Thursday, October 31, 2013

Swingin the axe a little on a fall afternoon - Failed practice

Well I decided to grab the axe and do a little practice.  "A ONE STICK FIRE WITH AN AXE!"  I eagerly told myself as I walked down the short trail to my usual woods practice spot.  We had a light rain the night before and I thought it was prime conditions for practice. 

There were fall colors finally starting to show up here in OK

An orange fungus I don't recall seeing before this

I was feeling good about things.  Beautiful colors, wonderful "wet forest" smells

found a dead oak I felled earlier in the year, limbed a section and bucked out a log

You can tell it's a little damp in this pic

getting it split down

getting a pile of shavings going...this is where things got ugly, atleast for me they did

I made up a good size pile of curls and shavings and proceeded to light with the ferro rod.  This was not happening after longer than I want to admit.  Well I began searching through and making sure I was using the inner wood material.  Started making a new pile shavings to get the driest wood I could.  Tried the ferro rod again.  This process reapeated itself quite a bit.  I got flame 4 times that I thought for sure I had it.  But the curls and shavings weren't catching quickly enough to sustain itself.  It just wasn't taking off for me even from the curls.  After an hour of pile after pile I threw in the towel on this one.  Partly because I was on a time constraint and partly because the frustration had built to the point it wasn't fun anymore and my hand was literally cramping the worse it has in my life.   And as you can tell I stopped taking pics as there was no way to fully capture the frustration.

Things that hit home.  Well there's a reason I carry a knife AND an axe.  My hand fatigued big time using the axe for so long with the finer work.  My hand never fatigues like that using my knife. Not even close.  One stick fires are much easier with a knife than an axe.  Fire starting is all about the small details and the finer wood prep needed.  This is obviously much better accomplished with a knife.  Sure I had the log bucked and split down in no time, but I'm sure with a knife I could have got some finer curls and shavings and been able to make it happen.  The other thing I realized is just how crucial it is to have a reliable fire starting source, like fatwood or PJ cottonball, etc when wood is damp.  If I could have sustained a flame I think I could have babied it to life but I couldn't sustain that initial flame quite long enough. 

So in short this was some good lessons learned or if nothing else just drove home the point more of why I carry a knife, axe, and fire starters.  I'll give this a try again sometime.  Any excuse to get back out...

Thanks for lookin

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More Green vs. Deadwood tinder - Yellow Pine

Hey folks, back again with another comparison of green versus dead tree tinders.  Had some request on a forum to try pine with this test so went ahead and got after it.  This was Yellow Pine.  Here is a green branch

got it split down

made up some feathersticks and put them in the sun

Well this pine wasn't seasoned like the oak so that is a different variable than the oak test.  I just didn't have any seasoned pine so that's the reason for that change.  But I did find a dead branch and proceeded to split down and featherstick it out

both sticks this time were from branches instead of small log size pieces so the sticks were pretty thin.  Ended up making a couple small feathersticks with each.

Well on to the test. First up the dead pine.  It was a pain in the butt to light. Finally got it lit and it burned pretty good for it's size.

The green pine went right up on the second strike and burned up so fast I barely got a pic.

here are the burned out sticks.  Dead on the left, green on the right

Well it is interesting in both woods that the greenwood went up very easily with a ferro rod.  both burned faster than the deadwoods.  I think if you have trouble lighting tinder to flame with a ferro rod that some greenwood curls or featherstick may help a lot as an accelerator to lighting your main tinder.  That's two test with great results.  I'm going to try this out more as I get out this season but you can't argue the results so far.

One last bonus on the way out was craossing a small flock of turkeys.  They took off of course but I was able to get one shot as one looked back before bolting.

thanks for lookin

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tinder Comparison - Green vs Seasoned wood

Thought I'd play with the knife some more by testing some green oak and seasoned oak.  Why?  Cause playing with knives and making fire is FUN! 

So I took off an oak branch that was hanging into a trail and split down and proceeding to make a featherstick

I set this aside in the sun and breeze for about 30 mins. 

On to the seasoned oak.  This wood was hard

And here are the two contestants

First up the seasoned oak

Went up as expected, now for the green

No problem.  Well they both worked fine.  Honestly they were about the same to light.  The seasoned oak burned longer and slower while the green went up faster but didn't burn as long.  The green stick had finer thinner curls just cause it was curling super easy.  The seasoned wood being much harder didn't curl as fine but was dry and good wood for burning, obviously.  Only other variable is what would have happened had I not let the green one dry for a bit.  The green oak surprised me here.  I thought it would light but not as easily as it did.  The wood wasn't as wet feeling as other kinds of trees are when alive but maybe testing more trees would be fun to do in the future.

thanks for lookin