“The Project Knife” Wrap-Up

 

This was the photo on EBAY when I bid and won the no-name, “Project Knife” back in early February.

The stacked leather handle was a bit loose, ragged and uneven. The sheath was a sub-in, and too short for the 6″+ blade. The blade itself was dull, with some surface pitting etc.

Only the tiniest bit of cleanup and polishing on the blade by the time this photo [above] was taken had let me see that the knife was indeed worth the time and effort to bring it back up to grade. [this was after only 15 minutes work with some strop compounds and a bit of rag, right in my lap].

 

There was very little really wrong with the knife. Just neglect and abuse that needed fixing up. You can find the previous posts showing some of the progress by scrolling down a ways here on the timeline.

The handle took a bit of reshaping, but you can see how it was starting to come back.

 

 

 

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All told, I don’t believe I have much more than three hours of my time invested in the whole restoration process, and virtually NO money beyond the $10 cost of a replacement sheath. A good bit of the job was waiting for glues and etc to set between sessions, and I certainly didn’t “buckle-down” to the job. I grabbed a few minutes here and there.

I am completely satisfied with the end result. I have been finishing up the job with some work to clean up the brass blade guard, some time to further polish the blade itself, and some more sharpening and stropping. This morning I worked a bit of my friend CurleyMaple’s fantastic beeswax and oil mixture into the handle leathers to penetrate and seal the leather. The matte result gives a good, firm grip. Anyway… Imma callin’ it “done”.

I like the knife… and I think it looks great!

  • nice weight in the hand without being too heavy/ good balance
  • the colored bands at the guard and pommel cleaned up well/ the leather handle was returned to a rich dark shade/ that helps hide the fill-in that was necessary to tighten up the leather disks.
  • the blade came up very sharp with less effort that I has anticipated/ It remains to be seen how well it holds an edge over time, but I am betting it does as well as any.
  • the sheath is now a good fit/ I love the basketweave pattern/ the color deepened and the grain came out nicely with some Lexol/ I kept the old snap-strap from the sheath that came with it because it was broken in and had a better fit… and to give some continuity 

 

Yeah, I could have taken the Project Knife further, but I am looking for a tool, not a showpiece. I really do like the classic Bowie knife styling. Nothing fancy… just a clean, traditional shape that truly says, “hunting knife”. A lot of people have carried this style of knife through a lot of years… and it takes me back to a similar one I had in my Boy Scouting days. I am glad I went through the process to restore this one. I learned a lot, and will have no fears about taking on another knife project when one comes along.

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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.

A New Way To “Screw Up”~ BAHCO Model 808050S Magnetic Ratcheting Stubby Screwdriver Review

… or down, or sideways

Every now and again a tool guy just HAS TO buy a kewl new tool. This was my latest.

From Swedish maker BAHCO comes this sweet Model 808050S Magnetic Ratcheting Stubby Screwdriver with a bulb handle.

[The unit comes without any extras… the other stuff was right outta my tool box. You will need to provide a set of bits in your choice of sizes and tip patterns].

The driver itself is quite small… right at 4″ with a bit installed. Perfect for tight spaces, and I have always been a fan of a bulb handle for a better grip and the ability to add some palm force to better drive the screws.

This little guy really delivers on both. 

For those you who may not understand exactly what it ratcheting screwdriver is, it’s simple. Inside the metal collar between the body and the shaft of the screwdriver is a gearwheel and a locking cam. On the BAHCO, the gearwheel has a very high number of teeth. It allows for very smooth, strong movement and greatly reduces the chance of stripping out the screw head. When the gray arrow points to the center, the shaft is locked, and operates just like a regular screwdriver. However when you turn the collar to the right or left, the cam will slip backwards or forwards on the gear teeth allowing you to twist back and forth with only your wrist instead of changing your grip on the handle of the screwdriver. No more realigning the tip and slipping out of the slot on almost every move! 

As far as I am concerned, the BAHCO folks absolutely nailed it with this product. Their 808050S Stubby Ratchet Driver has a good, solid weight in your palm without being heavy, and the ergonomics of grip and operation are equally great. You can change the rotation or lock functions just using a thumb and forefinger and without changing your handhold or palm pressure at all.  [I did, however, add the red nail polish to the direction set indicator arrows for easier visibility]

The bit tip is interchangeable for any of the standard hex bits you buy or that come with battery powered drill drivers. Flat, phillips, hex, star, square drive, Torx… whatever. You can even use shafted nut drivers or wrench sockets in mm or inch sizes. The Bahco’s shaft itself is magnetized to hold the bits securely without any chance of drop-out, but is not so strong that it is a bother getting them off to change.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I paired mine up with a slip-collar extension shaft [also magnetized] from an old drill-driver kit so that the whole unit really acts as a full length screwdriver as well. [The slip-collar slides up around a screw held in the bit and stabilizes it for one-handed driving… as the screw goes in the collar slips back down the length of the shaft]. Together with the little 6-bit holder strip, it makes a nice pocketable kit.

I haven’t had reason to try it out yet, but it should also work with a bent-shaft flex driver for hard-to-reach applications, although you will lose the palm pressure due to the off-center angle of attack.

In conclusion, I really like this lil’ tool. I am fairly certain that it is going to be the one that is pulled out when I reach for a screwdriver from now on.

Truth Be Told Disclaimer: Nope. Didn’t get this one to fit the 90%/50% Rule… paid full tariff at $17.99 on Amazon with no regrets.

The Project Knife Update #1-2

There has actually been some slow but steady progress being made. I started out a couple of weeks ago, and then got hung up on the rest of my life commitments…

The first steps involved “stabilizing” the leather handle. No disks were actually missing, but there were small gaps between some, behind the brass guard, and right at the front catalin disks. I worked some Gorilla Glue into some of the gaps to start with. I also used some braided casting line with the GG to wrap-and-fill behind the guard. Then I switched to furniture glue as it could be thinned and put in on a razor blade.

This first photo shows where I have glued and then tightened up and worked the spaces between disks to give a single, dime-thick void. I filled this with black “Sugru”.

 

 

 

I finally had some time this morning, so I taped off the catalin decorative disks, the pommel and the guard with painters tape to protect them while I broke out a rasp, a file and the disk sander to get serious with reshaping the now tight and secure leathers. [You can see the Sugru infill there in the center]

 

For safety while grasping, I also put a pair of duct tape strips up the edge of the blade and covered them with a third layer folded over.

Here we are after some heavy rasp work, some filing, and a go with 220 grit on my Porter-Cable orbital.

After making most of those dark rings there between the disks go away, I moved on up to 400 grit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just cleaned up with a rag to get off the sanding dust, I am pretty pleased with the progress so far. You can see the shine already coming up on the leather. The grip in the hand feels fine, with no real change from the very slight material removal. Sure, the Sugru infill is always going to show as a souvenir of the renovation, but that just adds character.

There are some more spaces that showed up in the catalin disks by the pommel, and the down slopes across the catalin on both sides at the guard need to be brought up to the 400g level by hand.

In the center photo you can see how nicely the decorative disks come back. So, my next play is to work a last bit of glue into the gaps, lightly file off the residues, and work down those front slopes to match the rest.

Adventures with the Thread Injector

In the world of camping DIY, a sewing machine is referred to as a thread injector… the process is called fabric welding. This sounds a little less wimpy than telling people you have been sewing.

To encourage myself to buckle down and actually git’er’done on the pile of fabric and parts that had been sitting on the end of the dining room table for the better part of three weeks, the other day I started a thread on Hammock Forums called “Thread Injector Log~~ Stardate:____”.

I did the ritual 15 minutes to thread the needle/accidentally pull it out the thread/rethread the needle…, but after the first hour I had gotten some stuff done.

  • L&L patch on bag
  • Patched tear in sq. bag
  • Fixed jellyfish bag
  • Made mesh pouches bag

One rat-nest on jellyfish bag

Another hour:

 

  • Really coffee-d up!
  • Reworked two BlingBags
  • Patched and adapted old yard chair bag to hold ALite chair

 

 

 

By lunch:

$5 kids 6′ hammock from FiveBelow°, repurposed to gear-mock.

 

 

 

  • “knotty-mod on both sides
  • 2 and 3 mesh pocket organizers… one sewn-on/ one prussic-ed on ridge
  • 58″ Zing-It ridge~ tied into channels w/ 8″ to 4′ whoopies on each end
  • 2- $$Tree 4′ dog leashes for straps w/ toggles

 

By dinner time: made a gear-mock tarp~ 64″x 56″ /rock pockets on all four corners/ it will get kam-snaps about 6″ down the sides below the suspension, and tieout tapes on all four corners [in case of really blowy weather]

Don’t stand too close and it don’t look too bad.

Next day:

“Bedding day’:

  • 60″x 70″ Costco Down Throw converted to UQ. Trimmed 3 sq of width, which gave massive, doubled draft collars at each end/1 1/2″ grosgrain tape and ripstop for channels/ standard UGQ~HG suspension…
  • Gathered end “hot-nights” sheet from Chinese terminal sleeping bag *. …Single layer, pongee cotton-poly/ trimmed off hood/ stripped zips and re-hemmed all around/ gathered, drawstring footbox
  • Couple of small repairs and adaptations on  other junk

 

I want to try the UQ out a couple of times before I commit to ripping thread between squares to make continuous down channels. May be fine like it is.

*[these are what the folks take incase of delays/layovers on the long, crowded trips back home over the Chinese winter holiday. They are basically just a 1/2 zip sleeping bag made of heavy sheeting material with a hood to stuff a coat into as a pillow. Really cheap [$7US], easy to wash or even toss, but are quite soft and comfortable… perfect for this use.]

“Everyday” Altoids Tin Kit

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I thought I would toss this one up here quickly… I think of it as sort of a “Takin’ Care of Bidnizz” kit.

A fellow by the name of Mike Winter made up this particular variation on the standard Altoids rig. Rather than for any kind of real emergency or survival situation, this one is simply geared toward all the little annoyances an ordinary day can throw your way.

Hit up the link>> for the original post and a detailed list of the items over at Everyday Carry .

Sleeping Bag Revival

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Old gear may not be the best gear. Times, materials and engineering change. But sometimes it’s just the only gear you’ve got  and you simply cannot justify buying anything new, sometimes it’s just got so many memories attached to it you can’t bring yourself to get rid of it. AND sometimes it was just plain great gear when you got it and still is today.

Gerry was one of the early developers in “cutting edge” outdoor gear… the first zippered backpack… one of the first lightweight down jackets [1960] … the first nylon “teardrop” shaped pack… and they supported early expeditions to climb Mount Everest and were long time supporters of the US Olympic efforts. Today it seems that they are best known for kiddie-carriers and car seats. But back when I was starting out buying decent gear, their sleeping bags were some of the highest rated.

This GERRY bag dates to 1971 to the best of my knowledge. That was the period of time that my friend Philip and I were starting to backpack on a regular basis, so it was when we each started accumulating gear. I know for certain that I had been using it for two or three years by the summer of 1974,  and I know for certain that the first time I’ve used it was on a climbing expedition over to Seneca Rocks in West Virginia.

SenecaRocksWV

I remember that trip so clearly because, not only was it my first rock climbing trip, but we woke up under an unexpected early-October snowfall. My new bag had left me completely oblivious to the fact that it was snowing until the next morning. Shook off the powder, and I was good to go. [as soon as the sun came out, the powdering of snow melted right away and we were still able to go climbing safely].

The bag was good down to about 15°F, had a wide-tooth YKK nylon zipper that was snag-resistant, a drawstring neck and a lightweight, ripstop nylon construction. Additionally it was one of the first bags to feature interior baffles to add loft and to prevent the down from shifting… also those baffles were slanted at 45° so that each down channel overlapped those adjoining it… no sewn-thru through cold spots anymore. And the down fill was probably about 600… 100% Goose Down, too! Hi tech, cutting edge, high price!

I have no idea of what I paid for the bag at that point,  but I do know that compared to today’s dollar it is about 4 to 1… $1.00 then = $4.00 today. If I figure that it was about 150 bucks, then a comparable replacement bag would cost about $600 to buy these days. What I do know was that back then it cost an-arm-and-a-leg on a college kid’s income. However, all it took was waking up under the snow just that one time for me to figure out that it was money well spent.

Today they make bags out of much lighter weight materials than that old ripstop. There is sil-nylon and 900+ fill Dri-Down.  BUT… I don’t have the money to drop $600 on a new sleeping bag or quilt. I’m lucky I got that decent ultralightweight bag over at Walmart so cheap last summer. [funny… I just checked the blog tags and realized I never posted about buying the bag. You can look for a post on that one pretty soon].

 

Last spring, when I started reevaluating the camping stuff that I still had, I pulled the old Gerry bag out of a trunk.  It was in remarkably good shape despite having been in a stuff sack for most of its existence. A little while out in the fresh sunlight, and both it and a 35-year-old Eddie Bauer down bag fluffed right up. The Bauer was in pretty good shape [and is made of a much softer, silkier, more comfortable, nylon material], however the Gerry probably had not even been washed since around 1980. There was a greenish ring around the neck, and a greasy “Brycream” spot inside the hood where the back of your head rested. It was kind of stiff feeling, had a couple of spark holes leaking down through the nylon on the foot, and I was really afraid that the ripstop material had gotten too fragile over the years.

However that bag was an old friend. It had been on dozens of trips up and down the length of the East Coast. Up in the mountains, down on the beach, out along the rivers, lakes, and swamps. Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, car camping… It’d been along on all of them.  It even been on two grand tours across the country to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. I sort of felt I “owed” it to it to give it a second chance on life, but all summer I never got around to doing anything other than hanging it up by it’s foot so the down wouldn’t be crushed anymore.

A couple of months ago I happened to notice a post from the good folks at Nik-Wax. They make a line of down care products specially suited for cleaning and renovating outdoor gear. While they informed me that they have now discontinued the offer, at that time, you could send in one piece of gear for an in-house “Nik-Wax Rehab”. If I would pay the outward bound shipping, they would even send the bag back at their own expense. What was there to lose? …I stitched up the little burn holes where the down was leaking, and sent them the Gerry bag.

THEY DID AN ASTOUNDING JOB! 

Based on my experience with what they achieved their products must be first rate. What came back to me it was a bag that was in nearly new condition. The ripstop material is no longer brittle feeling, but rather, soft and supple. It is glossy again and it smells clean!  If you just toss the bag out across the floor, the lofting goes right up to 6 inches.  You can feel with your fingers that the down is completely separated and evenly distributed. If it weren’t for the fact that the logo tag was a bit faded, you would never know that it was 40+ years old. Even with quality products like theirs, I am not sure I would’ve been able to do as good a job.

Thank you Nik-Wax. You guys saved my old bag from old age and  decrepitude. I’m deeply grateful.

I just looked over an old Sierra Designs down vest down cellar that also dates back to the 1970s. Just like with the Gerry line, the old SD stuff back then was made rock solid. [I have already successfully re-waterproofed one of their 40 year old 60/40 Parkas because there was not another thing wrong with it, it just wasn’t as repellent as it had been.] However, I seem to have been a pretty greasy guy when I went camping. The back-neck on the vest is pretty filthy and the pits are… well… pretty pitty…  Dirt-wise, the whole vest is pretty “repellent”, but there’s not another thing wrong with it either. Good gear is good gear. It just gets dirty when you never wash it.

Looks like I’ll be sending off some “thank you” money to Nik-Wax to find out if I can do as good a job at home.