Sandals in progress... If you have ever taken a class with me you might know that all the intimidating sewing isn't as bad as it looks. The sole is three layers thick but the use of a good, sharp awl makes the double needle sewing go quickly. A lot more work goes into these than … Continue reading Handmade Sandals
One of the better things about modern communication is the ability to meet and talk to people from nearly all parts of the globe. I have been in communication with Jacob from Botswana for years now and he has shared some photos of the beautiful backpack he made based on my earlier design. That one … Continue reading Jacob’s Beautiful Leather Backpack
During the heyday of Caravan living it is important to remember that these were rarely the dwelling of a loner. The Caravan was the hub of the nuclear family and groups of wagons represented larger, extended family groups and allies. We are social creatures that thrive in community.
Does this mean we should neglect our intellect? Absolutely not. In fact, the opposite. We should strive to cultivate both mind and body to become the most perfect specimen we can become, daily. I came across this passage while reading a bit this morning from Amateur Joinery in the Home (1916) by George and Berthold … Continue reading Everyone Should Cultivate Manual Training
Well this is exciting. I got interviewed at winter count near Florence, Arizona back in February. It's heavily edited from a much longer discussion but I don't think I sound too stupid here talking about the Vardo. The interview is very close-up and tight but you can get a feel for the interior layout. There … Continue reading Interview Time
Here's another small project happening amidst all the "real work" that needs to get done during this quarantine. I want to keep this one but after inquiries rolling in, it may go into the shop (or another just like it). Be Safe!
Kentucky Hunter's Pouch - Few words are needed to show this project. It is a Kentucky Hunter style pouch of a style popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in America. Its antecedents come from Britain and mainland Europe but changed with the times as North America was colonized. In the days before the common … Continue reading Hunter’s Pouch
For bow makers and other wood crafters...A shaving horse is an invaluable tool if you create or work with odd-shaped objects that are otherwise difficult to clamp or need to constantly move around. I don't know how I would get half my projects done without one. A horse, in combination with a small bench or … Continue reading Shaving Horses and Portable Woodworking
Robyn Hode – An hundred shefe of arowes gode, The hedys burneshed full bryght; And every arowe an elle longe, With pecok wel idyght, Inocked all with whyte silver [or silk]; It was a semely syght. A Gest of Robyn Hode, lines 523-8 in English Popular Ballads, 1922 edition England, ca. 1450 A.D.
A look at the origins and evolution of our favorite camp stove... This post was going to be a few words about the Primus stoves we all love and some images I've collected from around the web. As usual, I found myself rambling all over the topic without a clear direction but here is a … Continue reading Classic Liquid Fuel Stoves
A little show and tell this rainy winter morning. I've been carrying this walking stick in one form or another since 2001. What does that mean? I just can't leave well enough alone, that's what. It was a straight knobbed staff before attaching the stag horn but I decided it would be more useful and … Continue reading Thumb Stick
This is a pretty good setup for any outdoorsman (our outdoors woman for that matter). By 1925, the scouts had worked out a pretty good uniform and gear setup based on many old experts not the least of which was the US Army. If there's a bit of a paramilitary look to the scouts it … Continue reading Boy Scout Gear from 1925
I'm happy to say that I will be heading to the annual primitive skills gathering known as Winter Count down in the Sonoran Desert. Thankfully, it has moved to a more remote location further into the desert and far away from the Phoenix sprawl.I will be teaching a course that I have been doing for … Continue reading Winter Count is Coming
Sometimes you have needs ... I needed a net bag for my water bottle while I'm on the road. I knew this was going to be a problem when I left home so I threw in a ball of string in case I had some time on my hands. I almost always bring something to … Continue reading The Joys of a Morning Quickie
On Loneliness "When you feel you are sleeping on the breast of your mother, the earth, while your father, the sky, with his millions of eyes is watching over you, and that you are surrounded by your brother, the plants, the wilderness is no longer lonesome even to the solitary traveler." ~Dan Beard
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 … Continue reading Ferro Rods are in the Shop
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 … Continue reading Another Bucksaw on the Loose
The Stonebridge Lantern; a classic, lightweight, packable candle lantern that was very popular once upon a time in the U.S. The Stonebridge is an ingenious piece of design work as it folds almost perfectly flat for travel; like origami in tin. Weighing in at only 11 ounces (.31 kilos) without a candle it's a camp … Continue reading The Stonebridge Folding Lantern
Although this blog isn't really focused on our daily activities, I thought I'd share a few photos. We had time for a beautiful day out this weekend in the eastern Ozarks. Many plants were in bloom, the insects were moving and ticks had their presence as well. It was also an opportunity to get out … Continue reading Springtime
Once again, I am producing some large, traveler's wallets. While some are waiting their finishing touches, here's the first of six. They are all of the same general size and design but each has some variation in shape and closure type. I think my dying is improving. Having read more on the subject, I've been … Continue reading Traveler’s Wallet
Why do this? In my life-long quest for better designs and finer gear, I am constantly on some sort of hare-brained mission to make something new. Some readers may remember the earlier backpack I made and eventually traded off to a new owner. My friend Jacob, even made a fine copy for himself and it … Continue reading Leather Knapsack Prototype
Another possibles bag completed and out the door. This one was designed, at the request of a customer, to fit a specific case that would fit inside. This is clearly my favorite "go to" design and will make an excellent bushcrafter's kit. This one is about 3 1/2" deep and a little over 12" by … Continue reading Large Possibles Bag
For brick and mortar breed filth and crime, With a pulse of evil that throbs and beats; And men are withered before their prime By the curse paved in with the lanes and streets. And lungs are poisoned and shoulders bowed, In the smothering reek of mill and mine; And death stalks in on the … Continue reading Why Woodcraft?
More shameless promotion from the workshop. This is my new, deluxe model possibles bag for the right mountain man or woman. This design has proven to be practical and popular. The leather is veg-tanned Hermann-Oak and all sewing is double-needle saddle-stitch. The hardware is premium solid harness brass. This bag will only get better with … Continue reading Deluxe Possibles Bag
“...there are some who plunge into an unbroken forest with a feeling of fresh, free, invigorating delight... These know that nature is stern, hard, immovable and terrible in unrelenting cruelty. When wintry winds are out and the mercury far below zero, she will allow her most ardent lover to freeze on her snowy breast without … Continue reading The Impartiality of Nature – from “Woodcraft and Camping”
Long, cold nights in the Midwest. Limited mobility due to injury. A need to create new things A desire to fund my trips later this year... This is a recipe for high productivity in the workshop. Fortunately, I have a fairly large stockpile of leather and supplies to see me through my projects as I … Continue reading Work from the Leather Shop
This is the prototype saw I used for teaching a bushcraft class at Echoes in Time in 2014. Unfortunately, a split in the original wood spread last winter and I had to rebuild it. Actually though, that is a beautiful thing when you can make your own tools. I didn't spend any abstract money for … Continue reading Making a Bucksaw – Retrospective
In my internet sleuthing I have gathered literally thousands of images, plans, and patterns of things I would like to make or have for reference. Government documents, like the scans below, are invaluable resources for the maker when they are made public. Who would know how to better and more efficiently make a pair of … Continue reading U.S. Army Riding Gloves Pattern – free
Wise words. Learning to really properly sharpen an edge tool by hand is an epiphany and makes wood and leatherworking a real joy.
The other day, I was teaching a friend to sharpen his plane iron, and it got me thinking about sharpening. Of all the skills I have learned while working wood, sharpening has been the most life-changing. It started with chisels and plane irons, but then I began sharpening my kitchen knives and pocketknives. I had no idea that steel could get so sharp! It used to be that dull tools were merely inconvenient, but now I find a dull knife a heartbreaking disappointment.
I say this because I want to share a recent article on sharpening by Chris Schwarz, former editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine and current head of Lost Art Press. In it, Schwarz reflects (well, more like pontificates) on how few woodworkers actually know how to sharpen an edge tool. Even the some of the professionals who write for the big-name magazines often lack basic sharpening skills. He…
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