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
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
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
This post came from looking through a few class photos from Rabbitstick several years ago based on an inquiry. This is one of the years I taught my favorite sandal design, an ancient one though still cleverly marketed as a modern style. I call them saint sandals as they look like something you would see … Continue reading Sandals
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
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
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 … Continue reading Prepping Bow Staves
A pictorial step-by-step of the bow-making process. This quick look isn't intended to replace the one-on-one learning of a real teacher or to cover all aspects of the art that come from years of practice. Expect both success and failure and don't let either one dominate your learning. Education is a process, not an instance. … Continue reading Making a Self-Bow
Stacey has been adding her art to the shop lately so I wanted to give her a bit of a promotion here on the blog. Among other things, she produces meticulous and beautiful art, beaded bags, earrings, and fiber arts. Here are her latest additions to the shop. The smaller bag on the left is … Continue reading Gourd Bottom Bags and More
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
A painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893). Tinkers were originally tinsmiths or "tinners". One of many itinerant jobs pursued by a class of casual laborers. These were mostly skilled and specialized crafts like basket making, shoe repair, leather work, and metal work but many poorer workers were migrant farm labor picking hops and … Continue reading “The Travelling Tinker” by John Burr
Here is a painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893) of an itinerant fiddler playing for a family in a Scottish lane probably trying to make enough money to eat or maybe even receive some food for his entertainment. I can't help but think the father looking out has a skeptical look; possibly wondering … Continue reading Wandering Minstral
I guess it's time to celebrate... Sometime yesterday this blog surpassed three-million views. I am both astonished and grateful. I have often thought of just shutting down the page as a closed chapter in my life but I do enjoy writing and sharing some of my nonsense with anyone out there in the wide world … Continue reading Three Million Views
It’s always time to up your fire-building game. Survival Sherpa Todd Walker does just that in this post. Check it out.
by Todd Walker
The human love affair with fire is intimate and ancient. Over the flames we cook, celebrate, spin tales, dream, and muse in the swirls of wood smoke. Fire is life. Its warming glow draws us like moths to a flame.
It’s not a stretch to believe that a Stone Age chemist recognized the idea of using carbon for future fires. Disturbing the leftover carbon ashes from the night fire, she stares at sparkles of light glowing like the pre-dawn stars above. She carefully nurses a baby “star” back to life to warm her hearth and home.
It ain’t rocket surgery. Even cavemen knew the importance of the sixth most abundant element in the universe.
Carbon and Future Fires
The game of chasing lightning strikes for each fire was no longer required. This unreliable practice was abandoned for twirling sticks together to create enough heat to initiate the…
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In Britain and Ireland, the Romany Gypsys and the Traveller community are often associated with low-skilled work such as scrap dealers, horse traders, musical entertainers, or more nefarious activities outside the societal norms. However, there were plenty of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen providing goods and services to people around the country. Below is an image … Continue reading The World is Your Workshop
Many years ago, in Morocco, I was able to tour an ancient tannery and see some of the process of creating beautiful leather. I use leather for many projects and although I do some brain tanning myself, I purchase all of my truly "tanned" leathers from others. One very important lesson about tanning I learned … Continue reading Tanning Leather: Not a Lost Art
Here's a bamboo container I may integrate into the new fishing kit. It's made from a big stalk we got from a friend in Georgia (USA). I plugged the bottom with a poplar stopper and made the lid from a sotol stalk. I've found that the sotal is denser than most yucca but is … Continue reading Bamboo Bait Box
I've been working on a new hand reel to keep in my pack with my travel fishing kit. I didn't have much of a plan when I started so I drilled out a couple of one-inch holes a little further apart than the width of my hand and started from there. The wood came from … Continue reading Fishing Reel
Expanding on Lessons Learned In 2012 I decided to build a wooden packframe. What started out as a Sunday afternoon project led me down many paths, from Iron-Age Europe to 21st Century military designs and it took about a year of stewing around before I actually got around to building something. It was fortuitous for … Continue reading Wooden Packframe – The Final Draft
Vintage ad for Jaeger, Pure Wool Bedding. I love wool... I lost the reference for this one but I think it's very early 1900s.
Just a short show-and-tell today because I needed a new eating spoon. I lost my old favorite a few weeks ago and as near as I can remember, it was about 20 years old. I remember this because it was cut from the end of a bow stave of a bow I love. Here is … Continue reading Eating Spoon
Several years ago I starting documenting some of the arrow-making I do. I wrote the original version of this piece in 2012 but as it always draws a lot of interest I have re-edited it and am posting it again. Arrows have been much on my mind after seeing how ratty some of mine have … Continue reading Bamboo Arrow Construction
Some Thoughts on Making Arrows, an Underappreciated Art - I have been making my own arrows from scratch for a couple decades (since 1987 to be precise) and thought I'd showcase some I have made over the past few years. I don't generally make them to sell and I rarely hunt these days but there … Continue reading Arrowology
Sewing I do quite a bit of sewing and I feel it is an essential skill for nearly everyone. My sewing includes new buckskin trousers, cotton shirts, shoes, a few leather bags, backpacks, and repairs to clothes to name just a few projects. All this has caused me to think about sewing without manufactured goods. … Continue reading Primitive (but useful) Sewing Kit
SINEW Sinew is the term used to describe tendon or ligament in more formal English. It is the cord that connects muscle to bone or bone to bone in skeletal animals. Like rope, it is made up of bundles of bundles of bundles as shown in this anatomical illustration. For our purposes, sinew is a … Continue reading The Magic of Sinew
Gourds have played an important role in human history in both the Old World and New. The origin, domestication, and spread of this and other plants was a topic of much conversation when I was in graduate school. It seems now that its antiquity and introduction to the Americas is becoming much clearer. This humble … Continue reading On the Antiquity of Gourds
Today I'm prepping to present some primitive skills on Saturday, from raw materials to finished goods. I'm also getting some kid's activities together to draw in the latest generation. An assortment of stone-age technology laid out to take to the public.
Several years ago, I made a shoulder bag that I still often carry today. It is the perfect size for a small field bag or hunting pouch. It was a lot fun looking at various designs, mostly from the 18th century to try and come up with something that would fit my needs. When I … Continue reading Making the Possibles Bag