Sunday, November 16, 2014

Paracordist How to Tie the Two-Color Ladder Rack Paracord Bracelet w/ "D" Shackle

 Check out the Video!

I'm happy to finally offer this follow up to my most viewed video of all time: Paracordist's_How_To_Make_the_Ladder_Rack_Knot_Paracord_Bracelet_using_the_Ultimate_Jig   In addition to the popularity of that video, the most repinned pin on all of my Pinterest boards is also a ladder rack bracelet variant (two colored).

After years of feedback, requests and comments I finally pulled together this video.

I've added a few "twists", if you will, to make this more than just a how to on adding a second color to the basic tie. 

First, I've shown the design tweaks  required to utilize an adjustable Paracord Bracelet "D" Shackle w/ adjuster as the bracelet closure (the original video used side release plastic buckles). After watching this and my original video, you could easily translate the two color design to a side release buckle or a Paracord Bracelet "Bow" Shackle w/ adjuster. If you'd like to purchase individual buckles of different types and sizes to make your own, please see our full array at the Buckles, Shackles, Scrapers and Toggles section of my website. 

The second "bonus" element of this video is how to join two ends of paracord together in the most secure low profile manner. This brilliant technique is known as the "Manny Method" for joining 550 cord, named after Manual Zambrano, its creator.

Third is the use of the Quick Buckle Jig. This incredibly versatile tool has been offered by Paracordist Creations for a little while now. This video gives you the first glimpse of how easy it is to use, and how to configure it for the use of metal shackles and precise sizing. 

Finally, I've added a video chapters slide to the beginning. I've made use of YouTube annotations to hotlink the chapters so users can jump directly to the part of the video that most interests them. I recognize that my audience consists of both beginners and advanced users. I often get requests from people who wish I would "get to the point" rather than do as much explanation as I typically do. Now they can simply jump straight to the Tie. What if you came to this video because you wanted to learn how to join two pieces of Paracord? No need to wait, jump right to that. Are you a beginner? Do you want to hear everything I've got to say, about setting up the jig, determining the right wrist size utilizing the tools? If that's you, then just sit back watch and enjoy the show. I haven't seen anyone do this before so I think I'm breaking new ground.

 SubscribeNOTE: this feature will only work on platforms that support YouTube video annotations. This does NOT include iPhones so for the best experience you may want to watch this on the computer.

Written by Kevin Gagne

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Video in Progress - How to Tie the Two Color Paracord Ladder Rack Bracelet

You may have seen my YouTube channel's most viewed paracord video: Paracordist's_How_To_Make_the_Ladder_Rack_Knot_Paracord_Bracelet_using_the_Ultimate_Jig  It currently has over 1.2 million views! I've started laying out my newest video which will teach you how to tie the two colored ladder rack bracelet with a metal shackle. This video will demonstrate a truly innovative and most effective method for joining paracord as part of the process. Additionally, I'll show how to use the Quick-Buckle Paracord Survival Bracelet Jig to make the whole process very  simple!

Subscribe to my Paracordist YouTube channel NOW to get a notification when this video is released!

 Visit my first Ladder Rack Video!

Written by Kevin Gagne

Friday, October 17, 2014

Awesome feedback is pouring in from all over the world on my latest video

The amazing feedback is pouring in from all over the world. People are successfully learning the turks head knot from my new video! 

"The new video is fantastic. I have been trying to tie the THK for more than five months now - seen all video tutorials and end up more confused than when I start. I watched your video with the amazing jig and it all seemed to fall into place. Being 65 years old things just do not sink in to my mind but now I see the 'rotation' clearly. I am so grateful for your video. I will be ordering a jig as soon as I can... Once again, many many thanks. NigelB."

In the plainspoken, easy-to-understand style that I've become known for I bring you the one and only video you'll ever need to tie a long Turks head knot in any combination of bites and leads. Cover your axes your hatchets your broom handle's your tools, your children - you  name it you can do it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Paracordist How to Tie the Long Turks Head Knot - for DUMMIES

In my recent blog "Paracordist Video Announcement - New Turks Head Knot Jig and Video Series", I  showcased the "The Perfect Turks Head Mandrel Jig". This incredibly versatile knot tying tool was used to tie the 4 bight turks head seen below on the "Ring Your - Bell Rope" paracord blackjack.
I announced my intent to re-do a comprehensive how to on tying the "long turks head" knot. My intention was to take constructive feedback from viewers of my original multipart series on understanding the long Turks head knot, and make a new video that would:

  1. Utilize the Perfect Turks Head Mandrel / Jig to demonstrate a turks head knot with a minimal number of leads. Use a cord color that contrasted well with the mandrel, good lighting and a neutral background to minimize distraction.
  2. Use video titles to highlight the important "rules" rather than rely upon YouTube annotations which are invisible on some viewing platforms.
  3. Focus on what you need to know to do this knot yourself, in any number of wraps/leads/bights. The video would NOT be about following each of my steps mindlessly.
Well friends, I'm happy to announce that I've published the video that does all that and much much more! I've implemented the "already controversial" school bell sound at key points in the video to give you an HD "slap" in the head, a "wake up" and pay attention signal that is only slightly less abrasive than a slap on the knuckles by a Catholic school nun (personal experience). I did this because I wanted the call attention to the most overlooked yet most critical points in my first series - rules that if not adhered to will result in certain failure. I've expanded my video editing skills and included some cool picture in picture elements and an awesome "outtro" at the end of the video which provides hot links to very important RELATED videos to round our your knowledge of planning and tying turks head knots. Knife and hatchet wraps, tool handles, hiking staff, keychains and countless other projects are now within your reach.

I believe that this is my most effective Paracordist video ever! All you need in one simple video to master the "long" turks head knot in ANY size. Finally, understand the knot in such a way that you can easily tie any variation! Best part - IT’S FREE OF COURSE. I’m so confident that you’ll find it the best, most comprehensive and easy to understand how to video you’ve seen on tying the long turks head knot that I’m offering a no strings attached money back guarantee!

Without further delay, I present to you Paracordist How to Tie the Long Turks Head Knot - for DUMMIES

If you find this useful, PLEASE share on all your favorite social media!

Written by Kevin Gagne

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Check out this prototype of the Paracordist's "MaceJack".

Here is something I tied up last night. Had some thoughts in my head since doing the recent video Paracordist Impact Weapons, Paracord Monkeys Fists VS. Blackjacks and Saps ( Decided to get a prototype going. Here's how it works, briefly:

Draw the keys and paracord monkeys fist in close to the spring loaded, turks head covered handle (made and transfered quite easily with the Perfect Turks Head Mandrel / Jig ( Next, insert thumb and wrap lanyard securely around wrist and voila - blackjack!

....Or draw the handle back along the 550 cord to the opposite end of the keys and monkey fist and you have a paracord  Mace! 

I've found that the wrap-around nature of the turks head brings tremendous stiffness to the spring. The spring size and stiffness used in this prototype is thus major overkill; to the extent that much of the desired spring is gone. In my next evolution I'll use a smaller diameter spring. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Customer uses Quick Release Keychain Bola to thwart a knife wielding attacker!

Got this great feedback from a customer (who is also a police officer) that used my Quick Release Keychain Bola to thwart a knife wielding attacker! 

"I keep items on my belt for defense but it was cold and I had a heavy jacket on. I knew I never be able to reach for anything under that coat, so I kept your bolo keychain in the hand warmer pocket. I pulled in for gas at a station about 0400 hours, it was cold & foggy. This guy in a sweat jacket with the hood on comes running up with something shinny in his hand, yelling "I want your wallet you fat..." By that time I had pulled out the bolo & swung at his hand, hit the forearm and forcing his hand/arm down. That's when I saw the large kitchen knife (7" blade). I brought my hand back, swinging the bolo backhanded to the guy's temple. That made him drop the knife and reach for his head. I swung back forward and hit the other temple, giving me a chance to pull up my jacket and badge him. Called it it and subject was booked. I was on my way for duty, running late (roll call/briefing is at 0500 hours. Got a little grief for using the bolo keychain but that's all. Never get to use it as a bolo yet, by the way. 😉"

Paracordist Impact Weapons, Paracord Monkeys Fists VS. Blackjacks and Saps video is live

In this recent blog, I teased the imminent release of part one of a smashing new video! The waiting is over - Paracordist Impact Weapons, Paracord Monkeys Fists VS. Blackjacks and Saps video is live! Many of the paracord monkeys fist self-defense keychain creations you see today are based on designs such as my "doorknocker" or "battering ram" and the "monkeys fist keychain". The great benefit that all these have in common, is that they are inconspicuous. That is, they fit right in with your keys and don't raise any eyebrows as being a weapon. The importance of this cannot be overlooked, because in most places you may may possess a blackjack or sap but not carry it in public (but that doesn't mean you can't have one of these super powerful close quarters combat weapons on your bedside table). The monkeys fist key chain, conversely, is very decorative and blends in nicely with other "bobbles" on the average person's keychain. Countless times I have placed my entire set of keys with other typical pocket contents in the trays at the airport and - had them handed back to me on the other side.  With certainty, I can say you would not be able to do this with the blackjack or sap!

As you might expect, most positives are offset by negatives, and that is no different in this case! Most monkeys fist keychain designs typically include some length of paracord braid or sinnet. While the handle portion can be stiff to varying degrees depending on the braid/sinnet style, it is unlikely that  550 cord alone will be stiff enough to prevent blowback of the weighted end from hitting the users wrist arm or hand. For this reason, it is important for a user/owner of any self defense tool to understand its limitations, inform themselves of techniques that will mitigate the danger of injury, and perhaps most importantly practice practice practice. Start slow, simple, light weight and proceed with caution. Watch this video to see how, and to see a few night stand "nighty night" blackjacks I made for myself. 

Each weapon is introduced along with its weight in ounces, then striking technique is demonstrated against a 100 lb heavy bag. This is also my first experience working with two camera angles and the specialty editing required. I'm happy with the results (except for the backlight!). I look forward to implementing the dual-camera work into future videos.

Don't forget to subscribe to my youtube channel so you are notified when the Part II video comes out - smashing more gallon jugs of water with these different items. Until then, this old video Paracordist's: Monkey's Fist knot lanyard smashes gallon of water, Martial Arts Self Defense will show you the difference in power between a 1" steel ball and a 1.5" steel ball on the Steel Saints Motorcycle Riding Lanyard!

Written by Kevin Gagne

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Video in progress - paracord impact weapons vs. Traditional blackjackand saps

Several days ago I made the announcement regarding one of my upcoming videos - turks head knot secrets using the perfect mandrel. Here I want to tease another video project in progress that is sure to be a smashing hit! 

Below are a number of paracord impact self defense weapons. From left to right, top to bottom we have: the Door Knocker/Battering Ram (my popular design containing a three-quarter inch steel ball bearing), the Paracordist Monkeys Fist Keychain (containing a 1 inch steel ball bearing), the Mickey Mouse key chain creation I made containing a 3 ounce lead ball and a monkeys fist supported by 4 strands (featured in my Paracordist's Monkeys Fist Paracord Creations Demolition Tests video), the Black Widow Billiard Ball lanyard design by Travis Huppert, the Magic Mic Paracord Blackjack containing an 8 oz lead ball and lightweight spring loaded handle, and finally my "Speak Into the Mic" heavy duty spring loaded blackjack with 4 oz lead monkeys fist topper. 
In the video series, I will utilize a heavy bag and gallon jugs of water to demonstrate the relative power of these impact weapons. I will address safety and self–injury concerns and techniques to mitigate them. For perspective, I'll conduct these tests alongside ones with the following traditional blackjack and sap. Each are more than 20 years old and acquired in Chinatown way back when I was an intern working in Boston. The power and effectiveness of these weapons is well established as both have long, storied histories in law enforcement and the criminal underworld!

Written by Kevin Gagne

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!

10/13/14 UPDATE: The video is live! It is one of my proudest accomplishments so check it out NOW and please SHARE! Paracordist How to Tie the Long Turks Head Knot - for DUMMIES

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

Saturday, July 26, 2014

First drink from my hand made birch Kuksa

It was a piece of firewood last month, now it's a cup full of tequila on the beach :). Hand tools only - hatchet and knife, coals from campfires to burn out the inside and sandpaper to finish. It's made from birch and actually called a "Kuksa". 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

37 rescued on a tiny local mountain - unpreparedness at it's worst

This story is truly a shame
 These folks should be found negligent and charged the cost of rescue. Imagine taking a group of 30+ on a hike and not a single person appears to have had some basic gear and navigation skills. Take a look at this mount major map I just got from the Internet
 look at it for a minute, you can see that route 11 runs north south, to the east of the mountain. This means that the no matter where you are "lost" on the mountain, you could travel easterly and hit the road in probably an hour or two. It would take about five minutes with a Compass to learn how to find the cardinal points (north south east west). This is not advanced land navigation. Even if the Hikers lost their map, this basic orientation would not be hard to remember. Moral of the story: if you go out in the woods, bring a map that you have looked at in advance. Bring a compass, at least know how to find north, south, east, west. Figure out the general direction you can head to intersect a linear feature like the road you drove in on, a trail, Lake, river etc. Staying found is not rocket science!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

DIY Folding Buck Saw Details & New Never Before Seen Buck Saw design!

DIY Folding Buck Saw Details & New Never Before Seen Buck Saw design!

Read on my friends and stay tuned because out one of a kind bushcrafters lightweight and packable buck saw IS NOW available for sale in the bushcraft products section of ! With just the information and dimensions on photos herein, you will learn how to make your own folding bucksaw. 

Within the last couple months, I pretty quietly undertook a project to make my first buck saw. I posted pictures of it with a promise that I’d offer more detail when time allowed. Here we go!

I started the process with the intent of making a “folding bucksaw”, one that would allow the blade connections to remain at all times (therefore no chance of losing hardware during breakdown/assembly). Searching online revealed relatively few details! There are a few articles with dimensions and written descriptions, but I felt none provided the detail I needed. I basically learned generally how this sort of saw worked and was constructed, then laid mine out around the blade (21” from end to end) I had in the garage on an aluminum bow saw. Here are the general dimensions:

I had a table saw at my disposal, so I learned from a youtube video that a tenon can be cut quickly by setting my blade to the depth of the desired tenon shoulder, then just cutting several kerf widths right next to each other, thereby shaving down and revealing the tenon as I repeated this process on all 4 sides. The mortise was more difficult. I don’t have a drill press. I read a method that included drilling out the mortise with slightly overlapping drill holes the diameter of the desired mortise width. Then just use a wood chisel to square it. My problem was that the bit didn’t want to drill that precise by hand! If I was to do it again I’d have drilled pilot holes with a small diameter bit first! I did finally get working joints.
I’ve seen two modes of breakdown of this sort of saw as follows:

1.       Breakdown occurs by pulling the mortise/tenon cross member then turning the vertical arms inward 90 degrees until they just about meet in the middle of the saw blade and cover the teeth in the saw kerf cut down the entire inside edge. This requires that the drill hole for the blade-holding bolt be closer to the inside of the vertical arm. I thought that the closer the hole was to the inside, the more likely the bolt would be to shear when under full tension.
2.       Breakdown would occur by pulling out the cross member, than folding the vertical arms outward and around 270 degrees so that the blade’s teeth would rest protected within a kerf cut along the entire outside faces of each vertical arm. This method requires that the drill hole for blade be as close as possible to the outside edge of the vertical arm (see 1” horizontal dimension on photo below). This allows the most wood to resist shear of the hole once the saw is tensioned, so it made the most sense to me.

These photos show varied angles and some important dimensions around the blade attachment point. As you can see, the kerf cut for hiding the blade is a major way through the wood. This leaves only ½” of oak undisturbed in the vertical member. I could have made this a bit thicker if I shifted the bold hole closer to the outer edge.

I used a jig saw to cut out some curves and sandpaper and linseed oil to finish. The saw cuts very well, and the space between the blade and cross member allows for a 6” diameter cut. The saw looks great and weighs not much more than a pound. I don’t have an elegant way to bind all the pieces together once broken down, I’ve been experimenting with various straps, bandanna, paracord, bungees etc. All functional but not quite what I’m looking for. I also don’t have the skills at the moment to make a nice little carry sack for it.

There are pros and cons to this design that got me thinking outside the box for better ways. This saw protects the blade and protects against hardware loss by avoiding the need to remove any for setup/breakdown. The tradeoff, which is no small one, is strength. I don’t know exactly how much my saw is weakened by the long cuts, but I’d imagine quite a bit. It has taken some pretty serious tensioning without fail, but it’s still young and it is mighty oak! Not sure how an inferior wood would do. I want a design that will afford protection to the saw’s most critical element – the blade, while maintaining maximum strength in the members. Breakdown is important, because I want a packable saw. The nature of the breakdown in my first saw limits the length of the vertical arms as they must meet in the middle of the saw blade); which in turn limits the diameter of the possible cut. I wanted to develop a design that would maximize the cut-able diameter for the given blade length. I wanted to find a way to protect the blade upon breakdown that does not limit the length of the vertical arms! I don’t want it to be too heavy, I don’t want to copy someone else’s design, I wanted it to be unique and innovative, I wanted it to look good and be a true craftsman’s project. I want, I want, I want!! I wasn’t sure I could have it all; I mean there are usually tradeoffs with everything. I’m limited in my woodworking skills, so I turned to my friend Todd Thompson (who is quite a pro) to do some brainstorming.

Together we’ve been going back and forth, and I think he’s come up with some things that have never been done before!

The coolest idea by far that Todd's actually brought to reality is bulletproof protection for the blade – its encased completely INSIDE the cross member, from tenon to tenon, during breakdown.
Todd did some woodworking magic to accomplish this. The cross member was made in two pieces, then carefully glued together with Titebond III wood glue. Upon breakdown, the blade is slipped into the member and secured there using the same hardware that’s used to connect the blade when assembled.
The pieces are bound in the middle by some 550 paracord from the windlass, or bandana, leather thong etc..The vertical arms are no longer limited in length, so we’ve extended them to allow a full 8” diameter cut for the same blade length.
Also, they are solid pieces of oak – no strength concern here. To address the concern for losing hardware on setup/breakdown, he’s come up with a way to imbed a removable bolt, two nuts and two washers in one of the members!

Adding a touch of style and identity, is this special Paracordist windlass

Here are some highlights of the prototype in progress. Will it be the best collapsible bucksaw on the market? We think so!

Wood = oak

Assembled dimensions: 21.75” W x 16” H x ¾” thick

Broken down dimensions: 21” x 2.5” x 1.75”

Total weight: 1lb 10oz.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Exciting new paracord jigs available - the Perfect Mandrel and the Gibson Turks Head Former

The perfect paracord turks head mandrel
Introducing the Perfect Mandrel

Ever since I made the first comprehensive "long" Turks Head Knot video series (starting in 2010) 

 on YouTube I've been working to find the right design and maker and design to bring you the Perfect Mandrel. A mandrel is a tool utilized to tie the turks head knot in a sort of "controlled environment" (without the width and alignment variations often associated with hiking staves, axe handles etc.). After the turks head knot is fully formed, the pins (or pegs) on the mandrel can be removed so that the knot can be slid off and transferred to the finished item (knife, hatchet or tool handle, hiking staff etc.) for tightening. There are other mandrels for sale out there, but none so versatile or innovative as The Perfect Mandrel! This break through design by Travis Huppert allows for literally hundreds of options for bight spacing and count. It really is only limited by the users imagination. The main tube is 1-1/4" in diameter and 12" long. The two sliding collars adjust up and down the length of the tube for almost limitless settings. The collars are predrilled and tapped with 30 and 24 bight count rings and have an outside diameter of 2". This predrilled hole spacing will allow for ties with a multitude of bight settings, ultimate flexibility. If you are like me and have lots of mandrels you use for various ties, well this will replace almost all of them in one useful tool. It comes complete with (30) 1/2" set screws and an allen wrench to insert or remove the set screws. This is the one tool you have been waiting for and once you have one the tool you really won't ever want to ever be without. Order your Perfect Mandrel now, then watch this video to learn how to plan your first project!

 Before you read on, please watch the video I just embedded above. One of the main points of the video is that a "test knot" should be tied that has the minimal number of leads (utilizing 1/2 wrap in the first half cycle of the knot). This test knot can be tied quickly using a Turks Head Former, using this technique I first learned from Gibson's Book of Knots and Splices. I first taught this approach in my 2010 YouTube video "Paracordist how to tie a Turks Head knot easily using a jig and paracord for a hiking staff handle".

In the video, I used a former I threw together using some tape, a piece of scrap sheet rock and some finishing nails. The jig worked fine for a while, but soon the nails worked loose and the lack of "heads" on the nails resulted in the bights often slipping off while tying. I'm happy to announce that we will soon have the Gibson Turks Head Former's for sale (named after the author of the book where I learned the technique). This is a durable, select wood board with 7 (standard size) or 10 (large size) evenly spaced and squarely drilled holes. The pegs were specially selected for appropriate length, snug fit in the holes and perfect size heads to prevent slippage of bights. I expect to have these available in the Paracord Knot Tying Jigs section of my website within a couple days, so please check in !
Paracord Turks Head knot tying former
Gibson Turks Head Former

Written by Kevin Gagne

camping, Kuksa fire, bacon grease lamp disaster, birch carving supplies

Another beautiful weekend family camping. When opportunity granted itself, I whittled away with my knife on the maple kuksa which I resigned to keep in a zip lok with a wet sponge when not working. I'm doing this based on recommendation I received after my post inquiring about the cause of cracks I was observing.
 I learned that they were related to the excessively quick drying of the wood and differential shrink between the pith wood at the core of the branch I used and the outer rings. I also learned this is common with woods worked green such as my maple. The bag/sponge technique slows the seasoning and yes I saw an immediate effect on the cracks; including the closing of the largest crack that started forming. I learned from several wise commenters that there were ways to deal with the cracks, so not to be discouraged into stopping the project. No matter what happened I would learn from it so I decided to carry on with the maple project! One piece of advice that stuck out was this recommended way of harvesting wood to minimize likelihood of cracking:

1. Take a log of roughly twice the diameter that you wish to be the height of your future kuksa.
2. Split the log down the middle.
3. Lay the split face down.
4. Draw the Kuksa front view as shown in the sketch below to begin roughing!

Note: I did ask why not turn the cup to make better use of the natural curve of the wood? I got a convincing, detailed answer basically saying that the left and right sides are going to want to pull in downwards and outwards from the middle, resulting in cracking or at least warping.
I asked my dad if he had any split wood in the pile from this years efforts (for next winter's firewood) that would have come from an 8"+ diameter birch. He said he'd have a look and bring some by on Monday if he found something.
My only "rules" for the Kuksa project was no power tools. Otherwise I'd use whatever I could get my hands on. As I hung out at camp, I decided to see what I could accomplish with fire towards my goal of hollowing out the rough shape. My attention was drawn to the Weber firestarter cubes (poor mans version of  UST's "Wetfire" tinder), as I was not ready to make the camp fire for the evening. I scraped off a pile and light it afire inside a small hole I carved out with the pocket knife. It burned steady for quite some time, but alas merely browned the edges.

Later that evening, with a true campfire going and a glowing bed of coals underneath, I pursued the effort in a more traditional manner. I scooped a nice coal out and dropped it into the small starting cavity I'd made. Blowing on the coal I quickly picked up the gist of the technique.

Not too much oxygen so as to cause the burst of flame.

I could rotate the cup and direct the force of the oxygen towards the area I wished to "carve". I was very excited to see the green wood slowly turning to glowing coal itself in the focus areas.

When necessary, I stopped blowing on an area and it quickly "cooled" down. In this manner, I was able to make great progress during a relaxing evening under the Maine stars, with my family by the campfire. Here is the cup, ready for a charcoal scraping session.

This being the last campfire until we return in a couple weeks, I'll likely turn back to the pocket knife and for the first time on this project, a wood chisel when I return home.
The next morning's bacon grease was collected and hardened in one of my wife's glassware bowls. She asked me to go outside and scrape out the grease into a container for disposal. I decided to grab a few napkins to twist into makeshife wicks. My bright idea was to try to make a little "upcycle" project lamp. I was delighted to see the effectiveness and snapped this photo as my wife peered out to chastize me "your going to ruin my bowl". "It will be fine", I returned (thinking that I after all am the mighty bushcrafter, not her).

Literally a second later "pop" and the glass dish's side popped off. Within 30 seconds, all the rest except the bottom cracked off. "Honey, sorry, you were right".

To round out the weekend and kickoff the next week, I woke to a planned visit from my parents and a truck full of split birch from my dad. Varying heights of the half moon pieces from 3.5-5", all around a foot long. Should last me a while!

As an added bonus, they gave me a Plumb axe head picked up at a yard sale for 50 cents! Add this axe refurb to my list of projects!

Written by Kevin Gagne