Monday, April 29, 2013

some fresh air and a beach combers bow-drill

Well I finally was able to get some fresh air at a nice area.  I got my hiking buddy and set out for a wilderness area with a nice lake in the middle.  Here's the first view of the lake coming out of the trees

arriving at the beach line

view back at the trees

Bel with a big muscle shell, these shells were all over the shorelines, so naturally we had to take a few with us

there was a fire in this area a few years ago and remnants of it are still all over the place.  There were a lot of dead standing trees that would make great firewood

some spring purple color

we kind of weaved our way in and out of the trees and down the shoreline

interrupted quite a few ducks as we emerged

view where we came down

some lake shots

found a lure that is still serviceable

resting in the shade for some lunch, PB&J's and some crackers and cookies

lunch view

well I wanted to make a bow drill out of things I found.  Given this is not hard as pretty much every lake around has trash a long the shoreline.  It didn't take long until I found some bank line that someone had tied off for a trotline

it's been awhile since I've done a friction fire.  I got decent at it about 10 years ago.  Mostly just to know I could do it if I needed to.  But I haven't messed with them much since then.  Well this was my spindle as I started.  Way too long.  I ended up trimming it down about half the size and it worked much better

As I was carving away the excess wood I am always taken by the grain on cedar

well here's what I used at first, again ended up cutting the spindle to about half the size

was looking for a nice flat piece for the base board and wouldn't you know...found an old board, can't beat that.  This was just getting the hole started

well I got distracted at this point and forgot to take pictures.  I got the hole drilled out and the spindle shortened.  I got to pumping the drill and it didn't take long for me to realize that the cedar spindle was too hard to produce a good amount of dust.  I was going to get another spindle but bel was ready to move on from this spot and getting impatient so I'll have to save it for another time.  So all in all a fail with the first attempt at a beach combers bowdrill.  There will be a round two at some point...

Well nothing else too exciting happened.  We made our way back down the shoreline throwing rocks and collecting shells.  It was a very enjoyable day.  I love the take your time jaunts with nothing particular on the agenda...I need more days like this.

here's a parting view for you folks as we left the lake to head back in the trees

thanks for looking

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Old Collins Hatchet restore

Well my swedish axe phase has subsided and I wanted to use an old American hatchet.  So I recently was able to acquire an old Collins hatchet head in very good condition.  While it is old, it doesn't look to have been used much at all.  Edge and poll are in great shape.  All it needs was a little TLC.  So let's get to it.

here's the head as a I got it

used a wire wheel brush and a grit flap wheel to remove the paint and rust

I found a suitable 14" Link hatchet handle.  A couple things I'll say on Link handles is do not buy one if you can't hand pick it.  I see more with flaws to the point I consider them unacceptable than good ones.  But the wood is very dense and holds up great.  They are not fitted at all really so you will have to plan on removing a lot of excess wood to fit your head.  But if you have the means and the time and can hand pick one that's straight and shaped well they do make for a good handle.

This pic is about half way through the fitting

The eye on this head is very small.  I had to thin it down quite a bit.  Eventually I got her hung straight.

Well after thinning the neck and shoulder a bit we are finished.  A few coats of boiled linseed oil will complete the restore.  It turned out nice and it feels great in the hand. 

Gotta like the old USA made tools. 

Thanks for looking

Friday, April 12, 2013

close encounters of the "Deer" kind

Well when I slipped into the woods the other day for some axe pics the "pet" deer were in the area.  This area is a state park with no hunting this area, so these deer have no fear of man, or no fear of me at least.  Maybe they're just use to me...

First one I passed didn't seem too care I was passing through.  This deer was about 10 yards away

The next deer was bedded and didn't even get up for me

there were a few more deer bedded further back, but my camera's zoom wasn't good enough to get a good pic and I didn't want to go in and bust them out.

I always find deer a neat encounter and when you're very close it's that much cooler. 

I heard some some turkeys and a tom gobbling pretty close but never caught a glimpse of them. 

You never know what you'll find in the woods till you get out there.  That's what makes it special

thanks for looking

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A couple more vintage axes to the collection, a True Temper Perfect and a KeenKutter

Well as luck would have it my in-laws came across a couple neat axes at an antique store and picked them up for me. 

First one is a True Temper Perfect full size double bit.  It's seen some use but still has some good life left in it.

Handle on this one was just too far gone to be usable.  So it'll get a new one.

Next was a full size KeenKutter in very good condition.  Looks like someone restored it already not too long ago.  The head is very good and the handle is good too.  All it needs is a sanding and a few boiled linseed oil treatments and it's ready to go.  Handle on it is 32 inches.

Two nice old USA made axes.  Can't beat it. 

I'll post an update once I'm done with them. 

Thanks for looking

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sven Saw 15"

Hey folks, here's a look/review of the 15" Sven Saw.  First off the specs:

Blade Length"  15 inches
Folded Length:  17 inches
Weight: 15oz.
Handle/Frame is made of aluminum in the USA
Blade is made in Denmark
Cost: $25-30

First off let me say now that I have one, I wish I would have got it a long time ago.  I was on the fence on these for quite a while.  I've used slightly smaller folding saws and they were okay.  But I wanted something with a bit more leverage and power, without being heavy or a burden to carry. 

Well this Sven Saw is what I was looking for.  The aluminum frame is lightweight but stable.  The triangle frame gives you much better leverage and enables you to put a lot more force into cuts.  Plus the handle design is just a more natural fit for sawing.  All this makes for very fast and efficient cutting. 

Cedar, pine, an oak are what I have used this saw most on and it has handled it flawlessly.  The 15" model is the smaller of the two, they also make a 21" model, so you will have to respect its limits.  That said I have found anything 5" wide and smaller to be ideal for this saw.  Which is perfect for me for what I like to do on most outings.  Quick fires for cooking and warming up are very easily done with this saw.  I find when I'm out I typically only use wood in the size range this handles.  If you had a more long term camp, and especially in winter, a larger bucksaw would definitely be the better choice.  But for day trips or extended trips where you are on the move and packing and weight is a consideration then this saw would be a very good choice. 

Here's some pine that was right around 4" and smaller, as it was a dead standing tree I felled.  I had nice logs in no time with the Sven.

Here was some fatwood harvesting I used with it

The setup for this is about 20 seconds or so.  It's not quite as quick as the click open folding saws but the added performance you get from this is more than worth the little extra time it takes to setup.  Another advantage to this saw is you can easily purchase replacement blades.  The blade on mine has held up great so far.  But it's nice to know you can get a new blade easily rather than needing to buy a new saw.

Well overall I am very impressed with this saw and think it is one of those items where the value far exceeds the cost.  It slips in pretty much any daypack and takes up little room and weight.  The blade fits in the handle with the cutting edge completely protected.  So it won't damage your gear or yourself.  It's a great tool to pair with a hatchet/axe.  

Thanks for looking

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Two vintage double bits in a handle length chop off - 28" vs 36"

Awhile back there was s thread discussion on Blades and Bushcraft forum, "bigger is better", you can see here,4707.0.html, In it was discussions of axe sizes, from head weights to handle lengths.  I got to looking at two of my axes very closely and they were as close to the same as you can get without being the same, except for the handle lengths.  So a comparison was in order, here's what was tested

3.5lb.  Double Bit Plumb on 36" handle

3.5lb. Double Bit Mann Edge Tool Co on 28" handle

(those both are just great ol USA axes by the way)  here's the duo

head comparison, these are very close in overall lengths, edge lengths, profile, and sharpness.  Just a good pairing for this handle length test (Plumb top, Mann bottom)

this next photo is the Mann on top, Plumb bottom

Well let's get to it, all test were on hardwoods

First test I did was downward chopping, 20 swings each (36" haft Plumb right, 28" haft Mann left)

This was closer than I thought it would be but the 36" haft Plumb was the winner

Next test I did was chopping on a standing dead tree, 20 swings each.  Plumb left, Mann right.  I chopped at the same height so the hardness of the wood would be the same.  At first I chopped below, but the wood was clearly softer on the lower cut.  So this evened the playing field.

Here's the 28" haft Mann's cut

Here's the 36" haft Plumb's cut

This was surprising, The 28" Mann was the winner in this test.  Again it was close but the 28" Mann was deeper and it felt that way during the test as well.

So I've been thinking on my results as they didn't seem to confirm the theory of "Longer handles do more work".  The variables of the head sizes is as close to even as I could get.  The handle lengths is the variable I'm testing.  So after thinking on this I know why my results turned out the way they did.  The uncontrolled variable is ME and my Muscle Memory.

I pretty much only use my 36" Plumb for splitting, and it won the downward chopping test.  I'm tall( 6'4) so the 36" haft feels safer splitting for me and I'm USE to it.  The 28" Mann I as more hunched over and not as comfortable.  And that showed during my test.

I pretty much only use 3/4 axes and smaller for felling trees on my outings, and the 28" Mann won my standing tree chopping test.  I'm used to standing a little closer and the length of the 28" Mann just felt more natural for me cause that's what I'm USE to, the 36" Plumb did feel a little awkward for me standing further back from the tree.  I wasn't as confident in my aim.  And that showed during the test. 

So I think all my comparison really showed us is that being familiar with your tool is the best way to be efficient with it.  Changing tools all the time won't help you be proficient using it.  Muscle memory is a great thing to have.  You only get it when you really know your tool well.

Well this is just my results, I think I found the error pretty fast.  It would be great to see some other tests like this from you axe guys.  Maybe some of you that are accustomed to both lengths for the same tasks.  I love axes, they're my favorite tool, but I don't get to use them as part of my daily life.  So someone who does could probably do a more fair approach with this test. 

Anyways...hope you enjoyed it, using axes is just fun.  So I enjoyed this

Here's one last shot for the contestants:

Thanks for looking.