Tuesday, 25 February 2020

A Tool Bag for the Woods

I made this woodcraftin’ tool bag a while ago but have recently added some extras to the original.

It’s based on the canvas bucksaw and axe combination carriers I’ve seen elsewhere, but with more pockets and sleeves to fit an entire carving tool kit in! I've used mainly canvas but also some recycled straps and QR buckles from an old Berghaus rucksack.

The concept is that when I'm travelling light, only taking a haversack with the essentials into the woods, this bag can be slung over the shoulder (or strapped to the side of a rucksack when carrying a full compliment of gear) as a standalone tool kit, separate from my cheese and pickle sandwiches. Everything stowed safely and neatly in its own place.

The various pockets and sleeves are currently holding... 

2.  Oak takedown bucksaw with green and seasoned wood blades

3.  Svante Djarv spoon knives (r & l handed)

4.  Yew handled whittling knife

5.  Chippies pencil, ceramic slip stones for straight and curved blades plus some wet & dry paper

6.  Opinel folding saw

7.  Ben Orford crook knife with longer handle for hollowing cups and bowls

8. Ben Orfordmocotaugan

9. Favourite home made whittling knife

10. Little BenOrford pick knife with own yew handle

This little lot can help me turn out all manner of spoons, cups and bowls but is neatly packed and easily carried; a lightweight solution to the standard tool box for mobile wood carving adventures! 

Possible additions for additional carpentry capers would be some curved gouges, straight chisels and an auger set. Might need to fit some extra pockets... 

Hope you like it - add one to your projects list! 😁

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Do or DIY...

Do or DIY...

I love this time of year! Although the daylight hours are shorter, the weather cold and often damp, it’s the perfect season to wrap up warm, batten down the hatches and get craftin’!

However, I can't hide indoors all winter and those same shorter, colder days spent outside at the mercy of the soggy British weather always trigger a want for better, warmer, updated kit.

This annual winter requirement for good gear that really works seems to tie in perfectly with those long, dark winter evenings and cold, rainy days trapped indoors. A kind of evolutionary symbiosis between the need for stuff and the opportunity to make stuff that’s been repeated year on year, since the first person decided ‘it’s a bit fresh outside the cave, let’s spend this evening making those furs into a coat’. 

It has been said that the invention of the bone needle was one of our most significant game changers, allowing aforementioned furs to be properly tailored, maintained and repaired in order to keep body heat in and cold weather out.  Even just a couple of generations ago, it was common place for our more thrifty grand-parents to possess this make do and mend mind-set, darning socks, frantically knitting scarves, improvising and inventing whenever the need arose.  This is most definitely a quality to be admired and aspire to rather than just viewed as a nostalgic memory; especially in recent years as we struggle to reverse the effects of several decades trapped in what we now view clearly as an increasingly throw-away society.

Nowadays many outdoor clothing manufacturers are making moves to embrace recycled, natural and more sustainable materials, however big outdoor brands are still constantly having to re-invent the wheel to maintain a foothold in the retail marketplace, frequently updating designs and changing colour schemes to stay ahead of the game and give us all something new and shiny to lust after.

Historically I’m not completely immune to the lure of shiny new crap I don’t really need but as a ‘maker’ I do feel I’m slightly more resilient to the hypnotic power of outdoor gear advertising, having the choice to make my own version by buying materials cheaply, recycling or ideally utilising renewable and free natural resources. Often my time is the only significant cost!

In fact I’ve become almost smugly militant about not buying new gear when I know I could make something myself to fulfil the same task.

Having said that, I do accept that it’s extremely difficult to resist the constant and subliminal drip feed of the advertisers, informing us that it will be absolutely impossible to enjoy the great outdoors without the latest folding, titanium, marshmallow toasting fork. Luckily amongst the bushcraft community, to balance this nonsense out there’s also the terrifying horror of being thought of as having ‘all the gear but no idea’. Nobody wants to be that guy! But…. you do still want the shiny gear….. What better way to affirm your genuine connection with the hardcore bushcrafters of yesteryear than actually making the gear?!

It’s impossible to have no idea if you’ve actually made the gear...

So we’ve established a certain level of ‘smugness’ on my part when it comes to all of the above, but recently I wondered, how ‘DIY’ am I when it comes to outdoor kit? I know how to sew clothing and footwear, weave a basket or two and craft wood, clay and bark into all sorts of interesting things but at what point can someone feel completely self-reliant, enough to provide EVERYTHING they need? Even then, is it all genuinely practical and useable in the modern day? It turns out there’s definitely room for improvement before I’m qualified to fully engage smug mode, but I reckon I'm heading down the right path

But for now, I’ve compiled a list of the self-made kit that I use most regularly (which if you’ve spent time with me in the woods you’ll no doubt be familiar with), plus some information on how and why I made them; they all have their own story to tell. I deliberately haven’t included any items that border on ‘historical re-enactment’ , are only designed for a very particular task or look really pretty but are often left on the shelf in favour of a more practical alternative. These are purely DIY kit items in constant use, that have proved themselves to be just as good, if not better than any off the shelf, possibly mass produced alternative.

It’s worth pointing out that I’ve received very little formal training to make the majority of the items listed, the joy of discovery and learning through doing being a major part of the attraction. With that in mind, I hope any fledgling makers out there will see that their weird compulsion to ‘make stuff’ can indeed have a practical application and anyone with a will, can get involved.

For those of you that maybe haven’t got the time to get into making but do appreciate hand-made kit and can recognise it’s many benefits in terms of it's high quality, the makers attention to detail, lower environmental impact or just ‘keeping hard won skills alive’, there are crafts people and cottage industries out there doing all of the above just for you! In reading this you MUST appreciate the hard work and devotion that goes into everything they do; check ‘em out when you get the chance! 
However, if you are keen to learn more about DIY kit, read on. For me, making my own gear has always been an extension of my interest in bushcraft, survival and self-reliance. I’m hoping to explore this further and in more depth in a follow up book (or books) to the Wilderness Survival Guide. 


1.   Firstly, the billy can is representative of a time that seems to have come and gone, Myself and other long standing campfire enthusiasts often lament it’s passing and use it as an example when harking back to the ‘good old days’ of survival training and bushcraft. It’s just a stainless steel coffee tin from a kitchen shop, with a fencing wire bail handle and a simply carved wooden knob. Using a coffee tin as a billy can was not my idea but it’s a good one and prior to this I (and others) used old catering bean cans and similar recycled metal containers to cook up a stew over the campfire. Basically it was a time when we recognised a need for a certain bit of kit and set about making or improvising our own, which worked just fine! At best, you would set out on a long and drawn out search through boot sales and army surplus shops looking for something that would ‘nearly’ do the job. Nowadays, a quick Google search and a browse through Amazon’s vast virtual warehouse and a day later, delivered to your very door is the latest all singing, all dancing mega billycan mark seven ‘sport version’ endorsed by an outdoory celeb.    I can’t help feeling as though a big part of the process of recognising a need for something and then coming up with a solution, has been somewhat lost along the way.

2.  The birch spoon is also representative, but of all the many wooden utensils I’ve carved for the kitchen at home and also the base camp kitchen in the woods (the beauty of carving your own spatulas and stirring spoons is that they’re so quick and easy to knock up it would be a crime to buy the factory made treen from the supermarket, no matter how cheap it might be), however, this one is my current favourite, often carried as part of a little demo kit to pass round on foraging walks

3.  Wooden cup or ‘kuksa’.  Although it doesn’t look it anymore, this cup is also carved from birch. It was carved from semi-seasoned wood, out in the forest using an axe, knife and a small crook knife to hollow it out. I used it for a bit (until my next favourite came along – I have a string of ex-cupfriends, something I’m not proud of). I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye so it spent the next few years hanging off the main kettle tripod in camp as a ladle, hence the lush wood smoke stained patina. Always confusing when you bump into your ex and they’re all tanned and smelling gorgeous…

4.  Take down wooden bucksaw – this one is made from seasoned oak, with a solid mortice and tenon construction. A no nonsense, lightweight  frame saw for sectioning quite hefty timber, which comes apart and can be carried unobtrusively in a slim canvas sleeve. An age old design but this one’s mine

5.  Buckskin Moccasins. I have lots of moccs now but these must be getting on for nine years old. I’d made simpler versions prior to these, but this style was an itch I’d been needing to scratch for a while. They were based on the cartoony illustrations of the woodland moccasins I’d coveted from the Ellsworth Jaeger book ‘Wildwood Wisdom’ but with a few of my own additions (sewn in tongue, rubber soles). I also made the buckskin first from a fallow deer hide using brains, smoke and elbow grease, so it feels as if I actually conceived and gave birth to them!! I wear them in the woods when we’re doing something sneaky or my other footwear needs to dry out but they’re lightweight and squishy enough to be always there when I need them, like a pair of comfortable old slippers...but don’t call them slippers!

6.  DPM camouflage basha tarp. I made this lightweight tarp around fifteen years ago, having used something similar (but smaller and also heavier!) in the Army. It was probably the largest thing I’d made using a sewing machine up to that point, but despite this, was quite easy to put together. I bought the PU nylon and iron on seam sealing tape from Point North (https://www.profabrics.co.uk/ ) and opted for guy line loops made from the same material to keep the design simple and minimalist. Although I’ve since moved onto other tarps, this one is loaned out regularly to visiting course students and it’s still going strong!

7.  Leather belt and knife sheath. This belt is becoming a bit like Triggers broom (“I’ve had the same broom for twenty years but it’s had 17 new heads and 14 new handles”). The buckle is from a belt I bought about thirty years ago and once it seemingly came to the end of it’s days, it was a relatively easy job just to replace the leather part and carry on wearing it. Soon the buckle will need replacing and then the leather again and so it’ll continue until I pass it onto my children for them to continue the never ending tradition. The sad truth is that when I replaced the leather in my early thirties, I added a good amount of extra length so it could be used as a knife strop. I’m not sure where that extra leather has gone now that I’m past my mid-forties…perhaps the belt has shrunk…yep it’s definitely shrunk…

The knife sheath was made from the same veg tan saddlery leather and has happily held my main belt knife for the best part of a decade. 

8.  Tool roll and carving kit. I needed a compact but tough tool roll for my carving kit so it could be easily included or excluded from my standard outdoor equipment depending on my plans. One neat compact little unit, everything in it's place, nothing forgotten. The green canvas came from an old army camp bed and the QR buckle and strap up-cycled from an old Berghaus rucksack. Additional home-made kit that lies nestled within are my whittling knives. The blades are from several different sources but the handles are home made from box, yew and beech. The sheaths are also home-made from cow hide and folded birch bark 

9.  Buckskin haversack, duffle bag, folding saw sheath and knife sheath.  I love to make buckskin but I REALLY love making useable, practical kit from it. Buckskin moccasins and clothing have their place and look fantastic but I’m unlikely to wear them all the time. However these bags are in constant daily use and will easily outlast their cordura or canvas counterparts. The haversack, complete with oak bark tan shoulder strap, chunky thong stitching and antler buttons recently travelled to Holland with me as hand luggage. Not one person in the airport started whistling the theme tune from ‘Last of the Mohicans’ at me, in fact I’m positive everyone wanted to know where they could buy one, but were probably too polite to ask! 

The buckskin duffle was originally tasked with carrying my water bottle and mug, first aid kit, waterproof jacket, lunch – my day to day essentials in the woods. The haversack has now willingly accepted that role leaving the duffle to dutifully deal with carrying my sewing and leatherworking kit plus a project or two.  When I tan a large fallow buck hide, I accept that the thick neck is not going to end up velvety soft (lazy ....or sensible?..). However, this thicker, stiffer section makes great sheaths as they require a little extra rigidity and strength. The little buckskin neck knife sheath feels warm and pleasant next to the skin and the belt sheath holding the Silky saw is perfect for the job, tough, quick drying and as cool as a penguins undercarriage.

10.  Pacing beads.  These are used when navigating over distance in poor visibility. Basically you count your paces along a certain bearing or route which gives you a fairly accurate indication of how far you’ve travelled. This valuable info is then relayed to the map so you can constantly check where you should be, even if you can't pick out distant landmarks on the ground

To make this job easier, each leg is broken down into 100 metre chunks and every time one of those chunks is completed, a single bead is moved to the other end of the cord they hang off. If you lose count, you can refer back to the beads. You can buy military looking pacing beads or string several cord-locs onto some colourful paracord. Of course, I painstakingly hand carved these from a hazel stick after first, drilling carefully through the centre, then strung them all onto a leather cord. It was fun to do and aside from their practical use, they break up the otherwise ‘military’ appearance of an army green rucksack. I suppose I'm a bit like the boring bloke in the office, sporting surfer bracelets with his suit and tie. “Check me out everyone – I’m way more interesting than you might think


11.  Wool gilet.  I love a gilet – such a practical bit of clothing when working in the woods! This one was made from an old wool blanket, dyed and boil washed to thicken it up. Warm wool clothing has long been a favourite for people who work outdoors. The close weave, blanket-like wool works well as an outer garment too as it’s tough and hardwearing and will still keep you warm if it gets damp in the rain. It can also be treated with lanolin to increase weatherproofing. However, the long sleeved, long tailed, hooded coats can be bulky if carried rather than worn. The gilet is a great way of getting a bit of wool in your life and cutting down on bulk in your rucksack at the same time. 

I find that I wear one a lot more than I’d wear a long sleeved wool shirt and because I wear them so often, I added some Ventile shoulder protection to this one to give it a better chance of shrugging off the odd shower. If you’re carrying a single layer ventile smock or jacket as your weatherproof layer, this wool/ventile combo makes the perfect under layer giving you a second layer of ventile on the shoulders and then warm wool between you and the ventile cotton (which although will have swelled it’s fibres to stop anymore water getting through, will still feel cold and damp to the touch). 

12.  Weatherproof hooded smocks – Ventile cotton and breathable waterproof fabric.  One of the attractions of survival, bushcraft and self-reliance as a life style is the comforting feeling of being able to provide. At its most basic and introductory level, this would mean providing shelter and warmth, a fundamental human need. Successfully crafting my own weatherproof outer layers, for me, is an extension of that ability to find or build shelter. In being able to create my own personal micro-climate, regardless of the weather, I’m positively taking charge of my own destiny! So, one way or another, making my own weather proof layers was inevitable; but there is another reason. 

Probably due to all of the above points, a good weatherproof jacket seems to be one of the most costly investments when getting kitted up for the great outdoors! Out of all the items I've listed here, these are probably the only ones that have been self-made in order to save a few quid. There are some amazingly well designed and constructed jackets out there today but as a self- employed parent of two, they are pretty much all well outside my budget. However, the amazing weatherproof fabrics they’re made from can be bought off the roll (in most cases, unless the fabric has been developed and patented by the company that makes the clothing…but you’ll find something similar) so if you have the time and a sewing machine (mine cost about fifty quid from Argos) you can have fun making your own. 

Start with something simple, like a poncho – an incredibly useful garment and shelter all in one! These two smocks are again representative of the many I’ve made over the years, including as gifts for friends and family (the image below shows a pair of cosy wool lined, ventile salopettes I made for my son from upcycled clothing). Each time I make another the design improves and more features are added; upgrades that are borne from experience and necessity rather than influenced by fashions.

13.  Wool ‘jumper’ hat.   There’s a bit of a standing joke here at Wilderness Survival Skills that whenever I have a nice wool jumper, at some point it’ll inevitably shrink and at that point it’ll be donated to one particular, more diminutive friend. However, I really didn’t want to give this one up so I kept it and turned it into a hat! It’s built around, and stitched to a thin fleece liner hat I already had so is one of the warmest hats I’ve ever owned. Hats like this are a great starter project that get you used to turning measurements and flat patterns into a three dimensional object. They don’t use much fabric and if you muck it up, you won’t have invested as much time as a jacket…and there’s always someone with a smaller or larger head you can give it to!

14.  Leather axe mask for a small forest axe.  This axe mask probably isn’t one of my neatest pieces, but it was made a long time ago out of necessity rather than wanting to ‘upgrade’ the one it came with. It also serves as a constant reminder of an embarrassing error that I’ll happily pass onto students as an example of how easily an accident can happen when using sharp tools outdoors. To cut a long story short…Scotland in November…instructing on a five day course…limbing a fallen fir tree…tired…hungry…getting dark…in a hurry…forgot to take off the axe mask and ended up chopping right through it, rivets and leather flying everywhere.  Still, nobody got hurt (apart from the axe edge and my pride) and sometimes you need a good reason to make new stuff!

15.  Tipi and half liner.  This was a big project! I was keen to have a sort of ‘base camp’ tent that I could sleep in, store kit in, sit and move around in if the weather was bad and would be able to sleep me plus two kids comfortably or even fit a wood burning stove in winter. It had to be big enough to do all of these things but also small and light enough to hike with alongside my standard outdoor kit. I can trim the weight down further by improvising pegs and a pole from wood I gather once on site or even suspending the tipi from an overhead branch, therefore doing away with the need for a central pole. Finished packed weight of the outer and liner is around 3.5kg.  It’s six sided, single skin PU nylon in a wonderful camouflage of green and black splodges (perfect in a dappled coppice woodland) with sealed seams, extra guying off points, a large door and a removable ‘hat’ if more ventilation is needed.

I got lucky with the Danish camouflage waterproof fabric and even more so as it was on offer in a sale – there was just enough for the size I was after! This meant I could pay a bit more for the tough, rubberized groundsheet material and the insect proof netting needed to make the half sized, fully enclosed inner compartment.  Getting all the angles right and maximising the amount of fabric I had, to end up with the largest size finished tipi I could, was certainly a head scratcher, but it all came together nicely in the end! The design certainly isn’t my own and there are similar products already available, but this one is lighter than many you can buy online, cost about a tenth of the price of an off the peg tipi and I’m pretty sure nobody else has one in such a lovely camouflage pattern. It’s unique! 

16.  Lastly...various sewing machine projects, new and old – padded cordura pouches for penknives, compasses and the roll top carry bag for my tipi, a tough but lightweight canvas and ripstop fabric cookset pouch, a waterproof first aid and emergency kit belt pouch plus pertex water filter bag attached to the integral QR belt.

I’ve lumped all these sewing projects together as, although the older ones have been kicking about in my kit for years and others are recent additions, they have all been made specifically to fulfil a task when I could have just as easily have bought something similar for a few quid. However, these are bespoke, made just for that task. They often have little extra touches I can't find anywhere else (additional pockets, straps, padding etc) and they’re small enough that I generally have offcuts from previous projects that will do the job or I can upcycle something else I don’t use anymore. They’re relatively quick and easy to put together and in making them, I am recognising a need for a certain kit item and then finding the solution myself...

Just like the old days!

In summary...

One factor I’ve noticed that seems to bother all amateur makers, (including myself in the past) is a concern that you’re not doing it ‘right’. I’m not sure there is ever a ‘right way’ – just YOUR way! If it works it then it must be the right way! If there’s a better way you’ll discover it for yourself at some point. I couldn’t tell you the names of many of the stitches and seams that I use, but they work for me. When you’ve figured out how to do something all by yourself, through trial and error, you own that technique! There’s no better way to learn and whatever it is you’ve made will be way more valuable to you than anything you could ever buy in the shops!

Happy craftin' !

Monday, 31 December 2018

Making fire using just one log, an axe and a fire steel

This is a worthy challenge as it tests not only your skill with an axe but also your ability to make a fire using only natural materials in cold, damp conditions.

Ok, so there was just a very light drizzle in the breeze on this late December afternoon but most natural tinders in the woods capable of lighting from a fire steel spark, were pretty cold and damp...(birch bark would probably still have lit with some preparation). But this was a training exercise! Train hard, fight easy as they say!! When everything in the woods is damp, your best bet is to fall back on standing dead wood – cutting and splitting down a larger log to take advantage of the dry wood inside. This takes more time and effort to process into all the fire making materials you'll need to create a warming blaze, but it’s more likely to succeed than fiddling about with cold, damp bark and twigs.

The axe of choice was my hatchet made by Alex Pole. It’s relatively light compared to most axes carried for general bushcrafting work. It feels light in the hand and in the pack too and the handle’s short enough to sit comfortably inside a typical daypack, even with the lid cinched down as low as possible.  You could almost forget you were carrying it!

My dead standing wood of choice in these Dorset woods was spruce. Straight grained (if cut between the branch knots) it would split easily, hopefully with minimal twist and would carve predictably. Not only that, it burns with a strong, bright flame due to the high amount of resin it contains. It’s certainly not the best fuel wood if others are available but on a damp day, the above qualities should ensure me of a quick, hot fire. Oak, ash and beech logs, all the slower burning fuels would be added after.

I knew the hatchet, although relatively small was more than capable of splitting a 4” diameter straight grained log. For accuracy, (and due to the lack of a decent splitting block) I used the hatchet as a splitting wedge initially, tapping it right into the centre line of the log with another piece of dead wood as a makeshift mallet. Once buried in the log’s end grain it only took a couple of whacks to split the spruce cleanly down the middle (for safety, make sure you are looking at the cheek of the axe rather than the poll when using an axe as a splitting wedge, so the cutting edge swings away to the side of your body rather than back towards it). Each split half was again split down the middle, this time by placing axe head, cutting edge against the centre of the split section and clamping both axe handle and log together with both hands. A quick whack of log and axe against a fallen dead branch saw the half log split cleanly at the point where the axe head had been held against it. A slight twist of the half log against the axe head and the split continued all the way through leaving me with two quarters of a log.

I continued with this same process, bringing axe and log section together with a whack against the dead branch until the whole log had been split into kindling of differing sizes. I needed some nice thin splints so for those I employed the slightly different technique of using the axe head, partially buried in the dead branch as a cleave, pushing the much thinner wood against the blade to control the split until it sprung apart with a satisfying ‘pop’ (careful here as you’re working towards the sharp blade; take it easy and pull the last part from the other side of the axe rather than continue pushing straight onto the cutting edge)

Most hatchets or small axes are capable of producing split wood if used this way, however I wanted to continue reducing the seasoned log down to paper thin shavings, known as ‘feathering’ the wood. If I could get the shavings thin and wispy enough, they would serve as my dry tinder, hopefully catching the sparks from my fire steel to become flame. Usually this would be a job for the knife with it’s thinner (usually sharper) blade. However, even though as a chopping and splitting tool the Alex Pole hatchet has a slightly convex cutting edge for strength, it’s damn sharp so I knew with some adjustments to my usual carving angles, it would still effectively feather the seasoned wood into a cluster of fine wood shavings. A knife is also more controllable with one hand – it’s small and balanced and pretty much designed for carving and whittling. This particular hatchet head is still small and light enough to carve thin shavings but I needed to use both hands for control. Cutting your log overly long at the start is a useful tip here as it means you can clamp the wood about to be feathered, between abdomen  and a tree stump and leave both hands free for controlling the axe head, a bit like a very wide, short chisel. Again, be careful here. Always double and triple check where that axe head is heading if the wood slips or breaks. I was kneeling, slightly side on and upright, never working directly over, or pushing the cutting edge towards my own legs. Cutting your log as long as possible gives more safe working room, well away from your important fleshy bits.  Also important for fire lighting success, I made sure any thin shavings that became detached from the wood, landed somewhere dry so they could be added to the fire in it’s early stages. Lay down a coat to catch them.

For this particular challenge, I was happy with just the one good feather stick plus a big handful of wood shavings and some nice, thin splints. If lighting the fire meant the difference between life and death, I’d have definitely made a couple more feather sticks. Some of the thicker sections of split spruce wood became my platform on which to build the fire and the remaining kindling sat around the edges, dry and ready.

My Swedish fire steel is carried with my belt knife and so doesn’t have the original metal striker attached (the sharp spine of my knife is used to create sparks instead). Not wanting to use my knife as I felt it contravened the rules of the challenge, I looked around the woodland floor and found a convenient broken shard of flint to use as the hard, sharp edge to scrape sparks from the ferrocium rod. Again, I found the best way to hold the extra-long feather stick was clamped between abdomen and tree stump, looking down at the base of the upside down curly, cluster of wood shavings. This left both hands free to work the flint and fire steel, showering sparks down onto the feathered wood. I’d made an effort to shave the last few shavings as fine as I possibly could with the axe. You want the finest shavings sitting just where the sparks will land.
After a few showers of sparks, one of the shavings caught. Note; trying to nurture a fire in it’s infancy and operate an iPhone at the same time isn’t the best way to guarantee fire lighting success! However, somehow a short video of the burning feather stick AND fire was achieved all at once (a fine example of multi tasking).  I added just enough of the spruce splints to establish a sound and satisfactory fire and enjoy it’s warmth, before pulling the sticks apart to cool, dowsing the area with water and packing up the remaining kindling in my pack to light the wood burner with that evening.

So, lessons learnt? Well, if you spend time outdoors in the winter and a campfire features regularly in your activities, get yourself a good axe and learn how to use it! Practicing with challenges like these, I know that if all I had were an axe and a fire steel, I could still make fire in the damp, winter woods. It’s important to know from hard won experience, that you can really do these things; confidence in your abilities and a positive approach = half the battle won! Regular practice with your sharp tools is also essential for safety. Lastly, keep your axe sharp and hone those axe skills!! With a not so sharp axe and a basic level of axe knowhow, I could’ve created the split kindling…but probably not the feathered tinder. If you can use an axe safely and know how to light a fire, give this challenge a go. I’d love to hear how you get on!   


The axe and it's safe and efficient use, maintenance and sharpening is covered on the following workshops running in 2019…
Wood Carving & Whittling Workshop - Part 2

Bows & Arrows workshop
And of course the Axe Forging workshops

All weather fire lighting in detail is covered on…
Oh...and even the groovy, little haversack has it's own workshop too...

Please follow the links for more information
I hope to see you there!