Thursday, 19 October 2017

Whittling to pass the time

I was waiting for a group of very late students to arrive yesterday morning and while I waited I made this. It was a fun distraction for a few minutes and has the added advantage of entertaining my children when I take it home.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Making char cloth

One of the simplest but most useful skills of bushcraft. Char cloth makes the most of the effort to make a fire by preparing tinder for many more after it. Take the cloth you want to char, it must be 100% natural material; cotton, linen, silk etc... Polyester will melt. Place it in a foreproof container, in this case a baby milk can (I have charred matterial in other more primitive containers such as large shells as well). Make sure you can tightly close the lid to stop air getting in. As you restrict the air that can get to the cloth it will become charred rather than burned. Place your container in the fire, this was quite a large batch so it was in the fire for about fifteen minutes. Once its off the fire allow it to cool, if you take the lid off too soon it will burst into flames and be ruined. Once its cool though it can be broken up and used for flint and steel fire lighting.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Reverse wrap cord

Producing useful cord from natural material is an important bushcraft skill and one of the best raw materials you can hope to work with is lime bast. Prepared from the inner bark of the lime tree through a process called retting (partial fermentation in water) the fibres produced are long, strong and flexible. I prepare a batch most Summers as outside of the spring and summer months it impossible to collect in the desired quantities as the bark can't be easily separated from the tree. 

Bast after processing and drying. 
A small coil of finished lime bard cord made using the reverse wrap method. 
To make reverse wrap cord take a bundle of fibres. 
Find the centre of the bundle and twist until a kink forms. 
Now twisting one half of the bundle before wrapping the other over it creates this tightly coiled cord which looks fairly similar to cord you might buy at B&Q. For more information on how to make this check out the Bushcraft Education Blogs Bushcraft Basics pages.  

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Green Woodwork Homework

My oldest son has been given some homework to study Victorian toys and has had to make a peg dolly. So we started by making some pegs. 
He helped make these simple pegs. They are made out of a hazel rod each one has a small brass nail driven through the portion which still has the bark on. This was Michael's job, this nail stops the peg splitting along it's whole length. Michael also helped peel the bark off the pegs.

Once the pegs were nailed and peeled they were split, the split runs at 90 degrees to the direction the nail is driven so that the pegs don't split the whole way. The bottom of each 'prong' of the pegs is tapered slightly so they can fit easily over a washing line or in the case of Michaels homework so that the trousers of his peg doll fit on the pegs 'legs'.

The pegs work niceley.
The next job will be to make the clothes for his doll and making the pegs was a fun little green woodwork project. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Bushcraft with children; wild food and nature

I write regular articles for Bushcraft and Survival Magazine on the topic of bushcraft with children. Mainly because I have a profound belief that time outdoors in nature and engaging with traditional skills is good, indeed vital, for childrens development. Also partly because I love practicing bushcraft with my children and want to share ideas with others.

My children get to do a lot more bushcraft than you see in the magazine though. Here is a snapshot of this weeks fun;

Dusk rasberry picking.
Backgarden foraging for fat hen, redshanks, penny cress and chickweed.
Eating borage flowers.
Finding a bay bolete

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Tinder... not the app

A selection of natural tinder ready for fire lighting. Birch bark, cat tail down and willow down. Some of the cat tail down has been charred ready for fire lighting with a flint and steel.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Aclimatization

Having just moved to Scotland I'm getting to learn my surroundings and part of that has involved a little swatting up on some of the plants which were not so common in my last stomping grounds in Cheshire.

Although wood avens were common where I last lived I didn't see water avens very often. They are larger and have these drooped flowers.
Water aven flower.
Broom
Tormentil
Milkwort

There has been more obviousley but that's it for now.