Friday, July 27, 2012

Garant Axe Makeover

I was gifted an axe by a friend of mine, Ross aka Wood Trekker, a little while back.  The axe was the Garant Grizzly Pro Series which he did a review on. Ross's results of the Grizzly Pro Series Axe (follow the link for Ross's review) were pretty good despite the look and feel the axe originally had.  The head was very good and even kept up with a Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest axe.  So the axe just needed a little touching up and I felt it would be quite the user.  So let's get to it.  Here's the axe as it arrived:

I was initially going to replace the handle but soon realized it had a pretty large eye for a 1.75lb head.  The eye was the same size as my 3.5lb Dunlap axe.  So I decided to see if I could make the handle fit my needs.  First thing I did was sand off the paint and lacquer from handle.  Next I took most of the paint off the head.

 Now the two inches at the end of the handle were about as worthless as I've ever seen.  So I trimmed it down to a nice straightline end that fits the hand nice without the extra inches sticking out.  Total length is now 23 inches.  This will now pack better as well as looks better in my opinion.  I put on a few coats of boiled linseed oil and it's more the bushaxe we all like to carry.

The way it came it was hafted with only a wooden wedge.  I decided to add a metal wedge for added security.  The initial wood wedge must have been sealed pretty well as the there was a small gap in the eye I was sure would fill in after the metal wedge.  But it didn't.  So either way now it should hold up very well.

The grain was okay.  Not bad but not great, but good enough for an axe this size.

Well all it needed now was a sheath.  So here you have it finished and ready to go.

Well this wasn't hard by any means but it is an improvement for the use I have in mind for it.

Thanks for looking  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old Tools - Find out just how good they are

Old tools can be found almost anywhere if you look for them.  Maybe even your own place.  There are so many tools that were common in the old days and now we simply don't use them or have the need for them.  Bu that doesn't mean they aren't great tools and you can't find a use for them.  I was pleasantly surprised recently by a True Temper hewing hatchet. 

I came across this hatchet head that belonged to my wife's grandfather.  It was at the bottom of an old toolbox.  I decided to clean it up and put a handle on it just to see if I could find a use for it and maybe even broaden my wood skills a little. 

I found a handle with the best grain alignment I have ever seen

So after hanging the head and stripping off the lacquer finish I was blasting away wood chips in no time.  The head is heavy, around 2-2.5lbs, but the weight of the head does the work.  You don't even have to swing it to get to work effectively.  All you're doing is basically lifting it and letting it land where you want.  The other nice feature I noticed and tried out was the flat poll.  I used it to set a metal wedge in an axe and it worked better than any hammer or small maul I've used.  The large flat surface and weight of the head made it effortless.

Like all tools it will take some practice to become efficient with, but I'm looking forward to using this and keeping an eye open for other old tools that could serve a hidden purpose.  So if you find yourself staring at an old rusted tool of yester-year pick it up, and find out for yourself why everyone used to have one.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fire Piston Experimentation

I was able to be part of a passaround for a Fire Piston with some of my friends at the Blades and Bushcraft Forum.  That's a great place to check out if you haven't done so already.  Well I know fire pistons work best with charcloth, but I don't like to carry charcloth as I like to find things in my natural environment.  I also don't like to carry a fire starter of any kind that is solely dependent on one fuel source.  What happens when you run out of charcloth, or lose it?  You lose your ability to start fire.  That doesn't sound good to me.  But to be fair this was my first attempt with a fire piston and I know everything takes some getting used to, but at the same time you don't want fire starting to be the most complicated part of an outing when there are a lot of fire starting options on the market.  So that was my real test.  I wanted to see if the fire piston could serve a place in my bag for effective fire starting.

I went to my local stomping grounds and picked up 5 different things that I can easily find pretty much any time I'm out.  And these things I can start a fire with my ferro rod no problem.  So I wanted to see the results with the fire piston.  From left to right:  Pine needles, Pine bark, Pine cone, Cedar bark, and a grass/weed. (that I don't know the name of but is everywhere here.)

  As I go through this I know my fire piston experience is just beginning so I don't want to give the idea that they don't work.  I simply want to see if I can get them to work with relative ease and again to see how viable an option it would be to carry with you.  First up is the Pine needles

I cut of pieces of both the end and base of the pine needle and tried 25 pumps with each.  No smoke, no burn marks, the fire piston end did not even feel hot at all.  At this point the thing I am failing to do is get enough heat generated to even come close to making an ember.  I was hitting the piston hard and fast and don't know how I could have done it any quicker.  The o-ring has a good seal as you can feel the pressure building and can't get it past a certain point without a decent amount of force.  So maybe it's the wood source not working...

on to the next one, Pine bark

Same results, 25 pumps, nothing.  On to the next one,  Cedar bark


I had high hopes for this one thinking it was the closest to paper and might burn the easiest.  It was very dry, but still not even close, again the end of the piston is not even warm to the touch.  I have to imagine if there was heat being generated the piston end would atleast feel warm or hot to the touch.

On to the next one, Pine cone


25 pumps and again I failed.  And the last one, Grass/Weed

For this one I cut off a piece of the stem which had the hollow cavity with the inner paper-like material.  I also tried pieces of the dried buds that looked good as well.  25 pumps, No luck, not even close.

Well this was my first attempt with a fire piston but I have to say I am not impressed.  Simply because other options on the market are much easier and effective for getting your fire started with natural tinder's in your area.  The whole point of this for me was to see if it would be a better option to carry over my ferro rod.  And for me, it is not.   

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Took a special girl fishing

I took my  daughter Isabel fishing this morning.  That's special enough by itself but what makes it a little sweeter is that I took her to the ponds of my youth.  It's nice to be able to go back to my old stompin grounds.  I started fishing these ponds when I was 3 and now she's 3 and fishing at places I stood at her age.  I'm glad this place is still around to share it with her and you can still catch a fish or two as well.  This is actually a series of 4 ponds that are very close to each other.  Today we fished two of the ponds.  Here's the first one.   It's very clear and deep.

This one is shallow and mossy and great for largemouth's.

These ponds are located at the back of my old neighborhood right next to a golf course.  These ponds aren't part of the course and most of the time you have the place to yourself.  Well now it's time to catch some fish and of course you need a worm

Dora hat and a Dora fishing pole...We let her pick them out, haha.  We're always saying use the gear you want right?


Waiting for a bite.  You can see the cork out in the water from the bigger picture.

There's a very very old shed next to the water.  I remember being about 5 or so and trompin through the broken down golf carts and they seemed old back then and are still there today.  That shed probably hasn't had any attention in 30-40 years.

Well it's not a huge one but it is the first fish of the day

I'm pretty sure I've got Isabel headed down the outdoorsy girl path.  She will handle fish and the worms :)

Another fish

Gotta love catching the sunfish with the kids.  I think God wanted to make sure anyone could go fishing and have fun when he put them here.

This picture was funny as she shoved the pole in my hand telling me to take it so she could grab the fish

and yes we had to pet every fish we caught.

Isabel wanted to dig out the next worm


The pic above is bel walking between the two ponds.  The one we were fishing is just on the edge of the trees to the right.  So these two ponds are only about 5-7 yards apart.  It was time to grab a quick drink at the truck and then get back at it.

Well bel kept saying she wanted a bigger fish and she gets anxious and likes walking the shorelines and throwing rocks in the water and other things kids like to do.  So I decided to to follow her on the shoreline of the bigger pond with my pole and see if I can show her a bigger fish via topwater lure.  About 5 casts later...success

Well we walked around a little more and then we got hungry so we decided to head on in for lunch.


and of course bel had to play in the water one last time

Well it was a good day.  A trip down memory lane of both old and new, caught some fish and caught some memories too.