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.