearth board is simply wearing away.


This happens when your hearth board is too soft.  In this case it was because of the retained dampness.  Trying again with some of the material that had been split the day before proved to be  much better.  The next stage was to cut a notch into the hearth board and begin drilling.  Another technical problem in that with the drier split wood we only had enough thickness to drill into with the curving side of the wood underneath.  This can allow the collecting charred dust to scatter rather than be concentrated, so I put a small wedge underneath to prevent this.


At this stage the char looked a little pale and also course.  Such punk is unlikely to form a coal.  If the drill tip were wider then it would grind hotter, finer powder so I changed drill to the other one that was larger.  This time I got lots of better quality char.


But the $60,000 question is did we get the coal we were after?  Well, I must point out that the materials were still a bit damp, parts of the wood were rotten and I had sore, blistered hands from the previous days drilling activities…..Of course  I did!!  And here it is, just as some older accounts will tell you “Roll the spindle with your hands into the depression.  When the spindle tip starts to glow red, gently blow to ignite the tinder.”


Oh yes, that was a bit of a surprise!  Quite a rare occurrence in fact.  Reasons for the coal not forming in the notch in the usual way might be the underlying dampness problem and that the notch was a little small so we were wasting a lot of hot char over the edges.

Guest blogger – Rich59

Hi, I’m Richard (AKA Rich59).


Fenlander asked me if I would be interested in helping with some guest contributions to his blog.  More than glad to help mate if I can pass on anything of use!  I come to bushcraft as a townie looking to escape when I can and for as long as possible.


Leading a local scout group for a while got me back into contact with nature and the rewards of learning and passing on basic skills.  Whilst I am completely sold on all things bushcraft I seem especially to have been exploring (so far) making


and using fire,


the atlatl (forerunner of the bow and arrow),


wild fungi,


and plants


Recently watching the TV series and reading the book “Survivors” has got me thinking about managing land to provide for my needs.

Oh, and Fenlander wanted you to know that he rates me very highly, that I have taught at BushcraftUK meetings and Fenlander’s stamping ground near Newmarket and with my local scout troup, have written a number of tutorials, and that I was part of a primitive skills camping trip the winter Norwegian mountains last year.

Teaching Sea Cadets

Last Friday evening I left work and headed down the M11 to Hoddesdon, to help teach Sea Cadets bushcraft and outdoor living skills as part of there Expedition Leaders Assessment, at the invitation of my friend George and the London North East District Sea Cadets.

I arrived just before dark, to a deserted campsite, so walked around to find the best location to set up, under a dense area of Holly. I found the two longest logs I could find and put them parallel to each other and then filled the space between with 18 inches of leaves as a mattress. The picture below was taken the following morning hence the compressed leaves.

My Reindeer skin provided additional insulation

and then I used my summer bag and bivy bag from the US Sleep System.

As the evening progressed cadets and leaders arrived, as did a large number of Police cadets and leaders using the site at the same time as ourselves. It was a good chance to catch up with old friends (I ran a course for some of the instructors 18 months ago) and make new ones. Advertised as “one of the UK ‘s leading bushcraft and outdoor skills instructors” I felt a little nervous on Saturday morning but thankfully I would be working with “one of the UK’s second best bushcraft instructors”……… ;>)

After breakfast we started the day with shelter building. We split the cadets into two groups and made two different shelters

One group made a lean-to

The other group made a kennel shelter

After lunch we spent the afternoon teaching firelighting. Methods included firesteel, flint and steel, bow-drill and pump-drill.

This is Chris who at 14 is one of the most enthusiastic students I have ever had and already posses a variety of skills.

He achieved his first fire using the bow-drill.

Unfortunately I had to depart late afternoon (missing out on navigation, tracking and cooking over/in a campfire) to travel to rural Norfolk for a very special event which I will write about next time!

A couple more pictures from the Bodgers Ball

Here is one of the most beautiful Birch bark containers that I have ever seen. Birch bark has even been used to stitch it together.

Unfortunately I never did find out who had made it or where the Birch bark had been sourced from.

Here Dave Watson from Woodland Survival Crafts is demonstrating making fire using a pole-lathe as an adaptation of the friction firelighting method.