Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DIY Paracord Fid or Paracord needle

With my renewed interest in all things paracord, I have been looking at Turks Head knots, specifically the long versions that are used for wrapping things like tool handles.  I've found several tutorials online for making them, but almost all of them say that having a paracord fid or needle would be a tremendous help.  A fid is essentially a needle that you attach to the working end of your paracord and use it to thread the paracord through tight spaces, small loops, and knots that you can't just push the cord through with your fingers.  For example, when you are tying the shark jawbone bracelet and you get down near the end it becomes quite difficult to get the cord through the middle two strands.  A paracord needle makes it an easy job.  You can buy them online from a variety of vendors, they aren't even that expensive.  You can make them yourself, though, with just a little effort and a few dollars.

I found a tutorial online on how to make them, and after a quick trip to the local Home Improvement Warehouse I was back at home with the materials I needed for this simple project.  Click on the pictures to see a larger size.

Total cost was about $2.00.  The extension isn't required and cost me 80 cents, so in reality I could have made the 2 inch fid for about a dollar.  I found these in the specialty fasteners section at Lowes.  They are called threaded posts.  It is a two piece product the post itself and then a cap or end that gets threaded on to complete the fastener.  You don't need the cap.  You just need the post.  First step is to remove the flat head.  There are several ways to do this, but I just used my rotary tool with a cut off wheel attached.

I wrapped the post in an old piece of cloth and held it with a pair of pliers while removing the end.  Make sure to put on a pair of safety goggles.  You don't want aluminum shavings in your eye!  Now you just need to round over the cut end of the post.  You don't want too fine a point, but you want it to be sharp enough to fit through small holes in your paracord projects.  I just wrapped the end in electrical tape and chucked it in my drill.  I clamped an old file to my bench and slowly filed the cut end into a point.

Again, just keep your safety glasses on.  Take your time, and keep stopping to check your progress.  I had to turn the file around to even out the tip, but it only took a few minutes to get it close enough.  I then used the 220 grit sanding block in the picture to make the point smooth and even.  That's it!  I think the whole process took about 15 minutes maybe?  That included me looking for my safety glasses and the cut off wheel for my rotary tool.

Attaching your paracord to the needle is a little tricky but not really that big of a deal.  I cut the end of my cord at an angle and then melt it with a lighter.  I found that having a nice bit of melted plastic in a pointed knob shape at the end of the cord makes for a really tight fit.  Fit the melted end into the end of the needle and screw it on.  The threads will catch the cord and hold it tight.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any comments or questions post them here and I'll do my best to answer.  Go make something with your hands!  I promise you, its a wonderful feeling.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Dad and a Shark Jaw Bone Bracelet

I'm going to power through this post the best I can.  Its a personal one, and frankly I've been struggling over posting it.  You see, my dad is sick.  Not a cold, not the flu, but something called Frontotemporal degeneration or FTD for short.  Its a disease that causes the brain to degenerate, getting progressively worse until the patient is unable to do much of anything.  There is no cure, there is no way to slow down the disease, and your only recourse is to sit and watch it slowly take its toll.

Its funny how you think of silly things that in the grand scheme of things aren't that important, but are important to you on a personal level.  For example, my dad is a loud breather.  I remember watching him concentrate on something and hearing him breathe.  Fast forward 30 years, and my wife tells me that I am a loud breather as well.  Every time she tells me that, I smile a little and think of my dad.

Last winter, I remember sitting in the kitchen watching him try to light a fire with matches.  The motor control was already starting to go, and he was fumbling around trying to get it lit.  It was painful to watch, and now he is having trouble holding a spoon, or doing even the most basic tasks.  You can see the impact that the disease is having, and it breaks your heart.  If you knew my dad when he was younger, it would be all the more depressing.  Picture a man who could throw a 100 pound bag of feed over one shoulder and a young boy (me) over the other and walk uphill in the snow in the dark to the house.  Picture a man who would mow his yard, with a push mower, on the hottest day of the year, come in the house, drink a huge glass of cold coffee and then go up and work in the garden until dark.  Picture a man with a broken leg, who decided to put hardwood floors in the house and maintain a full garden while in a full leg cast.

Nothing stopped him, and after a while you got the feeling that nothing ever would.  Once he got an idea into his head, it got done.  He would obsess over it, worry over it, and keep working on it until he figured it out.  

That man is gone now, he is nothing but a shadow of his former self.  I know I am not the only son who has a father with FTD.  I'm just another person in the sad group of people who have been touched in some way by this horrible disease.  My brother has started a grass roots fundraiser to donate money for research.  He asked me if I would make a few bracelets that he could auction off or sell outright and donate the money to his charity.  Here is what I came up with.

I've made this type before, its called the Shark Jaw Bone.  Red, white, and black are the colors of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.  Click the link if you want to donate.  If you want a bracelet like this send me an email and we can figure out how to get a donation in your name to the charity in exchange for this handmade item.  If you want something in a different color, we can talk about that too.

I didn't come up with this design, and I don't feel right just posting it and not giving credit where credit is due.  I saw it on a video from J.D. Lenzen.  He's on Youtube, and knows more about tying paracord than anyone I know.  In the meantime, here is an in process picture that I took while making this bracelet.  You should be able to figure out how to tie it if you look close.

Just remember, the inside color always crosses first.   Go make something with your hands.  Trust me, no matter what it is, it always makes you feel great inside when you do it yourself.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

550 Paracord bracelets

I don't know if it is the fact that the kids are going back to school or because my son has started football again, but I have been feeling the need to make stuff.  Maybe its because I am finally waking up from my summer of not doing much of anything.  The days are getting just a tiny bit cooler, its still in the 90s out there, but when it was close to 100 almost all summer long, you can feel the difference.

I have been wearing a black paracord bracelet for over a year.  I put it on last summer when a good friend of mine lost his battle with cancer.  After having a run in with skin cancer two years ago myself, this bracelet reminds me that some aren't as lucky as I was.

This post isn't supposed to be about cancer though, its about making a paracord bracelet.  Well, three of them actually.

The one at the top is something called the Piranha or Shark Jaw Bone weave.  It looks like shark's teeth to me.  As you can see in the picture, it is also reversible.  I made mine with a curved buckle though, so the blue side is the outside.  JD from Tying it all Together has a tutorial on making this bracelet, but honestly if you can tie a cobra stitch you can tie this one.  I need to make one for my sister-in-law soon, and when I do, I'll take some pictures of the construction.

The bottom two bracelets are from a tutorial that I watched on youtube from a guy named Chaotic Thinking.  He calls it the Solomon's heart.  As you can see, the stitches sort of look like a row of  hearts.

Blue and yellow?  Those are my 7 year old's school colors and my 11 year old's football team colors.  They are heading back to school next week.  I guess I'll wear the top one for the next 9 months or so.

Making stuff with your hands doesn't need to be a lot of work, but it sure is rewarding.  Go make something!  Trust me, its's great!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Whizzer or buzzer, I call it fun!

Kepis over at Kepis Bushcraft posted about a toy that he made a few days ago, and it really hit home for me.  I remember getting buttons out of a coffee can that my mother kept in her sewing room.  It was some huge nondescript can, filled with random buttons that she collected and then used on the clothing that she sewed.  I'd dump them out on the floor in a huge pile, and dig through them looking for a large button that I could use to make a toy very similar to what Kepis posted about a few days ago.

I don't have a huge can of buttons at my disposal, so I headed out into the garage and found a piece of seasoned maple.

I grabbed my froe and split it in half, right through the pith along an existing crack in the end of the log.  I split one half into quarters and found a piece that I thought I could make into a board.

I put it on my shave horse and trimmed one of the quarters into a small board.  Yes, I know that my draw knife needs to be touched up a bit, please don't remind me.  I seriously need to go over every one of my tools and get them back into shape.

I used a saw to cut off a piece of the board and thinned it up a bit with my carving knife.  I could have made it thinner I think.  I might even go back out and trim it up some more, but at the time I just wanted to play with my new toy.

I sharpened both ends of the block and drilled two holes near the center.  Again, I need to adjust the spacing on the holes, they aren't quite at the center.

Obviously I need to do some tuning, but I was really happy.  I think it took me 45 minutes to make this toy.  I came in the house, grabbed some yarn, doubled it and then passed the ends through the holes in the whizzer.  I tied the ends together with a simple overhand knot and I was off and running.  It makes a great buzzing sound, like a miniature bull roarer.  You can vary the pitch by increasing or decreasing the speed.  I'm going to do some work on it and see if I can get a louder sound out of it.  In the mean time, I am having fun just playing with it.

Oh, that pipe in the background?  Yeah.  It's a piece of schedule 40 1 inch PVC pipe.  I'm making a bow.  You know, because I need more projects!  Thanks Kepis, you reminded me of something that I haven't thought of in over 30 years.  You also gave me a fun little project to do.  Happy carving everyone, go out and make something with your hands!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Alcohol Stove Round Two

I talked about burner location briefly in my last post, but I think it bears mentioning again.  There is an issue with using the bottom of a soda can as your burner.  The rounded edge ends up smothering the flames when you place your pot right on top of the stove.  I think it will work great if I had a pot stand that raised the pot an inch or so over the stove.  I've got an idea for a pot stand that I can make, once I get it made, I'll do another burn test on the first stove and see what I think.  I am sure that it will do much better with a stand.

That is another post though, for now, lets talk about my new stove!  The biggest difference here was that I put the jets on the side of the stove, forcing the flame to curl up and around to reach the pot.  I had watched a few videos on the subject and in cases where you plan to put the pot directly on the stove, the side jet arrangement just seems to work much better.

I took my dremel tool and gave it a quick buff with a wire wheel to remove all of the paint.  I filled it with 40 mL (1.25 ounces) of denatured alcohol and fired it up.  We had a little breeze blowing last night during my test and I did not have a windscreen available.  You can see from the picture below, the impact of the breeze on the burn.

I had a nice consistent flame pattern though, with the flames curling up around the edge of the stove nicely.  I let it burn for 30 seconds and then gently put my GSI cup on top of the stove.  To be honest, the pot doesn't feel very stable to me on top of the stove.  It works though, and if you are interested in going ultra-light, this is certainly a workable stove design.

It took about 6 minutes to bring the 2 cups of water in my GSI cup to a strong rolling boil.  Six minutes is defintely within my tolerances.  I used almost all of the alcohol, but seeing as how 1.25 ounces of alcohol doesn't weigh much, I don't think its a big deal.  With a lid and perhaps a wind screen to block out some of the breeze I could have achieved a quicker boil time.

You can see in the picture above that some of the flames are coming up around the sides of the pot.  This means that I am losing heat.  One solution that I can think of is to make a smaller diameter stove.  It just so happens that I have soem 8 ounce V8 Fusion drink cans at the house.  Stove 3 is already in the works!

I cleaned out the garage today, took a trip to the dump, and really did some much needed organization.  If I have been reading the look in my wife's eye the right way, she would much rather I cut up aluminum cans some place other than where we eat our dinner.  I also broke oyt my bike and went for a quick ride.  Let me tell you, there is nothing like huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive to make you realize how out of shape you are.  I need to do it every day I guess.  I'll leave you with that image in your mind.  Go make something with your hands, its great!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Alcohol Stove, burn test and thoughts

So last night, armed with my trusty bottle of HEET, a box of matches, a Stainless Steel GSI cup, a coffee mug, a tea bag and some tap water, I set out to perform my first burn test of my new soda can stove.  I'd never used a soda can stove and wasn't really sure what to expect here.  I poured in about two tablespoons of fuel and fired it up.  After about 30 seconds or so, it primed and I got the bloom that I was looking for.

As you can see, I had flame coming out of the jet holes as well as the center.  I let it burn this way for a bit.  I think I could have used a bit more fuel, but as this was just a test burn I wasn't too concerned.  I got out my trusty GSI cup and set it on top of the stove.

The GSI cup didn't fit as well as I thought it would.  The bottom of the GSI cup has a slight curve, and I think it keeps it from sitting perfectly level and flat.  I ran out of fuel before I got to a boil as well.  The water was hot enough to make my cup of tea though.  I think I could have gotten it to a boil, but I will say that it wasn't heating up very fast.  It got hot enough for the entire bottom of the cup to be covered with bubbles.

I think I need to make stove 2.0 and change a few things.  I also think I might create a pot stand as well.  I need to change the position of the jets and maybe use a drill to make the holes more uniform.  I've got another design in mind, I plan on working on it in the coming days.  I'll post an update when I have more data.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Home built alcohol stove

 Just a quick post to talk about this stove I built tonight.  I don't know how this stuff happens.  One minute I am watching some random youtube video and the next minute I am lost in the world of home built stoves.  Yep, stoves.  I was talking to my wife and she suggested I get lost in the world of laundry or perhaps the magical world of painting the dining room.  No such luck though, it was the world of stoves this time. 

This was literally the first pop can stove I ever built.  It took maybe 20 minutes.  I watched a few youtube videos, and went out to the garage and gathered the materials.  I grabbed two Coke cans out of the recycle bin, a pair of scissors, a marker, and a few wooden flooring samples to act as a measuring device.  Throw in a thumb tack from the cork board in the kitchen to punch the jet holes and I was done.

It has an insulated wall that should, in theory, create some pressure and cause the alcohol to burn through the jets in the top.  This should create a "burner" type of effect causing the heat to be spread out over a larger surface area. 

I cut a few slots in the bottom of the inner wall to allow fuel to flow from the center of the stove to the interior compression chamber.  I'm off to get some denatured alcohol tomorrow, and I'll fire it up.  More on that later, as well as my thoughts on this easy and inexpensive project.  Total cost was less than a dollar. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Paracord Pouch

I've been absent from the blogosphere for a while now.  I came back to post something that I had made for my brother, but to tell you the truth, the creative juices just haven't been flowing.  I think there are a lot of reasons why, but chief among them is that I haven't created anything that I feel like talking about.  Have I made stuff?  Sure!  Don't even get me started on the kumihimo bracelets I have been playing around with.  I think my wife may leave me if I talk about clasps anymore.  Seriously.  It got scary there for a while.

In any case, I'm back with something that I am pretty proud of that I made.  Do you ever sit and just admire something you have created?  You know, just sit and look at it, hold it in your hands and grin like the Cheshire Cat? either.

First and foremost, the credit for this design goes to The Paracordist.  I watched his video on making the pouch and followed his instructions.  I made mine a bit larger than his example, but everything was done the same as he showed in his video.  Go check him out, he really has some great tutorials.

I used a 11.5 ounce coffee can as my form, and probably in the neighborhood of 50 feet of 550 paracord.  Maybe even a bit more than that, I can't be 100% sure.  I didn't use a single length of cord, it was just too long to work with.  I ended up using several 15-20 feet sections in making my pouch.  I melted the ends and stuck them together.  I also tried to place them in such a way to hide them in a knot or at least on the inside of the pouch where they couldn't be seen.

The pouch has a drawstring closure, held together with two diamond knots.  I've used them in the past when making paracord ranger beads and they are great.  These knots slide on the paracord drawstrings to hold the pouch in its closed position.

In the open position the pouch has a nice wide mouth allowing for easy access to the contents.  Another bonus of this bag is that it can be unraveled fairly quickly, giving the user a large amount of emergency cordage.  I'm not sure what I am going to put in this pouch, I'm pretty impressed though.  While not being as fashionable as a hand sewn leather pouch, this is a very practical design.  Unlike leather, this pouch can get wet without causing damage.   It is durable, can be deconstructed and made into other items, and perhaps even better than that, I made it with my own hands.  I love this kind of stuff.  You should go make something as well.  You won't regret it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fishing Kit Bracelet

My brother Jim is always contacting me with things that he wants me to make for him.  I think he knows that I enjoy the challenge and the idea of making something new is kind of fun.  So a few days ago I get a message from him with a link to a YouTube video of a guy making a paracord bracelet that had a hidden fishing kit in it.  He wanted me to make him one, so I watched the video, and before long I was headed out the door to grab the necessary supplies.

In this picture you can see what was needed.  I've got a roll of braided fishing line, some split shot weights, some #10 fishing hooks, a pair of scissors, a lighter, a roll of electrical tape, some 550 paracord, and a cup of coffee.  The coffee is optional of course.  Well, maybe not optional, but it isn't used in this project.

The hardest thing about making a paracord bracelet for me is always the sizing.  This one ended up being about 8 inches long.  I have a jig that I use for other bracelets, but this one was done by wrapping the cord around my wrist, and adding two fingers to that length.  Not very scientific, but it seems to work pretty well.

Using the electrical tape, I attached two hooks and four split shot weights to the inner strands of the paracord bracelet.  I'll be honest, it was a somewhat sloppy job and I need to think about placement a bit before I make my next one.

As you can see in this picture, it created a somewhat wavy look to the bracelet core and I knew that I was going to have those waves show up in the final product.  From this point it was a matter of wrapping braided fishing line around the core.  I used about 10 yards of line.  I tried to wrap it tighter around the places where I had the weights and the hooks to minimize the bulge that they would produce.

At this point it was as easy as tying a regular cobra stitch bracelet.  Nothing fancy at all.  I used OD green 550 cord and the braided fishing line was a green color as well.  It turned out pretty well, I sort of like how it looks with the fishing line showing through the cobra stitches. 

I will be making another one in the coming days.  I have a plan on how I want to change the position of the split shot weights.  I think I can make the wrapped fishing line a little more consistent as well.  Drop me a note in the comments below if you have any questions.  Go make something with your hands, I promise you it feels great!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Paracord key chains

If you have read any of my posts you will quickly figure out that I am not some hardcore survivalist guy.  I don't extoll the virtues of having a bug out bag or a 10 piece kit.  I don't speak badly of those that don't have an EDC or stockpiles of toilet paper and MREs in their basement.  That being said, I'm a huge fan of paracord.  Why?  I don't know, I've always had a fascination with string and rope.  I think if you look very carefully on banisters and chair legs back home in PA where I grew up, you can still find traces of blue yarn that I tied around them.  I made pulleys and slip knots and used it to make box traps out of laundry baskets, and anything else I could think of.  I guess it stands to reason that I, after probably 30 years, still like messing around with cordage.

I've been making a few paracord bracelets lately using the cobra weave and king cobra weave.  They aren't much, but I wear one every day and so does my son.  I made him an OD Green one that he rarely takes off his wrist any more.  My brother Jim wears one that I made him and I even traded a few from posts online.  The original purpose of these bracelets was to provide an emergency supply of cordage in a survival situation, but I happen to just like they way they look.  I doubt that I will ever be in a situation where I'll have to use it to survive, but I guess you never know.

I've seen a few paracord key chains online and I figured that I would make a few.  Did you know that you can buy a whole bag of split rings in various shapes and sizes for just a few dollars?  Me either, but I know it now.  So, with my trusty bag of split rings and a few different colors of 550 paracord, I made a few key chains.  They would also be great as zipper pulls on packs as well.

they are all about 8 inches long, with the yellow one being a bit longer than the others.  I used two sizes of split rings.  The smaller one is 1/2 inch and the larger is one inch in diameter.  The thin key chains are made of a single length of paracord about 6 feet long.  The thicker ones are in the King Cobra style and have an extra 6 feet of paracord wrapped around the smaller version.

I think they came out pretty good.  They are easy to make, and cost about a dollar in materials.  I think I made all of these in about an hour or so while sitting and watching TV with my wife.  I found a few other styles that I want to try and make, but for now, I have the one pictured above attached to my car keys and it will become a permanent addition.

I'll be glad to sell you one of mine for a few bucks plus whatever shipping it costs to get it to you, but there is no need for that.  Make them yourself.  Go get some split rings and a few feet of paracord.  Need help making it?  Post a comment here and I'll help you out.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  The satisfaction of making these things yourself is worth the small amount of effort you spend in learning how to get it done.

Until next time, Happy Carving, and Happy Spring!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Day 7, Different name, same game

This week has really gotten me thinking.  Is this blog even about woodworking?  It depends, it has a lot or projects that are made from wood, and it takes work to make them, so maybe.  But not really.  I'm not a woodworker, at least the way I see it.  I'm a dabbler.  I mess around with all kinds of stuff.  My wife calls it ADD, and maybe that is what it is and if so, I'm fine with that.  I'm just this guy who likes to make stuff.  I like to think about things, and I enjoy learning new skills.

I renamed the blog to Woodlake Bushcraft.  First, Woodlake is where I live, and I guess bushcraft is really what I have going on here.  Spoons are a big part of it, so is green wood working, but there are other things, that I haven't even talked about that I want to explore.  I'm excited about the future and the things that I will be posting about.

I was in the garage a little while ago looking at all of these projects that I have done this week, a crazy camp spoon with a paracord lanyard, a box for my crook knife, a leather sheath, oh and this spoon, roughed out today.  I'll finish it in a week or so when I get back from my business trip.

I watched a video by Barn the Spoon and he showed these eating spoons that I liked the shape of very much.  So today I tried to make one.  It's too big to be an eating spoon, but its more of a prototype than anything else.  Maybe I'll make some smaller ones.

I like the shape of the bowl and the lack of a defined rim.  I like how it turns up at the end.  I like how the handle is just simple and round.

So there you have it, 7 days of projects.  Done.  I'm tired, mainly because of the extra hours of work I have been putting in, but also because this whole blogging thing is much harder than it appears.  I'm not very good at it, I never care for the things I write that much, I think it either sounds too simple or too wordy.  I guess it will have to be like everything else I do, a work in progress.

I'm heading to the Pacific Northwest on Sunday morning early.  I'll be out there for a week.  I have a lot of work to do, so that will be my main focus, but I have some other plans as well.  I'm taking some paracord to mess around with in the evenings.  I also plan to put together a list of things that I want to work on next.  You can be sure they will make it to this page, I can't seem to help myself.

Thanks for taking this ride with me this week.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 6, Work gets in the way, but we press on

I wish I had more to give you tonight, but the fact is, I have had very little time to work on anything other than my job.  Work has really been going crazy these last few days, I was up for a good part of the night last night dealing with issues.  It's part of the deal I guess, and a trade off that I willingly make for being able to roll out of bed, put on a sweatshirt and jeans and be at work in 10 seconds.  Not everyone is as fortunate as I am in that regard, and I am grateful for what I have.  Things are broken, things aren't working the way I want them to though, and I can tell you, I've been spending many many hours hunched over my computer screen trying to fix things.

I don't really know how many people are actually reading this every day, maybe a few are clicking on my links that I stick around here and there, but I feel the need to hold up my end of the bargain and post.  I was watching TV with my wife earlier, spending some much needed time doing not much of anything, trying to figure out what this post was going to be about.  It took me a while, but then I remembered my net needle.  I carved it a while ago and don't think I ever posted anything about it. 

So here you go, a net needle, carved from a piece of maple that I had in the garage several months ago.

It was made after watching a few videos on net making, and then brought back to the forefront of my thoughts after watching a video on tumplines.  I'll use it one day, but for now, I'm content with the knowledge that I have one and also that I can make another one if I need to. 

You know, I have been thinking about that a lot lately.  I get down on myself that my quality isn't as good as others.  I think that is part of what it means to be human, comparing yourself to others.  Maybe all of that doesn't matter so much.  Maybe the true learning is that you develop the skills.  Does it matter if your spoon or bowl, or sheath or knife is perfectly crafted?  Or is it more important to be able to carve a spoon to feed yourself?  I don't know.  I'll let others that are much smarter than I am answer that question.  I've got one last post coming tomorrow night, then I'm taking a break, but not too long, I've got more things to talk about.  Until then, happy carving everyone.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mora Clipper Sheath, done. (day 5)

I never have liked the plastic sheath that came with my Mora Clipper knife.  I mean it works pretty good, but it always felt cheap.  Of course the entire knife was probably in the $20 range, so having a sheath of any type is a good thing I think.  I've been wanting to try my hand at sheath making for quite some time, and finally got up the courage to give it a try.  Let me say though, that this is the first sheath that I have ever made.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

It is far from perfect.  The stitching was much harder than I expected, I broke a few needles, and it isn't very neat.  I found that punching the holes for your stitching runs is by far the hardest part of the entire process.  Everything else is fine as long as you take your time.  I used 8/9 ounce vegetable tanned leather.  It felt thick to me when working with it, but in the finished product I am happy for the extra thickness.  I designed the sheath using the knife as a template, first making a paper pattern then one from card stock.  It pays to place the pattern on the actual knife, folding it around and visualizing what it would be like cut out of leather.  I made my first template too small and only really figured it out after I had cut it out of leather. 

The sheath has a welt to protect the stitching from the knife blade and all stitching runs are grooved to prevent wear and tear.  I sanded and burnished the edge of the sheath to give it a nice looking edge as well as to protect it.

I read somewhere that there is only so much that you can learn by watching videos and by reading.  To truly understand how things work you have to roll up your sleeves and give it a try.  I have learned so much from making this simple sheath.  I made the welt too thick.  The top of the sheath is too wide, I could have made it narrower and still left plenty of room for the welt.  Stitching holes are a pain to get straight and I need to figure out a better way to do it for the next sheath I make.

I've already got plans swirling around in my head for my next sheath.  I hope that I can use the things I have learned in making this one to speed up the process, improve my quality, and become much more efficient.  I think I probably have 10-15 hours of work in this sheath, probably that much or more of thinking and worrying about it.

Two days left.  It has been a good run so far.  I'm on the home stretch, but I still have more to do.  See you tomorrow for the next update.  Until then spend some time thinking about things that you want to try.  What keeps you from doing it?  Happy carving everyone.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spoon Knife box, done (day 4)

I've been wanting to make one of these since the first time I saw the beautiful knife boxes that Jogge Sundqvist uses to keep his crook knives protected.  Then, more recently, Sean Hellman showed the simple box that he uses to protect his spoon knife.  I knew that I needed one.  You know how that is?  It's like the first time you see something it plants a seed, and then the second time it gives that seed what it needs to sprout and grow.  I mean, its just a wooden holder for a spoon knife, but still, I needed it.

I had a vision of what this box was going to look like a week or so ago.  I knew that it was going to be made of ash.  In my mind I could see leather straps holding the knife in place.   My original idea was two straps running across the case.  As you can see from yesterday's post, I even made two small square anchors for the snaps and two straps.  Sometimes what seems like a good idea at first doesn't work so well in practice.  I only have line 20 snaps, and they just weren't strong enough to hold against the pull of the strap.  I also ran into issues trying to get the anchors attached to the wood.  I sat at the kitchen table for quite a while today, sipping some coffee and trying to come up with a solution.  Finally, after filling my cup up a second time, I came up with the alternate approach you see here.

 The straps are attached on either side with nickle plated upholstery nails.  The double thickness across the top actually serves to hold the knife more securely than having just a single strap.  I am very happy with how it turned out.  I put some flax seed oil on it to bring out the grain in the Ash.  I like how it looks very much, and best of all, it works great.  I've been wanting a way to protect my Ben Orford spoon knife and now I am confident that it will be safe in its new home.  There is just one problem, I need a matching box for the left handed version of the same knife!  Three more days of posts still to come.  Tomorrow will probably end up being just an update post, the chances of me finishing this next project by tomorrow night are pretty slim.  I guess it depends on what tomorrow brings.  Until then, happy carving everyone.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 3, Project Update, closer than it appears

Sorry for the brevity of this post.  I burned some midnight oil last night and am paying for it today.  As promised though, here is my day three post.

This is probably the only one of my projects that I can keep a secret until it is done.  I've made some pretty good headway on it today though, and it will be done tomorrow in time for my nightly blog entry.  I think another hour or so and it will be taken care of.  I'm actually really excited about this one.  I've been wanting to get this project done for quite some time, but new ones kept getting added on top.

So, what can I say about this project that won't give it away?  Well, the wood is seasoned ash, harvested in Pennsylvania.  The leather is 8 oz vegetable tanned.  Everything else needs to wait until tomorrow.  Happy carving.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cherry Quaich, done. (day2)

I was sitting out in the garage a few days ago working on this quaich and I knew right then and there that I was going to leave a tooled finish on it.  Why?  Well I have been trying to work up the courage to do so (I'm a bit of a perfectionist) and well it was time.  Also this one is going to be mine.  I'm going to take a sip of whiskey from it on special occasions and maybe throw it in my pack to go camping in the spring and share a few sips with some of the guys I go camping with.  It's not fancy, it isn't super smooth and defect free, it is finished the best I could get it with my knives.  Sharper knives would help maybe.  I need to do some work on that skill for sure, but I'm actually happy.  It reminds me of the mountains in Pennsylvania where it came from.  That's where I come from too, and I'm not super smooth and defect free either.  We make a fine pair.

Now let me be the first to tell you that a tooled finish is not the "easy" way out.  It takes longer, in my opinion, to do a tooled finish.  At least it took me longer.  I can also tell you that just like in the light of day, sanding mistakes become visible, so do issues with a tooled finish.  I don't recommend working a tooled finish without an adequate light source, with the sun being the best to choose from.  I kept finding tiny things that I wanted to fix, and I could have been working on this project for another week and still not found them all.  Expect more tooled finishes in the future.

It is finished with a hefty coat of beeswax and flax oil mixed together to form a paste.  I slathered it on really thick and then let it sit for a bit, I then buffed the wax into a nice shine with a clean cloth.  It smells great, like honey.  It also brought out the colors of the sap and heart wood.

How do you know if a quaich is going to work?  Well you poor in a shot of some whiskey and check for leaks.  My cherry quaich passed with flying colors.  I'm not a big drinker by far.  But there is something special about drinking out of a wooden vessel that I could really get used to.

Project three is next and let me just say that I wouldn't expect to see anything finished tomorrow night.  An update though for sure.  Until then, happy carving!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Camp Spoon, done (day 1)

Day one, project one, done.  I present to you the finished camp spoon.  The more I look at this spoon the more I like it.

The deep bowl will work well for campsite cooking.  I left it fairly thick and chunky, but I did refine the shape some and thin it out a bit.  I whipped up a quick lanyard for it.  I used OD Green and Royal Blue 550 paracord, probably about 5 feet of each.  I figured a lanyard would be useful for all sorts of things, it can be removed from the spoon if needed, but will serve as a way to tie it to your pack or hang it while cooking.

The spoon is made from cherry, harvested with my brother in Pennsylvania.  I applied a nice thick coat of flax seed oil, waited a bit, and then applied a second.  It is ready for years of use.

Well, I'm off, I've got more stuff to work on if I am going to get these projects done this week.  Happy carving everyone.  Talk to you all tomorrow, hard to say what project will show up here next.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A veritible flurry of projects

I think for once my brain has gotten ahead of my physical ability to get things done and has sent me into a tailspin of half finished projects.  Now I don't know about you, but I will sit and worry about them until they are done.  It affects me, my mental outlook on things gets impacted when I have too many things left undone.  Are you like that?  I've been feeling down these last few days and I came to the realization that the reason is because I haven't actually completed anything lately.  I've only started things.

To make matters worse I am leaving next weekend on a business trip.  I'll be a basket case if I don't have these things completed and off my list by the time I head out.  They say when you want to do something that you know is going to be hard, you should tell as many people as you can.  Like quitting smoking or something.  You go and tell everyone you know and then you feel like a big jerk if you go back on your promise.

So, in the spirit of forcing myself to get stuff done, I am going to write a blog post each night for the next 7 days.  In each post I will talk about the projects that I am on the way to getting completed.  The ultimate goal?  I hope that by the end of the week I have my bench cleared, my mind at ease, and that I'll be able to focus on my trip.

Speaking of my trip, I brought home a spoon the last time I was out there.  It's been sitting on my desk upstairs in the office since I got home.  I pick it up and mess with it during long conference calls or when I am trying to figure out a solution to a problem. 

Its a disposable wooden spoon.  It is thin, obviously pressed into shape, the same material that is used to make those little wooden things you get with tubs of ice cream.  The company I go visit has boxes of them in their break areas.  People use them to stir their coffee, make tea, and eat their lunch.  They are right beside the coffee cups made with 100% recycled paper.  It reminds me that we don't have to use plastic, we have better options.  I am working on applying that to my life as a whole.

See you tomorrow for the first project update!  Happy carving!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Camp Spoon, Camp Spoon, Jiggity Jig!

I've been wanting to make a simple camp spoon for quite a while and just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.  In my mind a camp spoon has to be sort of chunky and thick.  A camp spoon needs to be sturdy enough to take some abuse.  When you are cooking at a camp site, you don't need anything too fancy.  Just something to stir your pot, measure your coffee, and eat with.  On the other hand it has to be something that you will actually want to use, it doesn't do any good to keep it in your pack.  I had some cherry left over from my trip to Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, so I hit the garage and started carving.

The bowl ended up a bit deeper than I wanted, and I may actually carve another one, but for now I am pretty happy how it turned out.  I purposely made the bowl somewhat heart shaped.  I figure getting into the corners of your cooking pot is a good thing. 

I need to do a bit more work in refining the shape and put some oil on it.  I plan on putting a paracord lanyard hole on the end as well.  I figure a camp spoon needs something that will allow you to attach it to your pack or hang it on a stick by the camp fire.

In other news, I've been playing around with paracord again..  I've been wanting to make a bracelet jig for some time.  I found a tutorial online and made a working jig in about an hour.  It isn't pretty, but it works great.  I used it to make paracord bracelets for the kids and the one in the picture above.  The best part of having a jig is that it holds the cord for you and allows you to adjust the length of the bracelet.  Using this jig I can make a single pass cobra stitched bracelet in about 10 minutes from start to finish.

I made it about 40 inches long and cut the slot for the adjustment mechanism twelve inches long.  You can't see it in this picture, but I drilled a secondary hole for the carriage bolt near the bottom of the jig.  This will allow me to make much longer items, such as dog collars, straps, slings, and more.  I also have some room to add a larger clip for larger projects.

Do you ever feel like you have so many projects up in the air that you don't know how to get any of them done?  Or more importantly, that you don't know which one to work on first?  Yeah, me too.  I seriously need to sit down and make a list.  I've been wanting to make a sheath for my Mora Clipper.  I just don't care for the plastic sheath that it comes with when you buy it.  Oh and I just saw a video about hook knife boxes.  Oh and...

I need help.

I hope you are having a great week, may your knives stay sharp and happy carving everyone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stick Flowers. for the Gypsy in all of us

Sean Hellman, a better woodworker than I will ever be, posted a video a few days ago on making wooden flowers.  Big surprise, that was all it took for me to be off and running.  To be fair, I had watched a few videos in the past on the subject, but Sean's video inspired me to give it a try.

I think sometimes we all get caught up in the idea that to be a wood worker of any sort, we need the latest and the greatest tools.  Sean demonstrated that, to get started at least, often the the tools that you have at your home right now are good enough.  As with all things, as your skill progresses you will want to improve the quality of your tools, but it is important to just give it a try and see what happens.

In any case, after watching Sean's video, and then watching it again, I was headed outside to look for sticks.  I didn't have to go far, I had a few random limbs laying around (hey, its winter time, don't judge) and before long, I was back inside with a few carefully selected pieces.  Okay, lets be fair, a few random sticks that I picked up in the yard.

I attempted to make these flowers with a knife as was shown in the video, but I just wasn't able to make it work.  I kept cutting off petals!  All I could really make was a pointed stick.  Even though pointed sticks are pretty neat, they don't look like flowers.  Just when I was getting frustrated with the whole project, I switched to my Flexcut drawknife and my shave horse.

Stock photo
Now, why do I have a Flexcut drawknife?  You can thank Mr. Hellman for that too!  No wonder my wife gets a look of panic in her eyes when I say "Honey!  Guess what I just read about?!"  Wait, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, flowers!  I switched to my drawknife and shave horse, and I was off and running.

Here are the first few that I made.  I think they look like flowers.  I ended up making 14 in total, well 14 that I kept, even with the draw knife I made a few mistakes.  Usually the problems that I encountered were not keeping the cuts even and I ended up spiraling as I went around.  The good thing about using the draw knife was that I could bend down over the work and make sure the cuts were nice and even.

I added "stems" to the flowers by drilling a hole in the bottom of each one with a 1/16th inch drill bit and then gluing in some 18 gauge florist wire.  It came in a pack of 24 for about $3.00.  I wanted to add some color, but also really liked the natural look.  I ended up putting some water based paint into a spray bottle and thinning it down with some more water and spraying a few of the flowers lightly.  The water made the petals curl a bit, I was happy with the effect.

It was a fun project to do and my wife appreciated the time and effort that was spent making them.  I learned a few things during the whole process.  I need to shape the bottom of the flowers before I make them, as you can see in those last two pictures, the bottoms are still round.  I should have taken a few seconds to taper the bottoms.  Also, sticks matter.  They have to be dry.  This actually works out well, no cutting of live trees is required.

Making these flowers made me think of spring, I can't wait for it to get here.  It can't come too soon though!  I've got projects on the bench that need finishing, believe it or not, that quaich isn't dry yet.  It's close though, really close.  Happy carving everyone.