Here are a couple of photos of the one I still think of as the "new horse." It is made up of mostly recycled and scrap wood that I was hoarding for just such a project. More than ten years later, I am still quite happy with the size and design of this one. It … Continue reading My Favorite Working Pony
When setting up shop it is important to set your tools and surfaces to the optimal working height. Here is some advice for setting up your mechanic's vise for best use. Now, get to work...
I began version one of my Vardo Caravan eleven years ago this month. As I published updates and details along the way people have for a detailed "how to" for building a vardo. Since everyone's needs, skills, and resources are different, I will leave the task to others. My suggestions are this. Decide on your … Continue reading Building Your Own Vardo
It just seems right. The timing, the monetary investment, the effort. This is a requested repost of a series I did almost five years ago when I took my eight foot single-axle vardo caravan and reconstructed it into a 12 foot body on a robust tandem trailer. After adding up the mileage from the log … Continue reading Remodel and Rebirth of the Little Green Vardo
Every traveler has a campfire has the center of daily life. The hearth has been our home for 1.5 - 2 million years now. No wonder it fascinates us and brings so much comfort. Nomads in a stationary culture are often tolerated at best and left only marginal space to congregate. This will probably never … Continue reading Traveller Life
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!
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
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
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
A bit of personal history - I never touched a tool in high school. When I was there, kids were openly placed in two "tracks;" either Academic or General education. I know I wasn't the sharpest student and I generally disliked almost everything about being in school but I was placed among the Academics. In … Continue reading Thoughts Provoked by a Sloyd Workbench Advertisement
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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Scenes of life on the road and around the campsites. This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish, and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet. Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation. When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it. … Continue reading Campsite Life
Stitching Pony, Leather Worker's Clamp, or Saddler's Clam... Whatever you call it, it is a handy device to own if you sew any leather. These are simple devices that just about anyone can make with little time or money invested. Although there are many varieties and models, the one shown in this tutorial by Harry … Continue reading Making a Stitching Pony; Video Tutorial
I would not have ever thought myself a craft fair kind of guy yet here we are... Last year, our local community center hosted an arts and craft fair as a way to bring local artisans together and raise money for public programs (art classes, GED education, computer skills, tax assistance, etc.). Being new to … Continue reading Art and Craft Fair
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
Nomads are not loners. In fact, humans do not do well alone in any setting. We have always been communal people, depending upon one another for help and support. Many hands make light work and it is essential to be near others you can depend on. I have been collecting images of Traveller communities for … Continue reading Community of Wanderers