Sunday, April 27, 2008

Last Post Here

For some time, I have been quite uninspired to do many blog posts. At least, that is my excuse for my blog sucking :) I didn't like the idea of posts (that I could put a considerable amount of time into) became time sensitive, and just disappeared. I know they are easily found by searching, but sometimes people don't know what they are looking for.

Quite a while ago, I posted an idea about discontinuing posting, in favor of a seperate website. Well, for a variety of reasons, it never went anywhere. Mainly, because I developed the site from scratch, and I wanted to have the same blogging functionality and it was going to be a lot more work for me.

I also selected the domain However, I started the account with Yahoo, and had nothing but trouble. After about 6 calls with tech support, I finally gave up. I find this extremely odd to, because our business website is hosted with Yahoo. Go figure.....

Anyway, in a ticked off rage, I cancelled the account without making the proper arrangements for domain transfer. I am just tired of dealing with, and I decided to select a new domain and new host.

I started playing around with Wordpress, and decided that it gives me everything I need. Mainly:
- The ability to keep all blogging functionality.
- The ability to write and maintain independent articles (or pages), that are not time sensitive.
- Highly customizable menus.

So, the new site is at The Backyard Bushman ( .

I already have several articles written, and even some movies made from when I was planning this project from the beginning. So, even though there is not that much content there now, I should be able to add some real soon.

One of the main reasons for me wanting to start a website like this is knife sharpening. I typically sharpen my knives with a 1x42 belt sander. There are a lot of people that want to learn to do this, and I have spent literally hours sending e-mails to folks. After doing several, and realizing that I kept writing the same thing over and over again, I figured it would be best to write it one final time, and host it somewhere. Not to mention that I have videos showing in detail how to do. Since the videos are already done, hopefully they will be on the site shortly.

I hope you enjoy the new site.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good Ol' Fashion Fun

No Playstations, no Wii's, (I am going to try and keep things that way for as long as I can too) no sitting on your butt watching a movie. Just plain on smashing stuff!!! :)

First, the story behind the video. The weather is finally breaking here, and we were outside all weekend. I was leveling a spot in the back yard. Brendan wanted to help and needed a shovel. I only had one good shovel, so I gave him my military surplus folding shovel/tool.

After digging a hole nearly to China with it (it's just grass......who cares), I showed him some other fun stuff to do with it. Like the slightly sharpened edges, and saw like teeth on it. You would have thought I gave him the world, because he carried the thing around all day. Using it, folding it up, unfolding it, carrying it on his belt, just carrying it around, etc.

Here he is getting ready for our fire that night.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tentipi Varrie 9

Again, I apologize for the crappiness of my pictures. I was using the point and shoot again on these. Hopefully they get the point across though.

Here are a couple different views of the tentipi in use:

I have set the Tentipi up at home, but this was our first real use of it. Setting it up twice, and using it for 5 nights.

The Setup:

Setting this thing up is extremely easy, especially compared to setting up a traditional tent that is even close in size. Large traditional tents generally have a combination of steel poles and LONG fiberglass poles that takes a couple people to set up. Maybe even more if there is wind.

The tipi comes with a pre-measured rope. You put a stake in the ground where the middle of the tipi should be. You hook the pre-measured rope up and walk in a circle to drive 8 stakes in the ground. Not full in, because you need to hook the tipi up. Next, you unroll the tipi and start hooking up the attachment rings to the stakes. Then you can finish driving the stakes in the ground. The ground straps that are hooked to the pegs should be loosened up all the way from your previous use. Then, you go under the tipi and insert the center pole into the holder and push the tipi up. Next, you walk around the outside and tighten down the peg straps. That is enough to get you going and is very quick and easy. From there there are a couple “buttoning up” steps.

The bottom of the tipi is left long at the ground. It can be rolled to the inside of the tipi and staked down with a smaller set of stakes. That is the way I used it. The directions also indicated that the extra material can be turned to the outside and weighted down, or stakes. Once you do that, there is a second strap that on the outside that can be quickly tightened to make everything nice and taught. I have the optional floor which has toggles to attach to the interior of the tipi. It unzips in the center for having an open fire or stove.

The Design:

The tentipi has many features that are unique when compared to a traditional tent.

The material: This particular model is a cotton/polyester blend. Designed to function like a traditional canvas tent, but is not quite the same as canvas. The material is impregnated with waterproofing material, rather than being a complete vapor barrier such as most coated fabrics. The supposed advantage of this is to allow the fabric to breath, and release vapor (reducing condensation) while still remaining water resistant. This can be important while doing things such as cooking inside. During this trip, I did not do anything that would test the breathability of the fabric. I just know that I like the look and feel and apparent durability.

Ventilation: Besides being a breathable material, the tipi has provision for ventilation too. This particular model has 3 lower vents (besides the door) near the ground, and then the top ventilation cap.

The lower vents have screens in them. The upper vent cap has two parts. The larger portion has no screen and is used for regulating an open fire. There is no screen because the theory is that the escaping smoke will keep the bugs from entering. The smaller vent cap has a screen, and is used for general airflow regulation.

This photo shows the lower vent flap staked out so that air can flow in.

This first photo is of the ventilation cap. It is crappy because the angle I wanted had the sun right behind it. But, I wanted to show the flat portion of the cap.

This photo shows the vent cap, but it has a funny bulge in it. That is because there is extra material in the large portion of the cap, with a zipper to pass a stove pipe through.

One of the supposed big advantages of this ventilation is the height differential between air intake and exhaust. Much like a chimney works. On a hot day, with no breeze, the tipi is supposed to still vent fresh air because of this design. While I did not do any real testing, I do know that I last day of camping got above 80 degress, and the tipi was very comfortable inside. Most traditional tents are unbearable with a little heat and the sun hitting them. I would have no issue sleeping in this during the hottest part of that day. But, more to come on that as it gets more use.

One other neat feature of the ventilation is that it is all internally controlled by pulled cords that can be accessible while still lying down. Pull a cord, and a part of the vent opens. Pull another, and it continues to open more. The cords lock in place. Remove the lock, and the vents snap back closed. Pretty nifty.

Other Features: In general, I am just impressed with the craftsmanship. The buckles are all high quality, the zippers, etc. This photo shows one example of that. This is one of the main ground straps. Instead of just being attached to the tipi by single point attachment, it is attached to section of material which integrated into a seem of about 6 inches long. This minimizes stress to any one particular location, and spreads it out over an area.

This is the type of design that seems to have worked its way into every aspect of the tipi. Of course, for the price, I would expect no less.

As I get more and more use with this thing, I will continue to post more. Two things that I am really looking forward to testing are its use in bad weather, and having an open fire. Hopefully soon……..

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tatonka Pots

I bought a 1.6L and 1L Tatonka when I bought my Tentipi out of the UK. I do not know where these are available in the US, and normally I would not justify the shipping cost from the UK. However, adding these two items to my Tentipi order did not change the shipping cost at all. So, I figured I would give them a shot.

First, I wanted to show off my pot stand. I have seen many homemade pot stands for backpacking. But, they are mostly a single piece and curved. I still might make one like that, but I had the idea to make on jointed, so that it would fold up flat. The small pot, lids, handles, trangia stove, and stand still all fit in the large pot.

All of these photos were taken at the "modern" campground. You would think that being a professional photographer and all, my pictures wouldn't be so crappy. But, when I go on vacation, I want to be on vacation : ) So, ALL my vacation were done on a point and shoot.

Here is a close up with the smaller (1L) pot, with lid. The handle happens to be attached to the lid/skillet in this photo.
Here it is farther away, with both pots in the picture.Overall, there isn't too much excitement here. They work as you would expect, are a good thickness of stainless steel and overall are great quality. One interesting thing to note is the locking mechanism for the handle.

The handle has two hooks on one side. When you lift up on the handle, it locks into place. Quite convenient for pouring, and it worked quite well. The handle also locks when you push down, which I didn't quite understand just yet. The only thing it seemed to do for me at this point was get in the way of removing the lid. When in the backcountry sites, I only used the small pot and used it both on open fire and with the stove. I had cut a pot hook for grabbing the hot handle and for pouring. No use for the downward locking feature. In fact, since there would be more clearance for removing the lid with it gone, I had considered cutting off the lock when I got home.

When I got "modern" campground, they did not even want you to scavenge down wood for firewood, so I suppose cutting a green stick for a pot lifter was out of the question :) That is where I figured out the use for the other lock. Not wanting the handle by the hot fire, or simply relying on it not pivoting to stay away from the fire, when you push down, you can lock it in the upright position. Even after staying on the fire for some time, I could grab the handle with my bare hand without it being too hot. Ah ha....there is a reason for the lock. So, I guess the jury is still out. It looks like the lock will stay for now, but I will still have to experiment more.

Here is a picture of the locking mechanism (sorry for the crappy photo):

GA Trip Summary

I plan on doing more gear specific posts here real soon. But, I wanted to give a summary of the trip so that when I reference different areas you know what the heck I am talking about without having to repeat everything.

We just got back from a 9 day trip to Georgia. The first 3 days we spent with our in-laws in the Atlanta area. After that, we took off for the Savannah area.

The first two nights the wife and I put on the backpacks in order to hike into a backcountry site. The hike was only just under two miles, but still pretty good considering we had a 5 year old and a 2 year old that could not be carried in a backpack, since we were both wearing one :) Even though it was not that far, we still had to plan as though it were a long hike.....meals and all that stuff. We slept in the tentipi, but I still brought the Hennessy Hammock for trying out.

After the first two nights, we left for a more modern campground so that we could be more tourists, and see the area. So, some pictures will be in backcountry, and some in the campground. Here we also slept in the tentipi, and the Hennessy was up the whole time as well. It was used for a chair, for relaxing, and I also slept in it one night for testing.

Here are the two views of our backcountry camp site.

Here is the path into the camp site.

On to the gear related stories......

Something New Soon....

I haven't posted much in quite a while. That was mostly due to the fact that I was not doing much except getting prepared for our 9 day vacation in Georgia. Well, we are back now.

We spent 5 nights camping in Georgia. Two nights were in backcountry sites in the middle of the salt water marshes. The other 3 were at a more typical campground. The good news is that I had a chance to try out a few items that I accumulated over the winter. So, as soon as I have a chance to sort out the photos, I will be posting a few comments on the following things:

- The Tentipi Varrie 9
- Hennessy Hammock
- Tatonka 1.6L and 1L Pots

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Aurora Continued......

I took this next picture for a reason. Even though Barkies come sharper than any other knife I have ever seen, I knew that I would blend this secondary bevel just a bit. You can see the light shining off it here:

Well, I got a chance to do it yesterday.

First, I want to note that it is hard to tell in pictures. But, I do all my sharpening and polishing with a belt sander to keep the convex nature. By using a high grit, and multiple angled passes, I can keep it as convex as you like it, along with the natural bending of the belt around the contours that already exist. I follow that up with two leather belts on the sander with fine and finer compounds. The result is a REAL high polish, which I like.

The high polish makes it look in photos that I did more than I really did because of the transition from the satin area of the blade to the highly polished area. I am just noting this because I didn't want anyone mistaking what I did for putting a v-grind on the convex blade shape, which would be a sin. On to the pics....

The real test is in the performance. Since doing this, I have tried to put as much wood in front of this as possible. Not soft stuff either. Hard, dried, maple and oak, knots, etc. I already being happy with the ergonomics of the knife, I am VERY, VERY pleased with steel performance too.

If you like the traditional bushcraft blade shape, like I do, I would not hesitate with this one. It is the best bushcrafter I have used to date.

And yes, before you ask, I will sharpening knives if you want to send them to me.