Parting Can Be Such Sweet Sorrow

When I was 12 years old my grandmother in Pittsburgh unexpectedly pulled an old, Pennsylvania made, Kentucky style musket out of a closet and gave it to me. When you are 12, something like that is far beyond “way cool”.

This particular gun had been converted from a flintlock to a cap and ball mechanism like the one shown below.

 

The gun my Grandmother gave me was old and neglected, but had “good bones”. There was a beautiful brass mounted patch pocket on the butt, some pretty engraving on the lock plate, and the fore-stock had some nice tiger maple striping. However, there was some damage from powder ignition right in front of the lock, and forward on the stock, it had split and needed restoration badly.

It was a strictly a display gun. What I have always called a “fireplace piece”… one that you could hang over your fireplace as decor for the “WE have an Early American Heritage” look…

It has traveled with me to every home I’ve had since I graduated college. Sometimes it hung on the wall, sometimes it stood in the corner, and sometimes it languished in a closet, but I have always treasured it as the most wonderful gift my Grandmother D ever gave me.

As part of the chore of cleaning out so many things here at the Château, the gun was one of those that I made the painful decision to let go. I put it in the For Sale listings on an antique gun site here on the Internet. Some of the guys on there were nice enough to give me good price range advice and one ended up buying from me at what I found to be fair and equitable.

I had a surprise in my email today when he sent me photos of the gun with all of the restoration work completed. I’m delighted. The Fates obviously decreed that this guy was to be “the next owner”.

Nothing fancy, nothing too over-the-top, nothing showy… Just a wonderfully faithful restoration to its original look.

All of the wood damage has been repaired, the lock is been restored to a flintlock mechanism that matches beautifully, the brass work has not been polished to a ridiculous and impractical shine… It just simply looks like a gun that one of my ancestors would’ve used on a daily basis.

I especially love the addition of the silver nosepiece at the tip of the fore-stock. I am truly glad that the gun went to someone who had the time, the money and the knowledge to do a good job on its restoration. That is something that I would never have been able to achieve.

While it is a silly thing, one of the most delightful parts of the photos that he sent is the fact that this staging for the last photo [of the entire gun] could so easily be right out at the feet of one of my birch trees in my own yard.

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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.

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…

Pillow Talk

Stuff: new 9.7oz down jacket [faux GhostWhisperer… seen/reviewed in post below…scroll down] and an old [very soft/ single side-seam/ round bottom] OT250* compression sack … use scissors… 40 seconds.
Yield: 12″x 5″dia/ 10.3oz downy-soft pillow… basically free.
[I]I left one strap long pending inspiration/determination of attachment for hammock.[/I]
It will stuff down further into the jacket’s own stuff sack…. just bigger than a soda can, and I’d carry the jacket anyway.

 

* Ozark Trail 250 [fill weight] down sleeping bag. Retailed at $89 at WallyWorld a few years ago. Mine was on “red-tag” since someone had pulled the cardboard info sleeve off… $59, I think. An incredible value. Anyone who was able to pick one up at that point, got an amazing deal. Wally hit it outta the park on this one! Super soft, down-proof fabric/ 700+ duck down/ very light/ stuffed down small/ claimed temp range was 32°… more like 40°. Perfect 3-season bag, and very easy to turn into a TQ for hammock camping. You can find my original review under “sleeping bags” in the nav sidebar…

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.

 

“Tree Table” Prototype

I have seen several versions of this, both as owner built, and for sale items.

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In short, the idea is to have a little “table” that gets strapped to a tree trunk and allows you to use your cat food can stove up off of the ground. This proof-of-concept is a little narrow at only 6 inches, but I’m figuring that in a final size of about 8″w x 10″l, in aluminum stock and with a 4′ pull-thru tensioning strap and buckle, it ought to be good to go.

I am also wondering if a version could be made using standard carabiners.  This doesn’t have to support significant weight.

More dollar store stuff taking the place of expensive materials…