Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My ultimate 2 day getaway, Fatwood & Gransfors score, slinging + BlackBear

I just experienced one of the most memorable and enjoyable family getaways in recent memory. Shortly after arriving one recent evening at a hotel in the White Mountains of NH with my family, I go out to walk the dogs behind the place. Tired of them tangling me in leashes I spy a craggy stump to throw their leashes over so they can do their business. 
Suddenly as I feel what I thought was punky wood I realize it's fatwood petrified solid as a rock. I have nothing with me but the saw on my Fieldmaster. I harvest a small piece oozing with natures' fire starting greatness. 

Coming out the following morning in daylight I poke around the area and realize that on the other side of the brush is a monster fatwood log - likely the piece that was cut or knocked off the standing part I saw last night. 
This photo of the log piece below does not do the size and girth justice. I can not lift this and doubt that I could with my wife. I want to take this piece to the camp so bad. I'd love to keep it by the fire ring and bust out a chunk as needed. 
So how, you might ask why at this moment am I thinking this is an epic FAIL? I did not get here with my own vehicle hence I have no tools to process this into smaller pieces and I can't lift it. I see no alternative but to leave it behind!

I hang my head in shame and vow never to be without my saw and hatchet! 

I rejoin my family and reluctantly acquiesce to going outlet shipping for kids clothes. First stop we went into ll bean outlet looking for flip flops. In glass case with GPS etc. I caught the glimmer of hand forged Swedish steel -  a Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet labeled "Gerber axe $29.95"! 
I start to sweat, heart pounding. There was a tag in the sheath that said $100!! I flagged an associate and said I was interested if the price was the posted price, not the one previously tucked out of view in the sheath. The cashier said that regardless, since it was in display with the aforementioned price tag that's what I could buy it for!!
Now I had something to bang out some chunks of fatwood with and I didn't even mind my wife going into more stores as long as I couldstay outside and play!

Shaving sharp in a few minutes. Soon I was back at the hotel and heading back to pound wood with my new hatchet Here's the take: bucket full of pieces busted out with the GB and a smaller but carry-able chunk my keen eyed daughter found. Still that giant piece was calling me and I couldn't stop thinking of how I might get it to the car. 
We decided to take a ride for dinner that night. Not far from the hotel we reach a stretch of woods and I begin scanning the woods ahead as I typically do, hoping to catch a glimpse of something cool. This time I did! Noticing a black bear approaching the road from the forest on the opposite side of the road I yelled bear! Immediately I pulled over so maybe the kids could see. Fortunately other drivers noticed as the bear waltzed right into the road and trotted across, between two closely stopped cars. It was pandemonium in my car as my 4 kids went nuts with excitement and so did my black lab! We live in bear country but seeing one is a very rare occurrence. 
Dinner was great and followed by a massive icecream sundae from a local shop - yet another score. Back from dinner with light remaining in the day, the kids and I went to a nearby field to run the dogs. I had my rock sling with me and we found a golfball so some slinging was in order. With my phone handy and my talented daughter I was able to record a long-planned followup video on how to use a sling. Bonus!
Just as we were about to leave for home the next morning, my wife stepped up: she said I know if we leave now and don't try to get that fatwood, you won't stop thinking about it. With her and my 11-year-old son on one end and me on the other, we were able to haul it to the car. It was like moving a heavy piece of solid wood furniture up four flights of stairs. We had to take several breaks. But now I am the proud owner of 100+ pounds of fat wood!
Family, wildlife, bushcraft, good food and good luck all came together to make a standout memorable time for me!

Written by Kevin Gagne

My first axe restoration projects - Collins double bit and Council Tool Dayton

Following my recent fail to acquire a GB SFA from LLBean and some unfortunate financial developments at tax time; I decided to save the money and head out to the shed and see what I might restore. I had a badly rusted 3.5 lb council tool Dayton (age unknown) and an un identified double bit, also 3.5. Only markings on the double bit is text "3 1/2". The council is badly banged up and I have no idea what sort of activity it was subjected to. 

I struggled through the removal of the helves as I don't have a proper work area. I'm following approaches I learned here but I have limited resources. I forgot to take shots before the vinegar bath too! These photos are post bath, and post sanding of the council. I have not sanded the double bit yet. I'll update for feedback as this comes along. I'd like to put a short, maybe 26" on the council tool. 

After a bit of work the double bit reveals a logo. Collins Legitimus. Any idea how old? With a little research and feedback from friends on Bushcraft USA forum, I learned that Collins Legitimus went out of production in 1966 so this is at least as old. I found this example online of a restore of the same Collins head. It's mirror finish is amazing and started out just like mine. Does one need tools to accomplish this I wondered. 
Did a little looking at Lowes and I took a giant leap ahead in power today by investing in a Gator brand sanding attachment for my drill. Actually invest is not the right term - it's only about $5. Yahoo! Now I can take this to the level I want more quickly. The product came with three stick on disks 60, 100 & 150 grit. Starting with 60 grit:
It was quite simple to remove major pits and deep scratches.
Graduated from 60 grit to 100 deciding I was not going to remove more steel.  Pits and deeper scratches that remain, I'm leaving for "character" sake.
I went to hand sanding mode now after finishing 150 grit on drill. Here it is after I did one side by hand with 220 - it's starting to look good!
I printed up a profile guide from the forest service publication "an axe to grind". It's cool! This photo shows where the guide "hits" indicating I've got some meat to remove when I get to filing.
Got both sides sanded to 220 grit. All major scratches are gone except at bit where I believe they are in the file zone and will be cleaned up when sharpening. Below see first pic and current condition. Like a true fool I jumped into this without ever taking the real "before" pic when it was all rusted in the shed!!
I just bought handles for this and the Collins - thanks to BCUSA for the tip on house handle website. I asked people to look at the Collins in the first couple photos. I vinegar bathed it to remove surface rust, but nothing else yet. I'm tempted to leave it's natural patina rather than sand shiny like I'm doing the council - thoughts?

Well after doing the 400 and 600, I did a quick five minutes each with my 1000 and 2000 wet dry sandpapers on the Coincil. I promise I'm not going to be neurotic about trying to keep this shine once this becomes a woods axe. Since this is my very first restore, I wanted to see how far i could take it for experience. Next step going to work on reprofiling the edge using the guide I posted a bit ago and a file.
Go on and follow my progress with Part II
Written by Kevin Gagne

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Paracordist How to Tighten a Paracord Turks Head Knot Tied With a Jig

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Several years ago, I posted a video "Paracordist how to tie a Turks Head knot easily using a jig and paracord for a hiking staff handle" in which I demonstrated a technique for tying turks head knots with paracord using a jig or a "former" (below). 

I learned the technique in an old book I got from my grandfather when I was young - Gibson's Book of Knots and Splices. The most common applications I've used for knots tied in this manner has been the topper knot on a paracord fiskars hatchet handle wrap, and as a decorative top/bottom knots framing a long paracord turks head wrap on a hiking staff. Another fantastic use for this tying technique is to quickly make the "test knot" described in my recent video "Paracordist How to Plan Turks Head Paracord Handle Wrap Project - Leads? Bights? Length of Cord?".

Paracord Turks Head hatchet wrap
Paracord Turks Head hiking staff wrap
Over the years, I've received quite a few requests to make a follow-up video on tightening and finishing the knot (how to hide the ends). Recently, while making a couple of hiking staves for my parents, I decided to record the tightening and finishing process and share it with you! The process can be applied to all types of turks heads and is a perfect compliment to my long paracord turks head wrap how to series.
As always, thanks for taking the time to look - we appreciate it! Please visit my Paracordist YouTube Channel frequently for new How To videos; or better yet Click to Subscribe and get notifications automatically when I upload! Kevin
Written by Kevin Gagne
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Written by Kevin Gagne