For most of human history we have moved across the surface of the Earth as more-or-less self-contained units. Rarely alone and generally with all the stuff we owned.
Obviously, this was before the age of Consumption as a way of life.
I love to see the details; the wash basin, table and chair, the little mirror…
As for this photo, the beauty is in the details. I really enjoy the domestic scene here as the daily routine continues no matter where we are. The non-travellers I know seemed to lump life while camping or traveling as something very different than life at home. Maybe it’s different for me having been fairly transient for much of my early life and working on the road for many years. Living is done wherever you are.
Sometimes you have needs …I’ve been making nets and net bags for a very long time. Decades in fact. Some are fancy but most are quite plain and utilitarian. This one definitely falls into the latter category. However, it will serve the purpose and I suspect will be around for quite some time.
I took a few photos along the way and thought I would make a short tutorial as even simple knot work is often mysterious to the uninitiated. I hope this helps someone. It’s a great introductory project.
This little bag uses a simple overhand knot technique and is probably the simplest mesh you can make. Other than a cutting instrument there really are no required tools for this so gather your string, fetch the object that will be held (in this case a water bottle), grab your knife and we can begin.
New Year’s resolutions from Woody Guthrie’s notebook 1943. It was an interesting time; the world was at war, America was coming out of an economic depression coupled with huge crop failures and sleazy bank practices, and the Guthries had made their way West to California with record numbers of displaced migrants looking for a better life.
1. Work more and better
2. Work by a schedule
3. Wash teeth if any
5. Take bath
6. Eat good – fruit – vegetables – milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes – look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed clothes often
13. Read lots good books
14. Listen to radio a lot
Some are personal but most of these transfer well to anybody. We all need improvement…
15. Learn people better
16. Keep ranch clean
17. Don’t get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have company but don’t waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance better
27. Help win war – Beat Fascism
28. Love Mama
29. Love Papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love everybody
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight
“One of the reasons for its success is is that science has a built-in, error correcting machinery at its very heart. Some may consider this an overbroad characterization, but to me every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test against the outside world, we are doing science. When we are self-indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts, we slide into pseudoscience and superstition.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, p. 27
I bought a small batch of unhafted Ferrocerrum rods recently. This came after finding out what a hit they were with some of my recent demonstrations. Being able to produce a ridiculously hot spark with little effort in all weather amazes even the most distracted student. Since the explosion of survival shows on television and internet media it seems these have not only become popular again but are getting bigger and bigger and bigger all the time.
Size isn’t everything folks!
And I’m not just saying that for the obvious reasons… For the minimalist hiker, camper, or general outdoorsperson, carrying a striker that will make tens of thousands of fires is generally enough. Seriously, how long do think you’re going to live anyway?
If you are not yet familiar with this technology it is essentially a metal striker made from iron and cerium, that when crumbled, shaved, or otherwise shredded to expose the inner materials, produces a spark about 3,000°C (5,430°F) and can directly light most small tinder. They have been around about 100 years but have really come back with the rise of the bushcraft and survival popularity.
I like to keep one that easily fits into a pocket or can be tied to a backpack or worn around the neck. these meet all those requirements and more so, if you are interested in one for yourself or need the perfect stocking stuffer this yuletide season, take a trip to our Etsy shop and have a look https://www.etsy.com/shop/lostworldcrafts/.
I am stunned to hear from several recent misguided enthusiasts to the gentle art of wilderness skills that their new hobby costs them so much money… I guess even our low-tech approach to life can be marketed and sold to the right customer with our ingrained need for newer, quicker, and “approved” gear. Let’s hope this ailment isn’t catching.
Making something for one’s self is, in itself, an act of rebellion in these troubled times so I thought I would share what I’ve been up to in the idle hours these past few days.
After someone sweet-talked me out of my last (and personal) bucksaw I was in need of a replacement. I lucked upon some beautiful walnut last year and set some aside to make a few saws. Straight-grained, strong, and beautiful, this 5/4 sawn chunk was ripe for carving into something nice. I spent far too much time in finish and detail on this one but a beautiful tool is much nicer to use than an ugly one and curves appeal more than straight lines to this gentleman.
There isn’t much need for a lengthy instructable for this design but notice that the straight grain was respected in all dimensions and runs the length of each arm. As for hardware, it was my intention to inset square nuts into the handles and connect the blade with round-head machine screws. However, looking through my hardware on hand, that would have required a trip to a store, so for now, we use carriage bolts and wing nuts.
The devil is truly in the details and it is a joy to carve such fine wood with sharp tools. The entirety is polished with Lundmark carnauba wax as it brings out the color and grain while providing excellent protection against water.
“A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
“The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
“The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’
“The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed..
“‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.
“‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.
“If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
“Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.
“Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.
“One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.”
An older story but a good lesson to remember.
After you have carefully selected the tree, cut it down, and (hopefully) had time to age the wood it is time to prep the bow staves.
Prepping bow staves is a fair amount of work but made easier with the right tools and a little experience. The examples below aged for nearly seven years in a dark, dry barn. These are nearly all hickory and therefore, are generally easy to split if the grain is respected. I use an old froe, mallet, and hammer for most of my splitting and only resort to steel wedges or power tools in rare, generally green cases. As most of the staves that I cut personally are 6’6″ – 7′ long, this is the time when they are sawed to a rough length; generally 65 – 70″. They are left long initially to account for any splitting of the ends that occurs during the drying process that will interfere with the finished bow.
These staves were massive and can generally be made into two or three bows in the end; two from the outer portion and one from the inner. This isn’t always true for some older hickories as the heartwood “sets” and becomes dark and brittle. Taken in a deep valley, this tree was large enough and fast growing so doesn’t seem to be a problem. It is difficult to tell from the photo above but this is an extremely large piece of wood. It was weighed a few days after felling at 79.5 lbs. It was weighed again, just prior to splitting, almost seven years later at 48 lbs. That is nearly 30 lbs (5 gallons) of water that evaporated.
The above photo shows the froe in use, prying the two halves apart without much effort. Once started with a mallet in the end, it is just a matter of prying and moving down the staff.
The staves can now be safely de-barked and are generally ready to be roughed out, a relatively easy task on hickory, but not so with Osage orange (photo below). Osage needs to be shaved down to a single layer within the wood. In this case about a half inch inside the bark to find a suitable growth ring.
One of the troubles with Osage orange wood is the transitional new growth on the outer (back) of the stave, visible as the white rings. This wood is not useful for bow making and needs to be cleanly removed down to a single growth ring. In the case above, several old growth rings will be removed as well as they are inconsistent and pinch out on the right side of this stave. It is generally wise to choose one of the thicker rings to serve as the back as it is under a lot of tension during the draw.
This is about half the useful bow staves made in a single run with a “whole” stave on the right to show how they begin. This one weighed about 80 lbs green but only about 50 lbs dry.
On to layout and the next steps.