Monday, September 22, 2014

The "Magic Mic" paracord blackjack

This was a bit of a paracord doodle. Experimented with a number of things, from half hitching to cover the 6 oz lead ball, my first star knot (used to introduce 4 more working strands), my first 6 strand round sinnet around an experimental core (a spring from a plumbing "snake"):

... finished with a manrope knot using all 6 strands. I then used my 4mmx4" Individual Steel Paracord Fid - Lacing Needles to feed in the two ends of a bight formed for a lanyard. I used these two strands with the 6 from the manrope to tie an 8 strand diamond knot. It's a working piece so I used scraps and some splices.  Planning a video about these striking type paracord weapons. This sort of thing is for entertainment and informational purposes. I won't be carrying or selling!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Paracordist Video Announcement - New Turks Head Knot Jig and Video Series

Written by Kevin Gagne
A few weeks ago, I wrote this blog post announcing the arrival of an exciting new paracord Turks head knot tying mandrel.

Now I've just posted a new video on my YouTube channel, walking you through the specs of the perfect Turks head mandrel AND announcing my plans to read issue a brand-new and updated version of one of my most popular how to series!

When I first published my multipart series on understanding the long Turks head knot, there was nothing like it on YouTube. I find it extremely gratifying after these few years, to see how many accomplished tiers credit me and Videos such as this Turks series with being one of their early inspirations. I've also amassed a large quantity of comments from beginners who have been frustrated in trying to learn from such a long and detailed video. While the process seems complex when you look at formula recipes and "follow along" videos, it can actually be broken down into a number of very simple and straightforward "rules". These rules very just slightly when you tie and odd number of bights versus an even number of bights. I believe that for many people, the guidelines or "rules" were lost on them in my videos because I was focusing on such a long project (one with a large number of wraps). Another issue, is that YouTube video annotations which I used to highlight many of the important points, are not visible on all platforms, such as iPhones. For this reason, and increasingly large number of people that watch watch videos miss some of the most important parts. Many people then turned to Turks head formulas and tying "over under" lists in an attempt to "parrot" their way through the knot rather then ever understanding it.

To address these issues in my "re-do" video series, I will do the following:

  1. Utilize the Perfect Turks Head Mandrel / Jig to demonstrate a turks head knot with a minimal amount of leads. I will use a cord color that contrasts well with the mandrel, good lighting and a neutral background to minimize distraction.
  2. I will use video titles to highlight the important "rules" rather than rely upon YouTube annotations which are invisible on some viewing platforms.
  3. I will focus on what you need to know to do this knot yourself, in any number of wraps/leads/bights. The video will NOT be about following each of my steps mindlessly.

This new series as planned is not a small project so please be patient as I work on it, it will be worth it!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Paracordist How to Attach Kuksa to Belt or Pack with Paracord & Toggle System

A short while ago, I celebrated the near completion of my first real carving project with a drink from my own birch Kuksa. Kuksa's were "green" hundreds (thousands?) of years before the anti plastic bottle movement! When I set about to make one for myself, I envisioned carrying the cup from campfire to campfire imbibing my favorite grog. After completing the project, and applying several coatings of walnut oil, I decided to attach a paracord lanyard temporarily - until I could use a proper drill press to ensure that I drilled a straight hole for a lanyard. I made the temporary lanyard forming a necklace size bight then tying a diamond knot, doubled with a loop using the two working ends. I then worked the smaller loop so that it would be snug around the handle. The knot definitely gets in the way a bit so I'll definitely plan on drilling that hole eventually. I wore this around the neck or held the lanyard in my hands when I had my drinking hat on. Traditionally, a Kuksa was warn on the belt of its owner, or in bushcraft circles it is often attached to the pack. Either way seemed to me more comfortable than wearing a 14oz capacity beer Kuksa around my neck!

I devised a simple adjustable toggle attachment system, utilizing a wooden toggle about a quarter inch thick and 1.5" long. I whittled it from a stick and cored a hole with my knife. I slipped the end of the necklace loop through the hole in the toggle. To prevent the toggle from slipping off, I installed a paracord bead on the loop (black bead at bottom of photo below). Next, to lock the toggle in place for various attachments, I installed another paracord bead, this time on both strands. This bead was tied very tightly, with solid resistance to sliding.

With these simple features, the Kuksa can be attached to just about anything. Watch this simple video to see how and find links to all the knots you'll need to tie your own paracord Kuksa lanyard! Your wife may be embarrassed to be seen with you, but thats ok because you'll meet lots of new people who want to know why you have a cup hanging from your waist.

Written by Kevin Gagne

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Paracordist How to Use a Primitive David and Goliath Rock Sling

This video is the official rock sling video, complete with helpful links to my website where you can find handmade paracord rock slings for sale. I put out a raw version of this video some time ago, with the intent of using it on a variety of online discussion forums that have restrictions regarding the use of company names, etc. In some ways it may be more trouble than its worth to make two separate videos. However, I do value the friendships I've formed and things I've learned from these forums so I want to share videos that might be of interest to the communities. Click to see some of my favorite forums on outdoors and survival related topics, and learn how to find me there!

Launching projectiles has been something I've enjoyed as long as I can remember. My intro to a rock sling was sometime in the late 1970's or early '80s when my cousin Robert showed me how to launch rocks in a makeshift sling at passing trains from his backyard. Since the statute of limitations is likely up, I don't mind sharing. I also tell this story as a reminder - boys will be boys. So parents, while it is an amazing and fun project to make your own rock sling, I suggest you keep safety in mind. Slings generate unbelievable power and can kill the slinger or anyone in his/her path.

As an adult, I started making my own slings after learning more about the skill on I used the round the head windup with a sort of sidearm release. I found myself launching more projectiles than I care to admit at my neighbor's house. Eventually I came across a video of someone using this technique but doing very little to explain it. I studied the video and figured it out for myself. Instead of spraying projectiles left and right I began to hit targets. The method is pretty dialed in left to right with the main challenge controlling vertical. At least safer for bystanders! WARNING in my experience, if looking forward is 12 o'clock, the most dangerous place to be is around 4 to 6 o'clock. This is where max force is put on the rock sling pocket and a poorly set projectile is likely to slip out at frightening speed.

Don't bother studying photos, the video will teach you this method like nothing else! This photo shows a key point in the technique - the bending of the elbow sends the pocket behind you and sets up the tremendous whipping motion that generates so much power on the release.
overhand sling technique windup
This cool photo shows the release and you can see the pocket open and the projectile on its way skyward.
overhand sling technique release
Watch and learn!

Watch this video to learn to make a rock sling out of a single 25' strand of paracord!

Then check out this video to learn a cool release knot - How to Tie the Celtic Button Knot

Rather buy one made by a professional than make your own? Visit our store and grab your own handmade paracord pocket rock sling

Written by Kevin Gagne

Paracordist how to boil paracord on turks head hiking staff handle

I made this video as a follow up to my comprehensive video "Paracordist on pre and post shrinking paracord / 550 cord - why you should do it and how! "
Paracordist how to boil paracord on turks head hiking staff handle

Lots of people have asked me questions about pre-shrinking and post-shrinking paracord after hearing me mention it in my other videos. For this reason, I decided to make a video on the topic, showing several items in my product collection and explaining why some are made with pre-shrunk paracord (cord shrunk before making the item) and some are made with regular paracord and post-shrunk (shrunk after making the item). In general, pre-shrinking cord is important for size-sensitive items such as custom fitted paracord survival bracelets or 550 cord I-Phone or beer can cases. If you don't pre-shrink the cord, it will shrink on its own over time and possibly become too small. Post-shrinking allows you to get knots tighter than otherwise possible through hand power. This is great for handle wraps, monkeys fists and other items you want super tight. In some cases, post-shrinking is done by carefully pouring the hot water on the item if it can't fit into a pot. As with anything, take extreme caution when dealing with boiling water! KIDS MUST SEEK THE HELP OF AN ADULT.

Written by Kevin Gagne

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Success Patenting the Invention that Put Survival in the "ParacordSurvival Bracelet"

A few years ago, I put "survival" into the ubiquitous "paracord survival bracelet" with my invention of the BSB - Best Survival Bracelet. I knew I had something original that could even save lives. This attractive bracelet, that would satisfy even ultralight outdoor enthusiasts and minimalists, would make readily available all that is needed to produce a potentially life-saving fire.

I believed in this product, and with the support of my wife, sought to protect it against larger companies that would steal (and have stolen!) the idea and market it as their own. At the same time, I've openly offered advice, schematics and materials to the do-it-yourselfers who wanted to make one of their own. My wife and I had to make some serious sacrifices to afford the patent process which is not set up to be undertaken by the average Joe. 

Today I'm elated to announce that the United States Patent and Trademark Office will be issuing us a "Notice of Allowance". In English, this means they are granting my patent! The review is over. They've examined all "Prior Art", publicly available information and current applications. Our claims are validated! 

For the individualist and do it yourself I plan on finally making the how to video so if you want to make your own stay tuned and subscribe to my YouTube channel

Thanks to everyone for supporting us the last couple of years and already owns one of these bracelets. If you don't have one, what are you waiting for? Come and visit and have a look!
Written by Kevin Gagne

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My first wooden utensil carving projects - spoon, fork and spork!

Coming off the relative success of carving my first Kuksa, I decided to have a go at a spoon carve. I grabbed a piece of split wood from the campfire pile and made sure it was a piece with no center pithe (I've learned my lesson). There weren't any progress photos because it went so quickly ! I used my hatchet to rough out a working blank with roughly squared up sides, bottom and top. I grabbed a spoon from the drawer for reference and drew out plan (top) view. It only took a half hour or so sitting in the beach chair to carve out the shape with the pocket knife. I flipped it on outs side and drew the profile (side) view. Carving out unneeded wood from this angle was equally quick. The bowl was carved with a straight knife blade so involved some patience. A hook knife will be a welcomed addition to my tools! I took the sandpaper to the piece to round it off just in time for ice cream test with the family! 
I quickly learned why spoons are so shallow when I couldn't easily get to the icecream in the bottom of mine! A simple fact I really didn't think much about. I decided it would be necessary to rework the top to make the sides less steep and the inside more shallow. One's top lip should wipe the spoon clean when removing from the mouth. Duh. After a quick re-work that evening, it was ready for the breakfast test. Unfortunately, I was having waffles and learned quickly that I'd probably benefit from a fork!
Grabbed another split from the firewood pile and brought it to the beach. I quickly worked up a fork, but in the end found it wanting for a bit of a bowl and a better profile shape.

Back to the woodpile! I decided my third piece of wood-ware would be a "spork". I'd try to have the nice recurve of my first spoon, with some prongs for the waffles, steaks and chicken! The next two photos show the roughed out side and top view, next to my first fork.
A few nights on the chair at my son's football practice and I'd completed my spork. The blank I roughed out of the firewood wasn't very thick, so I didn't have the depth needed for a sweeping recurve. In the end, I just curved the end! I've very satisfied with it. The following two photos show it in comparison to the original fork. Its not better than a fork for forking, nor is it better than a spoon for spooning - but it is two tools in one.
I had been treating the finished items with coconut oil, until I picked up some walnut oil at the supermarket. With either oil, I'd put a bit in the cup, microwave for 15 seconds to warm it all up, then work it in with the hands. I'd like to do an oil/beeswax mix as I've seen some beautiful wooden carved pieces online treated this way. My understanding is that the beeswax and oil mixture affords some additional waterproofing and surface protection - with a nice shine. Working with these oils got me thinking of another project thats been on my long term to do list (that also requires the use of oils) restoring an old cast iron skillet! In my next blog I'll talk about that process and how it lead to my current wood project - a long wooden "sauce" spoon!

Written by Kevin Gagne