Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Place to play

This morning I was lucky enough to be shown around a woodland by its owner, a very nice lady called Sarah. She has given me permission to roam around as much as I like and do my bushcrafty things. It is a private wood and in some ways I shall be keeping an eye on it for her - she travels a lot, you see.

We spent a very pleasant couple of hours wandering around and looking at all sorts of nooks and crannies. Obviously I couldn't help noticing LOTS of deer tracks - plenty of Reds (poo and all), good number of Fallow and some Roe deer. I know there is fox there and a good chance of badger too. There may even be Dormouse! I've taken it upon myself to find them if tey are there.

Anyway, I am dead chuffed to have been given permission to access the land whenever I like especially as it is increasingly difficult to find sympathetic land owners and even harder to find ones that will let you have a fire and wild camp! Fantastic!

Monday, 18 June 2007

Child's survival story

This is a great story about a little girl who survived out in the woods http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-070615kankakeejun15,1,1984554.story?coll=chi-news-hed

It just goes to show that a child, with no preconceptions of danger, fear etc can survive in a situation like that, when an adult may well perish due to their attitude. It's all in the mind!

Thursday, 14 June 2007


Well, we're not talking football here but a slightly more traditional 'craft' of firelighting from sparks. In the previous post I showed off my first forged knife - well whilst I was there and waiting for stuff to cool I also made a steel flint striker.

The idea behind this is that you strike the edge of the flattened portion (on the right of the image) on a sharp edge of a bit of flint to generate sparks. These sparks are showered into a suitable tinder which then ultimately becomes a fire. There are modern equivelants that produce, more and hotter, sparks but it is still nice to use and make more traditional processes. another homemade bushcraft product!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Hand forging a knife

A couple of weeks ago I went on a course to learn how to forge knives and other tools. It was a brilliant day out and the chap who had the patience to teach me was Dave Budd (www.davebuddknives.homestead.com). He did a good job. Here is the (almost finished) article.

I still have the handle to finish - it is made of oak and it needs to have a bit more sanding, then Danish oil, then more sanding, more oil etc etc.

The blade also needs to be sharpened but that won't happen until I have made the sheath. That will be another day with Dave and another learning curve!

Here is a closeup of the handle and blade.

I did get a bit fancy and added some file work on the spine to make it look a bit flash!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Knife safety

Safe use of the Knife - a by no means comprehensive safety list for using a knife!

Before use, make sure the knife is fit for the purpose. Check for any damage and repair, if necessary, or just go out and buy a new one.

Alcohol and knives don’t mix! Ice and alcohol do, though.

Look after your knife – keep it clean and sharp. Just like yourself on a Saturday night.

A sharp knife is an efficient knife and a bit more useful than a blunt one.

Resheath the knife when not in use – don’t leave it lying around. Like a lot of things in life, it is safer when it’s wearing protection.

If you need to ‘safe’ your knife for a few moments then it can be stowed under the armpit, edge facing down. Take care when withdrawing the knife though. There are better ways to shave your ‘pits.

Never lend your knife to anyone. It can be a sure-fired recipe to see a grown man cry.

Before using your knife have your First Aid kit to hand as accidents do happen. Have a practice opening it one handed just to see how awkward it is.

Plan ahead. Work out where all the bits are going to go like the blade, cut bits of wood, fingers…

Make sure your ‘blood zone’ is clear of obstructions and other people. Using your sheathed knife describe an arc all around you with your arm fully extended. This is to ensure any ‘travel through’ from a slipped blade will not hit anything or anyone causing an unexpected trip to the nice doctors and nurses at the local A&E.

Always cut away from yourself. Avoid working between your legs as a slip could result in cutting the femoral artery which can really ruin your day. Also make sure no other bits of your body are in the path of the blade should it do something unexpected.

Passing a knife safely – hold the knife in a forehand grip, allow it to rotate between thumb and forefinger until the spine of the blade is resting on the web of skin between thumb and fingers, thus offering the handle to the lucky person who is going to look at your knife (see above) but not use it.

Stop using the knife if the light is really poor or it is dark – it’s pretty important to see what you are doing clearly.

Never attempt to catch a falling blade (unless you are a ninja) because if you have kept it sharp then your fingers may have extra ventilation.

Don’t throw your knife at anything or at/to anyone! Bad karma, dudes!

Stabbing your knife into the ground or into wood is a great way to damage the knife, yourself or someone else. All of which are considered bad form.

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Monday, 4 June 2007

Exmoor geocaching

What the heck is geocaching. Well obviously it is squirreling away geos :). It is a sport where people hide caches of stuff around the world and then post the coordinates up on a web page (www.geocaching.com) for other people to use GPS or other means to try and find the cache.

When a cache is found the person leaves a note in the box and perhaps adds something new and may take something away or may do nothing at all! Generally they will post comments back on the website about their find.

Anyway, I decided to go have a look for one that is only a couple of miles from here. I took my boy and that turned out to be a bit of mistake for this site. Since the site was in some woods, the GPS became unreliable for the last few metres and we had to search by the good old fashioned way. The area is quite steep and slippery in places and I was distracted looking for this cache and I assumed my boy wouldn't do anything silly. Well I was pretty wrong about that one. I turned round just in time to see him fall about 10 feet off a small cliff into stream bed eroded from solid rock. Luckily, he only had some minor cuts, bruises and grazes. Needless to say we gave up at that point.

I was near the vicinity again today and decided to have a quick look again and I found it really quickly. Just goes to show how distracted you can become when you have an impatient 10 year old trying to help you find it! Still he wants to give it another go sometime.