I have decided to return to the world of blogging – this time, under a new title and design. Without further ado, I give you:

http://wildwoodtrail.wordpress.com/

Otherwise know as WildWood Trail.

I have started posting, and even imported an article from this blog (How to make a Sling) into a page on WildWood Trail.

Please check it out, and Bookmark or Stumble it if you find it to your liking.

~Ethan

Hiatus

February 19, 2008

Due to other activities cropping up in my life now, this blog is going on hiatus. Once I become less busy, I may begin to write again.

Thanks for reading!

I would like to introduce my readers to an outstanding new development in the outdoor-loving persons branch of the internet. Having just debuted about a month ago, Klippe is an ambitious project to create a massive database of outdoor skills, using the popular Wiki software. Klippe boasts a rapidly growing member base and a well-rounded community of experienced outdoors people. There is something for nearly everyone, and all are encouraged to contribute whatever knowledge or experience they may have.

I highly recommend Klippe – The Wilderness Wiki, found here: klippe.funditor.org

Tutorial: How to Fuse Rope

January 6, 2008

Fusing is a technique used to prevent the ends of synthetic ropes from fraying. It is extremely useful, because a frayed rope is nearly useless, and has been wasted. The following method works very well.

Disclaimer: This involves fire! Do it only in a safe setting, and be careful not to burn yourself or other things. I accept no responsibility for any damage or injury!

Cut the frayed end of the rope off. Try not to waste any, but don’t leave scraggly ends.

Hold the end up to an open flame; be careful not to drip molten plastic on yourself! Burn the end just long enough for the melted rope to ooze together.

Allow the end to cool completely. Be careful not to touch it to anything while it is still melted, because it will stick and probably ruin whatever it touched. Once it is cooled, repeat the process on the other end of the rope. This will hold for a long time, but eventually it may crack and split, at which point you should just repeat the process.

CUPPED SLING TUTORIAL

This tutorial is by no means totally original. It has been influenced by many people, but the exact design is my own. I would still like to credit many people on the internet and around my neighborhood for bits of wisdom on sling construction.

Disclaimer: Slings are dangerous! Use them only in safe areas, and be careful of your surroundings. I accept no responsibility for any injuries or damage that may occur, for any reason. Sling at your own risk!

Materials:

  • Leather. I used suede, but it can be anything reasonably strong.
  • Cord. Parachute cord is excellent, but for this sling I used thick bootlaces. You can also braid thinner cords, or plait them.
  • Thin string. This must also be strong, but thin enough to pass through tiny holes in the pouch. I recommend something synthetic, so the ends can be fused. This makes threading with a needle much easier. Do not use fishing line.
  • Electricians Tape. Not much more to be said, except that duct tape is okay too.
  • *Saddle Soap, Neatsfoot Oil or Mineral Oil. Basically, something to help your pouch shed water.

*optional

Tools:

  • Scissors. These must be heavy enough to cut leather, as well as cordage.
  • Leather Punch. You’ll want the rotating type that actually cuts out a hole, instead of just separating the leather. You can use an awl, but it will be irritating and take longer.
  • Fid. You can use a carpet needle too. This is not essential, but can speed up the process a bit.
  • Pencil. Or a pen. It needs to draw on the leather.
  • Graph paper. I use ¼ stuff.
  • Paper Towels.

Construction:

Out of your graph paper, cut a rectangle that is 5″ x 3″. Fold it in half twice, once each way, like so.

Draw a curve on one side. I won’t give exact geometric formulae, because that’s not the way I work. It should be approximately like this.

Cut along the curve.

This is your pouch pattern. If you aren’t entirely happy with it, make a new one. Graph paper is cheaper than leather!

Trace the pattern onto your leather. Make sure it doesn’t shift!

Cut the outline of your pouch from the leather. Fold it in half, to make sure the sides are symmetrical. They don’t have to be perfect, but close.

Now that you have your pouch, the hard part comes. Place the pouch onto another sheet of graph paper, and make little marks at ¼” intervals. Do this all the way around the pouch, making sure they align on opposite edges.

Now, take your leather punch and begin to punch tiny holes at all the marks. I can’t give you an exact hole size, but you want them as small as possible. Your thin string should fit snugly through them. Make sure they are far enough into the pouch so as not to tear out, but don’t monopolize the space inside.

Now, punch a slightly larger hole on either end of the pouch. This should be centered the long way, and will connect the cords to the pouch. it should fit your cords snugly.

Now, get your thin string and start threading it through the tiny holes on one side of the pouch. Up and down…

Once you have threaded one side, begin the other. Make sure that the string enters and exits the same way on each side.

Now comes the optional part. I usually oil my pouches (even the suede ones), because I often sling snowballs, or am out in inclement weather. Therefore, I like my slings to shed as much water as possible. Get your paper towels and oil, and rub a liberal amount into the pouch on both sides.

Allow the pouch to sit for a few minutes, to let the oil sink in. Follow directions on the container if it is specifically for leather, such as Saddle Soap.

Now, thread the cords through their respective holes and double them back. Tie the string in between the cord end and the rest of it with a square knot. Tape the cord ends back with the square knot in between them.

On one of the cords, tie a solid loop knot (I recommend a bowline), and put it around the middle finger of your dominant hand. Hold the sling so the pouch is even, and tie a knot (I use a figure-eight) on the other cord, for grip.

Enjoy your new sling!

Review: Schrade Uncle Henry

I received a new pocket knife for Christmas, and was delighted to find it was a Schrade; Uncle Henry, no less. Many owners have enjoyed both Uncle Henry and Old Timer models, which have an excellent reputation for quality and superior design. One of the largest points of pride for these knives and their owners is the fact that they are made in the U.S.A. Owners could take pride in a piece of history, dutifully created and assembled by their countrymen.

Not so.

My Uncle Henry was, in fact, made in China. I’m disgusted, to say the least. The quality is superb, the blades are razor sharp, the workmanship is outstanding, but the fact remains: This is not an American-made knife.

I may be the only one to complain, but it is certainly not the same knife that Schrade has been producing for many long, good years.

However, I didn’t immediately return the knife; it may still prove useful. I’ve been carrying it in my pocket for several days, and whenever I needed to cut something, it was there. It fits my slightly small hand perfectly, but would be easy to use for nearly any hand size. The blades remain sharp, despite quite a bit of use on such this as: wood, string, cheese, tape, plastic packaging, wire stripping, and nearly myself, to name a few. The blades, I might add, are clip, sheep’s foot and spey types. The three fit my overall uses quite well.

The appearance of the knife is good. I prefer old-fashioned looking pocketknives, as a rule. This knife is a perfect example. The sides are faux-antler, but well made. the ends are brassy, as are the rivets. On one side is a small plaque, reading “Uncle Henry”, in a signature font.

The blade came with Schrade’s limited warranty, but I don’t think I’ll need it, judging by its performance so far. If I come upon any issues, I’ll note them here. Overall, though, I like the knife. I’m just saddened to find that Schrade has forfeited it’s reputation.

Grade: 6.5/10

Black-capped Chickadee

December 27, 2007

Black-capped Chickadee

Parus Atricapillus 

One of the most common sights when meandering through the north woods is the excited little Black-capped Chickadee. More common would be this fellow’s chirping call, always extending merrily into the surrounding forest. One of the most common birdfeeder regulars, especially where special treats can be found. He is easily tamed, and will return very punctually for his bit of seed each day.

The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird for Maine and Massachusetts, as well as the provincial bird for New Brunswick.

His cheerful “gargling” and “dee-dees” are one of the most uplifting sounds of the forest. His black cap and bib make him look very dapper, and his is very pertinent and frisky in his movements. In short, the Black-capped Chickadee is a great companion in the woodlands.

Northern White Cedar

December 26, 2007

Northern White Cedar

Thuja Occidentalis

The Northern White Cedar, also known as the Eastern White Cedar, is an aromatic conifer that grows in the Northeastern United States and parts of Canada. It is a beautiful tree, reaching heights of up to 70 feet, on average, and with a diameter up to 3 feet. The oldest specimen recorded is 1,693 years old!

The Northern White Cedar is credited with saving the lives of Jacques Cartier from scurvy, when they drank a tea prepared by boiling its leaf-like needles. This tea is very high in Vitamin C, and is quite tasty. Other uses for the Northern White Cedar include shredding its bark for tinder when starting a campfire, and making scented moth repellants from its wood. It was also favored as a frame for canoes by many woodland natives. It is extremely light, and so suited this purpose quite well.

The Northern White Cedar is a beautiful tree, with its pyramidal shape and shiny green needles. It is truly a woodland treasure.           

How to Shit in the Woods

Kathleen Meyer

Ten Speed Press, 1994

 

How to Shit in the Woods is a guide to just that: A guide to doing exactly as the proverbial bear. Upon hearing this, only an outdoorsman proctologist would become interested. Thank the heavens Kathleen Meyer became interested in the subject, otherwise there would be no interesting guide to “shitting”.

Simply put, Meyer is hilarious. Much of today’s humor is derived from this sort of subject: Toilet Humor. Kathleen Meyer is the definition of just that. However, the book is not merely a comedic trip into outdoor toilets: It is a conservation-minded volume of helpful hints for going with the smallest possible impact on our fragile environment. Mixed in is one of the best collections of  one could find on the subject of crap; as well as product information for many useful gadgets, straight facts about the effects of excrement on the land and water and methods to reduce this impact.

All in all, How to Shit in the Woods   is a great read. You will put it down not only with a great knowledge of poop, but a fit of giggles.

Grade: 8.5/10

Slinging

December 20, 2007

I am an avid slinger. I sling almost constantly, wherever I can. Unfortunately, winter has covered most of my ammunition supplies, so I’ll have to put my ballistic pursuits on hold for a few months.

In the mean time, I will be crafting and designing many new slings, for gifts and my own personal use next spring. This is one of my most recent slings, crafted for a man whose son wanted a sling for Christmas.

(Sadly, my camera is on the fritz, so I had to scan this image. I apologize.) 

It is a fairly simple design, and is rather small. It is made from 3-strand braided jute, with a leather pouch. The knots and splices are wrapped in hemp. It took me slightly under an hour to make.

 The history of the sling is certainly an interesting one. One of the first ranged weapons ever wielded by man, it has stood the test of time as an excellent and lethal defense mechanism. It is also quite efficient for hunting purposes, once the wielder has sufficient skill as to hit game. 

I am sure I while write more about slinging as I continue with this blog, so don’t expect this to be all you read about the subject. I will also post photos, techniques and instructions.