Monday, October 29, 2007

Koster Nessmuk

This is going to seem odd. But the day before I found out that I won the Koster Bushcraft knife, I made a straight up trade deal for a Koster Nessmuk. Well, it came……

All I have to say is this thing rocks! I really did not think that I would like it. But, I traded with the attitude that I wasn’t using the knife I traded it for anyway, so what do I have to lose?

I am not going to mention here how many knives I have, because it is borderline ridiculous. Let’s just say that it is a tough crowd, and this one has gone straight to the top of my list. Thickness, sharpness all that good stuff is on par with most things that I have. The fit in the hand is perfect, but there is something else I can’t put my finger on. I don’t know if it is the blade shape or what it is, but the thing just cuts are carves like mad.

Being that I have so many 4-5 inch knives, and the Koster contest winner coming, I think I have to have a full out bushcraft knife showdown. More to come on that.

Take a good look at this one. I won’t look like this for long at all……….

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lucky Me!

I won a prototype knife!

Custom knife maker Dan Koster was having a contest at his section of Blade Forums. The contest was to submit ideas for him to design his next knife, a bushcraft knife.

I replied with my ideas. I did not think it was anything spectacular or anything. But the next thing you know, I got an email with a link to the thread saying that "I had won!"

So, not only is the knife being made with my ideas in mind, I am getting the first one free!

Thank you Dan. I am sure I will be posting here and elsewhere about the knife once I get it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Power of the Pocket Ax

It should be of no surprise to anyone that I am a knife nut. If I am not playing with them, I am sharpening them. If I am not doing that, I am making sheaths for them.

If you ever happen across any knife or bushcraft forum, you are bound to come across a recent argument on the age old topic of what is better: “A large knife, or an ax?” For the uninitiated, when I say “ax” I do not necessary mean a full size felling ax. The smaller “pocket ax” is still an ax. I have a problem with calling it a hatchet.

Opinions are going to vary based on location. For example, I really do not think that you would want an ax in the jungle. But, I have to admit, for all the things that I can think of, and that I regularly do, I have always preferred the large knife. It has just seemed more versatile to me.

Over the past couple of years, I have learned more and more about what you can really do with an ax. Even a small ax. It became clear that my original assessment was not really accurate. I mean, how can I compare two things If I don’t know as much as possible about one of them?

Reading Old Jimbo’s website, I came across a good demonstration of what can be done, even with a pocket ax, by a knowledgeable person.

Photo courtesy of Old Jimbo’s website.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Backyard Treasure Hunting

Brendan is always digging in the same spot in the back yard for treasure. We have gone Geocaching quite a bit, but it is hard to explain using the compass and GPS together when finding those treasures. So, I decided to make up our own backyard treasure hunting game for him this weekend. Hopefully, he will unknowingly learn how to use a compass in the process.

First, I took a 35mm film can, and hid a prize in it. Then, I buried it in the back yard. I drew out a map of the backyard and then did the following:

- Picked a starting point.

- Converted number of Brendan steps to the number of my steps.

- Picked a compass bearing and paced it out.

- Converted that to Brendan steps.

- I repeated the bearing thing two more times. I didn’t want to just point him straight to the treasure.

- I tried to pick even bearings that were on the compass dial. Trying to count out bearings on a small compass dial is a bit much for a 5 year old.

- I drew this all on the map.

That was it. We started, and I helped him read the numbers on the compass until we found treasure.

He wanted to do it again and again, except he started pulling out things from his tackle box (rubber worms) for treasures. He also wanted to hide the treasure himself and pick the starting point. I helped him create the map and of course he didn’t have any trouble finding his own stuff.

Overall, it was pretty fun. We will have to do it on a larger scale soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fusion Steel Heart Sheath

I have not had much time to do this sort of thing lately. The days are too nice, there are too many fun things to do outside this time of year, and we have been super busy with photos.

However, this one was for a friend in Georgia. I wanted to try and get it done for him before his camping season gets into full swing.

The sheath style is a dangler. It is supposed to pivot with your hip. There is a leg tie down spot on the back if necessary. Also, the top belt loop can be removed, and I plan on sending him a shoulder strap for it soon. The ring allows for a lot of versatile carry options.

That is also a "Light My Fire" Army sized firesteel sewn into the front.

Here it is....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nessmuk Quote

I recently read a work called Woodcraft and Camping by George Washington Sears, otherwise known by his given Indian name of Nessmuk. The work is over a century old, but I really liked the following quote from the book, and it just goes to show you that things were not so different over a century ago.

“With a large majority of prospective tourists and outers, “camping out” is a leading factor in the summer vacation. And during the long winter months they are prone to collect in little knots and talk much of camps, fishing, hunting, and “roughing it.” The last phrase is very popular and always cropping out in the talks on matters pertaining to a vacation in the woods. I dislike the phrase. We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed – with the necessity always present on being on time and up to our work; of providing for the dependent ones; of keeping up, catching up, or getting left. Alas for the life-long battle, whose bravest slogan is bread.”

- George Washington Sears (Nessmuk); Woodcraft and Camping

I am currently reading a similar book by Kephart, who was heavily influenced by Nessmuk. I am sure I will have some later posts on that book. But, it is a BIG book.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I Polished My Marbles

Marbles is a knife company, by the way : )

This is a knife that I have had around for awhile. It has a lot of sentimental value. Marbles is a company that used to make knives in Michigan's UP. You could stop in right at the factory and buy one. Today, I think someone bought out the company. While they are still making similar knives, I can no longer be sure where they are made :(

Anyway, Jen and I bought this one at the factory on her first UP camping trip we went on way back when. That is one of the reasons I liked it so much.

A few years ago, I shot a deer up in the UP in the late morning. We hunt sun up to sundown there, and I was miles away from my friends and camp. I field dressed the deer, but forgot a little bone saw that I usually carry to cut the pelvic bone. So, I decided to just cut through it, which probably would have been fine. But, my wrist slipped, and I twisted the blade taking a chip out.

I was pretty bummed. At the time, and even recently, this type of repair was beyond my abilities. Being anal about a chip in the blade, I knew I probably would not use this knife again, and considered it ruined.

This knife also has a convex edge on it. Since I now considered this knife "ruined" I figured I would practice my convex sharpening on it, with a mousepad and sandpaper. I got it sharp, but managed to scratch the heck out of the blade. You can see the scratches and the chip in the first two pictures.

A closer view of the chip.

Today, I decide to fix the knife up, and put the original convex edge back on using a belt sander. I really polished the edge up, and wish I would have spent more time taking the pictures to really show that. Here are the after pictures.

I couldn't have been happier with the way this turned out. Not only is the chip gone, but the knife is much sharper than it has ever been before. I look forward to getting to use it again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dutch Oven Cooking

This weekend we went camping with Jen’s girly group from the city. We stayed local so that other non-campers could join in the events. So, we were not roughing it or anything, but we were still camping. I got a chance to use my dutch ovens a bit, which is always fun.

I have two ovens, a 10 inch diameter and a 12 inch diameter one. I usually use them both while we are camping with the family. But, many of the available dutch oven recipes are meant to feed a large group of people. So I have been forced to adapt other recipes for the dutch oven while we camp. Usually I do the standard stuff….cinnamon rolls for breakfast, chicken and rice, etc.

This weekend I got to do some stuff I hadn’t done in a while, or at all. For the group pot luck, I made a chicken pot pie in one. Basically chicken, vegetables, potatoes, gravy, and a crust on top.

For desert, I made peach cobbler in the smaller oven. It is amazingly simple to do, but turns out just unbelievable. I think that was the most popular thing I made.

The next morning everyone pitched in to do breakfast for the group. Someone else browned up sausage patties, and I made biscuits in my large oven. When the biscuits were done we separated the top from the bottom while they were still in the oven. We put the sausage and cheese in them, and put the tops back on. I let the cook for another minute, until the cheese melted. I have never done those before and they turned our REALLY good.

Believe it or not, breads and biscuits are one of the toughest things to get right in a dutch oven. Unless you are cheating, and have a separate pan inside the oven. I couldn’t do that because the amount I was cooking. Otherwise, with no pan, you have to pull the oven from the bottom heat and let it continue to cook with top heat only, so that the bottom does not burn.

Jen didn’t even have her camera out for this trip. But, I definitely need to start taking a couple of pictures of this stuff.