Renewal

I working my way through the accumulated hoardings of generations of ancestors here at the château and trying to move toward my goal of relocating to North Carolina. I’ve been selling a bunch of tools online, on Craigslist, etc. My hammocking friend Chris, who is a professional woodworker and furniture builder, wanted a couple of things, so I took them over to his shop on my way out last weekend. >> Wild Cherry Woodworks <<

He was nice enough to run my 150-year-old, solid chestnut cutting board through his planer while I hung around. He only took about a 16th of an inch of greasy, salmonella soaked wood off the surface, but the result was marvelous.

Back when I first pulled this old board out of my parents basement back in the early 1970s, it hadn’t been used in decades. It was filthy black, and had mold and other unknown “gradue” covering the surface. The custodians at my university’s woodworking shop ran it through their huge shop planer at that point and got a clean surface on each side and the long edges. They were the ones that informed me that what I had was solid chestnut. Another friend ran it through a planer back in the 1990s, and again gave me two new work surfaces.

This time I just asked Chris to do one side for me. I brought it home and spent a couple minutes with my old Porter Cable “bottle” sander to give it a final smoothing. Chris gave me a jar of an incredible beeswax and mineral oil finish that he makes up himself. I brought the oven up to heat and put the board in long enough to warm, and then smoothed in a bunch of the goo. This is the result. ……I kind of suspect that, like so many other things, by the time this needs attention again it will be somebody else’s problem.

For my part, I’m going to go slice up the last of a pot roast to try it out, and make a sandwich for lunch.

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Bad Knife!… No Biscuit.

I am pretty effete with my selection of knives, [I just bought a “First Production Run” Bark River Fox River II off the forums an hour ago] and I do take really good care of my cutting arsenal. Today’s review [although you probably would be better off calling it “a savage attack”] is of a donor knife that came my way in a box of miscellaneous tools a few years ago. Badly executed, and even more badly maintained, it’s only home has always been an my gardening tool bucket… This is just about as bad as the knife can get, and NO big surprise… It’s from Pakistan!

 

 

What it is…. above left, and what it would like to be if it had had better upbringing…. above right. What it is is completely representative of why everyone bashes knives from Pakistan. It is an absolutely wretched clone that is so badly reconceived, and then so poorly executed it will never be mistaken for the real thing…. a BUCK 110, one of the epitomal knifes of the last hundred years.

The Fakistani’s brass bolsters are right-angled off the edges so that they are guaranteed to dig into your hand with a firm grip, and they abandon the Buck’s ergonomic, user friendly shape entirely. The handles themselves are done in what looks to be mahogany with an open grain, and no finish has been used at all… at least there are no traces left.

 

Just about the only positive thing that can be said about the build is that the handles and rivet pins are ground down flush with no harsh transitions between materials… even across the spine.

BUT…

 

 

Cue the theme from Jaws…. dundum,dundum, dundum…and check the shot below!

 

They missed the entire point of a folding “pocket” knife….. the blade is supposed to be contained in the handle when folded so that you can carry it in your pocket without the risk of injury!

This is the “locked in” position. The blade has not been ground down to expose the blade tip… that’s how it came.

And just as bad, the lockback lever sticks out just as far on the other side!

The Pakistani knife industry gets a really bad rap among the blade fanboys. Partly this is due to the fact that they repurchased old machinery from Europe that is unable to deal with some of the higher tech metals used in blades today. But quite justly, the plain, out and out bad craftsmanship shown on this knife is another reason. I’m not even bashing the steel used. Hey, it is Stainless like it sez on the ricasso so it doesn’t rust away between uses, and it does take an edge. It’s just that the edge seems to fade away without any use at all…even while it only sits in the pocket of my yard tool bucket. We’ve all had an untold number of cheap Japanese kitchen knives that do that same thing… one soap-and-water washing and they’re dull.

This poor thing will get tossed back in the bucket after I give a go at the blade on my Lansky System just for the “halibut”. Even a beater beats nothing when you are wrist deep in manure and need to open that second bag….

Edit~ It did sharpen up pretty OK for a beater…

Amazing Freebie !!

The famous “THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS” is now in the public domain, and has become available for  >>download<<  in a number of formats over at the Internet Archive.

As kids, being wharf rats on Martha’s Vineyard Island who were always around boats, my younger brother and I were huge fans, readers, and users of “The Ashley”. Clear, concise, and incredibly comprehensive, as well as entertaining, this is, simply put, THE book. We poured over it for hours, and I know that old copy still has a treasured place on my brother’s bookshelf.

While you can get it as a DL now, I would urge you to get the hardcopy as well. This is a book to pass down the generations to turn kids on to how cool knots and ropework can be.

First time they make their own Turks Head sailor’s bracelet on a rainy day they will be hooked.

Drip-breaks for Hammocks

Sometimes when it rains, it pours. We have all been out in our hammocks when the rain’s come down right wickud. When it rains that hard, it’s very easy for the water to migrate down your hammock suspension and eventually start soaking the ends of your rig.

Our man Shug, Master of mirth and merriment, juggler extraordinaire, and the go-to-guy for tips and videos on everything regarding hammocking, just suggests tying an old sock around your suspension. That works… not very elegant, and your socks stay wet, but it works.

I wanted something a little bit better, and something that would remain on my suspension full-time. I have been reasonably satisfied with a simple loop of mason’s twine dangling down from my continuous loops. So I took off from there.

I had some old water skiing and tubing towline. I gutted out two, 8″ sections of some half-inch line, singed the ends on the gas burner, stuck a chopstick through one end to make a hole, and pushed my continuous loop right through.

        

You can see the partz-is-partz on the right…

What I really like about this solution is that the drip line is back under the end of my tarp, beyond the rain. Now, I haven’t tested these out and in a real toad floater yet… I just put them on this morning. But my other solutions where I’ve had my drip lines actually on the continuous loops have always served me in good stead. I’m not sure I see the point in having drip lines attached any where further out on the suspension. The edge of my tarp is where the rain is going to stop landing.

 

BONUS: Hint #2~~ The yellow stuff is a slightly larger diameter ski rope that I also gutted. The two yellow sections on the left of the photo have a section of the green line inserted inside end to end. All four segments are also flame sealed at the ends. This allows me to pass some thin Dyneema/ Zing-it type line through the entire length of the doubled sections.

Why? For the same reason we all use tree straps… To Be Responsible. If I am hanging off of trees with a thin bark like Birch or Beech, These cuffs give added protection from harm by the extremely thin line that might otherwise damage the cambium layer of the bark. If too many people use the same two trees and are careless about the way they hang, the trees can suffer.

 

Return of the Prodigal Spork

18 months ago I lost my sweet SnowPeak titanium Spork.

I broke camp in the middle of the night because of the appalling nature of the coked-up junkies in the next site. They had returned at 1 AM, started a screaming match, and were being abusive to a three-year-old child. I left to go to the police department and turn in a CHINS report.

When it came time to sort my gear out down cellar after I got home, I discovered I must’ve left my spork behind. I knew it had been sitting out on the picnic table, and I pretty much assumed that I had just overlooked it in my hurry to be gone. I wrote it off as “Oh,well…” and eventually got around to ordering another one off of Amazon when they went on sale.

I was really fond of that little sucker. So fond that I actually used it around the house on a daily basis. [I am on my own since my wife passed away, and using the spork for a lot of things made it easier to just stay caught up on my dishes]. That’s why I sprung for a second one.

For under $10, I highly recommend these. They are available from Snow Peak and several other folks in basically identical form factors. You can even get them heat-anodized into various colors. The prongs are just long enough and sharp enough actually hold food, and the”spoon” is decently sized for scooping up liquids. If your broth is really thin, you are probably better slurping it up over the edge of your cup bowl and using the spork to clean up the chunks. And it’s just long enough cannot leave your fingers completely grotty if you were dipping down into a freeze-dry bag. It’s a great choice if you want to hold your carry down to a single eating utensil. With a good knife to cut things up, It’s really all you need.

Anyway, for all those reasons, I was really delighted when I put on my hunting vest recently and found it tucked in a pocket. I hadn’t “lost” it after all.

Army-Navy Finds

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My friend Norton from down in Virginia posted some photos online of he and his son tarping it and cooking some MRE chows out in the growing snowpocalypse that was Storm Jonas. I was very taken with the aluminum mug in one of the photos and pulled this clipping from it.

He told me it was a Russian Army issue that is much heavier gauge material than you would expect from the old-timey Boy Scout ones. I really do like the handle styling.

This is the kind of thing that you can sometimes pick up out at a yard sale or an Army Navy store that will turn out to be substantially better than a lot of things for sale in the camping catalogs. “Mil-Spec” items, regardless of nationality, are really made to take a beating. Finds like these are why am always happy to go cruise around a junk shop.

I have [metaphorically] kicked myself in the behind many times over the years for having passed up a knife/fork/spoon set at an Army Navy store down in New Bedford one time. I think it was all of $4 for a set. Made for the Swedish Army, stainless steel, and only two thirds the length of standard US mess flatware, but with the spoon bowl and fork tines full size. Even my new titanium camping set isn’t as sweet as the memory of that passed up opportunity.

Don’t be afraid to grab up stuff. You can always pass it on to others, or it might turn out to be your favorite gear.

Gear “Hammock”

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I wonked together a smallish gear hammock out of an old zip tent bag to hold some of the camping clutter. I just ran a piece of line through the little gather behind one of the zippers right from end to end, cut off the handles, and hung it from the cinch buckle on my AMOK hammock to the hang tree.
I’m going to get the seamstress here in the village to sew some daisy chains to those strap remnants on the front, and sew an 8″ x 14″ no-see-um netting pocket below the zipper on the backside-inside. [I have a whole el cheapo tent to strip for parts and materials… Three bucks at a yard sale with six different sets of poles… none of which matched the tent].
Next time I hit some place for some Zing-It Dyneema line, I will trade out the cord for a whoopie-sling that will make it adjustable in length. I have plans to buy a $10-DIY bag of large enough fabric samples that should give me some sil-poly to toss a little sewn-on weather “tarp” over the top. While I am in no real rush because my camping season is just about over for 2015, it will be a nice addition come spring.

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It is surprisingly roomy… More so than the photos show. I have an 11 foot Dutchware hammock and suspension, my toilet kit, my rigging/lines bag, as well as the hat and the pillow all stuffed in there. It packs down to the size of a RedBull can.